I'm loving it! The peace and serenity! The fun! The disruption of normal life!
Walking back by riverside trees close to the pavement, a long tailed tit and a goldcrest were feeding within a few feet of me. They both methodically moved up and down branches searching for food, both effortlessly moving upsidedown as required. However while the tit's tiny weight was sufficient to rock the twigs, the goldcrest's wasn't - thus giving a convincing impression of moving in a zero-gravity environment!
oystercatchers and mallards. On the saltmarsh, many skylarks were singing like mad and springing up from underfoot, along with pippits and a kestrel hunting over. A shallow muddy creek was covered with brackish water crowfoot, a lovely and unusual plant with five-petalled white flowers with a yellow base, and fresh green-coloured leaves that combined both a ferny foliage and trefoil leaves. The mud walls of a deeper creek shone with an unnatural brilliance in the sun: gooey, juicy, gelatinous, oleagenous...
by Des Bowring
|Brown hare, by David Baird|
Today I came the closest to a swift that I've been: on a small road of 2-storey terrace houses in Bishopston, a swift swooped down below roof level, shot up and inspected an under-eaves site, perching on the wall, and then away - it did this twice. (The under-eaves were old-fashioned, no soffit, spaces open into the roof itself) It reminded me of a shark - dense, dark, sleek, powerful - and swift.
|Sheeps-bit scabious |
by Christian Fischer
|Razorbills, by Steve Garvie|
- One thing I found a great mystery on my Cornish trip was this: the upper last few feet of many vertigenous sea cliffs were topped with sandy soil, and had rabbit-sized burrow openings actually emerging straight over the void. As I cannot believe that rabbits were running out to fall to their doom, what were these for and were they built by rabbits or some other creature?
|Holywell Beach, by Mike Hancock|
Pete added, 'I am sure that endurance of individuals of various species is more common than has so far been demonstrated. Back in the days when science was a bit hit and miss, I remember reading about a Manx Shearwater was taken from its burrow on Skokholm and dumped somewhere off Brazil just to see if it came back (yes, hit and miss science.). If I recall correctly, it was back in its burrow 4 (or maybe 5) days later. All good stuff. But back to gulls! Heike Schmaljohann was more than 500 km into the Sahara in Mauritania with a portable radar and found Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving at speed and at great height. In order to cross Sahara (stopping, it's suggested, would be folly) a non-stop flight would take a minimum of 36 hours. Pity those birds didn't have satellite transponders... And, on the subject of speed, I did some work for Gloucestershire Airport on their gull 'problem' a few years ago. Basically, something in excess of 16,000 gulls fly over the airport or its approaches every day during the spring mainly because the airport sits right in the middle of a flight corridor. The airport radar showed clusters of gulls moving at 55 knots - this is just over 63 mph, or 102 kph. In the Severn Estuary Region something like 84% of large gulls are urban gulls. The notion put to me by the Orfordness gull ringers when I found fewer of my birds than theirs in
Morocco, but many more of mine than theirs in Portugal was that my birds are lazy, fat bastards, either unable or unwilling (because of the easy lives they lead in town) to fly as far as Morocco They may be able to fly at over 100 kph, but for how long is the question. Was the Dutch bird really a world record-holder? Time will tell.'
In counterpoint, the small birds in my local Filton park - tits and sparrows – looked remarkably comfortable and snug as they hopped about in the shelter of the shrubbery as the gale roared beyond. (And I noticed that Filton had one of the higher local wind gusts, reported at 50mph, though that was half the speeds recorded on the south coast...)