Tuesday, 25 September 2007

One last try.

I still haven't managed to get a really satisfactory picture of the red-backed Shrike but this will have to do. It is a juvenile bird and you can see the scalloping on the sides of the breast and the pale tips to the greater coverts and secondary coverts. It has just the hint of the face mask that it will develop as an adult. I think that it will probably move on soon, on its way to its wintering area in Sub-Saharan Africa. The vast majority of its food are insects, mainly beetles and I sure that these are easier to find in warmer areas.

Although they will take small birds occasionally I don't think that this young Blackbird had much to worry about. However it really made quite a fuss when the shrike landed on top of the bush close to where it was feeding.

I suppose that it could just have been protecting its food source from a perceived competitor, but more probably it was a response to a predator. Blackberries form an important part of a Blackbirds diet during the autumn, as anyone who has caught and ringed them will testify.

I did notice a huge increase in the number of Crane-flies. This is a big one, probably in the genus Tipula, but they are well out of my area of knowledge. I was amazed to learn that there are about 300 species in Britain, most only the size of mosquitoes. When you look at them closely, they have extremely improbably long legs, but then there are called Daddy-Long-Legs...... Oh yes I forgot, they don't bite or sting and can't hurt you. Most don't even eat, except for a few species that will take some nectar at flowers. The larvae on the other hand can be real garden and agricultural pests. Leatherjackets are the larvae of Tipula paludosa and damage lawns and crops by chewing the roots.

While I was walking round I stopped and spoke to several people, even scrounging a cup of coffee at Copperfields and I was pleased to pass a few minutes in the Paddock, talking to Gloria, plus a rather handsome Labrador dog, from Temple Cottage in the Droveway. As I passed the cottage on the way home I took a quick peak at the charming garden and cottage. The diversity and variety of the houses in St Margaret's helps make it the interesting village it is.

Other Wildlife I did notice a few Red Admiral and two peacocks as I walked round as well as the large number of small whites still around. One or two Speckled Woods were also still sunning themselves amongst the trees. As I walked across one field I flushed 19 Red-legged partridges and two Pheasants, but whether these are wildlife or not is a matter of debate. There seemed to be a large number of Chiffchaffs about, in the scrubby bit of woodland between the Avenue and the Football pitch there were at least six in one tree. There were also about ten in the Paddock, but I only saw one Lesser Whitethroat and no Common Whitethroats in there today.


Simon said...

Hi Tony,

What a fantastic blog you have created. It is a real joy to read. I have linked you from my blog (www.motepark.blogspot.com), I hope you don't mind?

Cheers, Simon.

tut-tut said...

D is a cranefly fan, so I'll be showing him this post. And I didn't realize that peacocks counted as wildlife; are they?

Tony Morris said...

Peacock Butterflies that is!