Saturday, 1 March 2008

Grey day, black, white and grey birds.

We are all used to watching the various species of gulls following the tractor, and on this field, out of view there were several hundred sitting, waiting for the tractor to come by, and expose the nest meal.
What is less obvious is the attraction that these fields have for Pied Wagtails. Just in front of me there were about 20 in and out of the furrows. Because the furrows were deep, the Wagtails small and the light bad, they weren't obvious. Normally we seem them in ones and twos, but they do readily flock for an easily available food supply. In addition Pied Wagtails like to sleep in large roosts, sometimes over 100 and as many as 5000 have been counted. I don't seem to have heard of as many of these large roosts as there used to be but there is little evidence of an overall decline.

I also noticed groups of pigeons feeding. The huge numbers of Wood Pigeons in the area has been very obvious, but the picture above shows a feral Pigeon (a feral Rock Dove) with the less well known Stock Dove. This species has done well in recent decades, having previously been one of the victims of the effects of the organochlorine seed-dressings used in the 1950s and early 1960s. After a large increase in numbers in the 1970's and 80's numbers stabilised before increasing again at the end of the 1990's. In the last few years they have again levelled off. Stock Doves breed in holes in trees and buildings and make a pleasant cooing noise.

I the same field a large number of Rooks and Jackdaws were feeding. Rooks spend time in my garden at this time of year collecting twigs, be fore returning to the rookery at the corner of Station Road and Dover Road.
Once back in the trees they seem to spend a fair amount of time squabbling and "shouting" at each other, as well as a bit doing household chores.

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