Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Walking on The Blue side.

A real summers day with very little wind, but still very few butterflies were around, although I did see Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Marbled White and Large White.

The lack of blue in the butterflies was balanced by the flax that is now flowering on this side of the village. Colin Sumner confirmed that the white fields on the Reach Road side were also flax of a different variety.

Although were are already well through the breeding season for many birds, this little songster was still giving an aerial concert as I walked along (see end).

I particularly liked this view of a male Kestrel as it hovered just above the cliff edge with the sea behind.

When they hover they maintain an almost stationary position. They d that by facing into the wind, and although it was very light today there was enough to see that it always faced the same direction. When it moved up the hill passed me it meant that it would almost be facing me when it next hovered, looking for prey.

It also meant that the sun would be in the wrong direction. In this picture you can see the Alula lifting on the left wing. The Alula is a small projection of feathers, along the leading edge of the wing. It is normally held flat but it can be moved. When flying at a slow speeds or landing, the bird moves its Alula slightly upwards and forward, which creates a small slot on the wing's leading edge. This functions in the same way as the slats on the wing of an aircraft, allowing the wing to achieve a higher than normal angle of attack – and thus lift – without resulting in a stall.

One of the things I noticed in these pictures was how large the eye looked. Although a daytime flyer Kestrels are often seen hunting at dusk, and presumably the large eye is a useful adaption at this time.
The songbird at the start was a Meadow Pipit. They don't stay up for a long period and give their song as the "parachute" back to the ground.

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