Monday, 26 January 2009

It's a Black and White case.

Coming back to St Margaret's from Dover, this afternoon, I decided to detour back via Crabble and River.

I was somewhat surprised to see a Little Egret, feeding in the River Dour along Lower Road. I am well used to seeing Little Egrets, now that they have become relatively common, but I haven't before found them very confiding. This one was within yards of a busy road with plenty of pedestrians around.

It has already acquired the long plumes of breeding plumage, but it seems to be a lonely Egret here. I was told that it had been around this stretch of the river for several months but always by itself.

It was interesting to watch it, standing in one place wobbling one leg to stir up the bottom of the stream. Even under the trees its bright yellow feet shone brightly in the gloom. I didn't see it catch anything but if it returns here regularly it must be finding plenty of food.

At Bushy Ruff I briefly saw a Kingfisher, twice, but each time it saw me first and disappeared, with just a little high pitched whistle to say farewell. While I was there I witnessed some interesting Rook behaviour. A group of five birds were flying over and it soon became apparent that they weren't actually going anywhere, but flying in a large circle in some sort of display flight involving some exaggerated flapping.

The number in the group wasn't a constant, some joined for a circuit or two and then left and the number varied from four to around eight. A couple of times they landed, briefly, in a high tree, which isn't a nesting tree (yet) as for as I can see, and then took off back on their flight.

At times they were quite noisy and I assume that the ritual has something to do with the impending nesting season.

Franklin Coombs, in his book, the Crows, describes what he calls "dihedral wing flapping", when from two to twenty birds take to the air in a pursuit flight, involving slow wing-flapping. He says that these pursuits can take place throughout the winter and are most common on sunny days in February. Well for a change today was sunny and it's not long to February.

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