Thursday, 10 December 2009

What a difference a day makes.

Today turned out to be a glorious day for a walk along the Saxon Shore Way cliff path at Langdon.

From this angle it looks as if the Lighthouse has been cut in half! I noticed a small furry object in the grass.

Normally I'd be pleased to see an small mammal, but in the words of Monty Python "I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!" I think it is a Pygmy Shrew, the body was about 3.5 cm long. These tiny mammals are voracious feeders, mostly beetles and spiders, but also earthworms. They consume their own body weight every day, so I presume that this one had succumbed to the dreadful weather of the last few days as their was not sign of any physical damage.

Just along here I flushed a female type Snow Bunting, it settled for a short while, but I then lost it as it flew towards the cliff edge. Not my favourite area, I always feel that if you get too close to the edge there's some sort of "magnetic" force pulling you closer.

After well over 30 hours in the field in the last nine days I finally found my first Redwing in TR34 in the winter months, and it wasn't very obliging, burying itself deep in this bush. You can just about make out the head pattern with a bit of imagination. I only took the picture because other than Gulls, Pigeons and Crows of various species, there are so few birds about.

At least at the cliff top there are a lot of Herring Gulls, at least 350 were around, not unusual, but they were particularly interested in the three small fishing boats off shore. I gives you a chance to look at the wing patterns to ID the age of the bird. I think the bird above is a full adult.

Most birders either hate gull identification (larophobes) or, probably the smaller group. are prepared to study gulls for hours, looking for the small details that are often needed to separate closely related species or sub-species. I quite enjoy checking them out, but I have to admit I'm not that good at finding some of the more obscure taxa that have recently been found and described. The Herring Gull complex is an example of evolution in process and identification is fast becoming reliant on DNA analysis. No problem with these though, they're Herring Gulls. Back to the bird above, I think this is a third winter, but I'm happy to be corrected.

This is a younger bird, I would say a second winter. While I was Gull watching they suddenly became more noisy and agitated, a sure sign that there is a predator around.

Sure enough a Peregrine circled overhead, but quickly disappeared along the cliffs, with out giving prolonged views. It probably had done already if I'd been looking it the right direction.

On my way bact to St Margaret's (after a cup of tea and a piece of bread pudding at the NT cafe, the bread pudding was a reminder of the old day's at Nancy's in Cley), a Raven flew over and landed on one of the Radio Masts. I'd only seen just over 20 species, but their were a few stars amongst them.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Know what you mean about cliff edges! Glad I was brought up in the landlocked Midlands! Well done on Snow Bunt, seem to be plenty of them arounf the county this winter. Adam