Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Blondes and Redheads

I had a look at the Restharrow Scrape at Sandwich this afternoon. It was almost back to winter, on Monday the thermometer in my car read 27 deg, but today it was 10 deg at 3 p.m.

A careful look through the spyhole showed that there was a Lapwing just outside the hide, and a careful opening of the shutter allowed me to watch it preening from close range. It wasn't long before, like me, the lapwing became aware of a bit of s hullabaloo going on in the left hand corner of the scrape, and it flew off to join in the action.

All the ducks, and this family of Canada Geese, were steaming towards the far corner, and the Lapwings were noisily diving at something in the grass. I have never understood why, when there is a perceived danger, ducks, and in this case Geese as well, make a bee line towards, and not away from, the problem.

Scanning through the grass the handsome head of a fox appeared. It was carefully quartering the area and the Lapwings were continually "bombing" it. I didn't see it with any prey, but it was certainly interested in something in the area.

I have mixed feeling about foxes. There is no doubt that they can be beautiful and engaging animals, but there is also no doubt that they can be very destructive if they get the taste for something that is easy to prey on. This can happen where there are colonies of birds, often encouraged to a site, such as a nature reserve, or a concentration of domestic animals such as chickens or rabbits. There are times when they will inevitably have to be culled, but I think that this should not be done as a form of entertainment, but as a reluctant necessity.

Once the fox had disappeared the Geese brought their young out to feed in front of the hide. The Gander was still very alert, continuously using his full height to scan the area, ready to evacuate if the fox reappeared.

These young Geese are quite interesting, six blonds, the product of two brunettes. There are many young animals that are surprising different to their parents.

For instance, who would have though that young Coots would start off as red-heads. It won't be long before they loose this striking down and become pale imitations of their parents, and it is the norm and not the result of an amorous ginger milkman!

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