Monday, 4 April 2011

X certificate birding

I arrived at the Monument reasonably early today, the poor catch in the two moth traps I ran last night didn't occupy me for long! Right on the top of the cliff a male Kestrel was sitting on a low stem.

It didn't seem too bothered about me and allowed quite a close approach. I did wonder if it was a recent arrival, as it seemed reluctant to fly.

A couple more paces and it was off and quickly hunting over the rough ground. I think that the probability is that it is one of the local pair and it has got fairly used to people backward and forward there so it is quite habituated to people.

In the paddock almost the first bird I saw was a cracking male Ring Ouzel. I wish that this had been as indifferent to my presence as the Kestrel, but typically it was quite flighty and didn't allow close approach.

There were also three female type Black Redstarts about, but I totally failed to get a decent picture. They two were not prepared to pose, and seemed to have the knack of always landing in the wrong place to get decent light. Perhaps they'll be a little more cooperative tomorrow morning. Jack and I strolled onlong the cliff top, but it remained pretty quiet, with just two Swallows the encourage the onset of Summer.

Do not read this bit if you are offended by tales of lust and sex

A pair of Dunnock has set up their territory at the base of the Cotoneaster bushes behind the pond, and they can frequently be seen flicking their wings and chasing up and down there. Sometimes they are joined by one or more of another couple and the activity gets very agitated. yesterday the following behaviour had me quite perplexed and I have to say I felt like a bit of a voyeur watching this activity. The female (judging by her behaviour) stood on the path, drooped her wings and vibrated them vigorously. At the same time she cocked her tail up, almost vertically. The male was flicking his wings in an excited was just behind. I thought that her actions were designed to seduce him and that they would mate. But instead he kept dashing towards her and pecking at her cloaca. (The cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the only such opening for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tracts, in birds, amphibians and reptiles). I don't know if he was an interloper trying to remove a sperm "package" of her mates, or her mate trying to do the reverse, but it was behavior I hadn't seen before. They vanished into the cover of the bushes before the drama concluded, but it had added another chapter in the already astonishing tales of the sexploits of the Dunnock.

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