Sunday, 10 June 2012

Eyes in the back of your head

On the way back from Walthamstow the A2 suddenly became very boring and I decided to detour off the route to Elmley.
I have heard and read about the terrible havoc that the atrocious spring weather has wreaked on our ground nesting birds like Lapwings.

Although I know the overall picture is dismal I was pleased to see this little chick with its parents.
One just has to hope that, now it has survived the awful weather, it also survives the attention of any potential predators.
As I drove down the track I heard a few Yellow wagtails, but only this one put in an appearance, running along in front of me and landing a few years further down the road. I don't know how well they've done this year. As migrants they probably missed the worst of the weather and judging by what I've seen since I got back, they probably arrived back quite late. Over the last few year their numbers have dropped drastically so lets hope that they at least hold their own this year.

Viewing from the car park the Little Owl was sitting in its usual tree, it took some finding, although it was out in the open getting some sunshine. Can you see where it is yet?

When I turned off the main road one of my main hopes was that I would come across a Hare close enough to get some reasonable photos. It didn't happen on the way down to the farm, but luckily one was sitting close to the track on the way back. It was more or less facing away when I first saw it and that gave a good view of one of it's main anti-predator weapons. All round vision, The eyes are situated on the side of the head so that it more or less has an all round view.
The eyes is large as hares, like many mammals are active when light conditions are poor, at dawn and dusk, and they need good light gathering ability (a large f-stop).
They also need to be able to hear well, and with a couple of ears, like two radar dishes, that can twist and rotate to pick up sounds from most directions they are well equipt for most normal problems. Of course being hunted by dogs during the "sport" of coursing is not natural and an unequal contest. It's about time such cruelty was abolished.

The Hare I was watching was quite safe and felt secure enough to have a good scratch and spent time grooming.
When a second Hare move in, just about 30 yards into the field, it was off and they spend a while chasing round. Unfortunately they ended up in much longer vegetation, with only their ears showing.

There seemed to be plenty of Skylarks around, but again as ground nesters they may have been badly affected by the awful spring. I guess they will have the opportunity for second or even third broods if we finally get some better weather.

As I left the track there were a couple of Rabbits grazing on the lawn of the "new" house there. They made a good comparison with the Hare I had just been watching.


Anonymous said...

Tony, I think you'll find that coursing has been banned. Unfortunately that hasn't stopped certain sections of society who still consider it acceptable.

Derek Faulkner said...

Tony, unfortunately eastern Sheppey is still regularly visited in the Spring by one of the beagle packs. It seems that it is still the norm for a beagle pack to be exercised across hare habitat and then the hounds to "accidently" come across and chase a hare.

Mike H said...

Great read Tony, Reminds me that I haven't paid a visit for some time now, probably since Gordon died.