Thursday, 17 January 2013

Battle over the Cliffs

Although the snow continued to settle slowly this morning it only amounted to a couple of inches. A look at the road through the village convinced me that a drive down to the bay would be OK and despite the chill wind it was worth a sea watch. There was plenty going on, but as usual the distance was a bit more that I would have liked. Hundreds of Auks were moving south and of those I could be sure of the vast majority were Guillemots, with fewer Razorbills along with them. Gannets were quite numerous and there were a few divers flying by. Two of these were Black-throated Divers, appearing to already have darkish necks and the other two were Red-throats, doing the typical "bucking" flight. The cliffs were already being prospected by Fulmars, and their cackling calls echoed down to the bay. I failed to find any Rock Pipits, and that was with a highish tide, I hope this isn't a sign of decline.

Once I'd decided that everything was going to remain at that infuriating range that leaves you frustrated I decided to go up to the monument. Mainly to feast on what I hoped would be glorious views. 

When I got to the Monument I wasn't disappointed and the views looking north in the afternoon sun were glorious. As I was breathing in the vista over Bockhill the familiar and yet unique honking of a calling Raven alerted me. Looking towards the lighthouse, into the sun I could see the silhouettes of two Ravens.

Of course I had the wrong camera in my hand and I rushed back to the car and with little thought about all those things you should do when trying to shoot into the sun I took a few photos. It's lucky they are black birds, because that's all I could manage to get through the suns rays.

As I watched one of the Ravens rolled over as a Peregrine dive bombed it. It is now over seventy-two years since the Battle of Britain was fought over these cliffs but this dog fight was  evocative of that time.
 The much smaller Peregrine repeatedly swooped at it's larger opponents. In many places the two species exist side by side, in fact some breeding sites are used by Ravens one year and Peregrines the next. It may be that in time these two will become tolerant here, both are historically successful breeders in the area.
Peregrines were killed off during WW2 to stop them using the messages Carrier Pigeons were conveying as Luncheon Vouchers, and Ravens have returned (this is the forth year they've been around) after an absence since 1892.
The Ravens drifted south and the Peregrine disengaged and flew back over my head. At the moment there are some fantastic wildlife programmes on the TV. Attenborough's Africa, Winter-watch, Polar Bears and a couple of others, but nothing compares to being out in the open watching it take place over your head.

Snow may be a nuisance but it certainly is photogenic!

1 comment:

Jacqui said...

A great read, thank you for taking then time to brave the cold & share your blog.