Thursday, 25 January 2018

Readers have provided some more fine pictures while I am off my feet. Virginia photographed a Carrion Crow 'anting' -- covering itself with ants, often by bathing in an anthill. Many birds do this, and no one is sure why. The commonest theory is that the formic acid released by the ants helps to keep down parasites. Often, when the ants have discharged their foul-smelling acid, the bird eats them.

Three more pictures taken in the park by Virginia: a Red-Crested Pochard washing ...

... a pair of Moorhens mating ...

... and a Black-Headed Gull admiring its reflection.

Pauline Gilbertson got a good photograph of the female Little Owl in the oak tree near the Albert Memorial.

Eleanor took this elegant shot of a Magpie about to eat a peanut.

David Element sent this picture of one of the Pochard--Tufted Duck hybrids on the lake. Three of these have appeared in recent years. They are probably the commonest hybrid ducks, both belonging to the genus Aythya in which hybrids are widespread.

He also shot this fine video by of young Peregrines practising their flying skills over the Civic Centre at Morden in southwest London.

Yesterday we had a picture of a Grey Heron eating a rat. Today, here's a dramatic shot of a heron with a large trout, taken by Gustavo Zoladz on the river Dodder in Dublin.

Another picture by Pauline Gilbertson: a Spoonbill with a Lapwing and a pair of Teal. This was taken at Lodmoor near Weymouth.

A different Lapwing taken by David Holland near Cali in Colombia. It's a Southern Lapwing, Vanellus chilensis.

A picture by TinĂºviel from the Los Barruecos nature reserve in Extremadura: a male Stonechat perched on a twig.

And lastly, another shot of the Common Redpolls in Krakow, taken by Justyna C.


  1. I remember watching a documentary years ago about anting and why birds did it. One of the theories put forth was that birds enjoyed the effect of formic acid on their brains just like humans would a drug rush. It was the seventies, though...

    Can there be an ugly Lapwing? I would say it is an ontological impossibility.

    BTW, if there are any Game of Thrones fan there - one of the battles from the last season was shot in Los Barruecos ( I'm not a fan myself so I cannot say which one.

    1. Formic acid was used as the hardener of the original Araldite epoxy resin glue, the one that took three days to harden. I've smelt a lot of it, and it is definitely not psychedelic for humans.