Thursday 10 October 2013

The first chilly day of the coming winter brought down a mob of little birds hungry to be fed. During the past few days they have been content with the last of the summer's insects and the autumn seeds, but now they are glad to take extra food from humans. It is now up to us to help them through the winter -- feeding small birds makes a genuine difference to their survival rate.

The efficient scavenging gulls can probably get along very well without our help, but of course they arrive in an instant if they see someone throwing bread to the ducks. Here are two Black-Headed Gulls hovering stationary in the brisk wind waiting to pounce.

The Great Crested Grebes were also having difficulty with Black-Headed Gulls. Here a parent was about to feed a chick when a marauder flew down, and both had to dive in a hurry.

The gull swam under the willow tree to have another try when they surfaced, and was indignantly scolded and chased out.

The chick got fed this time. They generally do, despite the constant harassment from gulls. And the gulls don't always get their way. Here a Carrion Crow has stolen the half-eaten Feral Pigeon that a Lesser Black-Backed Gull had killed, and carried it away to finish it.

The town would be a much messier place without all these scavengers kindly cleaning it up.

This Cormorant was climbing on to the top of a post. It had landed on the chain and found it impossible to balance without flapping its wings, so it headed for a more stable perch.

I am surprised that Cormorants manage to cling to a chain, let alone walk along it, with their flat webbed feet of a shape completely unsuitable for perching.

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