Sunday 3 November 2013

There are more and more Cormorants fishing above the wire baskets near the bridge, and often managing to grab some quite substantial fish out of them.

As far as I can see, they are actually extracting fish from inside the basket, whose 2 inch mesh is just large enough to allow a Cormorant's slightly open beak to enter. The hooked tip of the upper mandible grips the unfortunate fish securely so that it can be pulled out.

Meanwhile, at the sides of the same basket, the Great Crested Grebes carry out a much more delicate operation, hovering in the water until they can see a fish and extracting it with a deft flick.

Their beaks have straight points, so the fish has to be squarely caught. I don't think that Great Crested Grebes actually transfix fish, as the big American Clark's and Western Grebes can do with their fearsome heron-like beaks.

Feeding the Great Tits and Blue Tits in the leaf yard is complicated by the behaviour of the Robins, which are now well in possession of their winter territories and regard not only their home bushes, but visiting bird feeders, as their private property.

They station themselves at the front of the bush and dash headlong at any small bird that has the temerity to come out. Only Nuthatches, which are pretty fast and furious themselves, seem to be able to come through without interference.

But no bird fights more aggressively for food than the gulls. When one bird catches a thrown chunk of bread, it is pursued through the air by a train of competitors hoping to force the bird to drop its prize as it manoeuvres to dodge them -- a technique that often works, but the falling morsel is then grabbed not by the pursuer but by the nearest gull that happens to be underneath at the time. Or the victim may be attacked on the surface of the water, as here where a couple of juvenile Lesser Black-Backed Gulls fight over a scrap of food.

The low winter sunlight catches the brilliant emerald green feathers on the side of a Mallard's head.

The brightest effect, with both ducks and other iridescent birds such as Starlings, occurs when you are looking almost exactly down-sun at the bird so that your shadow doesn't quite fall on it.

1 comment:

  1. Not so good for the fish! Love your blog.