Posts Tagged "herring gull"

Playing in the traffic, patch walk 28th July

What a stupendous change to be walking in. Sunshine and clouds, but so much cooler in the wonderful wind that’s blowing. This is the sort of weather that I want to walk in.

There’s excitement practically from stepping out of the door as the cause of all the late night gull calling recently is uncovered. There’s a juvenile black backed gull in the road and he’s really in the road.

On evidence so far, junior is none too bright as he doesn’t seem to be aware that cars are going to hurt. He’s learned enough to move away from me, but not from moving cars. He’s far too busy constantly mewling for food to pay attention to things like moving cars. What really gets the juvenile moving, however, is a sudden mobbing from a pair of herring gulls. Black backed parents are having none of that though, swooping down from on high and sending the herring gulls packing. Cue much argumentative-sounding calling from the adults and from the juvenile? No prizes for guessing more food calls.

Kids, eh?

Juvenile finally gets some attention from a parent, sending him into full on begging mode and leaving even less brain cells for awareness, which is particularly dangerous as they’re now at a road junction and are literally stopping traffic.

Cars are going past just inches from juvenile – the parent bird having seen the sense of finding a safe perch – but still juvenile mews incessantly.

What’s that? Fast moving metal thing might hurt? I want food!

He strays into the road and then I intervene, hurrying the bird across the road and into a safer spot while the parent birds complain loudly. Gulls, there’s no pleasing them.

Its no point mewling at me, buddy, I’ve got no food for you. Now stay out of the traffic!

I’m so busy thinking about that encounter that I don’t really wake up again until I’m in the copse. It looks so beautiful in the sunlight and shade, with the wind making the leaves sing, but that’s the only noise out of it now. The birdsong days are long past.

In the park I can’t resist a trip around the formal garden just for the scent of the lavender planted there, before heading for the wilder fringes. At the black spruce, Braveheart the squirrel is happy to see me and the bag of nuts. Its just him today, so he’s not in a rush, taking the time to enjoy each nut. After about 5 or 6 nuts he disappears and so do I, off on a wander.

Plodding slowly around the edges of the park where there’s some more stands of nettles. Investigate, but the only creature I see is this splendidly well camouflaged creature:

I have no idea what it is, entymology never was a strong point of mine, but I do smile to see such excellent camouflage.

I loop back around to the black spruce, but there’s no squirrels there now so I head out of the park through the trees. Along the bottom road the wind and the heatwave have worked together and I’m crunching leaves underfoot at almost every step. In July. Leaf crunching in July. What an unusual year this is, I reflect, before hoping that it stays unusual and doesn’t become the new usual.

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Finding blooms, patch walk 19th July

The only birds singing now are goldfinches and so I’m particularly glad for their cheery tunes as I step out of the door. Get distracted by a little weeding and then head on up the road. There’s a shiny, iridescent black feather at the top of the road, likely magpie, perhaps crow. Either way, into the collecting pouch it goes.

By the top of the road the theme of the walk is set, small white butterflies are everywhere, they’ve really come into their pomp right now. They’re industrious creatures, never really staying still, which makes them more than a bit tricky to photograph. There’s even more of them exploring the hedgerow on the back lane, dancing up and down like a small child on a visit to Disneyland.

The copse is full of butterflies today too, though here the speckled wood butterflies are holding their own against the small white army. Its a perfect habitat for them as they hug the sunniest spots that are just like woodland edges. Pairs of them dance together in pools of light. Singles flit between grass and leaves. Just for a moment its like a perfect patch of summer woodland.

On into the park and its largely quiet. The small birds are once again absent from the robin spot, but there are friendly dogs and I’ve reason to be grateful that I always bring dog treats with me in amongst the wild animals food! Its not long before that bag is empty. No sign of small birds and no sign of squirrels either but there are plenty more feathers for me to collect and lots of cones beneath the scots pine trees too.

The wild area is filled with brambles, which have completely taken over whole patches. They’re fruiting well, but not enough sun to be ripe yet. Soon they’ll be popular with all sorts of creatures. Already popular are the thriving clumps of ragwort, flowering beautifully and covered in insects, just like I was told they would be.

Its the random things you find in the wild area that I enjoy finding most, like a bed of spearmint just besides the path, just waiting to be brushed against and let fragrant and delicious smells loose.

I take a cutting of spearmint and a bit of ragwort too. Well, you never know if they might be persuaded to grow. Spearmint has a shot, ragwort is almost certainly wishful thinking.

Delighted to see that the stand of nettles has been left and the butterflies are making the most of it, especially our old friends the speckled wood. Long may park keeping decisions like this continue.

Disturbed from my nettle reverie by a cawing commotion I look up to see what all the fuss is about. Its a rare park raid by a troupe of gulls! Normally denizens of the nearby playing fields, these Herring Gulls are on a bin raid and making quite a bit of noise about it too, right until a black backed gull arrives and establishes itself as the king of the castle – or the top of the bin at least.

Its a scene that plays out in towns everywhere, but it is no less welcome a sight for that, especially when they’re the only birds I’ve seen all walk. That’ll have to suffice until the next time, its time to head home.

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Patch walk, 8th June 2018

Its a cloudy morning and with the temperature rising its already feeling quite close and humid as I step out of the door. Hmm, herring gulls are calling loudly, that’s a little unusual at this time of the year. Part way up the road the reason for all the noisy kerfuffle is revealed. 3 herring gulls are mobbing a buzzard. Its all happening at close quarters, the buzzard trying to flare its claws at its tormentors but constantly giving ground to them. By the time I’ve reached the top of the road and have an uninterrupted view things are changing again. Another buzzard floats effortlessly into the melee. The gulls don’t seem to like this change of odds and swiftly change direction, unwilling to take on 2 buzzards at once.

On the back lane, goldfinch and robin are singing while dunnock and sparrow are foraging where the road surface meets the old hedge. The only singing in the copse today is from woodpigeons. The great tit nest is still devoid of activity, the woodpigeon is off its nest and there’s no activity at the nuthatch nest hole. I suspect I’ve missed my chance to see the nuthatches fledging, they were so close a couple of days ago.

In the park and below one of the huge horse chestnut trees there’s a collection of feathers. Downy feathers, all white and grey.

Handiwork of the sparrowhawk I’ve been hearing so often recently? Seems like there are too many of them to be from the impact of just one kill. Perhaps the sparrowhawk’s favourite plucking post is right above in the horse chestnut? Its definitely worth keeping an eye on.

At the robin spot the resident robin is around, albeit a little reluctantly today as the area is currently overrun with with very active squirrels. She does come down to collect mealworms, but she’s not hanging about, smashing and grabbing, back into cover. Just how fast is she on these forays from the bushes? Faster than the zoom on my camera, I don’t manage to get a shot today.

With appointments to get to later I don’t have as much time on the patch today, so head straight to the black spruce tree and the squirrels…who aren’t there and aren’t appearing quickly from elsewhere in the park when I rattle the bag of nuts either. Still, it gives me time to collect. I do have a bit of a habit of collecting what catches my eye from what flora and fauna have left behind. Right now, with birds starting to moult, there’s plenty of feathers to collect. Crow and woodpigeon feathers are easy to identify, but the last one (all shown above) is new to me. Could it be a buzzard feather? I think it is.

Its too beautiful to leave behind either way, this one is going on display at home.

There’s also the first spruce cones of the season on the ground, not fully grown of course, but the shapes and patterns are fascinating and these are still sticky with sap.

Eventually, after going on a little wander while rattling my bag of nuts, Braveheart squirrel appears and is looking either extremely eager, extremely curious, or both together!

“Focus? Schmocus! I want to do an extreme close up!”

Its not just Braveheart who turns up today though, there’s also the polite squirrel as well as a new one who’s not come to the tree before. He squats down, both paws crossed across his chest, trying to look innocent. Trying, but the missing section of one of his ears suggests he knows how to look after himself. He gets up to the tree stump and has a good look at me, but doesn’t take a nut yet. His approach is to try and chase Braveheart for his nut instead, so the squirrels are all spinning around the trunk like fireworks.

With the sun over the yard arm and appointments imminent its time to head home.

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