Birds not of a feather don’t flock together

Blogging challenges, Wildlife

I was quite amused a while back while at our local nature reserve, watching an egret and a heron occupying the same patch of shallow water. They were both fossicking about feeding in a desultory sort of way, and they simply didn’t seem to see one another. They passed so close to each other from time to time that a cursory glance might have seemed in order. Nothing. Here they are:

Here are a few more unrelated birds showing they really have no interest in each other at all.

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

Click on any image to view full size.

I spy with my little eye a bird that’s beginning with ‘G’

Blogging challenges, Wildlife

Bird weekly this week is looking for birds beginning with ‘G’. I don’t have all that many examples. But gulls, obviously gulls. There’s a whole row of them in the header photo.

I have a shot of herring gulls looking imperiously down over the town of Whitby, and a black-headed gull fossiking on the beach there.

Then there are guillemots on the Farne Islands…

And geese – always geese. Be sure to click on the second image to see the whole happy family

We’ve all heard of sheep dogs. But did you know they can turn their minds to herding geese too, if required?

Herding geese at Masham Sheep Fair

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

Birds on a perch

Blogging challenges, Wildlife

Birds perch anywhere:

On a railing?  They don’t care.

On a chimney, on a stone,

just so they can be alone.

At other times they want to chat –

be Jesus’ buddy, Neptune’s hat.

Cormorants and herons, on the whole

are happiest atop a pole.

Heron and cormorant at L’Albufera de València

The robin, sparrow and the thrush 

are more at home on tree or bush.

And swallows, who don’t watch TV,

find aerials are first degree.

Swallow on the house next door

But strange to say, it’s just sometimes 

that cormorants will sit in lines.

Cormorants on the River Thames in London

Most birds will always go and search 

a mate, a nest, and perfect perch.

Parakeet in Málaga

A silly entry to Our Eyes Open Bird Weekly Photo Challenge: Birds Perched Up

Flying over the house

North Yorkshire, Wildlife

From a bird’s point of view, though not from a human’s, our local patch is a watery world. Our nearby town of Ripon has three rivers and one canal. The River Ure passes our house. Gravel extraction is a local industry, and once exhausted, these sites are made over to wetland nature reserves. Geese flock here. Autumn and spring are the times when large V-shaped formations pass noisily over the house, honking and calling. The feature photo shows just two – are they greylags? I don’t know. Herons are here – yesterday we watched as one heaved itself from the river, and, battling against the prevailing wind, launched itself towards a distant stand of trees, where it circled, circled, before finally finding its perch. Black-headed gulls follow the farmers as they plough and harvest. I was going to go on a trip to look at coastal birds too, but no – let’s stay local.

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

Taking flight

Blogging challenges, England, National Trust, Wildlife

This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge is Taking Flight. What to choose? I thought of hot air balloons I’ve seen. I thought of planes. I thought of bubbles magically released into the sky to delight children and adults everywhere. In the end, two ideas insisted on their fifteen minutes of fame.

The first is the starling murmurations which are such a feature of life here early every spring. Once, one even took place over our garden. We were entranced until we saw the state of our car afterwards. Have you seen one? Murmurations take place towards evening, when thousands of starlings swoop and swirl in the sky above their chosen roosting site for that night. Are they keeping predators at bay? Exchanging information before nightfall? Nobody’s sure. But as suddenly as it begins, the display stops, and the birds descent to their roosts, and it’s over for another night. Here are a few shots – and look at the featured photo too.

Then there was our visit to the Farne Islands, a protected National Trust bird reserve off the coast of Northumbria What an afternoon we had here. We saw puffins, we saw razorbills, guillemots, eider duck, fulmars …. sea birds of so many kinds. But if it’s flight you want to see today, we’ll just stick with the Arctic Terns, with their bright white and grey plumage and orange beaks.

Arctic terns are feisty, aggressive birds, fiercely protective of their young, as these pictures may suggest. They are impressive migrants, flying between 44, 000 – 59, 000 miles a year to reach their European breeding grounds from the Antarctic.

Bright Square

Lens-Artists Challenge #144

A cheery post for a cold bright day

Blogging challenges, Wildlife

What a difference. Exactly a year ago, on 13th April 2020, I spotted my first mallard ducklings of the year, with their unusually attentive father shepherding them around the village pond. This year, night temperatures are below freezing, and there are gusty winds most days. Despite the sunshine, I think we’ll have to wait a little longer to see this year’s first brood. Let’s plunder the archives for some memories.

Bright Square

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

‘B’ is for Bold Black-Headed Gull

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Wildlife

I was one of those ignorant types who thought ‘gull’ and ‘seagull’ were interchangeable terms. In fact ‘seagull’ is a fairly meaningless word, though often used to describe herring gulls. But not, definitely not black headed gulls. These birds we so commonly see round here, some fifty miles from the sea, are quite at home here in the fields. They’re sociable: they’re quarrelsome: they’re noisy. And they’re happiest snatching a meal when tractors are out and about, sowing seeds or harvesting and generally making free food available. As you can see. These scenes are from exactly this time last year, from a farmer’s field just up the road.

I thought a ditty, a bit of doggerel was called for, helped along by memories of a Harvest Festival hymn.

They plough the fields and scatter
the good seed on the land.
Black-headed gulls will follow -
rapacious thieving band!

‘All good gifts around us come from the farmers’ fields
We’ll scoff the lot, not care a jot and decimate your yields.’

We’ve had some snow in winter.
The gulls have had it rough.
Now seeds and rain and sunshine
mean life’s no longer tough.

‘All good gifts around us come from the farmers’ fields.
We’ll scoff the lot, not care a jot and decimate your yields.’

Six Word Saturday

The well-travelled heron

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, South Korea, Travelling in Europe, Wildlife

I am an occasional contributor to the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge: and this week’s appealed. Birds that eat fish as their primary diet. Well, I have images of gannets, gulls and guillemots. I have puffins, though not a single photo features one with a beak crammed with sand eels.

But the fish-eater I love the most is the bird I so often see snaffling goldfish from our landlord’s pond: or as I walk the banks of our neighbourhood River Ure : the one I spot as I hang over the sides of bridges and boats in Spain: the one fishing in among the townhouses of Dordrecht, the Netherlands: the one in my featured photo who was flying down the canal-side in Busan South Korea. It’s the heron, the grey heron.

Click on any image to see it full size

Birds on a wire, a bird on the pier

Blogging challenges, Wildlife

It’s not quite the right time of year for birds en masse to gather on a wire. That was last September, when birds of various kinds gathered on the telegraph wires near our house to plan their trip, perhaps to Africa, in complete defiance of current travel restrictions Here they are, in my featured photo.

And here are a few more. They’re not emigrating. I showed the stonechat quite recently, but I like him, so here he is again, looking splendid in his best spring-time feathers.

Click on any image to view it full size.

The cormorant reminds me of a poem I learnt as a child, and which I will still recite at the least provocation:

The Common Cormorant

The Common Cormorant or shag

Lays eggs inside a paper bag.

The reason you will see no doubt

It is to keep the lightning out.

But what these unobservant birds

Have never noticed is that herds

Of wandering bears may come with buns

And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Christopher Isherwood

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge