Competition and demand

July 4, 2012

Demanding young are not confined to the breakfast table. Over several mornings this week, the call of a hungry young hawk has disturbed the otherwise peaceful morning chorus. On one occasion the demand for food led to an attempted mugging – a Sparrowhawk accosted a returning Barn Owl in an attempt to grab it’s prey. They span to the ground linked by their talons before the Sparrowhawk gave up his attempt.

Spring morning

May 2, 2012

There are mornings when the wildlife in the village seems to be much more active than others. Tuesday was a case in point. Songbirds were in full throated song as I walked along the railway line. Further away a Green Woodpecker predicted rain, a pair of Oystercatchers repeatedly called during their courtship flight, a noisy pair of Canada Geese did the same – but even more loudly. At the Buxton Bridge the resident pair of Stock Doves made Grey seem less like a drab colour with their breeding apparel highlighted by patches metallic green. A few paces on and a male Barn Owl floated up from a fence post clutching a catch and flew off nest-wards by its usual circuitous route. As I turned round I watched a Roe Doe contentedly browsing on fresh hawthorn leaves along the edge of Keeper’s Wood. All within a period of 15 minutes and no more than a quarter of a mile. The change in the weather must be the root cause.

Owl colour

July 24, 2011

Barn Owls vary in size between males and females. They also show great variation in colouration.

The most common sighting on the meadows is a large white Barn Owl. I have mentioned this on a number of times over the past two years. Before this one appeared, the residents appeared to me to have been a smaller type, often with a contrasting caramel coloured wing and a creamy or duskier breast. These were not just a smaller single male – there were often a pair about at the same time. It makes me wonder whether the larger white bird comes from a different population, or perhaps was released in the area.

Wave of blossom

April 8, 2011

It is at this point where all of those time- lapse natural history films come to mind.  We watched the welcome early bursts of cherry blossom, which first lit up the hedges a fortnight ago or so, which have been replaced by a breaking wave of Blackthorn. All along the railway line each hour of warmth persuades more blossom to burst.  The newly arrived Warblers now start to fit in with those illustrations that you find in coffee table style bird books.

Amongst the trees the Hawthorn and the Sycamore have reached bud-burst. The Oak and the Ash, ever the laggards, are not far behind.

At the cottage, the Barn Owl has morphed into a garden bird – at least late at night. Wednesday night was punctuated by their rough screeches.