Wednesday 5 August 2009

Birds are rubbish, insects are where it is at

I have just been sat in the garden having a cup of tea and watching the sky. Heavy cloud cover today and a fair few swifts hawking around. Interestingly some Black-headed Gulls were in with the swifts and, like them, were fly-catching. Seemed to be doing quite well at it, and at some height too, perhaps 150ft up, with lots of semi-hovering. I have seen this behaviour before, but not in zone 3, and not from a deck-chair. Tough life, I know.

My eye was drawn from this spectacle by a smaller, closer battle. A smallish spider has woven a web on my bird-feeder pole, and had managed to catch a really fat and juicy flying ant, which are pretty abundant at the moment. It tentatively subdued it, and then set about repairing the web. Not long after, possibly within two minutes, a wasp came to investigate, and landed on the ant. Wow, I thought, the spider is sorted for a week! But no, the wasp set about removing the strands of web that suspended the ant, and before the spider could approach, separated it from the web and flew off with it. Now I'm not a big watcher of insects, so this could just be default wasp, but this is amazing stuff! I was transfixed, and watched the whole thing unfold through my 10x for a stunning view. Birds, who needs 'em?!

Actually I do. Now after yesterday's Little Egret debacle, I resolved there and then to get out on the patch. This morning I followed through with this ambitious statement, and decided for whatever reason to give Heronry a go. Since I last visited Heronry Pond, in about 1864, it has changed somewhat. It has lost about 2ft of water, and is largely a stinking, putrid mess. Some of it is just mud in fact, and it is indeed living up to its name. It was devoid of Mute Swans, but did have 2 Little Egrets and a Grey Heron. This trebles the number Little Egrets I have seen on the patch, and explains why I was sat looking at the sky a moment ago - it would be an awesome garden tick. Not a lot else going on in the Park, but I did have three kiddos which precludes serious birding. Corvids were abundant, Jays in particular seem to have had a good year, but generally pretty quiet. Despite the stench, the pond looks amazing. Heronry is concrete sided, so usually unattractive to waders - I think it once hosted a couple of Common Sandpipers after a storm and that is about it. Right now though it looks like it could happily support vast flocks of Tringa, and indeed this is what I am going to go out and find early tomorrow morning. Or a Spoonbill, I'm not fussy.

Heronry Pond is not very deep. We also appear to have beavers.

Honestly, I am an idiot. Almost every time I go out on the patch I come back raving about it. If there is a lazier person out there, I would like to meet them. And the strange thing is that I have seen more birds (in terms of number of species -recorded on that little doodad on the right) on the patch this year than in any other, and yet it seems like I have barely been out. I think it all went wrong in June. At the time I joked that I would get back out there in July, or maybe August, and it is all too sadly coming to fruition.

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