Thursday, November 26, 2009

Strong winds and rain of past weeks have stopped all wildlife guiding activities: birds & animals keep movements to a minimum and water-smeared lenses make observation difficult. Thinking over the past few days, however, there are still a few memorable images gleaned from humdrum journeys by foot or car.

A Red Kite, black in silhouette, hanging over the coastal escarpment, using long, angular wings and forked rudder of a tail to twist and turn, dive and side-slip to avoid diving attacks of harrying Rooks. Another party of Rooks, striding through roadside pasture, bone-billed with shaggy black breeches, looking for worms and leatherjackets. For some reason, Rooks seem to thrive in strong winds and grey skies, spraying, ragged black, up into the wind from treetops, beating into wind over the ridge, or streaming low over the fields to the latest favoured feeding.

Just this morning, another ragged winged, black form passed high over the valley in heavy, direct flight with projecting head and tail, untroubled by strong crosswind: prehistoric looking Cormorant on its way for trout in sheltered inland waters. Unlike expensively stocked inland fisheries, these mountain lakes are stuffed with wild brown trout and probably benefit from a little thinning out to avoid too many small fish feeding on the fixed food supply of a closed lake system.

Also this morning, the strong, undulating flight of a much smaller silhouette, again with projecting sharp head and tail, passed over the road and across the valley bottom; Great Spotted Woodpecker moving over open fields between woods and trees.

We do not see many Starlings here over summer, but for several weeks now, as in past years, parties of these sociable dark birds have been whirring northwards along the coast, dropping low behind dunes, trees and cliff tops to avoid strong winds.
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Wildlife Wales Activities: www.wildlife-wales.co.uk

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