Friday, November 9, 2012

Autumn Leaves, Little Gull, Peregrine Getaway

Not much to report but leaves continue to fall, lightening the woods and carpeting woodland paths. Yellows and browns dominate the view across the valley with occasional dark green Holly or grey-green Pines for contrast, village largely hidden amongst trees. This morning, curtains of light drizzle move over the valley misting the horizon to pale sky, just a light breeze sufficient to waft spinning and spiralling leaves high. No advantage in leaves moving far from source, but aerodynamic efficiency must enable a tree to carry the maximum number of these lightest of solar power-packs with minimum weight or wind resistance.

With useful minerals re-absorbed leaving red, yellow and brown coloured waste, the petiole anchor is broken and the leaf wafted away like a kite with no string, or a wing without a fuselage.

Every year……

Isolated gulls beat upwind low over the bay, occasionally twisting and dropping down to peck a morsel spotted between serried ranks of dirty green waves. One in particular claimed attention: finely built like Black Headed Gull but lacking bi-coloured wing; lacking also black and white tips of most other gulls, and ink-tipped Kittiwake wing.

White wing-tips, dark under-wing, and surface-feeding behaviour lead to Little Gull identification, despite no nearby gulls for comparative scale.

Inland, a wooded escarpment with cliffs marks a past coastline and higher sea levels. After 15 minutes, scanning the ridge for soaring raptors has still not paid off. Then a flock of large birds rises up behind the ridge, dark against the sky. Before clear identification, a single bird separates from the crowd with fast, pointed wing-beats: strange, irregular shape, eventually crystallising into heavy-laden Peregrine making quick getaway. Half-mile of distance gives space for quick tuck and bill assisted load shift, moving prey back under the tail for more streamlined, efficient flight.

Wildlife Wales Activities:

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