Tuesday, 27 July 2010

1,001 Uses for a Horse

Bitter experience has taught me that horses are uncomfortable in the middle and dangerous at both ends, but this pied wagtail has found a good use for the horse at Meall mo Chridh, where it was enjoying the insects put up as the animal grazed.

Pied wagtails are one of our earliest spring returnees from their annual migration. Unlike the swallows and martins, they don't go far - to England or, possibly, France - so we often have them back, as we did this year, before the winter has fully left us.

They're aggressive little birds, seeing off members of other species and quite unfazed by our cats. Talking of being seen off....

.... a hoard of small birds were having a go at this young cuckoo, seen sitting and mewling rather plaintively on a power line by the shop. It must have been very upsetting for the adoptive parents, who were probably amongst the pack whizzing around, to watch their young charge being so abused by their neighbours.

Meanwhile, a flight of what I took to be starlings collected on the power lines below Tabar na Biolar. Like many of the smaller birds, they seem to have had a good breeding season, probably because of the fine weather we enjoyed in the spring and early summer. Our bird feeders are besieged at present: what we need is a sparrow hawk to weed some out.

We also have a large number of gannets operating in the Sound of Mull this year, dropping from great heights into the shoals of fish that have come inshore as the sea has warmed. On a reasonably still day, we can hear the "thump" as each gannet hits the surface: they must have armoured skulls. On this particular occasion there were twenty or more feeding just below Trevor Potts' camp site along Ormsaigbeg.

Trevor also runs a Study Centre at the camp site where, last Saturday, he hosted a talk about Antarctic krill given by his Argentinian friends, Rodolfo Werner and his wife Virginia, who are experts on the subject. A super evening.

No comments:

Post a Comment