Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pluck Me!

Once the frost played out and the sky turned blue again it was a few hours on Rawcliffe Moss this morning, mainly to suss out the state of the plantation in readiness for spring ringing. As is often the case I got diverted, this time by Buzzards yet again with a count of 6 birds, three pairs over three woods. Maybe all those birds from last week sorted out their differences then sent the intruders packing, tails between their legs or whatever Buzzards do when they lose out on a good breeding site. So for the third time recently I got more less-than-ideal pictures of distant Buzzards. But if all goes to plan we might just get to catch a few of them soon when I can get close-ups.

Buzzard - Buteo buteo

Buzzard - Buteo buteo

I went into a wood where I found the Buzzard’s plucking post with evidence of more than one meal of Woodpigeon, many of which roost in the wood, day or night.

Plucking Post

Finding a plucking post surrounded by feathers and fur is often a way of finding raptor nests, indicating that a nest is close by or in this case that a bird regularly uses the spot in its winter territory. The Buzzard’s plucking post was on the upper side of a large fallen tree, the elevated nature of which allows for a safer landing with a heavy load of prey like a Woodpigeon, as well as being a good vantage point to scan for other predators while the bird is vulnerable and involved in the relatively complex process of plucking then consuming the prey.

I think the Buzzards saw me enter the wood because they weren’t in there and probably left long before I quietly walked in hoping to get closer views of them. I confirmed their secretive nature ten minutes later when from a path outside the wood I saw two Buzzards heading back to their now undisturbed territory.

Our ringing planation was pretty quiet but I did find 2 Blackbird, 3 Reed Bunting, 12 Chaffinch, 11 redpoll feeding very quietly amongst the alders, and also surprised a Woodcock which exploded from the ground cover then through one of our soon to be used net rides. Several Wood Pigeon also crashed out of the plantation at my coming and headed off towards the safety or maybe not of the dense trees in Buzzard Wood.

On the moss proper the Skylarks thin out with only 10 today, chirruping off the deck when the Lapwings and corvids flapped and called noisily over the stubble. The Tree Sparrows make as much noise as ever, but the noise has shifted somewhat to spots where there are nest boxes with holes designed just for them, along the track and at the edge of the wood. Meanwhile at the food drop about 60 of them still loitered waiting for the next bucketful, and I didn’t have the heart to explain that The Man With A Bucket may not be along for a while. Six Yellowhammers today also waited around the much better bet of a still full pheasant feeder.

Tree Sparrow

As I left the moss a flock of Lottis and Blutis sped along the track ahead of my car and then, pluck me, I took yet another picture of a Blue Tit, many a ringer’s Nemesis bird, but a favourite creature of a regular blog reader who must remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from British ringers.

Blue Tit

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