Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Bit Of News and A Bit Of Cr..

Slowly catching up after the few weeks away I checked out a few nest sites today without too much luck. Two hoped for Little Owl nests produced blanks when a nest box contained old nest material but no Little Owls, and a second natural site in a tree cavity saw an adult fly off ahead of my approach with no eggs or hatched young in sight. I suspect the owls are nesting deep down in the cavity, out of arm or indeed harms reach.

Little Owl

Weeks ago Will had seen Stock Doves at the entrance of an apparently ideal tree hole, a location where several doves were in evidence from early in the new year, but when I checked the tree out today there was no evidence of any nest, Stock Doves or otherwise.

Afterwards I visited my regular Swallow site at Hambleton where I found quite a bit of Swallow activity with 4 on-going nests, two with eggs, a full clutch of 5 and a second one containing one newly laid egg, then 2 further nests at the lining stage.



Tomorrow I have some Tree Sparrow boxes to check and I hope I am not too late after their seemingly good start to the year.

Missing a few early nests is the price paid for heading off to Menorca in Spring. Of course the best thing about Menorca is that there are seemingly no other birders there, so the task each day becomes to go out and find birds to enjoy at leisure without the crutch of local bird pagers or grapevines.

So to fill today’s blog gaps here are a few common birds found and enjoyed two weeks ago in Menorca; a Red-footed Falcon that I discovered hunting insects amongst a pack of 15/20 Kestrels, followed by a rather distant shot of a shy but stunning Roller I came across at Tirant.

Red-footed Falcon


European Roller

Then there is an Egyptian Vulture near Son Bou, a species which is common and seen daily in Menorca but declining in large parts of its range, often severely. In Europe and most of the Middle East, it is half as plentiful as it was about twenty years ago, and the populations in India and south-western Africa have greatly declined. Now here’s something not commonly known about Egyptian Vultures; they feed on a range of food including mammal faeces especially human where it is commonly left on the ground e.g Africa and India, also insects in dung, carrion as well as vegetable matter and sometimes small live prey. Studies suggest that feeding on mammalian faeces helps in obtaining carotenoid pigments responsible for the bright yellow and orange facial skin.

Egyptian Vulture

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