Sunday, 12 February 2012

Rats, ravens and rooks.

Well, from 3 a day to 3 a week and I can only apologise for the lack of input coming on here. But like I said before, I'm not going to bore you with suff, if I'm not seeing stuff. 
So as you can guess from the opening line, I spotted 3 things. However, I actually spotted four, problem was when I got home I found that one of the species I spotted I had already spotted just over a month before. The species was a Long-tailed tit and I must admit, I thought I'd spotted it before when I saw it. But this time when I spotted it, it was pretty close to me and I think I was just awed by its subtle beauty. The varying subtle pinks in the plumage of this bird really are quite beautiful. This time I spotted it whilst walking around a small lake in Milton Keynes, and the first sign of these birds I find is the high pitched 'peep peep' whistle as they move in groups from tree to tree searching for insects, their tail is as long as their body and they look almost lollipop like. If you are interested in attracting these little birds to your garden, they are quite partial to fat balls, preferable hanging from a tree. I've had up to 6 birds hanging from a bunch of these fat balls with more waiting on surrounding branches awaiting their turn.
Again, I must also apologise for the lack of photo's, but I rarely get the opportunity to use my camera whilst at work and the majority of wildlife I spot is when I'm driving from one place to another, which isn't a good time to be taking photos. 
I can see it now, "But officer, I was just focusing my camera on a Buzzard sitting on the upcoming bridge and the next thing I new I was piling into the back of stationary traffic. It wasn't my fault they had all stopped."
So on with my little walk and out on the frozen lake was an area of unfrozen water with more Coots in it than you could shake a broom at. Why you would want to shake a broom at a bunch of Coots is anybodies guess. But then there, in the middle of the lake I spotted something that wasn't a coot, it was a Great Crested Grebe, yay! Species number 70 in the bag, so to speak.

Spot the Great Crested Grebe.
A little bit further round the lake I saw a sudden movement in the undergrowth under a crab apple tree. Was it a rat or a vole? I quickly run around to get a better and closer look and identified it as a rat, but not just one rat. As I got my 'eye in', I began to see more and as they saw me they quickly picked up a fallen apple and run off with it. In total, I must have spotted about 10 rats all getting fat, or drunk on fermenting apples. As a point of interest, a group of rats are known as a 'mischief of rats'.
Next on the list was a Raven. Another beautiful bird but in a completely different way, with its deep black feathers and large black bill, which is the simplest way for me to tell the difference between them and a crow which has a much smaller bill and the difference between a crow and a rook is the rook has a large white-ish bill and white-ish face and also struts its stuff like it owns the place. I find rooks to be a very intelligent bird that I've seen many times wandering down the motorway beside the white line of the hard shoulder knowing that if they stay on the hard shoulder side of the line, they're OK regardless of the speed of the passing traffic. In fact many experiments/studies involving bird intelligence have usually involved rooks and some of the stuff they have done has proved to be mind boggling. One of their feats can be seen here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8181233.stm.
So, that only leaves one more species to report on and that was spotted running across the brilliant white snow of a Cambridgeshire field, the Hare. An interesting fact about the difference between hares and rabbits is that hares, unlike rabbits, give birth to their young above ground in a nest made of flattened grass called a form. The young of a hare are born covered in fur and with their eyes open allowing them to be able to fend for themselves from the moment of birth, whereas rabbits have their young underground in a warren and the young are bald and blind and therefore defenceless. 

70 Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus SP877349 08/02/2012
71 Raven Corvus corax SP944588 10/02/2012
72 Hare Lepus europaeus TL267700 10/02/2012

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