In Dusk We Trust - Some Owling in Co.Durham, North East England, Great Britain
Leucistic Little Owl image copyright Hilary Chambers, Durham.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Sat 3rd April - Search & Destroy

A wet afternoon

Couple of pair of wagtails prospecting for nest sites:-

One pair in the scrapyard in amongst a 40' bin full of metal

male Scrap Wag

Another in amongst exposed rocks in a steep wooded valley, 40' above the burn.

Dippers continue to baffle
Couldnt imagine that such a conspicous bird would be so difficult to get to grips with.
A different number of individuals on each visit - sometimes none seen ! ?

Watched an interesting encounter between 2 birds.
Bird #1,(damaged foot) was singing then hopping excitedly & wing flicking amongst rocks.

Dipper #1

Then Bird #2 could be heard contact calling in flight
On hearing this Number #1 flew up away from the waters edge & "hid" behind a steep sided rock, pressed tight up against, motionless, it with his tail cocked up against the stone.

#2 came round the bend singing to splash land close to where #1 had been singing & was clearly looking for the source of the song . . .

Hide & Seek

#1 didnt move a muscle, he hardly even blinked. He was a couple of feet above & @10' away, but completely hidden from the other bird.

They were both now aware of me, as i edged a bit closer.

Dipper II The Thug

#2 bobbed about, looking right round the stretch, then singing, but drawing no responce from The Hider.

After 10 mins of stalemate, #1 having not budged an inch, i slowly moved forward - i had to pass them to continue my journey.

I was very close to the Hider, when he finally deceided to make a dash for it. Rather than fly past me upstream he jumped out & gave a sharp burst of song before diving straight underwater to vanish.

Number 2's reaction was immediate - but not swift enough as his quarry disappeared underwater . . .
#2 got the high ground - the end of a branch over the top of a "log jam" of flotsam & jetsam. (in background on photo)
He sang loudly, with animated bobbing & wing flicking, looking all around but no sign of #1.

I scanned downstream thinking me may be trying a sneak underwater escape, but #2 was on the ball.
He spotted #1 trying to hide in the debris & launched an assault worthy of a Spuggyhawk !
The Hider had been found & was taking a pounding as he laid on his back wings & legs flailing !

They broke off, #2 the aggressor returning to sing & bob from his raised vantage point - his victim returning to his bolt hole to cower in fear !
During the mayhem i edged closer, the birds normally would be well on their way, but these two had other things on their minds.
Again #2 entered the flotsam & jetsom & pinned his victim to the ground - Poor #1 scuttling into cover out of harms way.

I continued to watch from downstream, hoping #1 would flee upstream, but he stayed in his raggy refuge.
In all probability he'd get more of the same, as 600m upstream theres a nesting male.

Thinking about it, its seems strange that The viscious #2 is so aggressive, as he appears to be un-paired.


Moved on to DKs secluded pool still holding 2 sandpipers.
This site will certainly pull something special in time - 4 quick visits have produced Brambling, Shoveler, GreenSand & todays new addition was a nice bright White Wagtail.

Finished at a wetland location with a huge 280 feeding Curlew lifting & arcing round against the setting sun.
10 Goosander came in to roost (1male) others here were a single Wheatear.

As the light faded we got into place & had a Pip bat go past - quite a surprise given there was solid ice on the car roof. Slightly poor end result with 2 females calling, although we had a Fox trot over the path & a Tawny go past at knee height only feet away.
As we waited in silence an unusual whistling sound from above . . . an early Whimbrel heading north.

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