Bird boxes plus Oct 13, 2018 11:38:05 GMT
Post by accipiter on Oct 13, 2018 11:38:05 GMT
“Many wondering thoughts” from a Wandering Minstrel, the saga continues…
Oh hello, is anybody there, sorry about being a bit late with my little owl report this time around playmates but I have been just a little busy, the reason being most of the juveniles were later dispersing this year, since this has not happened with so many since I started this latest quest I can only conclude this year’s long hot summer may have made this difference. Although having said that, dispersal dates can be quite variable anywhere from July to early November, although most have made the jump to independence by early to mid-September, so it would seem juveniles have a mind of their own much the same as our own children only leaving when they are good and ready, or when they are pushed out! I was going to say kicked out but that sounds a bit violent does it not, but not for little owl parents it would seem.
However, the following is an account of thirty weeks spent in the field and in excess of one thousand eight hundred miles travelling observing little owl behaviour during the breeding season at several locations throughout the country, some being the very places my Sparrow hawk behavior observations were carried out in the past. However, at first glance this may sound like a lot of mileage but it does involve two journeys, one being the observation period and the later return journey for maintenance and cleaning of the nest boxes, this also includes checking for casualties on nearby country roads and cattle water troughs, as not only little owls but other bird species can lose their lives in water troughs being unable to scramble out and fly. Nevertheless whenever the opportunity presented itself I also recorded corvid and raptor behaviour too whilst remaining in situ at each venue.
The following is also sprinkled with anecdotes and Alan’s particular brand of quirky humour being a little different than most people along with Alan’s turn of phrase, but this is probably the result of an euphorically spirited demeanour during the journey, that and circulating in “different circles” that is to say mostly geeks, but as we all know all the best people are geeks and anoraks which I do believe I am slowly turning into. After all is said and done who else would spend this amount of time sitting in meadows up to their necks in muck and bullets, and I do mean muck, or a perfect smelly spheres of discomfort if you prefer dear reader.
Nevertheless, the lack of meeting “any young people” during this whole time was extremely disappointing has I do like to pass the time of day with “all I meet” rather than pass on by, even the estates and small holdings on which my studies were carried out produced none of the owners children during the school holidays. According to their parents they were a “too busy” playing computer games, or using their smart phones the whole time which does not offer much hope as far as taking an interest in the natural world is concerned. In fact I dread to think how the music scene will be in the future either with ‘far less’ people learning to play an instrument, just imagine the world with no rock, jazz, folk, blues, country or very little classical music, all I can say is thank goodness this Xbox, smart phone, craze was not there in the past otherwise very few people would have even looked at an instrument let alone play one, judging by how people are simply addicted to smart phones today.
Nonetheless, this summer was really outstanding weather-wise being my fourth year now observing little owls all of which was spent in a tent mostly in the middle of nowhere, although I have been observing these birds for much longer than four years but never on a full time basis so to speak, but I must say these latest experiences were very rewarding, although watching loads of spiders carrying out their version of bungee jumping inside the tent each morning was a little inconvenient whilst preparing breakfast, so a camper van is on the list for next year has September into October is normally much colder the first thing in the mornings. However this year’s hot summer’s evenings were very pleasant too just relaxing in my chair watching the sunset dip below the horizon as I sipped a nice cool lemonade from the cool box, sheer magic, not quite as fantastic as the colours of autumn though, now that is magic! Incidentally, speaking of autumn I should just say Alan is now dressed in his rustic autumn colours being charming, simple, and unsophisticated all purchased from Matalan, although other stores are available of course.
Nevertheless, it has been some time since I posted an update on my little owl adventures themselves in which is placed almost at the end of this post as the journey was indeed long, and so for this very reason I have still left a very great deal out. However, I thought I would start with a few more anecdotes as is often the way with Alan, besides I am sure you will able to keep them to yourself playmates.
Samuel Pepys diary
Now where was I oh yes, can I just say all my observations of little owls, Sparrow hawks, and every other episode experienced during my life were not just taken down as brief notes, on the contrary every small detail was recorded. Nonetheless, to explain how the taking of notes all began the following is the very answer, albeit just a synopsis as indeed this whole post is so I am not giving too much away here. And so my father thought it would be a jolly good idea if we all kept a diary or rather I should say insisted we should all keep a full account of each day to which I have indeed done to the present day, when I say all I refer to my five brothers and sister (father liked to keep busy) of which mother once remarked of my sister – she was more trouble than the rest of us all put together. However, it is only now I have come to realise keeping a record of each day has been somewhat of a tradition within my family but keeping a diary from a very early age throughout one’s life is seen as “very unusual,” girly, and equally very old fashion today, in fact the only other person I can think of was Samuel Pepys but that was only kept for ten years which is neither here or there in my way of thinking. However, keeping a recording of every event taking place in one’s whole life was quite a good idea but then again father was always full of good ideas, which is why Alan appeared in the first place! Nevertheless, my first entry at the tender of five was not about my obsession with Sparrow hawks which begun a couple of years later having witnessed an horrific event concerning Sparrowhawks , or my experiences with music all of which I have placed in my autobiography, but running away from home because I wanted to be just like Dan Dare the comic book hero, and so Alan was last seen thumbing a lift heading for the moon dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown whilst clutching a ray gun just in case I should run into the Mekon! But then again I once cycled twenty two miles at the age of ten to see my grandmother, but to be truthful it was not so much to see my grandmother but the pair of Sparrowhawk nesting at the bottom of her large garden. But of course Alan is still keeping daily notes and running away from home only now they are all present and correct, so do read on dear reader...
However, since starting this latest quest I have been a little concerned about carrying a fair amount of cash upon my person whilst wandering and so I decided to open a bank account, but for some reason I have always been suspicious of bankers hmm, now I wonder why. Now you may find this “very hard to believe” call me old fashion but I have never been inside a bank before but since my wife has a bank account I though opening one too would be the perfect answer but how wrong can one be. Nevertheless, has it turned out I should have listened to the little grey cells has Murphy’s Law nearly always puts in an appearance. However, in the end l did duly make the call to the local bank for an appointment to tidy up another few loose ends whilst there, and so before I knew it Alan found himself in the wondrous halls of money jingle, jingle. Good morning said muppet number one, I mean the bank manager how can I help, so after explaining the whole situation once again the muppet shuffled through his notes gave me a strange look and replied good heavens sir I see you have no credit rating therefore the bank considers you a none person revealing a type of smile I found very hard to place if you understand my meaning. Nonetheless credit ratings and little plastic cards mean nothing to me whatsoever as I always use cash and have done all my life, nonetheless my lady colleague will help you out he said rapidly passing me over to muppet number two, which is where Murphy’s Law fist walked in. And so muppet number two set about finding a video all about opening a bank account and how one works including all the marvellous opportunities open to the lucky recipient, but of course the video being shared between each department refused to be found, but after half an hour had expired the video finely came to light. Nonetheless, yet another half hour duly passed in which the problem still remained, and no I had not been ravished in a very small room, neither had I any intention of owning little plastic credit cards, borrowing money, overdrafts, access to holes in the wall, or any other type of electronic trickery, just in case I should meet up with Mr murphy once more, has Alan seems to have an magnetic attraction to this chap for some reason. No, all I wanted was a pass book the same as building societies use, but since many are now closed due to the tightening of the screw, or was it the austerity measures, nevertheless ever since I have found these very hard to find. And so, has another hour duly passed I was greeted with the immortal words - oh dear I see you have you have no credit rating sir therefore the bank considers you a non-person! Now whether this is some sort of modern joke known only to all bank employees or this particular bank I cannot be sure as most of my time in spent in the woods running around like the whirling dervishes on steroids, but even so by this time Alan was not amused if you understand my meaning. However, I think I will have to contact head office on this said muppet number two and get back in touch with you later by letter, and so three weeks later the letter duly arrived in which it stated – (to paraphrase) banks no longer use pass books in some fancy sort of gobbledygook that only Albert Einstein would be able to fully understand. But of course, muppet number two had no idea the pass book had been phased out some time ago and so to this day Alan still remains a none person, or is it the man with no name – Pale Rider a Clint Eastwood film. Nevertheless, all I can think about now is the story of Henny-Penny and Foxy Loxy, or was it Goosy Loosie: and how the sky fell down although the whole charade could be due to Murphy's Law of course.
However, I may have mentioned the following before but not only do my little owl journeys take me far and wide but it has also led to invitations to soirees most of them being in large country houses, nothing compared with Sandringham house you understand but large enough to fit a grand piano, a dozen elephant’s, and Quasimodo swinging on the chandeliers. Nonetheless the hosts and guests some of whom are geeks which is quite trendy these days or so I have been informed, whom also speak in frightfully posh accents; such has the late Jack Buchanan has in (everything stops for tea, song) and somewhat similar to the late Noel Coward which is a perfect example of the accent mentioned. However, I should say we are all jolly good sports here and do not mind in the least about being teased one little bit which is just as well really, if you understand my meaning dear reader. However, I must admit I always feel a little out of place at these dinner jacket black tie events, has I would much rather be sitting by the river watching the drunken bobbing heads of my juvenile little owls in the trees as they desperately try to focus, as opposed to the drunken bobbing heads at these late night soirees desperately trying to focus, especially the ones who take great delight in dragging their knuckles across the floor much like a mountain gorilla by the end of the evening. But these particular hosts of whom I have known for quite some years are some of nicest generous people one could ever wish to meet. Even so has a glass of champagne was thrust into one hand and a strange looking canapé was placed in the other resembling something one might find in a compost heap, one’s mind cannot help but reciting the last verse of the (Rudyard Kipling poem If.) However, at this point the entertainment for the evening being a Hinge and Bracket sound alike struck up with the (cat duet) now if you have never heard this I suggest you count your blessings or you could take a listen to understand why I disappeared into the illuminated sunken garden where I found the vocal talents of the hounds of the Baskervilles made up off two border terriers and a Labrador far more entertaining. Nevertheless the champagne was emptied into the flower bed whilst the canapé was last seen hiding in the same flower bed as I have never been a great fan of alcohol let alone canapé’s. Of course, being quite amusing hosts they must have instructed the Hinge and bracket duo to strike up with (poor wandering one) which no doubt was for Alan’s benefit, but to which I have become accustomed to, as it is a bit like accidentally walking into a lamppost, as after a while the pain begins to recede somewhat.
Rudyard Kipling poem If – last verse
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue. Or walk with kings nor lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, but none too much; if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the earth and everything in it, and what’s more you’ll be a man my son!
Even so Alan being Alan I often use such occasions to seek permission to investigate the habitats of the many guests’ estates and small holdings to whom I am not familiar with, consequently this often leads to my opinions’ being sought on a range of subjects concerning ethics, starting with the use of nest cameras and the ringing of birds, and so my opinion on these matters is also contained within this post, hence the title of this post being (many wondering thoughts of a wandering minstrel) being my thoughts spoken out loud if you will.
However, I think they may well have also been investigating one’s suitability to roam too even though I like to think one’s pedigree is on a suitable scale but already being acquainted with most of the guests this alone normally provides free entry. And so I was pleased to say each and every one of my opinions was met with agreement from the well-informed guests. Consequently all my observation of breeding birds are always carried out with the use of a scope and binoculars even then a hide is still used at a safe distance in order to avoid causing stress to the birds, little owls are a “fairly tolerant species” although some can be quite the opposite; depending on the circumstances, even so I always treat “all the species” I study with the same respect and remain at a safe distance. In doing so I never take that many photos, and even the few photos I do take are not good enough to win any prizes, but nevertheless they are normally good enough for identification purposes should I “need to distinguish” between individual birds, but then again it is not always possible. Although some birds of the same species in this case the little owl usually have some distinguishing marks. Consequently, all photos taken are either by the use of the digiscope or one of my power zoom bridge cameras.
For similar reasons I do not believe in nest cameras, besides what can be possibly gained by doing so especially with the amazing technology available today. The only reasons I can see is for entertainment, and financial reasons made from doing so. Nevertheless, I will be returning to this subject later having seen the damage done by trespassers taking close up photos of nesting schedule 1 birds on my own land, not being content with all the other trouble they have caused here.
It is interesting to note in Northern Ireland disturbing breeding birds is not permitted across the bird species that includes the placing of nest cameras, unless a special licence is held. Nevertheless, this still does not go far enough in my opinion as an outright ban should be implemented on the use of nest camera’s not only in Ireland but here too to prevent causing stress and persistent alarm calling, especially when sensitive species are disturbed such has the goshawk. Again, I am of the opinion those who carry out these and similar activities are clearly placing their ‘egos, enjoyment, and financial rewards first’ before the bird’s welfare. Although, nest box cameras such as those used in blue tit boxes are entirely different of course has these are fitted before the breeding attempt begins, I also have no problem with cameras fitted to artificial nests such has the osprey on places such has Rutland water as these too are probably installed before the birds are due to arrive.
But before I precede any further I thought the following would be of some interest concerning bird intelligence and behaviour which is my particular area of interest.
And so bird brain is an expression widely used but how inaccurate it is when applied to birds themselves, so just to explain my point take a listen to the following example has anything capable of producing musical phrases is just one example of intelligence, but then again I would say that would I not, and this particular bird who has something to say about the importance of singing; so, if a bird is capable of the following then what else are they capable of, noticing when a nest camera is present for instance, bird brain I rather think not...
You may have to open an account in order to listen to the following brilliant example but I do assure you it is very quick and very simple to do being really “well worth while”
Nonetheless, I am also just beginning to sort my little owl notes out since I returned into some kind of order something I find so important, however since last time I spoke, I have also been tidying up my notes on Sparrow hawk behaviour too, particularly misinterpreted information as things have been misinterpreted and terminology confused concerning their behaviour in the past. For instance, the male Sparrow hawks foot pecking dancing display being a part of the courting process. Now the funny thing is I have never witnessed this during what amounts to almost a lifetime of observing Sparrow hawk behaviour neither has my brother that was up to now ‘to which I will explain later who also carried out a lifelong field study of sparrow hawks. Neither has it been documented by any eminent scientists / ornithologists recently nor in the past as one would expect being this species has been extensively studied over many years.
But something very funny concerning this question happened just before I set off on my journeys when a familiar rap tap tapping just so happened upon my door, no not the raven of the saintly days of yore as in the Edgar Allan Poe’s poem the raven, (best told by Christopher Lee) but my nephew the spitting image of Alan should I be so bold to convey. Hello says he I bid you greetings dear uncle, hmm must want to borrow something. In fact, nothing of the sort but yet more of my oldest brother notes who passed away two years ago plus his tool box of assorted sockets, spanners, imperial vernier calipers, and micrometers, no use whatsoever to my nephew or for much of the younger generation has most people use the metric system today. However, he also brought along my grandfather’s notes dating from nineteen twenty who use to walk nine miles to work each day and still had time to father seven children, three of which were lost on the first day of the battle of the sommn, and yet another at the age of twenty three from tuberculosis. However, it is only now having read the notes it was not nine miles he walked each day but nine miles there and back making eighteen! Suddenly I feel very small, insignificant, and inadequate, but very grateful to have being born much later only losing two of my own children, although my great, great, grand fathered eleven children in which all survived into adult life. These notes also reveal his occupation has that of a woodman the maker of rustic bowers, chairs, tools, and such for the village and all around. He was also further topped up his wages by cutting grass for making hay using only a hand scythe being a great lover of the countryside and trees in particular. But is it not strange how the trait of loving trees has been passed down through the generations from father to son. These notes also revealed he could also read events taking place in the countryside almost like a book, in fact he once remarked ah, I can see a time when the skylark will be few in numbers and the nightingale will no longer be heard singing at night so frequently, clearly a man of great vision too. However, I will return to the case of my grandfather’s notes concerning kestrels, little owls, and barn owls later, (see the Big Black Barn notes from the past.
Nevertheless, I have since had a chance to glance through the last of my brothers notes and there in black and white was the courting foot pecking display dance of the male Sparrow hawk both captive and in the wild. Now I come to think of it was this not observed by the professor of all there is to know being old Fred a recluse I befriended long ago while a small boy who lived in an old cottage way off the beaten track with no mains water and just a diesel generator providing electricity. However, the generator normally fell to me to start by the use of a starting handle, now if you have never done this I can assure it is no mean feat, with tractors being even more difficult especially on cold mornings as this would require two people one to swing the engine over while the other placed a hand over the breather rapidly taking the hand away as soon as the engine fired up.
Still, I really did enjoy myself has old Fred taught Alan many things as you may remember dear reader, those things concerning music, the workings of the internal combustion engine and the natural world including falconry, being the sparrow hawk and goshawk in particular. In fact, I still have his journals concerning much including his lifetime passion with these two hawks in particular their training and captive breeding in which one male sparrow hawk performed the said mating dance. Since I have little interest in falconry I never bothered to read those chapters that was until now, in any case even if I had I most probably would have forgotten such details which is why the keeping of notes is so important, in my case has I have poor memory recall.
And so, according to my brothers notes he too once bred sparrow hawks but never had the foresight to tell me has he and his family lived at the other side of the country at the time, still trying desperately hard to think back he probably had good reason to since Alan was once a little more inquisitive and adventurous with feats of derring do (Geoffrey Chaucer) then he is today shall we say. At this point I was going to relay some of these adventures in vivid detail but thought better of it since it may well induce a coronary amongst you all, not to mention just in case someone out there tried to repeat my foolish antics, after all we are invincible when we are young are we not. But the surprise on my brothers’ face was often etched in fear for his much younger brother has I carried out many a manoeuvre not too dissimilar to that of the atomic bomb exploding.
But to return to the question of the male sparrow hawks courting / dancing display e.g. (the pecking of feet whilst its under tail coverts feathers are fanned) my brother concluded that the one he saw in the wild performing this behaviour once belong to an austringer since this was once seen in his captive breeding program as observed by old Fred too many years ago in “his captive breeding program.” So, it would seem captive imprinted birds exhibit a rush of hormones to a far higher degree than those in the wild by the whole process of encouraging semen donation from the bird by the austringer, so it ‘could be’ the majority of wild male birds “never do” reach this heighten fever pitch, but nevertheless it would be a perfect answer to the question why this has never been documented in the past by any eminent scientists / ornithologists not to mention the many years of courting behaviour I witnessed from simply hundreds of pairs. And so, in the finale analysis the so-called mating dance could be nothing more than a sudden rush of hormones since the courtship displays I witnessed over the years only consisted of fanning of the under-tail feathers and aerial displays plus food passes by the male to the female as widely documented.
There are two main reason for aerial displays and possibly three in the case of the raven whom do this for sheer pleasure indeed reports by John Marzluff professor of wildlife science and Tony Angell has proved this to be the very case having received reports of eight ravens holding pieces of bark in their craws to use as a surf board to surf the wind, ravens have also been seen sliding on their backs down snow covered hillsides for sheer pleasure. Although many species take part in play including chickens, seabirds, songbirds, woodpeckers, swifts, parrots, hawks, and pigeons. Jungle crows have also been seen deliberately hurling themselves into the rising updrafts between two high rise buildings in order to ride the wind to the top. But play concerning ravens does takes many forms some being even more skilful and cleverer than those I have mentioned, but aerial displays normally happen for territorial reasons or as part of a courtship display as seen most famously in the sky dancing of the hen harrier. But to return to the foot pecking display of the Sparrow hawk in which interpretation seems to be the main problem in that it is connected with courtship, but I believe it is nothing of the kind but simply another case of misinterpretation. But has to the question of courtship feeding, I much prefer to call it food transfer my self has this activity continues throughout the breeding stage. Equally the very odd phenomenon of foot pecker could very well be caused by stress. It is very interesting to note our observations were always carried out at safe a distance from a hide using binoculars and scopes which are very affective in spotting every small detail the bird carries out, although on the occasion my brother witnessed the foot pecking behaviour was the one time he never used a hide, coincidence? Quite possibly but later when nest cameras came into fashion these were never used by us as I was and still am convinced such a clever bird as the Sparrow hawk is able to evaluate something is not has it should be. I do realise this sounds complete nonsense but I cannot think of another reason for an attack on an inanimate object such as a nest camera. Of course, birds on the whole take no notice of nest cameras whatsoever, but I have seen this type reaction enough times on other people’s nest cameras to prevent myself from using them, besides I do not like to take “any risk” that just may end in none breeding. Besides birds are “far more intelligent” then we give them credit for showing some really astonishing feats of brain power in the things they can perform, some species cleverer than others of course, with (Alex the African grey Parrot) being at the top of the list with (007 a New Caledonian Crow. There is no surprise that hawks, falcons, woodpeckers, pigeons, bullfinches have a high degree of brain power and even the humble sparrow is considered to have some degree of brain power too. It is interesting to note the carrion crows I kept when a young boy had their own different coloured plates for food in which they would only feed off their own. Mimicry is yet another example of brain power again with some astonishing examples shown, but the ability to sing elaborate varied phases not only of their own but other sounds too is something I simple would have believed possible if I had not seen and heard it for myself.
Nevertheless, I am sure most people would have noticed wood pigeons, homing pigeons, and collard doves displaying to their partners in a similar manner before copulation, although “their behaviour “should not be confused with the courtship display of the male Sparrow hawk which courts its partner has already explained, through the use of food, (feeding his partner.) Instead the male collard dove seems to be tango dancing expert in this respect, complete with their fancy quick step footwork whilst running along the ridge tiles with much low bowing of the head in which the tail raises and fans sometimes seen in wood pigeons too and corvids whom also display although not quite in the same way , as indeed does the male bird of paradise which goes to extraordinary lengths in its dancing display not mention its bright flashing plumage which I am sure you are aware of, as indeed does the male bower bird with its fantastic structure display. But some individual doves and pigeons have also taken their dancing display behaviour to a whole different level adding a pirouette or two. I can only conclude they must have been observing Alan hanging out the washing whilst glorious sun beams were enhancing ones’ perfect figure.
But to return to the question of nest cameras causing possible stress I still believe this is the case, of course I am fully aware that others will have the very opposite opinion, but this was first based on what one feels instinctively and ethically is right, has placing these close to nests carries the possibility that the hen may return when it is leading up to the egg laying stage, which is something that is absolutely unacceptable in my opinion. Even though the bird may appear excepting of the disturbance and reluctant to leave, but this should not be confused with being tame but quite the opposite, that being suffering from shock, leading to such species as the Sparrowhawk abandoning the breeding attempt if it has been handled e.g. lifted off the nest, carried out by those in the past who had the intellect of a five year old school boy, being no different than those who use to collect rare birds eggs, in any case I can hardly cause any harm by being ultra-careful in the way “my studies” are carried out.
In cases where nest building is half completed the result still remains the same that being causing unnecessary stress, although birds ‘may not show it by the very fact they may remain very close by, but I absolutely guarantee once visits have been made to hedge and ground nesting species too the more likely it is to be abandoned. Either that or predators will be able to smell the scent of human having made a visit leaving it open to predation by foxes rats, mice, weasels, and stoats, which indeed they can do without man making it even more likely.
In the final analysis what can be possibly gained by the aforementioned actions has ornithologists already know this information having been carried out for many years by more traditional methods e.g. binoculars, scopes, and by observing captive breeding in the case of nesting behaviour, and so the only reason I can think of is for their own selfish reasons, entertainment, but most of all for their own financial reward.
As I may have mentioned before I spend a great deal of time glued to the spot which is a highly effective strategy rather than wandering aimlessly, although wandering aimlessly can also prove worthwhile, but time will tell as I like to say. Nevertheless, you have probably noticed whenever your feeders are empty there appears to be few birds to be seen. But I absolutely guarantee as soon as one step’s out side a cacophony of calls will be heard followed by every bird in the neighbourhood turning up as soon as one step’s back inside after replenishing the feeders. In the same way all animals are curious and possess a certain degree of intelligence some more than others. To explain further, during the normal state of events other predators such as members of the crow family being extremely intelligent will sit watch and remember where nests are returning at their convenience once their attention has been drawn, other birds such has wood peckers, owls, and raptors will also visit nests removing the chicks even of other raptors too, wood peckers predating the smaller species. Although the nest cameras I speak of having been placed by others who have nothing better to do whilst I remain in my hide with a scope and binoculars. Although many species are quite tolerant returning to the nest until the young have fledged often revealing great care, in this particular case I refer to the Sparrow hawk in which they fold back their talons both when leaving and returning to their nests in order to protect their eggs and chicks. But that does not mean the adult birds have not been unaffected by stress caused by this type of disturbance has I eluded to early most probably causing the foot pecking display which seems to have no function apart from relieving possible stress, even though they may or may not return to nest in the very same place / area the following year, although I do not believe it is worth taking the risk myself. Living with animals as I do and tending to their every need does give one a further insight in how stress can affect an animal, especially in times of sickness.
Besides stress can be a long-term affliction affecting humans and animals alike to behave very unnaturally, noticeable in cage birds by self-harming – plucking out its feathers, and by the speed some birds most notably the goshawk which is secretive and highly-strung leaves its nest often resulting in an egg or chick being accidentally throw out, again leaving the fallen chick open to predation, if not killed by the fall to the ground. Of course, losing an egg or chick in this manner can happen to any bird but it is more likely if the adult has been flushed from its nest having been visited by man on previous occasions. Stress has also been proven to affect wild birds greatly something discovered by scientists carrying out blood tests measuring their corticosterone stress levels once they have been handled as one would expect.
Even tame birds such has chickens can be affected by stress sometimes caused by over enthusiastic people lifting the hen off her eggs to see if the hen has laid, the result being the hen sometimes stops laying, or in the case of incubating sometimes failing to hatch. This makes one think again about disturbing “wild birds in the breeding season” does it not, although I am fully aware of other reasons for not laying in chickens of course.
I do not think the full ramifications were ever thought though about nest cameras as this craze is now being used by just about anyone whom feels like doing so, such has the people I caught on my land. I seem to remember something similar happening when owls where being brought and illegally taken due to the Harry Potter film having been seen, of course most of these poor creatures having been mistreated were then taken to rescue centres when they realised there was much more to looking after an owl than they first thought, as owls on the whole do not make good pets.
Stress is also one of the reasons I do not agree with the ringing of birds which can lead to injury and even death in mist nets in some cases; I am not alone having this view on ringing either, besides this cruel practise has also been carried out for at least a hundred years, so is there ‘really a need to carry on, and has it prevented losses in the bird population. Placing a wild bird in a bag designed to calm it is in fact doing the very opposite i.e. it thinks it is about to die, and akin to hypnotising a chicken, an old side show trick in which a chicken has its eyes covered and turned upside down on its back and so it plays dead, which is cruelty personified is it not. And for what reason other than to entertain people whom like ringers like to fiddle with a bird fitting rings, and taking biometric measurements including a photo or two causing further stress. Even though I find such information interesting such has knowing how far a bird has travelled or knowing the reason for its mortality or how long it has lived is it really vital information. As in the case of recovered bodies only one to two percent of small birds are ever recovered, twenty percent in the case of larger birds, and less than half that in relation to raptors, however I believe the twenty percent figure is grossly inflated in order to have a reason to continue on with these dreadful cruel practises.
No one can ever be sure how the fitting of rings affects a wild bird having been put through this trauma either, for instance how many die through being temporally disoriented being more open to predation upon release, or shot with airguns by mindless youths whom collect rings as a badge of honour which is becoming very common in our towns cities and villages these days. In the final analysis the collected data is all to none avail as man will never stop destroying habitats, and polluting the seas, leading to food loss for thousands of sea birds such has the puffin in its search for sand eels, not to mention man’s use of poisons, snares, and medieval steel traps. Neither do I believe in driven grouse shoots which in turn has led to the demise of the hen harrier, when there should be at least three hundred pairs or releasing thousands of pheasant each year decimating the natural environment.
Besides, animals have survived for thousands of years without man interfering in this way too as he has already done enough damage to the world population of animals has we all know, so is it really fare to put a bird through the trauma of ringing just when it has just returned from flying thousands of miles. We already know a great deal about biometrics too from the unethical treatment carried out by the Victorians, one only has to visit any natural history museum to see the evidence.
Neither do I believe in ringing birds in nest boxes, having seen how terrified and stressed the young birds behave all hunched up together in the corner of their nest box after they have been weighed and rung etc. sometimes remaining like this for hours on end is enough to convince me this is not the sort of thing that should continue. In deed this sort of practise is even worse if the hen happens to be present as is often the case with kestrels which is absolutely unacceptable, as the hens are so paralyzed with fear and devoted to their brood they sometimes remain in the nest box throughout this whole dreadful process, young birds have also been known to explode from the box as soon as the person face appears in consequence they fall to the ground sometimes leading to their death. But of course the general public never gets to hear about these tragedies unless the lucky ones are found and replaced in their nest box.
Nonetheless, for all the reasons I have mentioned I believe ringing will be looked upon as unnecessary and a very odd thing to do in the future, in any case ‘nothing can change my mind’ on this whole issue, neither will it be the first-time experts have been completely wrong over a whole range of issues throughout history always trying to defend the indefensible, being unable to recognise the wood for the trees.
The human race really has a great deal to answer for including farmers, who use insecticides and such, and those who cannot help themselves from culling raptors, corvids, foxes, mountain hares, and badges is again inflicting a great deal of cruelty. At least I can sleep at night knowing I have never caused an animal any stress by handling them or disturbing them during their daily lives for one’s entertainment, instead of putting the bird’s welfare first. In the finale analysis the only beneficiaries are those famous people whom are receiving lucrative financial rewards by endorsing manufacturer’s products (expensive branded clothing and binoculars) and writing papers and books on the subject leaving the foot soldiers to carry out the work. It is enough to make one wonder whom the greatest beast to ever walk the earth is animal or man, looking through the pages of history I rather think the latter.
The following is interesting, but sad to say nothing much has changed very much it would seem...
The twentieth century has dawned on us; and as we float past this great landmark on the shores of time, feeling of great awe and wonder creep over us. What will the history of mankind in the hundred years whose first hours are even now gliding by? What changes will the new century witness. Will they be mainly for good or evil? Will the dominance of man over nature increase in the same degree than in the age gone by. How the changes will affect the morals and minds of man remains a subject for speculation. Will they be healthier, longer lived, better, and more intelligent, or will they remain the same as the people we have known.
The Times 1901
A statement that could be interpreted has the greed of man, the destroyer of the world’s resources. To quote T S Eliot this is the way the world ends not with a bang but a whimper.
The following is an interesting quote too from Erich Fromm...
Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.
I also believe those individuals concerned with financial reward and the nonsense of ringing and the long term fitting of satellite harnesses which adds no protection whatsoever but tends to make such birds even more a target has proven to be the case from those intending harm, which is why I do not think the recent introduction of the three young eagles in southern Scotland much hope as to their future. The instance of death in red kites is also very worrying where these harnesses have caused death form chafing which in turn causes infection and the long agonising death.
In fact, they would do far better to put their efforts towards the vital case of global warming’ before the planet disappears under a sea of water, as these conditions together with a toxic atmosphere of methane gas and other toxic mixes will make everything else pale into insignificance. The warning is already been given if drastic measures are not implemented within the next twenty years our planet together with all natures wonder will be beyond the point of no return, given this is only an estimate it could be half that time period.
In contrast I like to think of the natural world has our jewel in the crown, a treasure, a gift to us all, and the sooner man realises this the better off we all shall be, so very harsh penalties with zero tolerance is the only way to treat those whom commit the crime of killing animals such has raptors, corvids, foxes, mountain hares, badges, and everything else that escapes my mind at the moment instead of pussyfooting around with a mere slap on the wrist. Small fines and short prison sentences are far too lenient, but sad to say no one in the present seat of power has the will or enough backbone to stand up and be counted, having feet of clay and having a belief system that belongs in the dark ages as far as conservation is concerned. Left to nature the natural world is perfectly fit to control the natural balance of the ecosystem, but no, man just has to step in and upset everything by exterminating the natural predators for so called sport and financial reward.
Still that aside, I would also like to remind dog owners to please keep their pets on leads where there are likely to be ground nesting birds as they have enough to put up with as it is, it is also very important to keep to the footpaths. But why such people threaten the land owner whilst trespassing with the use of inappropriate language and worse is beyond me as this is really not necessary at all.
Little owl report twenty eighteen
But before I begin my report, I thought you may like to know a little about how my encounter with this bird first began. Interestingly enough it started with old Fred the recluse being something else I told you about in the past who kept a little owl carrying it around on his shoulder which earned its living by catching cockroaches in his old cottage. I also learned quite a bit more about these resourceful creatures a few years later during the very cold winter of nineteen sixty two, which survived by catching mice in our very large warm chicken sheds which simply teemed with mice normally only seen when the chicken sheds were cleaned out. Interestingly enough if this pair had not done so they would not have survived that harsh winter or indeed the pesticide era in which the Sparrowhawk completely disappeared from our area, although my behavioural studies of the Sparrowhawk was not interrupted as I knew where they were still successfully breeding, albeit quite a miles from our home.
Nonetheless, everything is going very well with my juvenile little owls this year having now dispersed, and here’s hoping a they will survive until next year, although a great deal will not make it through their first winter. I have also gathered together a lot more details on their behaviour, but the thing worrying me at present is the lack of new occupied territories. I have also asked my friends to keep me informed of any but so far there has been no response since nearby land is increasingly being sold to property developers, concrete jungles in fact, so in spite of still being a few very suitable isolated nesting areas that I do know there is none being used, and so it is looking like the little owl could have an increasingly bleak future along with many other species of flora and fauna which I fear is now irreversible in favour of financial gain being the status quo, yet another example of man’s folly. But this is not such a big surprise given the change in farming practises, in which much of the remaining countryside has turned into deserts with very little wildlife compared to when I was young, in fact if it was not for isolated farmyards, small holdings, and strictly privet estates owned by people who really do care I for one would be in very deep trouble. Particularly has an observational study such as mine would be a great deal more difficult if not impossible if it was not for these strictly private venues as these provide the perfect habitat and solitude one needs to carry out uninterrupted studies. Still taking everything into account the overall little owl population seems to be hanging on and may indeed be a little higher then stated but has for the future I still think the outlook is very bleak for this charming little creature.
The Big Black Barn notes from the past...The very name causes shivers to run down the spine does it not, but this is how everyone use to refer to it owing to the fact it was coloured black of course, but more intriguingly than that many years ago a great tragedy happen not a stone’s throw away from the old barn when a young lady fell down the well to her death having produced a child out of wedlock, or did she throw herself down the well too ashamed to face those around her, or even pushed. I know it does seem like a strange action to take but having a child out of wedlock in the eighteen hundreds was seen as a “very great sin” although taking one’s life over such a thing is very hard to believe now even though this sort of thing often happened, either that or they were sent away to be brought up by an aunt or another relation because of the humiliation it would cause to all concerned. Indeed even in my lifetime it was still seen as very sinful the lady concerned being seen as a hussy, a trollop, the talk of the village being pointed out to all who passed by. The suspected villain of the peace in the former case being the head of the nearby manor house, it is interesting to note if the congregation did not attend church, twice on a Sunday, they would be severely punished by the owner of the manor house. All in all, what strange morals they had then. However, the old barn and the well are long since gone having been left to fall into disrepair, the well having been filled in.
But how is this connected with little owls I here you cry, well most years kestrel, little owl, and barn owl, use to nest and fledge happily in the old barn all at the same time (interspecific behaviour.) This situation lasted off and on from nineteen twenty to nineteen fifty five according to my grandfather notes, I strongly suspect due to the fact the landscape was vastly different with lots of hedgerows, ditches, and ponds therefore plenty of available food, again all but gone since then has modern farming practises are the order of the day. However by nineteen twenty the little owl had populated much of England and areas of Wales, and right up to the Scottish borders by nineteen forty eight, albeit in “very small numbers” in the case of the Scottish borders. The funny thing is though little owls are still nesting in what is left an old stone wall next to where the barn once stood, but then again little owls are creatures of habit being sedentary and tend to stay in the same area as long as the habitat remains suitable to support them, but nothing else remains now except for a few trees where the old barn once stood. But still to this very day plenty of mixed species of birds return to visit and roost in these trees where the young lady use to regularly feed the birds with scraps of food having been in service at the manor house, coincidence? Most probably but the very spot still has that certain strange feeling about it.
However, the last thirty weeks I am very pleased to report went pretty much to plan in reference to my little owl field studies having now completed the maintenance / cleaning of their boxes for another year so one is looking forward to next year now when my behavioural studies of the little owl will start all over again. Although to be truthful my daily observations of farmland birds is a continuing process that never ends, of course there are days when I see very little but somehow it matters not since being in the countryside each day is enough bringing one great joy. Besides, walking in the countryside is the best therapy one can ever take has it clears the mind and sets one up for all tasks ahead.
Nonetheless, I have also kept quite busy since the last report such as building more boxes, in actual fact I made five more little owl boxes totalling fifty-five now which is all one man can maintain especially as they are spaced out many miles apart. These are fitted to poles far away from any trees to help deter grey squirrels; although grey squirrels cannot enter my boxes since I made improvements, but their constant harassment in the early stages of breeding can still cause the birds to abandon their attempt, hence the use of aluminium scaffold poles. These poles are made in two sections the first short section is concreted three feet into the ground and a longer section fitted with a swivel system much the same has a flag pole so it can be lowered to the ground consequently there being no need for a ladder, the box and pole is then fitted with anti-predator devices. I also have an elevated staggered tunnel system inside the box to prevent too much light entering has little owls much prefer darkness; the elevated tunnel is also to prevent the juveniles from leaving the box too early in their flight muscle development thereby helping to prevent predation, as juveniles have been known to lose their life by falling during branching. So far, the design has proved to be one hundred percent successful indeed, all have made their first flight to the safety of the hedgerows.
Nevertheless, of the fifty-five boxes five were used by great tits, of the rest four contained one unhatched egg, which I found when cleaning out the boxes but having no way of knowing the cause of which there are “more than a few” I can only speculate as to the reason, although this is not at all unusual across the bird species. Although I should say the four containing one unhatched egg still produced three chicks. The remaining number of nest sites produced three and four offspring to which all fledged and dispersed.
Unfortunately, I still find the standard design of little owl boxes placed in trees but this not such a good idea given my early experiences has these are left open to predators such as grey squirrels, stoats, weasels, and avian predators, and foxes too should the juveniles fall during branching, of course, I also have many other nests to monitor but these are natural nesting sites in hollow trees, walls, and outdoor buildings.
In the meanwhile, my quest for answers in all thing little owl related continues for yet another year as well as my eternal interest in Sparrow hawk and buzzard behaviour too it would seem, oh and not to mention the corvids of which old baggy pants the king of deportment himself remains a shining beacon - the rook of course or is it crook, since they are both very closely related when it comes to stealing its next-door neighbours nesting material.
Alas, it would not be possible to take you with me on my adventures but I think my poems will help in understanding the following past unusual encounter has these poems were inspired by actual witnessed events.
The Little Owl
Sitting in his lonely tree the “stranger” passed on by, too busy just to notice him the twinkling yellow eye.
He has no cares for he holds sway over all that he surveys, waiting in his lonely tree till closing of the day.
Time to hunt, time to sing, his haunting melody, for time draws close to present a gift in another tree.
Times are good mice are here but still he soldiers on, for now he has more mouths to feed for now the job is long.
Four new calls now fill the air their rasping melody, but now two skilful hunters fly to hunt from every tree.
The time has passed its time to see the parting of their ways, but still he cannot rest this ever-fearless slave.
Still sitting in his lonely tree there’s something on his mind from those who may venture by, others of his kind.
He calls and sings and drives them all from his pleasant land for he must stay in his tree to make the desperate stand.
Bright amber lights
Bright amber lights peer out from the dark shaded under a hooded brow, fierce and courageous he shows no fear as he flies from his post to the bough.
The days may be long but his talons are strong to resist is a foolish game, the vice like grip holds on to the death, all to its victim’s shame.
Fierce amber lights shine out from the gloom to light up a cold winters dawn, try as he may he has to stray fleeing from the storm.
Speeding on drove the huge shining beast its owner was unaware that the lord of the night flew its last flight all in its foolish despair.
No more songs fill the crisp cold morn its feathers are tattered and torn his flight from the beast lies dead where it greets a bright amber dawn.
But surprising to say not far away dark shapes are there in their tree, with fire in their eyes they look to the skies sheltering from the storm.
And so the following is something that actually did take place and something I would have never believed lucky enough to witness, even though the taking of Sparrow hawks by little owls has been documented, but then again, I once witnessed a jackdaw inflict an injury so serious upon a female Sparrow hawk my vet had to put it to sleep. But on this particular evening I was just thinking about returning to the tent and turning in early has early starts and long days had beginning to be a little too much, but had I done so I would never had witnessed the following, strange is it not fate, destiny, call it what you will. Nevertheless, the events I am about to describe are very unusual, but then again may be not even though the amount of time I spend in the countryside is boarding on the unhealthy but then again it does bring its own reward, time will tell I like to say. But then again in order to record a true representation of behaviour a reasonable amount of both time and many numbers of pairs must be observed in many different types of habitats has the behaviour in pairs can vary. In any case I am of the opinion if only one man is involved in such a study these conditions must be met in order to satisfy one and be worth its salt; hence the many years I spent studying Sparrow hawk behaviour.
Nevertheless, rather than recreating the whole scene which has already been entered in my notes destined for my autobiography which indeed all my observations are, but in this instance I have taken poetic licence to create a very brief scene seen through the eye of the birds themselves in order to make it more entertaining for you the reader, has I do realise my gathered data will only really interests a very small minority of people.
But then again my autobiography was never intended to be such or published in the first place but rather a volume recalling my day to day account of my Sparrow hawk adventures that can be handed down through my family a legacy if you will, has so many families have next to nothing to remind them of their family and the past something that was brought home to me by conversations with families that only wished they had, indeed many families possessions only consisted of a few dog eared black and white faded photographs of the past. And so consequently it has turned into an autobiography the size of a small house since while researching my family tree I found I am distantly related to J K Rowling having first seen the name of Rowling on birth and marriage certificates I have acquired of my family, including notes and photos of my great uncle working in the woods as a tree surgeon, having employed the services of a professional photographer. Yes, I know what you are thinking it is hardly going to be the same J K Rowling, indeed I was thinking the very same thing but the photo of my ancestor does hold a remarkable likeness, although on second thoughts having Norwegian ancestry “I could be also related to Eric Blood Axe the Viking,” but then again perhaps this is where my dogged dedication and blooded determination came from, now that is thought is it not!
However, to return to the little owl scene mention a moment ago I have implied birds have intelligence, not to this degree portrayed here but they are a great deal more intelligent than most people think they are. Oh, I should also mention Clicker is how the birds refer to Alan being the man with the camera. A man with a camera is normally a man with knowledge and skill of photography but I am afraid Alan has no such skill in this regard by any stretch on the imagination or indeed interest, in consequence I never take many photos, in actual fact it can be detrimental to do so has any bird behaviour happening around one can be missed or so easily misinterpreted whilst fiddling with a camera’s settings or indeed peering through a viewfinder. Nevertheless the cameras I own are not expensive by any means as I fear it would be inappropriate, although having said that I use to develop, print, and enlarge my own photos having a Rolleicord and all the darkroom equipment all of which I gave away. Nonetheless I still use a hide even though little owls are fairly tolerant or so they say, but this is not entirely true in any case I never take any statement relating to bird behaviour has written in stone as some will have you believe. For instance, is every robin willing to eat out of ones’ hands, I hardly think so just as every individual bird no matter what the species has their own experience to draw on having their own individual personality / tolerance level. Nevertheless, the ability to learn and the powers of instinctive reaction is but two gifts that birds possess but the crows’ funeral is an example of learning to evaluate in order to avoid its own predation, yet another scene I have witnessed and already entered into my lifetimes work, which is exactly how an autobiography should be in my opinion not one published at a very early age only to be repeated every couple of years full of nothing worth reading being designed to reap financial reward, impress the public, and nothing else.
However I now have the absolute pleasure of presenting “my interpretation” and synopsis of witnessed events entitled...
Four domed shaped headsThe main players...
Blue wing, flashy by name sarcastic by nature
Monty, the magnificent
Narrator, Clicker the mysterious
Oh, what a bright sunny day this really is remarked Blue wing the sarcastic Sparrow hawk, and there he is again the dome headed fool everyone calls Monty sunning himself as usual. Come to think of it he would make quite a nice meal but I am after smaller game today and trying my very best to outwit the enigma that is Clicker. But why does this strange human keep hiding the feathers from my kills each time I take a meal hmm, anyhow I have no time for a long fight with a dome headed fool on a day such has this. Instead Blue wing landed in his usual tree and began to scan the scene around him unaware of the extremely hungry pair of large yellow eyes shadowing, watching, and waiting for any likely prey from the safety of his very own fence post.
Day after day went by with just the odd mouse and spider Monty managed to find in the old hay barn, but just has he felt like casting his fate to the wind a large flock of linnets suddenly appeared and began to feed on grain Clicker had left out on the field margin. It was such a pity Monty had not seen these first but then again linnets are extremely quick to take to the wing, not too quick for Blue wing but far too quick for Monty on this particular occasion.
Taking the linnets by surprise the Sparrow hawk managed to strike one down while the rest made good their escape, in the meantime the victor immediately began to pluck his prize. Turning the bedraggled body of the linnet round the Sparrow hawk now had his back turned, Monty thought about stealing the prize but instead he blinked his large yellow eyes and began to shake his short tail and rearrange his brown spotted feathers on his very own fence post once more, another time you will not be so lucky my lad he thought. But he also knew it would a full and hardy venture to take on a Sparrow hawk, but sometimes needs must! Monty was also fully aware that this was not just any old male Sparrow hawk either, or a sleepy wood pigeon which he had taken before but then again little owls are tenacious fighters and considered the most courageous and fiercest of all for their small size with very strong muscles set in long powerful legs not to mention their very sharp needle point talons.
Now I have seen male little owls taking delivered food back from the females during the breeding season, not food piracy but instinct in order to cache it away for later, much to the annoyance of the females. In these particular instances I suspected inexperience young males although males will cache food when he has delivered plenty, in these particular cases mainly mice, although I have found all sorts of prey in caches including bantam chicks. Although little owls mainly feed on insects, caterpillars’ worms, voles, and mice they are not averse to taking a bird or two, almost 90 different species including some quite large ones, e.g. jay, jackdaw, magpie, kestrel, Sparrow hawk, wood pigeon, partridge, moorhen, including their own kind, oh and a young rabbit or two. In fact I had a long conversation with the gardener at one of my venues who told me of an instance where both little and short eared owls were taking young rabbits from their burrows much to his surprise.
Little owls were also once heavily persecuted by game keepers for taking pheasants, whilst I know there are records of entire broods of young chicks being taken I can find no records of full grown adult birds but having seen how they handle blackbirds and thrushes I can quite imagine how they just might have a go at a hen pheasant whilst they are brooding. But of course, little owls also fall prey to Sparrow hawks too not to mention tawny owls. However, I feel I should point out these larger preys are only taken on “very rare” occasions indeed, as I would not like you to think they some kind of frenzied killing machine, indeed most of their time is spent frightening the lives out of insects. I should also say wood pigeon is the only large prey I have ever seen taken by a little owl plus one male Sparrow hawk over many years including the years spent studying Sparrow hawk behaviour. Indeed, little owls normally disappear very rapidly whenever corvids, larger owls, and raptors appear, even the male Sparrow hawk spoken about here was unable to be confirmed has you are about to read dear reader.
Nevertheless, just like all little owls Monty could also fly and run at the speed of bullet in a very short dash, but then again this was no ordinary Sparrow hawk, oh no this particular “stranger” was Blue Wing the killer!
March at last! Now Monty had more things on his mind then food a nice female companion would not go a miss he thought, so every evening his haunting call echoed round the meadow only to be unanswered. Day after day Monty repeated his mournful cries only to be greeted back with silence, and so after a few more days he flew to the edge of his territory to try yet once again. But this part of his territory always felt a little strange and eerie for other predators lived in the nearby deep dark woods, Sparrow hawks for instance!
What’s that thought Monty, a tasty looking female dome head if I am not mistaken! Monty was not mistaken for it was indeed a female of the species, so courting was now on the cards big time. And so, mice and anything else edible was delivered to her majesty and much rubbing of faces was called for as affection is rated very high on the list amongst little owls.
The very next thing was to find a home and it was not very long before he found the very thing, a nice large square box was found fixed to a post. Hmm who built this thought Monty and who keeps hiding the remains of Blue wings kills just in case they catch the unwanted attention of the destroyer of worlds those pesky humans. But this was not the usual hole in a tree or hole in a wall, oh no this home was snug and warm, a gift from the lord of the night he thought, and so it was. Of course, it was no such thing has the lord of the night being their spiritual protector has every little owl knows, all except Monty that is. No indeed this was Clicker.
Mid-June; and the sound of four dome headed rasping calls now filled the evening air for the parents now had four hungry juveniles to satisfy. Beetles, moths, spiders, worms, mice, voles, and small birds were now on the menu, with both parents doing their very best to fulfil their juveniles every need.
A pair of Sparrow hawks also had a large family to feed deep in the woods and both set of parents were busy flying to and throw with small and medium size songbirds. Blue Wing was now doing his best to satisfy their juvenile appetites too but it was now becoming extremely hard work trying to find enough food for each one of his ravenous screaming juveniles, desperate even!
What is that Blue wing thought has he made his last evening flight, Monty the little owl if I am not mistaken sitting on his usual fence post once again. Hmm oh what a big ugly looking Toby jug he really is thought Blue wing but tasty I have no doubt, so keeping very close to the ground to conceal his approach the Sparrow hawk thrust out his long legs making contact with Monty. Over and over they rolled first one on top and then the other, but Monty succeeded in sinking his talons deep into Blue wings head and neck, now I have you my lad what do you have to say about that! Come on spit it out, Clicker said Blue wing screeching has his blood began to stain the grass, Monty had no idea what the Sparrow hawk meant by that remark but perhaps he was asking for help has a flurry of feathers drifted off into the evening air. But has you might imagine there was not any outright winner has both birds made a very hasty retreat, Monty into the safety of his ivy covered tree, whilst Blue wing disappeared very swiftly has only Sparrowhawks can do, I never did see Blue wing again presuming he died from his injuries, or did he!
However, the following year and just has Monty breathed a huge sigh of relief another male Sparrowhawk appeared on the scene, rather a large one this time as well answering to the name of Hercules, but at least this one spent most of his time just scanning the scene, for now at least...
All’s well that ends well...
Incidentally, the following would make a nice Christmas present for your love one’s dear reader, or oh light of wonders as I normally refer to them has, nonetheless, I particularly like the diary on which a little owl sketch is placed being surprising true to life (see gifts and gifts for her) clearly a very usual thing for a Viking to do but then again maybe not.
wrendaledesigns. co. uk
But before I disappear into Valhalla I apologies for my grammar throughout this post has I have been diagnosed with something called (MCI - mild cognitive impairment) - memory loss, without realising what it was for quite a few years. In my case it also manifests itself as missing out words or making spelling mistakes in this case ‘word blindness’ has no matter how many times I read the word the spelling still appears correct. Or indeed using the wrong words, or missing out full details in an answers to questions, I may even construct a sentence with the meaning being in reverse, difficult to explain but no doubt you may have noticed. I also tend to change the subject quite quickly otherwise I tend to forget exactly what I last wrote thereby repeating myself. But strangely enough it does not affect any “other part” of my daily life whatsoever, neither does it affect my guitar or keyboard playing which could be due to the higher sensory centre of the brain is being used, as in the singing Bullfinch example which is why playing an instrument is so very important to those whom have memory loss. Apparently learning to sing also brings great rewards too according to scientific research. Nonetheless I have endeavoured to do my very best throughout this post but very pleased to say my quirky sense of humour still remains fully intact, in any case I have two proof readers whom are kept busy checking every detail should my book ever be published which is just as well really.
Alan, still wandering...