Wednesday, 23 January 2008

woodpeckers, squirrels and dancing sea gulls

On the way to taking our daughter to school we passed a thrush siting on a fence post, only a couple of feet away singing. To my surprise it did not fly off when we passed. On the way back I heard a great spotted woodpecker drumming and found it at the top of the usual tree. As I watched, the woodpecker started to forage and it was then I realised this was not the drummer and I soon spotted another woodpecker in the next tree. Like before this one was joined by a third and after much chasing around the branches they both flew off. I did not see what happened to the first woodpecker.
On the way to pick our daughter up from school in the evening I was attracted by the sound of a squirrel on the flint wall of the park. This was a warning call, a bit like a wheezy squeak repeated over and over. I could not tell what the cause of the excitement was, usually a predator nearby. This call may be directed at cats and large birds such as crows and magpies. Occasionally when checking out an irrate squirrel I have found the cause to be a kestrel or a fox. Sometimes the warning call is directed at a sleeping owl but I have not witnessed this yet.

On the corner of the road, where I meet my daughter, two herring gulls were performing a dance. This is done to attract earthworms to the surface which they snatch up and eat. Standing side by side at one point they did look like a double act, but it was definately a free for all when they spotted a worm. It did look rather like Riverdance in flippers. It always amazes me how they can lift up their feet so quickly but keep there body still.

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