Thursday, 23 June 2011

Herring gull tragedy, fox and a tortoiseshell butterfly

A morning of heavy rain. One of the nest gulls is curled up on the nest.
As the rain eases the gull gets up and has a good preen. No sign of the remaining herring gull chick.

Later the sun comes out and the first tortoiseshell butterfly visit the bramble flowers just outside of our garden wall.

It was after 9.00pm when the Herring gulls on the nest became agitated and very vocal. It started flying around squawking and diving low over the houses garden, flying straight up over our back garden turning and then swooping back again.

As I stood there watch a fox came slinking along our side wall carrying something big and brown in its jaws. The second missing chick? It was too dark to tell. The chick may have fallen in the strong wind and rain over night and this morning.

There had not been any calling (and the chick had previously been very vocal) or any distress calls before the fox appeared so I am guessing that if it was the chick it was already dead. I followed the fox around the side of the house and by the time I reached the front garden the fox was already well down the track.

The Herring gulls on the other nest around the front were also dive bombing the fox, so I did not ant to follow to closely in case they dive bombed me too. Herring gulls have a good memory and would likely dive on me when ever it saw me again.

The fox turned and looked at me before disappearing into a garden on the left where I had suspected before that there may be a den.
I went back in doors and after a while the gull started dive bombing the same garden again.
I thought I heard a screech on one of the dives and so I went up into the loft and looked out of the skylight. There on our shed roof was a fox. It did not seem to be particularly bothered by the noisy gull diving on it.
I went back down stairs and looked out our back garden. Ahead poked over the roof and looked at me, a fox. Then another head appeared beside it. The infra red light from my cameras focusing illuminated their eyes red and one fox ran away. I managed to get a quick photograph before this one too disappeared.
It took several hours before the gulls calmed again.

What ever the cause, the herring gull nest appeared to be empty

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