Showing posts from February, 2013

The mating game

Despite some rather cold northerlies, more blossom is now appearing, the almonds completing their show as the mimosas start, with their gaudy lemon yellow flowers. Buds are opening..yes, the sap is certainly rising. There is noticeably  more bird song now: Serins, Woodlark, Great Tit, Linnet, Hawfinch, and woodpeckers are drumming. Nesting and egg-laying are just around the corner and the bird world is getting full of courtship and mating. Nuptials with the White Stork are impossible to miss. Probably most of the males that arrived weeks ago on their nests are already paired and the wonderful sound of bill-clacking can be heard from town squares where the nests sit on church roofs and bell towers. This is a bonding call, far-carrying, which the birds use as a greeting ceremony right through the breeding season. The bird standing on the nest will throw its head back and then drop it down, then toss it upwards again, bill-clacking, as its mate approaches. It surely must have provided

Winter moves to spring

I hear them well before I see them. A calm, mild day in early February and the sky almost entirely cloudless. Garden chores have built up as a combination of wet weather and my periods of absence, and there is always a race to catch up at the turn of the season. I am turning over the earth in the vegetable garden. What a magnificent morning. I hear them again, the honking calls of geese. I struggle to find them and then, directly overhead, high against the bluest of skies, two skeins of Greylag Geese, heading north. Not quite perfect "V" formation, slightly ragged at the edges with two or three geese flying as outliers, but clearly on the move. Our wintering Greylag Geese  departing. I always find witnessing migration as quite moving, even emotional, as the annual cycle starts in motion again with the birds driven by a combination of internal and external factors: daylength, hormones, instinct and learning. I stood in awe and as I did so, just above my head hawked a Barn S