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Showing posts from June, 2014

Squeaks and Chatters

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Different sounds and rather different looking birds are now making their presence felt as the year moves past the solstice.  It is as if a switch has been clicked to a different setting. The landscape had settled some time ago into its summer lull, sun-dried grasses tall on the wayside and patchily spread across the unkempt pastures. For some this is an unattractive time of year, seemingly bereft of growth, of green. But for me, the harsh conditions, perhaps even unforgiving, represent both a challenge and also a story of life. We witness nothing more than part of a cycle, with the commotion and energy of spring subsiding as a spent force. Now is a time for fruits and seeds, for a slow reabsorption of plant material, through dessication and decomposition, back to the earth. And for many of the birds now the final chapters of their own breeding cycles. By and large, song has been switched off, but instead unfamilar sounds reach our ears, from tree-tops and shrubs: begging calls of fle…

A festival for our urban falcons

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June is a superb time to be watching our town-dwelling Lesser Kestrels. They are hard at work bringing food for their chicks in the nests. Standing last weekend in the main square of Trujillo with my colleague Jesús Porras we watched birds that were nesting in the centre of town continually heading out in precisely the same northerly heading. Although we could not recognise birds individually, there seemed to be almost waves of departures followed just minutes later by a return, which each bird carrying, usually in the bill, but sometimes in their talons, large insects to feed the young. These grasshoppers, giant centipedes and crickets would have been detected by the Lesser Kestrels during their hovering flight over the dry grasslands, now with tall yellow stems winnowing in the breeze. Loose groups of Lesser Kestrels, holding themselves motionless , each hanging at about the same height above the ground, can be encountered over the large paddocks scattered across the berrocal, the …