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Showing posts from March, 2015

Heraldic Bluethroats

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It was the white spot which made us gasp. As it turned to face us, standing with elegance with its long legs, drooped wings and cocked tail, the male Bluethroat transformed. Having shown us its hind view, predominately a grey mousy-brown, with an orange base to the sides of its tail, face-on the difference could not have been more startling. It bore a throat and breast of pure sapphire, carrying a broad darkish band below which untidily merged onto an even broader dark brick-coloured cumberband. But what drew our gaze was its badge of immaculate white, centrally placed amidst the blue. It was almost reflective in its quality, like a medallion, illuminous even. It was hard to think of feathers being the medium for this - it was more like an inlaid little mirror in a Rajasthani embroidery.

I had a fondness for this particular Bluethroat, as I have watched it many times over the last few months, as it fed within its little winter territory, making mouse-like scurries across patches of o…

Jigsaw spring

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The jigsaw puzzle that is spring is starting to take form.....every year there is the overture, embracing the exodus of Common Cranes in late February with a dramatic arrival of a first wave of summer visitors. A natural remedy: if we feel bereft at the departure of the winter soundscape of bugling cranes, so the enchantment of months' of engagement with the delightful Lesser Kestrels is gifted to us. Thus by early March, with merely a rump of a few dozen cranes remaining from the tens of thousands, Barn Swallows are already collecting mud for their nests and Short-toed Eagles hang in the sky, as if fixed for the emergence of their serpentine prey from hiberation. The gentle caressing fluty Blackbird song starts and closes the day. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fall, in an orderly sequence into place, species by species. The timing, phenology, of arrivals and departures fascinates all, for motives ranging from the science of evolutionary adaptation to the wider marking of the p…