Showing posts from June, 2015

Mobbing frenzy

Short-toed Eagle with snake (John Hawkins) The juvenile Blackbird was adopting a curious stance on the ground. It held its body erect and alert, its wings dropped, so that their tips almost brushed the earth and, most striking of all, its dark new tail spread wide like a stiff fan, also pushed downwards. Indeed so widely opened was the tail that the shafts of its twelve pristine-perfect feathers were countable. Adjacent to the young Blackbird was a Nightingale, cocking its tail skywards and giving a dry harsh alarm call. A posse of House Sparrows charged noisily onto the scene, scenting danger. In the bush above an Azure-winged Magpie swooped in to join the frenzy, uttering its menacing nasal drawl. It took me a little longer to figure out what the commotion was about. Just a few centimetres in front of the Blackbird lay the greyish-brown form of a Ladder Snake, almost a metre in length and with the diagnostic parallel dark lines running from head to tail along its upper surface. I

Opportunity terns

Gull-billed Tern colony (Martin Kelsey) Hit by the heat of summer, now laden upon us, a soporific solstice, I feel a lull across most of the landscape. There is a tidyness across the sun-bleached plains, with hay stacked in bales and stubble fields in lieu of crops. They are dotted by White Storks, foraging for youngsters which any moment now will vacate their nests. Around the smallholdings and gardens in the village, the withered yellowed stems that remained of the spring flush have been cut and gathered. We are all fire conscious and have used last few weeks in trimming and tidying. The dehesas are neat with each tree defined in shape against the dry golden pasture below. Summer sounds different too. The Nightingale now croaks like a frog, its song period over and we hear merely its call note from the bramble cover. Dawn is quieter, save for year-long House Sparrows' conversations. There are flurries of Spotless Starlings passing by whilst small parties of Bee-eaters slowly