Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nature red in tooth and claw

We seem to have had several rather gruesome days at the caravan!

A couple of days ago I looked across the field to see a large gull tucking into what I thought looked like the remains of a young rabbit. It was quite a big and elegant bird with a black back, a gull that I don't recall seeing in the field here before (we usually have herring gulls), our neighbour from across the field reckons it was a Great black-back gull. He was sufficiently intrigued to take some video of it (eek!) and told us it actually stood on the rabbit and then tore off strips of meat. Two herring gulls were standing by looking hopeful, but they didn't stand a chance!

Yesterday it rained from around 5am, very hard, and with a strong south-easterly wind, blowing hard on the side of the caravan. John was making lunch when he began cursing - water was dropping down on him from one of the spotlights in the kitchen! Not a lot to do at the time, as it was raining too hard to investigate. So we called our landlord, who said he'd get in touch with Gwilym to come and take a look. We suspect the vent/skylight over the shower is the weak point, especially since we were getting water coming into the shower.

Despite the rain we had some rather bedraggled goldfinches feeding on the niger seed and the sunflower hearts for most of the morning. The rain cleared soon after mid day, though it still looked rather nasty over the mainland. We watched a kestrel hovering over the fields by the farm, and then over our field, and it stooped over the next door field further over to us.

Goldfinches feeding

Meanwhile we had about seven goldfinches trying to feed from the niger seed, and it only has four perches. Two of the goldfinches got into a kerfuffle, flying up into the air with an explosion of wings, circling each other and making a racket. Suddenly a brown bomb descended from the sky, a flurry of brown wings flying away, with a small body dangling from its feet. So we think that the kestrel had missed its prey before, and taken a goldfinch instead.

This morning there was a similar altercation between a couple of the goldfinches. For a while nothing happened, but then there was another avian explosion. I missed the hunt, but John saw a large bird dive and chase a small one into the hedge. Suddenly it was there, sitting on a post just outside the caravan window. Bright yellow eye, yellow tallons, but nothing in beak or tallons - we think the little bird got away this time! I managed to take a photo, and from that we think it was a male sparrowhawk this time.

Tallonous bird


Jozephine said...

What an amazing photo. According to my bird book this is a male.

seahorse said...

Crikey it's all go in the countryside! And that is a truly fabulous shot.

Cusp said...

Great photo. Your caravan sounds a lovely retreat. I hope you can get there often over the summer.

peri said...

Wow really great photo.