Showing posts from July, 2016

Swiftly Moving Along

The lazy days of high summer are upon us, when in the world of wild creatures something of a lull occurs. No more frantic breeding activity, food is relatively plentiful and everything can take a bit of a breather. But it doesn’t last. Before long there will be sure signs that summer has given way to early autumn. The first and most obvious change will be the departure of our swifts that seem to leave us so suddenly that it takes us by complete surprise. There have been some reasonable sized gatherings of this enigmatic bird locally; I counted about 30 over my garden wheeling together at dusk a few days ago. These flocks include a fair proportion of juvenile birds but sadly represent only a fraction of the large spiralling flocks that could once be observed here.
Devil Birds they called them; Screechers, Shriek Owl, Screamers. But to us inhabitants of the 21st century they are just swifts, common swifts at that. I can’t help thinking the old colloquial names sum the bird up much bette…

All Things Are Relative

Fed up with the current state of events? Tired of hearing about the in-fighting of our politicians? Frustrated with the gibberish peddled by our media? Consider this.
It is said that travel broadens the mind. It’s true. There's nothing like wandering around the wonderful old town of Jerusalem whilst tripping over M16 bedecked soldiers at every street corner to bring home to you how tenuous day to day life can be for some; nothing like seeing a small child walking alone along a 5 miles stretch of empty road dwarfed by Andean mountains to make you appreciate the comfort our own cocooned children enjoy on their 4x4 enshrouded school runs; nothing like watching tens of thousands of honey buzzards drifting south over the Caucuses of Batumi, in waves stretching back as far as the eye can see, to make you realise in jaw dropping fashion how marvelous bird migration is.

Over the past couple of years we have found ourselves using British Airways quite a lot. Whilst sitting there with several…

Swallows Make the Summer

The visual evidence of how the season is speeding by can now be seen very clearly at NWT Ranworth Broad. Here, a walk along the boardwalk will take you through lushly vegetated wetland where head high reed sways in the breeze, their ranks speckled with pastel pink valerian, purple spikes of marsh thistles, white umbels of milk parsley and yellow spires of loosestrife. In the wet swamp carr, woodbine, perfumed sweet, entwines with woody bittersweet and the Royal fern thrusts its spore laden fingers skyward. Rich summer profusion.
But it is perhaps the activity of the birds that indicates how we have moved from the frantic urgency of spring; the chasing, screeching, posturing and skirmishing, to the more focused task of fledging this year’s offspring.  And the most obvious species to be encountered as you look out over the broad from our floating visitor centre are the grebes, terns and the swallows.
One pair of grebes are busy looking after a pair of humbug-striped chicks quite close to…