Thursday, 14 January 2010

Bizarre behaviour

The safari was browsing the blogosphere and reading Birds2Blog was intrigued by the pictures of the Stonechats doing rather well feeding on what looked to be Sticklebacks in a pond! Delving further into Blogland took us to BR’s original post. What superb photographs of such strange behaviour…unique behaviour? What makes it more intriguing is how many Great Diving Beetle larvae are in that pond? I don’t know where the pictures were taken and so don’t know how big the pond is but there must be a large population of them for it to be worthwhile for the Stonechats to actively hunt them. What is more surprising is that if the larvae are coming to the surface, and so within beak reach, they must be needing oxygen. If they need oxygen they must be fairly active, I would have expected that with the freezing conditions the water in the pond would only be just above 0°C and invertebrates would be torpid. It would seem not, and if they are actively hunting what is their prey? Are they sneaking up on torpid creatures and taking advantage or are other things whizzing around making a mockery of us thinking they are ‘cold blooded’? The world record carp was caught in sub-zero temperatures last week so even they are moving around when they are ‘supposed’ to be a warm weather fish. (Nearly as big as the world record Cormorant!) Maybe there’s a lot more to this poikilothermy than meets the eye. Yes I know polar fish and inverts have ‘anti-freeze’ in their blood but they have evolved in a cold environment – our diving beetles normally don’t experience these sorts of temperatures for extended periods.
The safari can’t match this in terms of unique behaviour or photography (which was beyond stunning to say the least). But before we read of this we had witnessed a Turnstone feeding on something (perhaps) unusual on one of the slades leading down off the seawall on to the beach. The tide was coming in and the beach was already covered, the bird was feeding at the top level of the highest tides. At first we thought it was feeding on small worms it was finding but the concrete is covered in the tiniest film of fine seaweed so we probably would have noticed worms when we were doing our rockpooling sessions. No, what it was feeding on was the seaweed itself. I’m not sure what the species is. Must look up in BWP what proportion of a Turnstone’s diet vegetation normally makes up. Obviously they can feed at high tide when their main animal food is unavailable…clever things – almost as clever as Stonechats!
Where to next? They may be a lull in proceedings for a couple or three days as the safari has lots of indoor commitments coming up, we’ll update you with Patch 1 news if there is any.
In the meantime let us know what’s been eating bizarre things in your outback.
No photo's today but then what's the point of looking at my feeble efforts when yuo have seen those uber-brilliant Stonechat pics.


Warren Baker said...

Just read about the Stonechats on birds to blog dave, that really is something!

Monika said...

Thanks for the link to the blog post about the stonechat behavior. Interesting stuff. When there's extreme weather in a region I'm always fascinated by what some species come up with to survive, while others fail to.

Poikilothermy, now there's a word I haven't heard since college biology class!

Pete Woodruff said...

Well this really is a revelation Dave.

I tried out the 'Links to this post' on 'Unique Images' on Birds2blog which brought me here......great stuff, you learn something every day Dave and thanks for this.

Better go and try it on some more of my post's.