Friday, 8 October 2010

Winter was here!

The Safari noted yesterday that there was a definite swing towards winter with the Redwings and Redshanks reappearing and Orion shining brightly in a crystal clear sky. This morning was just a bit different, overcast, breezy and summery warm. Just before 06.00 the thermometer showed 14.5°C in the shade – well in the dark actually. That’s just ridiculously warm for before dawn on an October morning – long may it last!
Out there on the alternative patch were a small number of Robins and no Peregrines. We noted on Autumnwatch last night the piece about the nocturnal activities of Peregrines and wouldn’t be surprised if ours go off hunting waders and ducks on the local estuaries particularly during the full moon.
No Redwings were heard today, given the easterly overnight winds we might have expected to come across some. Hopefully ‘normal’ service will resume soon as no rain is forecast for a while and Patch 1 proper might get the chance to dry out so that Frank doesn’t come in for his breakfast looking like he’s just won an all-night mud wrestling competition.
At Patch 2 we looked over a ‘carpet calm’ sea which was totally devoid of life, even the Common Scoters had abandoned us or at least nipped out of sight over the horizon.
There was a bit of passage with a flock of 11 Cormorants going south and a five minute flurry of passerine passage gave us the huge total of five birds; two Meadow Pipits, two Pied Wagtails and a Skylark. A little later we had three more Meadow Pipits and another Pied Wagtail...still waiting for that Lapland Bunting as they are still around...doh forgot to check the gardens for Yellow Browed Warblers...
In the gutter beneath the sea wall yesterday’s Redshanks had doubled in number to four – an influx!
For the lunchtime safari the tide was in and we had good views, well as good as the hazy light would allow, of three Red Throated Divers. The only other things of (dubious) note were two first winter and an adult Common Gulls, a Great Black Backed Gull, three small flocks of Common Scoters and a passage of small stuff too far out to get to grips with but possibly Meadow Pipits, the largest flock had twelve birds.
Warning! Rant ahead - Going back to Autumnwatch we note with trepidation that the predation of ‘songbirds’ theme has reared its ugly head on the messageboard yet again, this time Jays are the vicious bloodthirsty culprits. When will the cute and cuddly brigade get it into their ------* heads that it isn’t predators that control the numbers of their prey but the habitat and amount of food in that habitat (none if the hedgerow flailers have a ball again this back end) that are far more important. It’s the other way round the prey species populations determine how many predators can many times do they have to be told? Posts on the thread by 'pen-y-bont_mike' and 'Child of Hearn' make the point very succinctly but will the cuddly fondlers take any notice? There was an experiment many years ago in which Daphnia and Goldfish were put in tanks together and after a set amount of time the number of Daphnia were counted. In one set of tanks there was no vegetation, in another there was some vegetation and in the third set there was a lot of pondweed. Guess what – yes – the Goldfish would have starved in tanks one and two as they found and ate all the Daphnia but in the third set of tanks the number of Daphnia actually increased as the habitat was adequate for them to avoid the high rate of predation and actually breed. (Sorry no longer have the text book that this experiment was described in so can’t give you a proper reference). Yes it does simplify the predator-prey relationship down to a very low common denominator but it does show that if the habitat is complex enough and provides adequate food then predation doesn’t reduce prey numbers. And another thin...have these people never heard of Vole Years in which huge numbers of voles allow their predators eg Kestrels, owls etc, to have larger than normal broods, then once the vole cycle returns to a low vole population their predators have much smaller broods – the prey population is having an effect on the predators not the other way round...the falling numbers of some familiar species are much more a function of detrimental habitat changes, both in farmland and suburban landscapes and the associated reduction in the quantity and quality of food ...doh we were sort of hoping that with it being autumn this old chestnut wouldn’t appear. There’s no such thing as vermin...maybe just one species we can think of. Rantity rantity rant rant rant...
Where to next? Wonder what the weekend will bring, could well be Chat Alley at dawn tomorrow...loverly easterlies!
In the meantime let us know what’s doing the predating in your outback
Promised you pics yesterday but sadly nowt of exceptional interest worth showin you except for this Dugite as promised here.

* - insert suitable word of your choice


Warren Baker said...

You bashing your head against a wall Dave.

The blue tit brigade just dont have the intellect !!!

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

I'll beat intellect into em if it kills me Warren...would hate to see that ancient degree in ecology goin to waste...maybe I shoulda done, sorry read, literature..hahaha



Penny said...

Degrees in literature are hard work... trust me.

When will I learn always to have a camera with me? I stood on a pathway near here today watching a red kite perched at the top of a not very tall tree, looking at me, calling to an unseen other who called back and then a formation of 5 of them swept past like the Red Arrows. And I haven't got a single photo.
I see them most days, but not that close..