Wednesday, 20 May 2015

It goes with the territory

It's that time of year when birds are busy attracting mates, raising young, and all the time defending their territories against intruders. A couple of evenings this week I've been reminded what a full-time job for them that must be.

First, the male Curlew out of a pair that breed a few miles from my house. As I watched him, probing for food close to where his mate is, I think, sitting on eggs, he suddenly decided that a Carrion Crow was wandering too close to her. Corvids, of course, do take eggs and young, although I think this one was feeding on invertebrates and had inadvertently strayed. The Curlew took off, then swooped at him twice, causing him to beat a hasty retreat. Presumably encouraged by this, the Curlew then did the same to the other half-dozen Carrion Crows scattered around the very large field, none of whom were anywhere near, and all of whom seemed to be feeding well.

Last night, I was watching the Peregrines in a local quarry. After the male had passed food to the female, he spotted a Buzzard soaring over, and quickly flew up for a look. After gaining a height advantage of 30-40 feet, he flipped onto his back, briefly, then folded up and dropped like a stone. The Buzzard took evasive action, although the Peregrine was clearly not making a full-blooded attack, instead raking the Buzzard with one talon and dislodging two or three small feathers. The Buzzard then flapped away as fast as his wings would take him, and dignity would allow.

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