Friday 24 April 2020

A circle of life and death

Wildlife watching during lockdown is a matter of vigilance, attention to detail and timely response. Actually, that's probably a reasonable modus operandi for controlling a pandemic, but I digress.

One morning last weekend, I was stood staring out of the lounge window, when a movement across the fields caught my eye. A large gull was swooping and diving at something, and this piqued my interest sufficiently to warrant more investigation through binoculars. At the far side of the neighbouring field, so about 250m away, a Great Black-backed Gull was chasing a Brown Hare. Now I have witnessed this species of gull eating a young Rabbit whole (a spectacle as awesome as it is gruesome, though maybe not for the rabbit), but the idea that one could catch a hare was preposterous.

The chase went on for some time, so I put down my bins, grabbed a camera and dashed outside to try to photograph the scene. As I began to take shots, I realised that the gull had indeed given up the chase and had flown over the fence from the pasture into a recently-sown field.

My relief for the hare and an 'I told you so' for the gull was short-lived. The gull pounced on something else, something I couldn't immediately identify, but whatever it was it took several moments to subdue. 

Looking back through my images later, it was possible to identify the prey as another hare, due to size and the black tail. However, I have no way of knowing whether this was an injured or sick animal. Gulls, corvids and raptors everywhere are used to scavenging roadkill from our transport system, so after my initial shock, I pondered whether the reduced traffic of a lockdown had forced predators to hunt more actively. I had not previously seen a Great Black-backed Gull take a Brown Hare. I doubt that any other species of gull, even a Lesser Black-backed, could manage it.

One lunchtime in the last week, I noticed a pair of Craneflies mating by our front door. I am guessing that the larger individual is the male, but I could be wrong. Either way, the smaller partner looks as though its wings haven't fully opened, which makes me think that the maturer fly grabbed it for sexual congress as soon as it emerged from the ground. It is not healthy to anthropomorphise this relationship!

Their chosen spot for making out was in the shade of the door frame but, hey, not to worry, they were still at it come sunset, when the golden light of evening washed over the lovers. I have no idea when the marathon romp began but, jings, there's over eight hours encompassed by these images. It is still not healthy to anthropomorphise this relationship!

Meantime, the warm, dry weather coupled with lots of spare time has meant that tasks which have been put off for years are finally being tackled: after being displaced by a shed several years ago, the rotary airer is now back in the ground and whirly-gigging once more; the area that has been tarpaulin and tyres for a similar amount of time has been cleared and dug over to make a vegetable patch (sorry, Snipe); and I have been a bit more forgiving of the Lesser Celandines by mowing around some of their more concentrated gatherings. Currently, the area left of centre in the photo is being excavated for a pond.

Back at the door frame, a Bristletail put in an appearance.

We have learnt that the coming of Spring and the flowering of the Dandelions inevitably leads to Linnets.

And, as is traditional in these parts, several warm days lead inexorably to haar (sea fog), which drifts slowly in on the breeze and can be like living in a dark cloud or, as above, an ethereal glowing diffuseness.

To end this post on a more positive note than I began, here's a very short time lapse film of a recent sunset.


Alyson said...

Fantastic pictures as ever but no I really don't want to anthropomorphise the crane fly relationship either!

Great idea for the sunset. Last year when I was in Bergen we spent an hour and a half on top of Mt. Floyen watching the sun set over the city and it was magical. The place was heaving with people taking photographs but also time lapse images as well which must have looked amazing. We watched one particular guy wait and wait until just the right moment when the sun has actually disappeared from view but the light is at it's best for photographs. Mine needless to say didn't turn out quite as well.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Living in a bungalow and our proximity to a road isn't the ideal situation for time lapse, sadly. However, every so often I am tempted by the sky to try again. Weirdly, I inadvertently seemed to choose the busiest time of day, with cars, tractors, joggers and walkers!