After a fortnight on a remote Scottish island its surprising how what would have been considered run of the mill prior to departure now grabs the attention far more readily. How can that be I hear you ask? Well let me elaborate. As my last few entries on this blog have shown Mull is an absolute paradise for any wildlife lover, but there are some bird species that I take for granted here in South Wales that are as rare as hens teeth on the island. Our local Jackdaws for instance are always a bit of a nuisance as they steal the fat balls meant for the smaller birds and throw moss from the house roof all over the paths and my car. On Mull however they are almost none existent apart from small populations around Iona. Therefore returning home to find several of them enjoying the garden was somewhat like getting reacquainted with old friends. We had all forgotten each others bad habits and were happy to revel in one another’s company once again. Clearly a lack of readily available food provided by yours truly had sharpened their hunting instincts as the individual below was actually catching flies straight out of the air as they zipped past its head, hence the rather concentrated look in its eyes.
Its companion on the other hand was more than happy just to sit sunbathing on the neighbours slate roofed bird table. I’m not sure if its possible for a bird to look contended but this Jackdaw was giving it a damn good try.
During our absence the plants in the garden had experienced a growth spurt due to a perfect combination of sun and rain. Whereas this was bad news for me as the lawns were in dire need of a cut, it was very good news for things such as our herb garden which has really started to blossom. The Thyme was a particular hit with its flowers covered in visiting Bees and Hoverflies, but it was a new visitor to the garden that really caught my attention.
Like many butterflies the rather drab underwings of a Small Tortoiseshell belie the beauty that is contained within.
Having restocked the garden feeders it wasn’t long before the local bird population had us back on their map (less than an hour in fact) and were once again eating us out of house and home. It has clearly been quite a successful breeding season as we were inundated with groups of young House Sparrows as well as fledgling Blue Tits, Great Tits and a single Dunnock. Acting as if they hadn’t eaten anything for the last fourteen days, though they surely had, were our pair of Collared Doves. They were straight on to the bird table and started putting the seed away at an astonishing rate. The only way they could have eaten more would have been if they hadn’t knocked so much of it to the ground every time that they flapped their wings.
Even returning to work has its upsides as these past few days have given me some extraordinary views of the local Peregrine Falcons. There have been a couple hunting from our building for over a year now, though I believe that my initial assessment of a male and female was probably a bit wayward and an adult and immature bird is more likely. What I assume to be the same birds have now been joined by a pair of fledglings that have been giving breathtaking aerial displays as they chase each other around and occasionally lock talons. Through our double glazing these antics have all been silent but on leaving the office last week one of the juveniles was sat on a window ledge on the thirteenth floor screeching its lungs out. It was like nothing I have ever heard and caused even the most oblivious of people to cast their eyes skyward. Talking to others in the office these antics went on throughout the day but have not been repeated since. The highlight so far though happened late on Friday afternoon as we watched one of the birds return to the building with a Snake dangling from its talons! I have never seen a bird of prey take a Snake before let alone seen one being carried just the other side of a window from my face. All I can say is I hope they ate it otherwise I’m not sitting underneath the air conditioning ducts tomorrow.