Last week birding on patch was dominated by the continued arrival of spring migrants, as well as some very interesting behaviour from a few of our resident birds. After seeing my first Swallow of the year at Rhossili on Tuesday it was very nice to find one over Bryn-bach-Common the following day and again on Thursday, with presumably the same bird right over our house on Friday in the company of what looked to be a group of four females. My first Willow Warbler also turned up on Thursday along the slopes beneath Gopa Hill, announcing its presence with a lovely burst of song that was answered by another individual further up the valley. Chiffchaff numbers also continue to swell with one actually making it into our apple tree for a new garden tick.

26924 - Jackdaw

That unusual behaviour I spoke of came courtesy of the Jackdaw above. It has been a regular visitor to our garden for the last year or so and I believe may actually have been one of last seasons young. It is easily recognised by the distinctive white feather that shows prominently on one of its wings, but until Wednesday I had failed to catch it on camera. It only posed for a few moments before taking flight but our paths were to cross mere minutes later. This time it was sat high up in a tree with what looked to be a stick in its feet. However the stick was moving which I’m pretty sure isn’t behaviour typically exhibited by a dead piece of wood. My first instinct was that it must be a Slow Worm, something which was proved without a shadow of a doubt when ‘the stick’ managed to wrestle itself free and drop to the ground, very nearly landing on our heads in the process.

26926 - Slow Worm

At this point we found ourselves in one of those conundrums that the natural world often presents. Do we try and rescue the Slow Worm or let the Jackdaw feed? In the end we let nature take its course, took a few steps back and watched as the Jackdaw immediately dropped down to the ground and continued its battle. There was only ever going to be one victor in this mismatched pair and it didn’t take long for the Slow Worm to fall limp and be carried off to its ultimate fate.

26927 - Jackdaw eating Slow Worm

On a slightly less gruesome note it appears that our occasional visiting Grey Heron is back in the area although I have yet to locate where it is feeding and roosting, although I have a suspicion that a few peoples ponds may be being plundered. Usually of an evening we have seen it slowly flapping over the house at very low altitudes, a position that really shows the huge size of these birds. The Red Kites and Buzzards have also been regular visitors while the noisy Lesser Black Backed Gulls that I’ve mentioned previously are still very much present. Its been most impressive to watch how high they can soar on the thermals over these past few days. Before I go I should also mention the superb singing male Siskin we discovered on patch. Despite its volume it was remarkably hard to locate, but what a stunner when we finally did. I only wish I’d managed to get the camera onto him in time.


holdingmoments · April 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Always a tough descion whether to intervene or not Adam.
Great captures.

Gillian Olson · April 17, 2012 at 4:00 am

Beautiful bird, and that feather patch is very distinctive.

Amila Kanchana · April 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm

You did the right thing. I will not rescue an animal from a predator either, unless I was sure it was of a highly threatened species. Great series of photos, they have all turned out perfect!

theconstantwalker · April 18, 2012 at 12:07 am

Wonderful to see Adam… nature does what nature does.
Man and cars are a different matter.

My commute is only 25 miles..I saw five dead badgers this morning..

J · April 18, 2012 at 1:24 am

I was once watching some Guillemot chicks on the Farne Islands, when a Herring Gull suddenly swooped down and proceeded to swallow one of them whole. I was tempted to hop over the rope and rescue it, but of course didn't. (Instead, the photographer in me took over, and I took some rather gruesome pictures!) Great shots of very interesting behaviour.

Adam Tilt · April 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Keith – it is. I think we did the right thing in the end though.

Gillian – certainly is.

Amila – thanks!

Andrew – that's a shocking statistic. Having only seen a live Badger once its always sad to see them dead on the road.

Jeremy – thanks. Observation is definitely the best course of action I think.

Caroline Gill · April 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Great Jackdaw photos … but it's hard not to feel sorry for the Slow worm (despite the need for nature to do its thing)!

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