The hustle and bustle of the Black-headed gulls in their mating and breeding frenzy is well in the past as we move into winter. Calm is restored to their colony and the sound of their squabbling is quiet most of the time. Then someone throws a bird some food and from nowhere others swoop in from all directions and the noise starts up for a few minutes.
I spent 1/2 an hour today sitting on the step of our van feeding the gulls so I could capture some images of these birds so often overlooked.
Length: 13.4-14.6 in (34-37 cm)
Weight: 6.7-14.1 oz (190-400 g)
Wingspan: 39.4-43.3 in (100-110 cm)
The black-headed gull is the most widely distributed seabird breeding in the UK, The majority of the breeding population are resident throughout the year, with numbers being greatly increased during the winter months by birds from northern and eastern Europe.
Up until the 1940s, there was commercial exploitation of Black-headed Gull breeding colonies which saw the collection of eggs and the taking of birds for meat. This was on an industrial scale with almost 300,000 eggs per year being sold at Leadenhall Market in London during the 1930s.
There is so much in the news is about “clean air” & reducing our carbon footprint – We should moving away from from petrol and diesel combustion engines in our cars & doing less air miles. Little is said about shipping. Last night this container ship off the Isle of Wight approaching Southampton Water was demonstrating all modes of transport – land sea and air are polluting.
A few weeks ago the Common terns started to return tothe Solent they will nest in the Haven Nature Reserve. Today we popped down to the sea and it was clear that more had now returned and the numbers were good.
Further Avocet observations at Titchfield haven Nature Reserve. There are a few (very few) second brood Avocet chicks about although there are a lot of juvenile birds from earlier broods. Two of these ringed juvenile birds spotted have been ringed and on finding the project details I contacted and both these birds were ringed earlier in the spring on the other side of the Solent near the Beaulieu river at Needs Ore Point.
Avocent’s will see off any bird large or small who they feel are getting too close to their chicks.
The film below shows an Avocent feeding with a typical skimming of the water with its bill. It then shows a chick feeding in the same way.
Sunday afternoon nature walk. I continue to undertake my daily exercise as permitted by the government in this difficult time. While the walk is physical exercise I get far more mentally out of this time. As I walk down our road to the footpaths passed by people running and spluttering with iPod plugged into their ears oblivious to the wonders around them.
Most of the Roebucks all seem to have shed their velvet from their antlers now. Many of the doe’s will already be pregnant and are due to give birth this month or in June. Mating occurs in July and August, but females delay implantation of the fertilised egg until January of the following year so that the young are not born during the harsh winter months.
One of the old Oak trees on my regular walk is being used by a Kestrel as a nest site. Eggs are laid in early May so I hope to see more activity at this next site in the coming weeks.
The Kestrel is the most common of the falcons seen here in Britain. They are quite small with a 76cm wingspan. Kestrels are most easily distinguished by their typical hunting behaviour which is to hover at a height of around 10–20 m over open country and swoop down on prey.
Helophilus pendulus is a hover fly but it also has a common name the “Sun Fly” it has black and yellow longitudinal stripes on the upper surface of its thorax. Sometimes it is also called the footballer fly. This is due the pattern of yellow, black on the insects abdomen.
It has a wing-length of 8.5–11.25 mm (0.33–0.44 in). .