A few days ago, walking past the bank in the town centre we heard an avian kerfuffle, squawking and a flurry of pigeons taking to the air and a fast moving shadow crossed our path — “Raptor!” said Bill.
We checked out the nearest suitable nesting site — the parish church and there it was — sitting on a turret, preening itself. A Peregrine Falcon but neither of us had a camera.
Since then we take our daily exercise past the parish church every day bristling with binoculas and cameras — today we were rewarded!
And here is her mate, perched lower down the tower having just delivered her lunch.
When everything you know seems under threat you start to realize what really matters. Here’s a tribute to our local baker.
They make bread in the old fashioned way from simple ingredients — just flour, water, yeast and salt. Here’s some dough proving, slowly — waiting to be put into crocks…
and baked into delicious, crispy wheat or rye sourdough bread. There are wholemeal wheat, rye and spelt loaves and “Llanidloes specials” with the magic cheesy crust. There are olive ciabatte, Chelsea buns and almond croissants.
Baked each day and delivered to local shops. No plastic wrappers, tiny carbon footprint, no waste — they sell out every day but nothing for the birds as the humans fight for every last crumb!
When you see your first spoonbill cross the sky above your head I promise you will do a double take. They look so peculiar with their long necks outstretched and the odd bulbous end to the beak. We saw one over Titchwell Marsh in Norfolk, last month and for a moment I thought we were looking at a pterodactyl! With the long neck extended in flight and the bill so long and strange and its massive wingspan it had proportions that seemed quite alien.
Couldn’t catch that one but here are some Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) we saw in USA last year — even here they look primitive
The Spoonbill we see in England is white (Platalea leucorodia) and was wiped out in the 1700s because of drainage of the wetlands and hunting. However in recent years they are recolonizing areas in the South West and South East, from Europe, and have even bred in Yorkshire. The work of the RSPB and the Wetland Trusts in habitat creation is helping and these spectacular birds can be seen once more.
Thanks to Bill for his pictures of Spoonbills (all rights reserved).
Yesterday, having come to terms with cancelling our visits to grandchildren because of the risk of Corona Virus and facing 12 weeks in lock-down, the collapse of the economy, evaporation of our pensions, disintegration of the world’s infrastructure and the disappearance of all toilet paper (not to mention the possibility of impending premature death), we packed a picnic and set out to find the Whooper Swans out on the Ouse and Nene Washes.
These are areas of fenland fields that are flooded in winter by the waters of the rivers Ouse and Nene in Cambridgeshire, England. This year after the deluge of recent weeks the area was more like an inland sea but we found the Whoopers (Cygnus cygnus) and some Bewicks (Cygnus columbianus bewickii) grazing in nearby fields — nipping any hope of agricultural recovery, literally, in the bud. They are preparing to leave for their breeding grounds in Iceland and Siberia respectively.
But, wait a minute, what are these in the distance? Not the swans — behind them!
Cranes became extinct in Britain 400 years ago, didn’t they?
Not so! The now inappropriately named Common Crane (Grus grus) evidently reappeared in 1978 — probably when 3 individuals were blown in from Europe. The population teetered for a number of years with slow breeding, but with some migration and a little help from captive breeding, reintroduction and habitat creation it continues to grow. There are now 50 pairs or more.
As we watched one of these pairs who were a long way away (mitigation for the poor photo) two more individuals flew in, landing precariously and then displaying to each other just as we had seen Sandhill Cranes do when we were in Texas last autumn. They danced, bouncing from leg to leg with their necks extended backwards, calling and fluffing out their magnificent plumed tails in a bonding exercise — presumably indicating to the other couple that they are no threat.
The thought of life after extinction is very comforting just at the moment.