Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Waning Moon

There's a beautiful moon out tonight. It's setting in the west and is coming up to an old moon. Not quite a sliver but there's enough glow from the sun that you can almost see the whole of the moon's disc. I'm sure there's an astronomical term for it.

There's also a star close to the moon. I'll need to check my astronomical map but I think it's probably a planet. As the moon wanes the stars and constellations get easier to see. Especially here in the light polluted south-east where it's often hard to see any stars at all with the interference from the street lights.

Far better to get out into the countryside away from the city lights with a star chart and get to know the night sky.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Breeding like ... rabbits.

I spotted a group of linnets up by the dew pond this morning while out on my run. At least three males who'd been having a bathe and flew up into the bushes as I came up.

More baby rabbits are appearing. A few weeks ago there were lots of small ones around which have been getting gradually larger and now there are small ones again! They're breeding like ... well, rabbits. They do at least keep a nice neat swathe of grass along the hedgerows, where they venture out a few metres on either side. Goodness knows how many more there will be at the end of the season.

I also saw the kestrel for the first time in a while. It was taking the easy option and sitting on a wire observing the edge of the field below. One way to save energy. I see the female quite often hovering somewhere up around the Tye. I think this was the male, although the light wasn't brilliant and as I don't take my binos on my runs I wasn't able to check it too closely.

There was a young starling with a parent on the track on the way back. I thought it was a little early for them as it seems only a few days ago that the pairs in my roof were starting to nest but I haven't heard them for a while so perhaps they've fledged too - or been got by the crows or seagulls.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Clever Crow

Crows and other similar birds, like magpies and jackdaws are known for their intelligence. I have a large carrion crow that regularly visits my garden bird bath with a large chunk of bread which it dips into the water for a soak and then flies off to consume the now softened meal. Clever thing - how did it learn that.

The first time I saw this happening, I was sitting out in the garden when it flew in and nearly collided with the trellis as it spotted me and did an emergency stop. It's now got braver and will come in when I'm sitting on the bench as long as I don't make any sudden movement.

Whether it's the same crow or a couple of them who have learned this trick I don't know.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Linnets and lambs

I went out for a walk Sunday afternoon with my friend Nicola, for some fresh air after strenuous cleaning of the windows inside and out. She'd turned up with chocolate muffins so we got out to walk them off! It was overcast so there weren't a lot of birds around. Several skylarks which are always there but this time performing their familiar aerial song. Lots of starlings feeding up on the grass - no doubt busy feeding their young. My starling families under the eves have hatched out. I can hear the young now and there is a lot of too-ing and fro-ing from the parents. Also spotted a couple of swallows as I'd been pointing out the difference between a swallow and a house-martin. She'd been having a debate with a colleague at work who had convinced her martins were swallows!

Saw my first linnets of the year up on the Tye. A small group of three chattering overhead and then landing by the dewpond for a few moments. Long enough to get the binoculars out. We also spotted a whitethroat on the way back, while watching the bouncing lambs which have moved with their mums into one field.

I was surprised to see that linnets are on the red list, so endangered and needing urgent action.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fox in the fog

It was foggy this morning when I got up but that didn't deter me from getting out for a run, although as with most mornings there was a certain amount of reluctance. However, when I feel like that I just go easy on myself and don't set any expectation of how far I go.

It was quiet - running up the track. The fog/mist was swirling in from the sea and there was definite chill in the air but refreshing at the same time. Sometimes I couldn't see further than a few yards up the track. The usual birds were out singing - bird song isn't dependent on vision. I heard a whitethroat warbling in the hedgerow and greenfinches and chaffinches singing from the bushes.

A young lamb was following a crow around the field as I passed over the cattle grid so I stopped for a while to watch. The crow wasn't bothered, it just hopped ahead of the lamb which bravely followed it before standing to watch and then rushing back to mum.

On the way back down from the Tye, I spotted a fox in the mist who also spotted me and having stood for a few seconds to watch, trotted off away from me. It was in a field with lambs and sheep who weren't the slightest bit bothered by it. It was probably the same size as the lambs, so hardly likely to take one on. As I stopped to watch it halted and watched me. You're more likely to see foxes out in the open at this time of year. Although being earlier in the day I've also seen them up there when out for an early morning walk.

A couple of dog walkers then came up so I continued on my run as the fox disappeared into the mist.

Another good reason to get out early. There's more wildlife around and less dog walkers.


I decided to start writing this as I'm lucky enough to live near the Downs in Sussex. I often go out walking and running and see different wildlife as the seasons change. I wanted to make a record of these through the year.