Saturday, 19 March 2016

A Grey Day

Today was depressingly grey. The cloud didn't thin once, hanging over the landscape like a heavy, old duvet. Even the birds were grey today; grey partridge, grey wagtail, grey heron and greylag geese all made a showing at some point.

This morning I added shelduck to the year list; five birds were aggressively fighting each other. I couldn't discern whether they were all male, or a number of males vying for the affection of a female. The disputes were quite savage, with the birds taking each others wings in their mouths and flapping furiously. Heads held low, they chased each other along the waters edge sending the other birds up in to the air. Black headed gull (looking fine in their summer garb), little egret and teal all had to make way for the amorous ducks.

Along the river, a pair of grey wagtails were gathering nesting material and I watched a wren constructing its nest precariously in the root disc of a fallen ash, just 3ft above the surface of the river. One more deluge in Swaledale and the little troglodytes will have to start all over again!

Still no sign of the summer migrants, though there were other signs of Spring. The lambs are suckling under their mothers and oystercatchers have moved inland to breed on the river.

An unlucky teal (I think - it's a bit of a mess) on the river bank has come a cropper; probably to peregrine, and looking at the carcass, not long ago... fingers crossed I'll catch up with him tomorrow.

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