Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A jynx in the potager

On Saturday morning Tim saw an odd-looking woodpecker perching on one of the posts demarcating our vegetable garden. Brown, with a dark stripe down its back, it kept flying down to the ground to pick up the ants disturbed by our potato harvesting activities. A wryneck!

Yes it is here.... probably easier to spot if you click on the photo to enlarge it!

The English name, and the scientific name jynx torquilla come from its ability to twist its head around to fix potential attackers with a baleful stare. Its French name Torcol fourmilier indicates its diet which is almost exclusively ants. This woodpecker doesn't use its tail to help climb trees, and doesn't make nest holes in trees, preferring to take on existing holes. It is about the size and colour of a young starling, and easy to overlook. The only one we have seen previously was in Majorca, and we only saw that because a lot of birders were watching it already! According to Les Oiseaux de la Claise Tourangelle, the wryneck possibly nests in Le Grand Pressigny.

It is in the same position here but facing the camera.... great camoflague for a ground feeder!!

This is a back view showing the stripes to good effect. Now look back at the first picture....

The purple heron (ardea purpurea, héron purpré) that visited the ditch in the field next door later in the day was just the icing on the cake. It skulked its way along the bottom of the ditch, occasionally lifting its head to look our way to show us the lovely russet markings on its neck. No good photo, alas... but Tim tried some digiphotography using a small compact camera hand-held against the eyepiece of the 'scope. A case of "patting your head and rubbing your stomach" co-ordination [or lack of... thus "dodgyphotography was born!]

It is standing, body to the right... neck up to the left and looking towards the camera. The dark shape to the left of the head is nothing to do with the bird!

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