|Not the one I saw... my brother captured this today [3 Feb 12]|
Recognisable, in the grey, only by its flight and the black tips of its wings as it coursed low over the fields towards the Moulin de Cheverny. A nice start to the day which brightened considerably as the sun burnt through the mist.
|Song Thrush on the ivy this morning... the ivy berries [an important winter food source] are the black 'seeds'.|
[*That should read Woodpecker... but for a bird that feeds mainly on grubs and ants from the ground perhaps Groundpecker would be better... it's like the Chocolated-headed Land Gull!]
|What was that?...|
|I'm outa here!!|
A trio of Willowchiffs [collective name for Willow Warbler/Chiffchaffs when you can't hear them singing] worked their way through the battered celery plants in the potager. All in all, awful lot of bird activity as they fought to keep up their food reserves in this cold, icy weather. But I had work to do... can't spend the whole day birdwatching.
A glance out of the window as a Blue Tit risks a direct flight of the one hundred metre open ground between the trees along the bank of the river Aigronne and the seed feeder here in the cherry tree... it flew low, to avoid the attention of predators... especially the local Sparrowhawk [which I saw burst like a rocket through the top of the cherry a couple of days ago.] As he passed over the bief edge, I saw movement down by the water's edge... aha! The Water Rail; haven't seen him for a few days, thought I... but wait, that colouring seems wrong... look again.
A Snipe [Gallinago gallinago] Bécassine des marais was preening itself just opposite the kitchen window.
Then it went hunting for food. It looks for soft accessible organic soil, rich in food organisms just below surface. It also requires clumps or patches of vegetation/shrub as cover. Both of which it has aplenty along the bank of the bief.
|The warming of the beak!|
|Warmer now... let's carry on...|
|A-probing we shall go...|
The winter distribution is as far away as the Nile valley and North Africa, but it is shown as a resident breeding species in the Loire valley. So we are more likely to see them in the winter months. I thought I'd heard 'drumming' round here before, but had dismissed it as such... but pairing and display may well take place as they migrate to breeding grounds and we now know they feed around here in Winter.
|Blending in well with the vegetation|
|He then went up on the bank to pose!|
And he's there again now as I started to write this this morning, probing away at the mud along the edge... I wonder how often we've missed seeing them.