Friday, 22 February 2013


I was watching a couple of jackdaws today. They were both collecting feathers for their nest. One of them was rushing around at top speed filling its beak with as many feathers as it could fit in there and if one dropped out the bird would pick it up again. The other bird in contrast, wandered slowly around, picked up the occasional feather and then let it go again immediately. They both flew off at the same time, the first bird had at least six feathers in its beak, the second had none!

One of the things I live about birdwatching is noticing this type of interesting behaviour in any species of bird. No species is too common to take notice of, and, these days, who knows how long any species will remain common anyway?

The other thing I love about birdwatching is seeing unusual species. Today I walked from the mouth of the River Esk to Musselburgh lagoons. Over the sea wall I was delighted to see 14 velvet scoters - the makes have such weird faces! Near to the scoters were two shags, beautiful green birds related to cormorants with sweet tufts on the top of their heads! Then at the Musselburgh Lagoons I was very excited to see a snipe - a bird that has been reported from this area a few times recently but this was my first sighting of it here (in fact only my second ever sighting) and then a pair of grey partridges! I can't remember when I last saw grey partridges, they used to be common farmland birds but their populations have decreased dramatically and now they're pretty rare. They hid in the long grass and at first all I could see were their beautiful brick red faces but then for some reason they broke cover and chased each other across the short grass, such lovely markings they have, very handsome birds.

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Optimistic Existentialist said...

When birdwatching, there is nothing quite like seeing an unusual species is there?

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

I'll never forget the mute swans in flight in that area.

The jackdaws' voice is so unique. that shot like a smack.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I wonder which of those jackdaws was the male and which the female!!
I love jackdaws Juliet - they are always much-maligned I think. Do you know the lovely poem 'The Jackdaw of Rheims'? If you don't, then do look it up on the internet - it is one of my favourites.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Optimistic - well as I say in the blogpost, i love seeing unusual species but i also love observing behaviour of any species

Tommaso - mute swans are so impressive in flight and yes the jackdaw's call is unique

Weaver - well I tried not to be judgemental about which was the male but..... I like jackdaws, they seem more elegant and 'nicer' than most crows. I don't know the poem you mention so I'll look it up, thanks for the recommendation

eileeninmd said...

It is neat to watch their behavior. Do you think the female was gathering the feathers while the male was slacking off. LOL! Just kidding.Have a happy weekend!

Caroline Gill said...

Would love to see those Velvet Scoters! What a wonderful walk.

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Juliet,

I agree bird watching is so much fun, watching the behaviour of nest building and them at play.
I like doing the same thing over here.

Happy weekend

Lucy said...

Much bird watching is really bird spotting, ticking things off the list. I've done plenty of that, and seeing something unusual, especially if it's colourful or strange-looking, is always exciting, but there's much to be said for observing the familiar over a longer moment, seeing how they behave and what it might signify.

Crafty Green Poet said...

eileen - you may well be right!

Caroline - velvet scoters are amazing, I'd never seen them before I started walking regularly at Musselburgh and now I see them quite often but never tire of them,

Draffin Bears - it is fun isn't it?

Lucy - totally agree!

Willow said...

The snipe was an exciting find! I truly miss seeing partridges and wild pheasants in our New England area a rarity now to see them, unless they are stocked for hunters :(