Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Newt-watching and the Phantom Sheepdog Trials bird again

Poor photo of the big baddy dragonfly larva at the bottom of the wildlife pond.

I am hoping that this video I recorded last night of that strange whistling bird will load and be properly functional. Bill Oddie, if you are reading this, please tell me what it is, as the lack of identification is driving me nuts! I was speaking to a neighbour last night, whose garden backs on to woodland, and she said they hear it a lot too, so it is obviously a fairly common bird. Drat - it won't load as I have to try and change the format somehow . . .

I have listened to all the possible birds on the two Sunday Telegraph CDs of birdsong I have. I have listened to even more candidates via the excellent RSPB bird song identification site (still no joy), and I really have NO idea what it could be. The upside of this is I want a video camera when we downsize!

Most evenings at dusk, when there is less glare on the water of my little wildlife pond, I watch the wildlife in it. Dusk is when the newts (Palmate I think - the common-as-muck sort anyway) come out to play. I have seen as many as 5 together, including a Big Boss newt who is obviously the male of the species as he has a pair of rather obvious - and bright yellow! - b*lls! I have found baby newts all over the place - one - a tasteful baby-poo brown with a yellow stripe down its back - was between the earth and the wall when I was gardening the other day. Sometimes in autumn they will march under our front door (there's a draughty gap!) and along the hallway and we will find dessicated little corpses in shoes or overlooked corners. The tadpoles are VERY wary and seem to live on their nerves. If you throw a shadow across the pond there is a scurry of little bodies hurtling for cover. The newts sometimes tease them by suddenly appearing in their midst and looking threatening, but their real enemies are the Dragonfly larva, which casually snooze amongst the tadpoles (who seem to live in total ignorant bliss) and then - when they feel peckish - will suddenly leap into action and the nearest tadpole will be the next meal, to be sucked grey and discarded. Nor are the newts safe from the dragonfly larva - we once found a very pregnant - and nearly dead - female with a dragonfly larva clamped to her side, where the blood had been sucked into a huge "bruise".

I am so glad that I decided to start this blog because in doing so it has given me more reason to stop, look, listen and really OBSERVE wildlife.

Above: Pied Wagtails on our bridge. A few weeks ago I was watching the courtship display of a pair in the forecourt of the garage at Whitemill. He thought he was a very splendid jack-the-lad, and was wooing his lady by running very fast in front of her. Then he would check to see if she was interested (she looked bored rigid to be honest!) and then he would run past her again, little legs twinkling. Eventually she deigned to notice him and moved a little nearer, but boy, he had to run his legs off to get her attention!

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