Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Urban twitching

I was walking down the river yesterday (to get the Volvo fitted with bits and pieces from the dead one) and stopped to look at the Peregrine Falcon high up on the church, having it's breakfast of pigeon, then looked over the boundary wall of the cricket ground (cricket again) to see what looked like every juvenile gull in Bath, sitting around in the morning sun.

Once they have fledged, they seem to congregate together - albeit evenly spaced so as to avoid unpleasant conflict - without any parents looking after them.  This explains H.I.'s painting opportunity for gulls on the roof opposite, dozing under a full moon.  One of them in this photo can be seen practising ripping up a plastic bag, and it already seems like an expert in city-centre littering.

Suddenly at some point in the summer, Bath at dawn becomes a lot quieter now that fledglings are not landing haphazardly on each other's territory, and everyone else's mind drifts away from thoughts of murder.

Flying over empty nests, the Peregrine no longer attracts noisy and unwanted attention, and the rest of the birds virtually ignore it as it bats off to find a blackbird for breakfast.  Strangely, if a heron happens to flap by at great altitude, all the birds go mental as they do with buzzards, but I don't think either poses any threat to the town-birds at all.

I was with a friend once, and we were watching a bird (forget which type) being beaten up by every single one of it's neighbours, for no reason that we could ascertain.

We passed a few comments about the brutality of nature as the creature struggled to get away and save it's own life, and my friend added that it is impossible to understand what goes on in the minds of other species to explain this sort of aggression, so there is no point in trying to begin to attach a reason to it.

"For instance,"  my friend continued,  "it could be that the rest of the birds know something about this one that we don't, and never could.  There could be a very simple reason why they are beating it up so badly.  It could just be a cunt."


  1. Well I suppoose thát's as good a reason as any!

  2. smaller birds of prey will always ELICIT a reaction in any birds wild and domestic believe me, no matter where they are.
    I've noticed that when the shape of any bird be it a heron,buzzard or sparrow hawk etc is spied, warning calls will ring out from the cockerels and lead hens, but not every "shape" will force a full blown defence reaction...perhaps after the initial "shock" the birds can differentiate between types of threat

  3. A Gordon Brown of the bird world perhaps?

    Just about everything gangs up on the Buzzards; their lives must be a constant misery.

  4. You Friend is very wise, and Funny!

  5. That kind of language, is it really neccesary? I vote yes.

  6. I'm afraid that I don't know much about the in's and out's of bird behaviour ..... all that I know is , our garden is full of birds from the humble sparrow to woodpeckers and hawks and we seem to spend more on bird food than our own ...... well nearly, apart from wine and Lidl lobsters !

  7. In the spring, we had a kestrel (very much like a peregrine falcon) fly up near the bird feeder and perch on the fence. I noticed how it had grown dead quiet about a minute before he landed, so the chickadees knew something was up and kept stumm.

    At the dockhouse near where our boat is, there's a plastic owl on the rooftop, designed to scare away pigeons from roosting there. It has kept pigeons away, but the seagulls sit right beside it and take in the view.

  8. I really appreciate all your comments, but I am just going to let them hang there, uncommented upon by me. I would only spoil it all, especially when I point out the difference between kestrels and peregrines - let alone red kites and chickens.