BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘predator’

#365daysofbiking Nursery tales

June 8th – The weather cleared, so I left the fair and headed up to Honey Hill, No Mans Heath, Netherseal, Coton in the Elms, Walton and over to Barton for coffee – but from the rickety Walton Bridge, I watched a fascinating drama unfold.

Four adult Canada geese were shepherding their clutches as one group along the reedbeds at the edge of the Trent, foraging for food. It’s not uncommon for these geese to team up on parenting duties or mind each other’s chicks, but this group of nearly 30 is one of the largest I’ve ever witnessed. It was stunning – not least for the control exerted by the parents.

They guided the goslings upstream to an inlet to the west. I watched as they processed one by one and two by two into the side brook.

Then, a splash and a flash of red fur – a fox was waiting. There was a commotion, and Reynard fled empty mouthed, and the geese herded their young back into the main river. They appeared to be counting as they gathered the young birds into a tight, safe circle.

Fox had gone, his lunch thwarted by eagle eyed parents – or maybe goose eyed – and then normal business resumed as a human with food was spotted on the eastern bank.

I’ve never seen anything like it and had I not ventured out on a wet, miserable Saturday, I probably never would have.

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May 4th – In the past couple of days I’ve mused on the sudden explosion in the number of herons on the local canals around Walsall, and also noted the amount of fresh waterfowl hatchlings.

In one journey from Walsall to Darlaston this morning, I saw four lurking herons. But only one coot chick.

It was lunchtime before the connection struck me. The herons are finding food in the tiny new lives that have been nurtured in canalside nests in the last few days and weeks.

I can’t grumble – the herons are doing what herons do, and the reason many clutches are so large or certain species are prolific breeders is precisely because of the attrition of new generations by predators.

But it’s a grizzly thought. These very attentive coot parents were very attentive of their offspring – only 10 metres of so from a patient, waiting heron.

April 12th – On the Walsall Canal where the Anson Brach used to spur off between Bentley Bridge and Bentley Mill Way Aqueduct, the swans who I think nested in the abandoned basin last year are nesting anew. 

Sadly, the nest isn’t well protected this year and I think an enterprising fox or heron – who fish here regularly – may end up with cygnet tea.

That’s if the phantom bread-flinger does’t chock the wee ones – sadly, the message that bread isn’t good for waterfowl doesn’t seem to be reaching all quarters. I know these folk mean well, but it’s not good for them. 

Please, if you feed them, seed or greens instead.

April 19th – Sometimes it’s necessary to point out the less pleasant side of nature. Sorry.

I occasionally get messages and mail from people worried, because they’ve seen pairs of almost intact bird wings at Chasewater or near other places where water bird congregate. The finders of these grisly leftovers sometimes think these are signs of human cruelty.

Relax, they aren’t – but they are a sign that nature is red in tooth an claw. Foxes and avian predators will take birds who roost close to the edge of the lake, or in the case of raptors, take birds on the surface – gulls, ducks, small geese, even swans on occasion in the case of Reynard if he’s hungry and brave enough. 

There isn’t much meat in the wings, which are mostly bone, skin, feather and sinew, so they are discarded as being not worth the effort. Experienced predators cut them off cleanly, and one often finds them discarded. This pair, I think maybe from a gull, were near the dam on Pool Road. I’ve seen 7 pairs so far this year.

Nature is horrid sometimes.