Sunday, 24 April 2016

Bees, Buzzards and Ducks

Another nice day and another good days bird watching on my patch. I recorded 28 species of bird including another single swallow and the first Common Whitethroat of the season.

Along the river emerging from a patch of driftwood brought down by the recent floods and high water was a female Mallard with 6 newborn ducklings. They were tiny and fluffy, likely only a few hours old, if a day. She led them very protectively from driftwood to driftwood where they could feast on the flies that collect their.

It is unlikely that these ducklings will last long, broods are heavily predated on my patch by Mink, Pike and other predators.

Elsewhere there was more evidence of breeding, again there was no activity at the Long Tailed Tit nest but a Woodpigeon nest was discovered and a Crows nest.

The crows nest is of particular note as the pair are spending much of their time chasing off the pair of resident buzzards giving them not a moments peace.

As well as Buzzards I also saw the other main predator of the patch a male Sparrowhawk. He glided along the river before perching in a tree briefly. He wasn't mobbed nor were the smaller birds alarm calling. I find it amazing that they seem to know when a Hawk is in hunting mode and when not, or perhaps they never saw him?

Lastly I want to comment on a piece of interesting behaviour. On my patch there is a colony of feral Honey Bees. They have nested in an old woodpecker hole for at least the last 3 years. The colony seems strong and healthy and today was very active. As I trudged through the thick mud that had been left by the receding floodwaters I noticed many of the bees were coming down to the water to drink.

Colonies need water at different times of the year especially in the summer when they use the  water to cool the hive. As this is early in the year is is possible they need to stock up or transfer the water to the newly hatched drones.

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