A walk along the North Downs Way between Reigate and Dorking was the setting for this week’s desperate sweep of the natural world for sightings of new species to add to my 2014 bird list.
In the bushes I heard a rustle (Perhaps it was a Crow?)… I peeked between the twigs and branches and could make out a rather panicky-looking Red-Legged Partridge. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one before, but these birds always appear startled and nervously dashing about. They rarely fly when trying to evade predators or prying eyes, instead, they speed-waddle away from potential danger in a manner akin to a Benny Hill episode closing sketch. The Partridge skittled across the path in front of me – out of the undergrowth on the left and into the vegetation on the right. I was half hoping it would be followed into the bushes by a couple of policemen, a gaggle of nurses and a pair of nuns… But, was left somewhat disappointed.
Another bird species for the list, but no vestal to tick off in my I-Spy Book of Religious Figures.
A bit further along the path, I saw a pair of Nuthatches doing a bit of do-it-themselves to their nest – making the entrance hole in a tree-trunk smaller by adding earth. They do this to keep larger birds nipping in when no-one’s looking and snacking on their offspring. Imagine having to pick up cement with your mouth to brick-up your back door so that your neighbor doesn’t eat your baby.
In the sky – circling way, way up were a pair of Buzzards. People seem to always refer to this as ‘wheeling’ – I don’t quite understand this, but I’ll go with it.
Another bird of prey wheeled in from over the trees… But, it didn’t look like the other two. It was smaller and greyer than a Buzzard. This was exciting. What was it? My inner JIZZ computer whirred into action… Brrrrrrrrr…. Processing… Smaller than a Buzzard… Greyer than a Buzzard… Calculating… It can’t be a Buzzard, so must be a Hen Harrier – They’re smaller and greyer.
It was a Buzzard! (a juvenile one)
I clearly need to load up some bird ID expansion packs into my memory sockets.
Excitingly, it seems that Fauna Corner has been commissioned for a second episode after the pilot received glowing reviews in the national press…
”There aren’t many words that rhyme with ‘corner’ and ‘fauna’ is almost one” – Former Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion
“I was especially interested in the picture of the mouse” – Sylvester the Cat
“The arrival of Fauna Corner proves there’s more to life than birds” – Hugh Hefner
I’m going to Germany at the weekend, so hopefully the next blog installment will be used to regale you with stories of parrots, emus and a whole host of exotic new sightings.
If you feel like you’re having a hard week, spare a thought for this Mallard who is raising 21 little Mallards all by herself!