Thursday 8 March 2012: Tit-bit
Another busy day! I took the dogs out early, while Pete was mending a section of skirting board in the kitchen. We went to Ferry Meadows, but walked along the river rather than round the lakes. There was a pair of swans drifting along, the female was gently snoozing in the sun, her neck making a wonderfully sinuous curve. A little further along I saw a male kingfisher, lurking on a shady branch. He stayed long enough for me to fire off a couple of shots, but he was really a bit too far away, and the relatively low light-levels meant that the quality was lower than I would have liked. If only he's been sitting out in the low morning sun!
The trees and bushes were full of bird song - wrens, thrushes and blackbirds have now joined the early spring chorus of tits and chaffinches. But perhaps the most obvious birds were the blue tits, so many pairs busy feeding and declaring their territorial boundaries. My image is one of a pair who were very busy foraging on willow catkins, whose anthers were just emerging.
In the breeding season blue tits mostly eat invertebrates, but in the winter the eat vegetable matter, including the oil rich sunflower seeds and peanuts put out in many gardens. I wondered whether these two were actually eating the pollen-filled anthers, which would be quite high in protein. Apparently the yellowness of a male blue tit's breast is an indication of the number of yellowy-green caterpillars he has eaten, and a brighter breast is more attractive to females.
Then it was back home to tidy round before Solomon, our computer man, came. After lunch I did the weekly shop and then it was time to prepare the evening meal. I picked Alex up form the station. wolfed down my dinner and then went to a very interesting talk about the history, wildlife and conservation management of the Whittlesey Brick Pits. Then a late meeting to discuss a tender, and I was finally able to sit down and relax at about 11.15pm. Somehow I didn't quite have the energy to blip! :)
PS Sorry for the continuing lack of comments - I'm just finding it really hard to make the time at the moment....