Monday, 26 October 2015

Slimbridge and Starlings

Hello all,
As the post title suggests, I went to Slimbridge yesterday, and although there were no mega rarities, the range of species was incredible: at least 50 different species of bird. Also, seeing Crane 16 times in one trip was a real treat. Yes, 16 WILD Cranes! However, some of these would have been "duplicates" but I did see six Cranes at once from one hide.



 Another interesting bird is the Albino Woodpigeon, which is to the right. How common are these? I can't recall seeing one before, but I have seen plenty of Gadwall, one of which is to the left.

 It has long been a slightly odd dream of mine to dissect an owl pellet. And that's what I did at Slimbridge. One activity for the half term was to dissect a pellet, and I chose a Barn owl pellet. These are the best to dissect, because Barn Owls swallow their prey whole. However, Kestrels (two pellets from Kestrels are to the left which Slimbridge offered me)  eat their prey bit by bit, and the low pH of their stomach means that the bones are partly digested. Tawnys crush their prey, and little owls eat mainly invertebrates. All birds of prey have very acidic stomachs, so the bones in their pellets are partly digested.
 To the left, you can see my finds: two wood mice and a bank vole.
There are four skulls to the left, the fourth still needing ID. Also at Slimbridge, the had Bonxie (Great Skua) pellets, which had Puffin remains in!!

I also managed to catch up with the record breaking Bewick's swan (which isn't the one to the left).






Also at Slimbridge were many very elegant female Smews and lots of male goldeneyes.
I could have stayed all day and night watching the goldeneyes skim over the water, leaving a perfect trail behind them.




 You can see Pintail to the right, which came up very close to the hide, with the female uttering machine-gun like calls, and the male bobbing his head up and down.



 Finally at Slimbridge, I managed this record shot of a Grey Heron, which, moments before, had been feeding on a bank. Bank voles? Mice? This shows their brilliantly differing diet.





As I mentioned last post, I am going to show you some Starling remains now, which probably belong to the same bird as the skull.
The one that looks a bit like a skull (to the right) is the lower back and pelvis. To the left, we have the Sternum, and the front of the Starling.

Thank you very much,
George

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