Sunday, 18 April 2010

Battling bustards

The last few days we have been helping as much as we can those guests who have been stranded by the unprecedented air travel closure, so I have had barely time to sit down to write up the blog. But I do want to share with you the fascinating and extraordinary sighting that a guest, Ralph Tiller and I had recently. We had stopped to look at a pair of Little Owls and as I scanned the area, I picked-up what I initially took to be a displaying male Great Bustard nearby. In the 'scope, it was clear that actually "it" was two males, face to face, a few centimetres apart, staring at each other. This face-off continued to the point when they started to fight. It was an aggressive bout, with one bird clasping the other's head with its bill. They tousled and pushed, one forcing the other towards a fence, then close to the ground. Feathers started to fly. Meanwhile, two or three females nonchalantly strode past. Eventually the fight finished with the males separating and heading off in different directions, one appearing slightly wounded around the head.

I had never seen this before, although there is a description of such behaviour written by Nigel Collar in Birds of the Western Paleartic. What was great was that Ralph videoed the whole episode and once I have sorted out the softward, this will be available for you to see!

Menawhile, another few days of windy, wet weather is hanging over us, slowing down the spring migration, but we have been enjoying the sound of a Nightingale singing close to the house, throughout most of the day and night!

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