Nature’s architects: Part 1

Spring is a busy time of year for Britain’s birds as they begin to construct their nests ready to safely incubate their eggs and rear their chicks in the weeks to come. It often isn’t hard to find signs of nesting activity and once you start looking you can spot birds gathering nesting materials everywhere….

Splish splash

We are experiencing a rare treat in the UK at the moment… a bank holiday weekend with gorgeous weather as opposed to the usually dreary drizzle! Here a feral pigeon is beating the heat by bathing in the shallow water at the harbour edge. This individual is a youngster as it has yet to grow…

Bird Behaviour: Food sharing

Many species of bird will share food with each other, a behaviour known as allo-feeding. This most commonly occurs between parents feeding their chicks however it is also seen among adults, particularly during the breeding season and as part of courtship behaviour. But why should a bird waste energy feeding it’s partner who is more…

The chase

The mallard ducks’ elaborate courtship displays may now be coming to an end, but the drama is far from over! As the females prepare to lay their eggs in the coming weeks, the males are fiercely protective of their partners, keen to ensure that he alone mates with her and fathers her offspring. This pair…

Among the brambles

Beside the harbour edge, atop a small grassy mound is a dense patch of brambles and bushes, home to a small flock of house sparrows. They can often be heard chirping noisily from within and emerge frequently to forage among the branches and to bathe in the water below. I have tried and failed to…

Love is in the air

Although capable of breeding year round (provided they can find enough food) the harbour pigeons have waited for the welcome return of warmer weather before beginning their breeding efforts. Now this spring is well underway, the quiet morning air is regularly filled with the sounds of the male pigeons soft cooing calls as they strut…

Patrolling pipit

Rock pipits are a common sight on UK coastline, particularly around rocky beaches. These small birds are part of the Motacillidae¬†family which also includes other species of pipit and the wagtails. Rock pipits are streaky brown/grey in appearance and have distinctive long hind claws as seen here. These birds are insectivores, their long thin beaks…

Spring fever

As spring fever grips the country, here in Aberystwyth the mallard population have kicked off their breeding season with a bout of enthusiastic courtship displays. The purpose of such behaviour is for the males to demonstrate their health and desirability as a mate, and for the females to choose the best fathers for their offspring….

Happy Valentine’s Day

Did you know jackdaws are one of the few birds which truly mate for life? Jackdaws form pairs as young birds and will then remain together for all of their lives in a partnership sometimes referred to as a ‘marriage’. The couple will travel and feed together, and both birds are responsible for raising their…

Water wings II

After watching the mallard drakes taking a bath a few days ago, today it was the turn of the harbour pigeon flock to make a splash of their own. The primary function of bathing is to wash excess oil and dirt from the feathers and also rid them of parasites. As many of the pigeons…

Water wings I

Today was yet another superb day on the Welsh coast, with bright azure skies creating beautiful reflections down on the harbour water at home in Aberystwyth. Whilst I had been hoping to capture more images of the mallard courtship displays it seems the ducks were not in a flirtatious mood and most of the females…

Capturing the moment

For our familiar mallard ducks the breeding season starts early, long before the welcome warmth of spring arrives to take the chill off the land. As early as October they begin to pair up, the males displaying enthusiastically despite the driving rain and freezing winds. Today on a relatively warm and sunny day in February…