Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Red Kites, Seagulls & Starlings


Yesterday the Farmer & I ventured up our very icy lane and got out onto the main road which, of course, has been clear for ages, and went into our local small town abour 7 miles away. Even with 4x4 we slid a little on the lane and yes, one has to take it very carefully. Town was very quiet and the traders were saying that business has not been great for the past couple of weeks. Some of the traders themselves had been unable to get in to their shops for several days.

Today it is very windy here and it is bitingly cold wind that makes doing anything outside very uncomfortable. I go out suitably dressed in a big tweed coat, thick socks in wellies and a instead of a hat to keep my ears warm I wear a lovely Liberty wool square tied around in the style that looks so chic on Sophia Loren, or Brigit Jones, but makes me look like an old babouschka from the Siberian steppes. Not a great look, but only the dogs can see me!

Walking the dogs this morning was not the pleasure it has been these snowy days. However, to compensate for the piercing wind that finds unexpected crannies through ones clothing, there were two red kites wheeeling around in the sky looking for carrion. They are magnificent birds and when observed flying low their markings are quite stunning.
The recovery of the red kite population from near extinction is one of Wales' great success stories. In the small market town of Tregaron up in the Cambrian Mountains there is a marvellous small museum with a fascinating exhibition about the rescue project. There are so many red kites around now that they are no longer considered to be at risk. As they are not predators only carrion eaters, they are not a threat to lambs, and with our resident buzzards they make wonderful sight.

I was surprised to see a couple of sea-gulls this morning floating on the air currents. They rarely come this far inland, we about 15 miles from the coast, unless someone is ploughing when they arrive in huge noisy flocks. They fight & squabble following the tractor, like noisy children in a playground and are a great sight.

Another common bird that is constantly present here at the moment is the starling. Starlings are the bane of all farmers who feed cattle in sheds. Any sign of food and the birds are there, leaving vast quantities of guano all over every gate, rail and fixture. It has got so bad that Eldest Son has had to start feeding everything very early in the morning just so that the bulk of the food is gone before the starlings arrive. Out in the fields a murmuration of starlings can be an awesome sight but in cattle sheds they are filthy pests. The cattle ignore them but they are cheeky and will scavenge in the feed troughs and fly around in the sheds.

A delivery of straw arrived this morning and got into the yard without too much trouble despite the icey track and tomorrow we expect a cattle cake lorry but with the weather forecast being horrible for tonight & tomorrow we shall wait & see.

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