Sunday, 16 March 2014

Rats and Robins

15th March.  Starting at the Rising Sun today we found very little in the way of birds although I managed to eventually add Stock Dove to the year list.  Although temperatures were probably not that low for the time of year, after the warm days of late it felt cold in the strong wind.  A walk around the country park didn’t really warm me up, but the soup at the café did.  There had been few people about today.

We’d found Swallow Pond virtually taken over by Black Headed Gulls, although a Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and a pair of Teal made an appearance along with Mute Swans, Moorhens and Coots.  I enjoyed the walk, but don’t recall too much else in the way of birdlife apart from tits, finches and Meadow Pipit.

We eventually made off for Gosforth Park Nature Reserve and it too proved to be very quiet although offering to my mind a more relaxing and pleasant walk and this time in much drier conditions.  Sam pointed out the work he had been involved in along side other volunteers.

It seems the feeding station is now no longer being topped up, but a few birds were still finding enough feed to encourage them to visit.  In the main these were Robins, tits, Dunnocks, Chaffinch and Blackbird.  Well fed Brown Rats were also busy about the area and perhaps because the birdlife was sparse we did take particular attention to them.

Robin eventually finds a hide with a view
I’m always interested in the naming of wildlife and as such Rattus norvegicus (Norway Rat) is quite interesting.  Apparently this species was originally called the Hanover Rat with people wishing to link problems in 18th Century England to the House of Hanover.  No one seems to know for definite why the Brown Rat was named Rattus norvegicus, as it didn’t originate from Norway.  However it was once thought that the Brown Rat had migrated to England from Norwegian ships and it seems to have been a man by the name of John Berkenhout (author of Outlines of the Natural History of Great Britain) who popularised this myth.  In fact when the Brown Rat first appeared in England there were none in Norway.  By the mid 19th Century it was understood that the Brown Rat was not native to Norway and ideas were put forward about it coming from Ireland, Gibraltar or across the English Channel with William the Conqueror.  By the twentieth century it was acknowledged that the Brown Rat originated from Asia, probably China.  The scientific name of Rattus norvegicus is never the less retained.

Is someone gonna give me a leg up?
Now make sure you have my best side

If it's not Robins its damn photographers

That's it I've had enough. I'm going back to the family

As we walked around the reserve Nuthatch was heard and a single Roe Deer was seen.  It seemed to me that the reserve was as quiet as I had ever found it.  The wind having probably being a factor here.  Even the Frogs which had been spawning were not keen to show themselves.  There was very little on the pools although Little Grebes were heard and briefly seen and a Water Rail was also heard.  We had listened for the yaffling of the Green Woodpecker, but heard nothing from it.

A rare appearance today
A quiet day, but a good one!

No comments:

Post a Comment