Monday, 17 November 2008

Wildlife

Britain has a fantastic variety of wildlife and it is easy to overlook some of the more familiar birds and animals. Even the most mundane are often extraordinarily beautiful if you take the time to look. Among the easiest to identify are the Canada Geese.
Always eagre to get in amongst the bread bags and ready to give you a 'look' if you don't come up with the goods!Frequently living alongside the geese are, of course, Mute Swans. Among the heaviest flying birds in the world, it is unsurprising that they take so long to take off. Everyone loves swans.Wherever there are ducks, geese and swans you will find people feeding them and this in turn attracts the Black Headed Gulls. Noisy and sometimes aggressive they are not everyone's favourites but again they are quite beautiful birds if you take the time to notice. Not much evidence of the black head (actually chocolate brown - not black) during the winter.

Keeping with the water theme, you can often see Great Crested Grebes on ponds, lakes and rivers. Spectacular diving birds they are truly at home in the water and in breeding plumage there are few birds as colourful.Another colourful water bird but not often seen is the Red Crested Pochard. More likely to be seen on ornamental lakes than in among the mallards!Hunting along the edges of most still or slow-flowing water will be a Grey Heron. Statuesque and despite it's overall grey appearance, again rather beautiful - although not if you are a fish, frog, lizard, small mammal or bird.Far less frequently seen is the Black Redstart. This one was 'snapped' in Spain not Britain but they are around - you just have to look a bit harder!Turning away from birds for a moment, who can fail to like Grey Squirrels. They have such a bad reputation, mostly because of their almost total ousting of our native Reds. But like almost every case of introduced species decimating our natives, it is not the animal's fault - it's ours. We humans have an unsettling habit of screwing-up the natural balance and then blamimg nature for the problems caused. OK I'll get off my soap-box now.
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