Kittiwakes learning to fly

We are coming to end of the Kittiwake nesting season here in Scarborough. There are still some chicks on the nests with their parents, but most have fledged and are learning the joys of flying! Kittiwake chicks spend about 41-42 days (average fledging period) sitting on their nests, being fed by their dutiful parents. They…

Just a bunch of weeds? Birds and bees on the slopes of the Futurist site, Scarborough

This site was created following the demolition of the old Futurist theatre on Scarborough seafront.  Demolition of the building began in June 2018 and was completed in August 2018. A process called ‘slope stabilisation’ created an area of sloping ground (below) which, in this year of lockdown, has filled up with wild flowers. Some might…

Life on a ledge

I have been following Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) at a number of sites around Scarborough this summer, but one particular location offers very good views, provided you take care not to disturb the birds too much. With a long lens, you don’t have to get too close, although the birds seem to be used to people…

Silly seabird season! Herring gull chicks.

It’s what I call silly seabird season here in Scarborough. The time of year when seabird chicks fall off the roof! I am talking about Herring gulls of course. A Kittiwake would never fall off; they are just too clever for that! The advice from the RSPB is that if the chick is uninjured, leave…

Nest building kittiwakes

Over the last few weeks, kittiwakes – or Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) to give them their full name – have been very busy building their nests here in Scarborough, north Yorkshire. There has been a constant stream of kittiwakes flying to and fro between their nests and the harbour at low tide. They come to collect…

Seagulls in lockdown

I like seagulls! But I know that Herring gulls (Larus argentatus) are not universally loved. They are a bit like marmite; love them or hate them! Like us, their world suddenly changed on the 23 March 2020, and they had to adjust to a new way of living. In this blog, I discuss media reports…

Iridescent feathers of pigeons

Rock doves, or common pigeons (Columba livia), like those shown here have iridescent green and purple feathers around their necks. Both males and females show these iridescent colours, although females tend to have less iridescence than males. Iridescence means that the colours change according to the angle of view (or angle of illumination). So as the…

False heads and fluffy tails!

Conventional wisdom has it that the ‘tails’ seen at the end of the hindwings of many butterflies, particularly lycaenids (the ‘blues’), are serving to mimic antennae, and together with eyespots located on the undersides of the hindwings, create the impression of a head. These ‘false heads’ are therefore, a form of reverse mimicry. They serve…

A trick of the tail!

When we look at an organism, we see a host of different adaptations which have evolved to improve or enhance the fitness and survival of that species. One such trait is the detachable tail of lizards. In a life or death moment, many lizards are able to shed all or part of their tail. The…

Munia mayhem

One hotel I stayed at recently in Bali (the Ramada Bintang Bali Resort) had attractive gardens with a number of water fountains. These were a magnet for birds, specifically munias: small, gregarious seed eaters, also called minias or mannikins. One fountain was very much the preserve of White-headed munias (Lonchura maja) which were very abundant. The White-headed munias flew…