Having been flooded with suggestions (there must have been at least two) for a new volume of Infrequently Given Answers I hereby proudly present ...
From: "peter kook" Subject: Re: Red spot on herring gull's beak Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2001 "Gordon Hamlett" wrote ... > > > Here's a question from my teenaged daughter that I didn't know how to > > > answer.... What is the function, if any, of the red spot on a herring > > > gull's beak? > > It's a sort of aiming point for the chicks. > There was an experiment back in the seventies IIRC which showed that > young herring gulls would respond to a stick painted with a red blob > and would start pecking at it. Seems to be a 'food here' signal. Basically you can explain to her that it works the same as the Mcdonalds yellow lettering on a red background does for teenagers. It signals to them that 'food is here' and it makes their parents want to 'throw up'.
From: "Bill Alexander" Subject: Above and Beyond Date: Wed, 9 May 2001 From this weeks BirdGuides newsletter:- "For presence, bird of the week must go to the Black-browed Albatross that lingered for 50 minutes off Dungeness, Kent on the 4th. Its stay was far too short for many, but a regular BirdGuides contributor managed to reach his local patch in record time, though I suspect that not many birders will have watched such a fantastic species whilst still wearing their pyjamas!"
From: Coatimundi Subject: Re: Strange feathers Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2001 Steve Foster wrote: > >Whilst having a ramble around my village cemetery I came across a collection >of about a dozen feathers on the ground. They were dark grey in colour, >with some black evident too. I assume these were from a woodpigeon. They >also seemed to have been plucked, as there was no evidence of chewing. > >Anyway, the curious thing was the structure of the feathers, being something >I've never seen before. The shaft of some feathers was very long (~5cm) >with a mere centimetre of feather actually showing at the end. (It reminded >me of a paintbrush.) > >Would these be tail feathers? What would have plucked these feathers, >another woodpigeon? Good morning Sir, and how are we today? Have a perch. Now what would Sir like today, Hmmmm? A little off the top perhaps? Oh, tail feathers? Well, Sir, I could do you a nice Duck Arse effect, all the rage - No? Just a trim? As Sir wishes. Is Sir going on migration this year? I hear Torquay is very nice at this time of year - No? Well, my friend Jason says we're in for a terrible winter, so we're off to France next month - what? French Pate? No, sir, I'm sure it's all a nasty rumour, my other friend Dominic was there last year with his pals and none of them got shot at, and they met some LOVELY French lads too... Cooo! Ooops - sorry, did I pull too hard there? Must apologise, Sir, we were up all night in that cornfield, I must have had a few too many, you know how it is, if you don't eat some grit before you go it goes straight to your head... How's the wife? Good, and the eggs? Oh, sorry to hear that Sir. If I had my way, I'd bring back hanging for all magpies, it's a disgrace how they get away with it. There we are Sir, nearly finished. Would you like to look in the mirror? Oooohhh - suits you, Sir, suits you. Now, how about something for the weekend? (With apologies to Granpa Worm - getting me coat right now)
From: Ann Barker Date: 18 Aug 2001 Subject: Re: Strange feathers Percival......oh Percival, is that you? Where on earth have you been dear, we're late for..........eeeeeeeeeeek! Percival, what on *earth* have you done to yourself?? Good heavens - A trim? Why, you're practically naked! How could you do this to me? Oh Percival, I feel faint. I shall be too frightfully embarrassed to be seen with you for months until those feathers grow back. Was it that horrible Coatimundi who talked you into this? I know these things; you needn't bother to admit it. The scum. I'll have his tailfeathers tarred for this, I shall. There, there, dear, settle down <cooo>... you won't mind hiding in this comfy little wood for a few months, will you? No one will see you here, dear, least of all the Magpies. It will be all right come next spring, I promise. Mrs. P. Woodpigeon (with further apologies to Grampa Worm)
Then there was a thread that started off about attracting Coal Tits to feeders. Didn't stay that way though ...
From: "Coal Tit Spokesman" Subject: Re: Coaltits Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 Well we're glad we're not being ignored. There have been more than a few primaries ruffled recently as we thought we'd been given the bird. Get those damn feeders out, peanuts are nice, but the ones with mixed seed, especially sunflower are the dogs dangly bits. We have stopped eating Alders as they impinged our ability to fly. Probably another reason you've missed us. Next time you see a fallen Alder take a closer look ! P.A Rusater
From: "Bill Alexander" Subject: Re: Coaltits now :-) Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 "Coal Tit Spokesman" wrote ... > Well we're glad we're not being ignored. There have been more than a few > primaries ruffled recently as we thought we'd been given the bird. Mr. Rusater, Nice to hear from you, communic-aters from your branch of the family are very welcome in the group. Hope you don't mind the formality in your tit-le? As an authority on the mither tongue do I recognise a few Tartan Coal-ition clues in your epistle? Further good news for your once neglected race is a new range of garden parusols for your protection (and with all your dependants I think you should seriously think "protection") a 72 parus golf course in Coaltown of Balgonie, and a novel plan to plant Spruce trees the length of the West Bank of the Seine in Parus. I have taken to adding a mixture of parusley and parusmesan cheese to your food as I have hear you are a very good ater. I assume you are also from the alder school as I have communicated with your younger cousin Tom, a wee bit seedy looking, who caused quite a stir with all his caerleus talk. Tom of course had all that cyanus trouble when he decided to go on his oriental sojourns. So titter not group, major disruptions failed to cinct us. Bill...
From: Mark Etheridge Subject: The First Annual ukrb Awards Date: 22 Dec 2001 Ladies and Gentlemen As some of you may already know, the Executive Committee of ukrb met last week in the snug bar of the Dog and Bucket to select the first annual ukrb awards, which are kindly sponsored this year by Birds Eye Fish Fingers. It is my pleasure to report that after the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, the committee declared the following winners: The Barbara Cartland Award for Descriptive Writing : Bill Alexander - the man with jokes to suit all ages, from the late Paleolithic to the early Triassic. The Rab C Nesbitt Award for Promoting the Scottish language : Malky @ Westhill. When informed of this award, he said modestly "Ach, dinna fash yer interficherin scunners, awa an bile yer heids", which is a sentiment I am sure we can all share during this festive season. The Award for Services to the Virus-checker Industry : Andy Mabbett - who is himself a Frequently Asked Question. The John Motson Award for Pointless Comments : GlenFiddich - who does for serious discussion what a handful of sage & onion does to a Christmas turkey. The Les Dawson Award for Hitting the Wrong Keys Most Often : Chris Mead - the man whose briding knowlegde is secnod 2to noon. The Malcolm Ogilvie Award for being Malcolm Ogilvie : Malcolm Ogilvie - who has done for Islay what Vesuvius did to Pompeii. Hotelier of the Year Award : Carl Reavey - who has done for Islay cooking what Jeffrey Archer did to literature. The Hara-Kiri Award for Suggesting we put her in a Killfile : wavegirl - who stands Head & Shoulders above the wash basin next to the toothpaste. The Hara-Kiri Runner-Up with the Name Most Likely to Actually End Up in a Killfile : peter kook - whose barbed comments are feared the length and breadth of the country (in this case, Liechtenstein). Special Award for Inadvertent Promotion of the Woodland Trust : Angus MacMillan - who gets on with the Woodland Trust like boiled beef and parrots. The overall winer was declared to be Steve Foster for supplying the largest bribe to the judges. Steve wins his requested prize of a year's subscription to "Big Hooters", which he says is a monthly magazine dedicated to the study of the larger Bubo species of owl. Merry Christmas Mark
And for a change a more serious post (don't suppose it will last long though ...)
From: "Bill Alexander" Subject: Capers with Eagles. Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002 Eddie Chapman, who lives and works in Norway, has given me permission to reproduce these tales of these very brave (or foolish?) eagles. The episode happened this May 2001, when an adult Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos attacked and killed a male Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, while the bird was at a lek. Unfortunately the lek site is situated on an area of higher ground, and when the eagle attacked, both the eagle and the Capercaillie disappeared down the downward side of the slope, an thus out of view. After about 20 minutes the eagle flew out of the area. When the lek was over, and it was safe to leave the hide, the Capercaillie was checked. The eagle had plucked away some of its breast feathers and had eaten from the birds breast. Another episode that happened a few years ago was better documented. In fact the whole episode was caught on video. A Golden Eagle attacked two displaying male Capercaillies. What happened next was unbelievable. The Golden Eagle landed in front of one of the Capercaillies and walked towards the bird. During this period, both the Capercaillies carried on displaying to each other, and seemed unaware of the danger. The eagle then made a lunge at one of the Capercaillies, sinking its talons into the breast region of the bird. The Capercaillie started hacking at the eagle with its bill, and flapping its wings, often hitting the eagle with some force. This action forced the eagle to loosen its grip and the Capercaillie seemed to regain its posture. However this did not last long, and the eagle attacked for a second time. This time the eagle seemed to get hold of the Capercaillie by the back of the birds neck, and on its back. Due to vegetation it was difficult to see how the eagle managed to kill the Capercaillie, but I should think that the grip on the neck was fatal. During the fight the other Capercaillie had stayed on the sideline. This however soon changed. While the eagle was on top of the now dead first Capercaillie, the second Capercaillie attacked the eagle. This attack was more like when two male Capercaillies clash. The bird had fanned tail feathers, out stretched neck and was making the throaty "clicking" display call. On nearing the eagle, the Capercaillie made a running dash, hitting the eagle with its breast. It now looked like the second Capercaillie saw the eagle as a new Capercaillie and therefore a new contender at the lek. It continued attacking the eagle. During this time the eagle had stood its ground, keeping a firm grip on the first Capercaillie. However the attacks continued and in the end the eagle was forced to let go, but instead of flying away, it attacked and killed the second Capercaillie, roughly in the same fashion as the first with the first strike going into the birds breast. After the second Capercaillie was lying dead, the eagle flew away from the area, leaving the two birds untouched and a camera man rubbing his eyes in disbelief. As I said, the whole sequence was filmed and shown on a nature program on Norwegian TV. The film was also entered into a competition for the best amateur nature video shown on Norwegian TV. It won hands down, a truly remarkable piece of wildlife photography. Best regards, Eddie Chapman. Voss. Norway. Website: Bird Watching In Norway - Birding Holidays In Norway Norwegian Rare Bird Alert. http://hjem.sol.no/echapman/
From: Carl and Jan Reavey Subject: Re: Capers with Eagles. Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002 jp writes > >Some time ago I was shown a clip from a documentary made many years >ago about a band of pelt hunters from Asia (Kazakhstan?). One of the >native trappers had a 'berkut' - a golden eagle, which he used to kill >wolves. The clip showed one such flight, if I remember rightly the >eagle held the wolf across the back with one foot and its head with >the other foot, presumably using its tremendous strength to drive its >talons through the wolves skull. Fairly gruesome stuff, but it >showed, as Alan says, what a formidable predator a golden eagle can >be. Incidently, am I right in thinking the Golden Eagles from this >area are the biggest in the world - does anyone know just how big they >get. I believe the Golden eagles on Jura are considered to be the largest and most fearsome in the Western Palearctic. They mostly feed on Grey seals which they catch by hunting in pairs - the female eagle grabs the head and the male the tail (which is not so heavy) and together they haul the hapless beasts up to their eyries on the Paps. Local legend has it that one pair tried to carry off a U-boat which was skulking in Loch Tarbert during the war, but the crew managed to drive them away using the 8 inch gun mounted on the foredeck. The U-boat was fatally holed in the action however and finally foundered in the Gulf of Corrievreckan. George Orwell, who was the only other living soul for a hundred miles, found two of the survivors trying to catch a sheep and rode his BSA Bantam to Ardtalla in a futile attempt to raise the alarm. Some say the Germans are still there... The eagles certainly are. Malcolm pops over to count them every year - but always with an armed escort of redundant goose shooters who have nothing to do during the birdy breeding season except shoot deer which they claim gets boring after a while... Yours etc.. -- Carl Reavey
From: "Steve Foster" Subject: Re: Fieldfare question Organization: Ye 'Ol Disorganized NNTPCache groupie Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2001 "W K" wrote... > > > I saw a few fieldfares yesterday BTW. Perhaps the first time I've seen them > > > in a flock (in the UK).. > > > > > How many does it take to create a flock? 3 or more? > Well this was 20 odd. > > I'm sure I have heard them in ones and twos before, but not really seen them > properly. > I do see them regularly in central france around christmas. Flippin' 'eck. What bins do you use?! ;-) -- Steve Foster - Stanwick, Northants
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