Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Woodchat Shrike seems to have taken up residence above Nant valley and we have been lucky enough to spend quite a lot of time watching it. It appears to be feeding in quite wide circuits, which has kept Rich on his toes trying to photograph it. Or rather off his toes and in a stealthy stomach-crawl through the gorse.

Woodchat Shrike amongst the gorse above Nant (c) Richard Brown

The bird is clearly feeding well and we've been trying to figure out what its been eating. It has taken a few bees and we've also watched it eat a Click Beetle. While Rich was crawling through the gorse, I (Giselle) spotted it coughing up a few pellets. We waited for it to leave its perch then crept in and collected a rather soggy, malformed pellet.

The remains of a Green Tiger Beetle and three grubs are obvious. The rest of the pellet seemed to consist of unidentified beetle remains, mostly legs and wing casings. (c) Richard Brown

Further evidence that the Shrike is feeding well. We wont be rushing to collect this sample. (c) Richard Brown

A quick update on the Puss Moth caterpillars. They're munching through a lot of willow leaves at the moment, and therefore getting much bigger. Since their first instar moult, they've started to turn greener on their flanks. And we still have all 13 of them!

 The rear legs of the Puss Moth Caterpillars have evolved into long whip-like appendages. When the caterpillars sense danger they flail their whips around to deter the predator. They also have the ability to spray formic acid from their heads if the threat remains. (c) Richard Brown

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