Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today we had a quick look at Nosterfield but the Bean Geese were nowhere to be found, by us anyway. We did see fifty-odd albifrons White-fronted Geese in with hundreds of feral Greylags and a Barnacle Goose which was almost certainly feral as well. The most interesting thing we've read today is at: It's an article about the mass suicide of 1500 Black-necked Grebes in Utah. Although suicide is probably not too likely, rather they thought they were touching down on a convenient water body when bad weather hit the nocturnal migrants. Unfortunately the lake was actually a Wal-Mart car park. An additional 3500 were taken into care. That's roughly 5000 Black-necked grebes! The factors that came into play were probably not dissimilar to the Lighthouse attractions we get on Bardsey. So why didn't the birds that survived the landing just go somewhere else when they realised their mistake?

This photo of the Hartlepool Slavonian Grebe goes someway to explaining it. Much like Bardsey's Manx Shearwaters, grebes have evolved to have their legs right at the back of their bodies. It means they are great underwater, perfectly designed to catch their subaquatic invertebrate food. But the price is that they're rubbish on land, only being able to take flight from water. So when they find themselves in a Wal-Mart car park there's not much they can do. (c) Richard Brown

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