Jay and Acorn

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Tuesday 15th February 2000

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jay with acornjay A JAY flies into a tree by Newmillerdam lake with an acorn in its beak. It's near enough to us, but binoculars bring out the striking details of its plumage; the blue wing patches, cinnamon breast and its pale blue eyes. It turns to face us, showing its elaborate sideburns.

mallard drake It appears that Mallard drakes are outnumbering the ducks by about three to one. They shadow the female, swimming along behind her. You can sense the tension, but as yet it hasn't spilled over into aggression.

tufted ducks tufted duck divingblack-headed gulls A group of 30 Tufted Ducks are diving near the lake edge where we saw them two weeks ago. There must be a massive supply of mussels down there. As usual a few Black-headed Gulls are mobbing them. But most of the gulls are feeding raucously by the war memorial, where people are feeding the ducks.

dabchick dabchickdiving A single Dabchick dives amongst the ducks, spending more time under the surface than they do. It too is pestered by a passing gull, and dives in an instant.

coot's nestcoots A partly constructed nest, probably that of a Coot, sits in the water below an overhanging ash. In the middle a foil wrapper lies amongst the twigs. Is this the bird's way of stopping rising damp? Or of trapping solar radiation to help in the incubation of the eggs? Or is it there to confuse predators?

It could just have been the nearest piece of debris that was available at the time.

Weather from the West

approaching front It's stays fine during the afternoon, but the forecast is for change; there could be snow on the way. At five o'clock grey clouds are piled up over the Pennines in the west. High cirrus clouds above us herald the approach of the weather front.

On my way to the post office a half moon is clear and sharp against a muted blue sky. When I return fifteen minutes later it has become blurred, as if seen through frosted glass. We have heavy rain during the evening.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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