Thursday, 29 March 2012

You Bustard!

It's been unseasonably warm and sunny these past few days, and I've been doing a lot of driving. It does make a nice change to be driving to and from work in daylight and sunshine, and to be able to see some of the birds and animals which live around here.

I'm no Birdchick. My knowledge of birds is limited - mostly I classify them as:

- Little birds found on the birdfeeders
- giant feral pigeons
- Ducks
- suicidal pheasants
- Magpies
- Others.

However, in the past few days I've seen several which all fit into the '
'others' category -

On Friday there were a couple of herons - one flying, with it's neck all folded up, which always looks highly improbable to me, the other standing by a rhyne, oon the levels, very visable agaisnt the bright green new growth of reeds.

This evening, there was a peregrine falcon - possibly a young one, as it looked brown rather than grey.

There were also, this evening, some deer*

The prize, however, has to be the bird I saw on Monday evening, as I was driving home after a tiring, unexpected, and somewhat stressful afternoon in court  (I was not expecting to be in court at all, but a mix up with listing and Counsel's diary meant that the person who should have gone, couldn't, so I needed to over it at short notice. Then instead of being there for about an hour, as expected, I was there 4 hours)

There was a lot of traffic, and it was slow, and I was hot, and tired, and hungry. Then, as I stopped in the queue of traffic caused by a large lorry trying to pass under a small bridge, I saw a Very Large Bird in the hedge-bottom next to me.  At first glance I thought it might be a peahen, but it was the wrong shape and size, and much taller. It stood in the hedgebottom, looking indecisively at the road for a few moments, then turned and disappered back into the undergrowth.

The only thing I could think of which it might be was a Great Bustard - these birds were hunted to extintion in the UK in the 19th C, but they have been re-introduced to Salisbury Plain over the past 6 or 7 years (from Russia).
When I got home, I looked for pictures of the Bustard - I mostly know of it from the fact that it is the County Bird of Wiltshire - many years ago when I was a Brownie Guide we had a picture of the Bustard on our uniform to show we were from Wilthire (I was quite pleased when we moved to Somerset, and we got to have a Wyvern, instead!) They are not particularly attractive looking birds, and the one I saw looked, to be hoest, a bit gormless.

But I am pretty sure that it was a Bustard -the pictures I've found, such as the one on the BBC story here look exactly like the bird I saw, so I do not see what wlse it could have been.

I didn't see a wing-tag, so can't say how old it was or identify the individual bird, but I'm quite excited to have seen it.
*Yes, I know deer are not birds. But they are generally shy enough that seeing them always feels like an unexpected gift.

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