June 22nd   Leave a comment

The soundscape at Kilrenny Common today was still loud and interesting but a number of species are winding down or have finished breeding completely. The robins are still singing but not for much longer. There are a lot of fledged, independent robins to show that most are done for the year. Young robins are brown and speckled with no trace of red until they moult in late August. This allows them to be more or less tolerated by the adults for their first few months. But after they too gain their red breasts then the gloves are off and they will be driven out to find their own territory. Robins are surprisingly vicious when establishing and defending their territories and many are killed in the process. Singing is their way of keeping the peace once territories are established. Rivals singing from adjacent territories are recognised and ignored because the resident knows that everyone is in their place. When a stranger appears, or a neighbour is in the wrong place then fighting will break out unless the interloper gives way and leaves. By the start of the autumn robin territories are established for the winter but then the migrants from Scandinavia start arriving to upset things again.

There were rows of newly fledged swallows perched along the wire fence of the cow field by the common. I think it has been a good year for the swallows with plenty of warm weather to bring the insects on. The young swallows were sitting patiently and waiting for their parents to deliver a package of flies or whatever small flying insect was the most common flying thing today. Cow fields are always good for swallows and their young because they attract lots of flies and particularly dung flies. In Africa and in Europe, where they can, swallows are pretty much large animal followers. It might be just cows at Kilrenny, but from October to March it will be wildebeest, giraffes, elephants, camels, kudu, zebras – you name it. Every adult swallow you see in Crail will have seen every large grazing mammal species between here and Cape Town. Some of the carnivores in Africa are pretty fly infested too and a highlight a couple of years ago year was watching swallows hawking amongst a pride of lions in Tanzania (with European bee-eaters higher above to really make it a spectacle). I am glad the swallows share a little bit of this with us even if it was only cows at Kilrenny today.

A newly fledged swallow being fed by its parent

A newly fledged swallow being fed by its parent

Posted June 22, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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