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COMMON CRANE (Grus grus) DAUBING MUD ON ITS MANTLE
By Andrew Easton
On 4th June 2000 a small group of us stopped near Horsey Mill, Horsey, Norfolk to watch a Common Crane feeding in a field quite close to the coast road. After a few minutes it flew a short distance to the edge of a small pool of water in the field. It swirled its bill around in the mud at the edge of the water and then proceeded to smear its muddy bill from side to side across its mantle. It repeated this action eight times, and made no attempt to feed while at the waters edge.
Below are some videograbs of this bird courtesy of James Brown.
Some adult Common Cranes are often illustrated as having very brown upperparts, but no comment appears to explain how this brown colouration occurs, I had assumed it was due to sun bleaching and wear of the fresh grey plumage. Perhaps such mud smearing as this is the true cause.
PERSISTANT PARK HILL PIED WAGTAIL
An unusual, and very mobile nest site was discovered after a holiday spent in Turkey. One of our JCB excavators had been laid up for two weeks while its operator was on holiday. On his return to work he found that, as well as his ganger, he had another companion.
A Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) had built a nest under the cab, on top of the diesel tank; had laid five eggs, and was now incubating them. Despite the digger being in constant use all around the Park Hill site in Lowestoft, the determined bird sat tight, and on the 17th June all five eggs hatched.
With the digger still in use, both parent birds followed the machine around the site, flitting in to feed and brood the nestlings at regular intervals; until on 2nd July all five juveniles fledged successfully. Surely a credit to their persistant parents.
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