[A literary pun? Whatever next?]
When enjoying a sunny evening’s BBQ outside Guillaume, we have been a little bothered by small flies/gnats, which insist on gathering in a swirling bait ball over ones head. Actually, it’s Franco’s less than hirsute head that attracts the little beasts whilst Francine’s rather better heat insulating thatching seems to reduce their attraction to her. We’re used to there being flies here but have begun to wonder if the reduced frog population might have led to an increase.
In contrast to previous years, this time in our on-going casual lake study we’ve noticed an almost complete lack of Swifts, Swallows and/or Martins zooming down over the lake to capitalize on what seems like an insect smorgasbord. It’s possible, though, that the birds feeding over the lack might have been more interested in Mayfly prey, now in short supply perhaps also due to the fish predation, than the flies that tickle our heads. At least the evenings produce a good crop of bats weaving their way between the trees to reduce the flying irritation.
We’ve recently seen for the first time here a delightful little bird doing its best to reduce the fly population. A Spotted Flycatcher is using the campsite as a hunting ground. Flycatchers are entertaining to watch as they perch on a base and fly sallies to catch prey before returning. Their behaviour is very like the darter dragonflies which also hunt from a favoured perch. Spotted Flycatcher is another of those slightly misleading bird names, IMHO, the spots in question actually being more like faint grey streaks down its breast. I suppose Streaked Flycatcher wouldn’t have the same ring.
This little cutie was using a variety of perches from which to hunt, including tree branches, the campsite lights and most recently Guillaume’s draw bar. After I spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to catch our new entertainer on natural perches, Francine managed to snag him through Guillaume’s front window. The proximity made up mostly for the visual imperfections of a plastic window. Guillaume, wildlife hide again.
Continuing the bird theme, a late afternoon wander along a few of the farm tracks, mainly to collect grass seeds in our socks and walking shoes, solved a fairly long standing mystery in that we finally identified the maker of a bird call that we’ve been hearing. The rather tuneless rattling chatter that I’d been wondering about turns out to come from a Corn Bunting. A new one for the Franco avian list.
Now, if our new Spotted Flycatcher friend could just recruit a few reinforcements, our slight fly irritation might go away. Nah!