Posted by: mynaturaldiary | November 10, 2012

Capitoline Cacklers

According to Livy [5.47], Rome was once protected from attack by the Gauls by the sacred geese of Juno, which lived on the Capitoline hill. Ever watchful, they called out the alarm when others failed to spot the attack, and thus helped secure Rome’s future greatness. 24 centuries have passed since the battle of Allia, but the geese are still as watchful at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme.

This Greylag goose stands sentinal over the flock as the rest feed. Occasionally a sound or movement brings them all to attention.

As the alarm ebbs, most of the geese return to feeding,

with only one on guard.

The geese take it in turn to keep guard and feed.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser) Flock after flock join the reserve, flying in their classic V formation.

But they aren’t the only species of geese. In the long grass were about 40 Barnacle Geese.

Once again, you can see one goose watching, whilst the others feed.

Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis) Also the ubiquitous Canadian Goose.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

There was a delightful Redshank on show at the Phil Stead Hide.

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

And on the waters and the edges, Teal.

Teal (Anas crecca)

also Wigeon

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

On the feeders were Goldfinches

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

and Greenfinches.

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

And by the visitors centre, a Magpie

Magpie (Pica pica)

Lapwing were in the skies.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

On the distant grasslands before Paddy’s Pool were a congregation of Golden Plover.

They spend their time between feeding and watching for predators. At the slightest sign of one, they take to the skies. They take off in about one second…

To form a cloud in the skies.

Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

Their fears are well founded as the reserve attracts its share of predators.

Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

and the distant wonder of a Short Eared Owl, hunting in the winter dusk.

Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)

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