4 May 2006

Should one interfere with nature?

132. Manx Shearwater Puffinus Puffinus

Today I went to the Castle Island Hide on the Quoile and it was blowing a gale directly at the hide. When I opened the hide windows I couldnt keep the scope still enough to use it efficiently. So there wasnt a great variety of birds to see, apart from 100's of swifts.I started counting and when I got to a hundred I decided it was too difficult to continue,I would say there were three times as many. There were a few lapwing on the far shore amongst the black headed gulls as well as about twenty common terns.

However immediately below the hide there was a female mallard with twelve of her ducklings scampering over the mud/cropped reed bed.Unfortunately I had left the camera at home so no cute photos.She was moving away from the hide into some reeds when a Hooded Crow just started to dive bomb the ducklings much to the females dismay. The female started flying at the hoodie to try and stop it and was joined by another female mallard yet the crow continued and one of the ducklings was beginning to look the worse for wear. I couldnt watch any more and opened a hide window and clapped my hands and shouted at it. It immediately flew off across the pondage.

When I got back into the car I was wondering whether I should have interferred or not.At the end of the day the crow has as much right to its food source as the Mallard has to hers.I did it purely out of sentimentality. Was I right or wrong tell me what you think please.

Later on I took the dog out to Killard and for a while I sat and watched out towards the Isle of Man at the passing seabirds. There were Gannets,Red throated Divers, Guillemots, Terns too far away to be identified probably Sandwich. Gulls of various description and quite far out Manx Shearwater's were gliding over the waves up and down banking this way and that. One moment a dark body the next the white belly and flanks showing in the sunlight. Lovely birds.Its a shame they dont come closer into shore apart from at night. They are also very long lived birds. At the Copeland Bird Observatory off the coast of Co.Down Northern Ireland they recaptured one that was 49 years old and one of the oldest birds ever ringed. Click on the Observatory website there is a good deal of info about the Shearwater.

1 comment:

Ciderduck said...

I saw pretty much the same thing going on last saturday-29th April-and again on Sat 06.05. On the first instance, a hoody landed probably on the same spot you mention, directly in front of the hide. The mallard at this time only had 4 young, but the crow did not have a chance to seriously interfere as the female attacked it as soon as it got too close. The following sat, another hoody was making a nuisance of itself amongst a gathering of tuftys, and two settled terns. On neither occasion did the crow manage cause any real damage.
I dont blame you for scaring the crow off in the end, while I like to think I could stand impassively by and watch such a thing (nature in all its glory etc etc) I really cant be too sure-I've not seen anything like that (apart from seeing a group of kids attacking a jackdaw, while I was stuck in traffic, horrible).
It is a difficult one, no easy answers...??