Its February and love is in the air!
This is one of my favourite times of year, not only are people buying Valentine’s day cards for their loved ones, but all the animals are preening and looking perfect to attract a mate too! It literally is a month filled with love!
There are many things, wildlife-wise, to look out for over the next few weeks at Leeds Castle, one, in particular, is the Great Crested Grebe (a big favourite of mine!). They are out in full force at the moment normally seen on the moat, lookout for them as they’ll be doing their ‘weed dance’ to attract a mate. It really is a spectacular thing to watch, there’s lots of head bobbing and twitching and flaring of the feathers on the head and around the neck, but the most impressive part comes next. The Grebes dive under the water to grab some type of vegetation (weeds normally) and bring it to the surface, they then rise up almost treading on water, and shake the plant at the partner, hence why it’s called the weed dance! This only lasts seconds as it takes a huge amount of energy but often that’s enough to seal the deal and gain a partner for the breeding season, impressive!
I don’t normally mention the flora side of things but the snowdrops are sneakily making an appearance and they are beautiful! They definitely deserve a mention as they’re brightening up the woodlands and a sure sign that spring is on its way!
Another awesome bird to keep an eye out for is the Nuthatch. It’s a little blueish bird often referred to as the ‘upside down’ bird as it has the ability to walk, not only up the tree but also down a tree trunk too!
It uses this ability to have a different perspective to hunt for beetles and bugs that maybe hiding in the bark, very cool!
The last bird that deserves a mention this month is the Great Spotted Woodpecker, these noisy little birds are busy drumming away at the dead tree trunks to make as much noise as possible mainly to establish territories. Normally it’s the males doing the drumming as it serves two purposes, one is to drive away other competition, and two, to attract a female!
There’s so much incredible wildlife to look out for this time of year from baby Badgers to flashy Mallards showing off to the females! Way too many to mention them all on here, just that it’s worth taking a moment to stop and have a look around you, you never know what you might see!
On the Falconry side of things, love is very much a subject in and around the Bird of Prey Centre!
We have two new breeding pairs added to our team this year, Coco & Julio our Brown Wood Owls, and Juan & Two (awesome names I know!) our Mottled Owls. The hope is we might see some baby Owls later on this year if all goes according to plan!
Alongside these two pairs we also have our Burrowing Owls, Jack & Jill, who are currently feeding and preening each other which is all good news! We have Merlin and Guinevere our White-faced Owls, who I’m not sure will breed but are enjoying each other’s company which is nice, and Jackson & Mexico our Harris Hawks who spend all their time shouting at each other!
It’ll be a busy season if everything is successful but one of the best times of year as its filled with baby owls and tonnes of cuteness!
We’ve been busy building new aviaries which are now almost complete, it’s been a long-winded process (due to weather and other jobs cropping up!) but we’re so pleased with how it looks and we’re hoping to be able to open the gate during the day so visitors can come in and have a look!
As always, thank you for reading!
If you have any questions about the Birds of Prey or Wildlife, get in contact!
The Falconry & Wildlife Team