Monday, 26 September 2022

Another Quiet September Morning in the Reedbed

I met Alice and John at first light yesterday morning at the Nature Park to carry out a ringing session. The weather conditions rang some alarm bells, as it was cold and clear, a 'clear out' type of night, and any vis would be high, too high for the MP3 players to have any effect. So, we didn't expect much, and it was a good job that we didn't, but as I am always fond of saying it is autumn!
At first, the wind was south-easterly, but by the time we had put the three nets up, it had dropped off completely, so at least that was a bonus. We ringed 12 birds as follows:
Robin - 2
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Chaffinch - 2
Greenfinch - 7
There must have been some Greenfinches on the move for us to ring seven birds, but any other vis was limited to a handful of Meadow Pipits, a Grey Wagtail and 362 Pink-footed Geese, all heading south. And nothing else really featured in my notebook. 
Contrast this to a reedbed on the south coast. I have a good friend who lives in East Sussex, and he was ringing in a reedbed down there the day before with two fellow ringers, where they managed to ring an amazing 440 birds in a morning. To quote Graeme, it was a crazy morning today at the reedbed. Blackcaps were simply streaming into the site from first light, accompanied by a nice selection of other species, resulting in a session the like of which none of us have been previously involved with. The 440 birds consisted of:
Kingfisher - 1
Spotted Flycatcher - 2
Wren - 1
Blue Tit - 2
Goldcrest - 1
Meadow Pipit - 3
Great Tit - 1
Whitethroat - 6
Linnet - 1
Sedge Warbler - 6
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Reed Warbler - 38
Dunnock - 1
Chiffchaff - 72
Blackcap - 304
Compare that to our reedbed up here in the northwest. In fact, there is no comparison. It just shows how migrant birds gather on the south coast before crossing the Channel. Superb stuff!
The big environmental news as I type this, is that of the Conservative government showing its' true colours and demonstrating how un-green they are, and how they care little about the biodiversity of the UK.
There was a major overhaul of farm subsidies in progress, and it was progressing well, that rewarded landowners in England for their environmental work, and this is now in doubt after the government signalled a review over weekend. 
Environmental groups are rightly concerned, that the government could water down, or even scrap the new Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) that were proposed to be launched in full in 2024, with a great deal of time, effort and money already being spent on the trials. ELMS is designed to replace the agri-environment element of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and apparently the government has confirmed that it is reviewing its plans.

I don't intend to say any more at the moment, as this is on-going and more details will emerge as the week progresses. However, all I will say is that it is a very sad state of affairs, and it is a huge backwards step as far as the environment and farming is concerned. I fear that some very dark days for nature conservation in the UK beckon under this new un-elected government that we have the misfortune to have.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

At last a southerly...

...but not before another 'watch' on a northerly. I headed to my coastal vantage point at the farm fields at weekend under 1 oktas cloud cover, with a bird clearing north-easterly wind. It was cold this morning, and I wished that I'd put another layer on.
Once again, the vis was poor with just two Grey Wags, 597 Pink-footed Geese, five Meadow Pipits, four Swallows, 5 Alba Wags and a Linnet. Meagre stuff indeed! The sea didn't fare any better, with 17 Cormorants, two Shelducks, three Sandwich Terns, four Eiders, eight Common Scoters, an Auk sp. and an Atlantic Grey Seal logged. There were no grounded migrants at all, so I didn't linger, nor did I check anywhere else. 
 Pink-footed Geese
 A couple of mornings ago Gail and I had a walk along the quay besides the estuary and we had cracking views of a Greenshank, one of my favourite birds, but could I get a picture of it? Not at all! In fact, the Redshanks are hard to photograph here as well, and I think it is because you are looking down on them, and consequently they are looking up at us, and I'm pretty sure that our outlines are breaking the sky-line, and hence their nervousness. 
With the Greenshank were 38 Redshanks, six Oystercatchers, five Teal and two Curlews. We had a fly-over Rock Pipit and a fly-over Grey Wag, before another favourite bird of mine made an appearance, a Raven. They are regular here now, and it was flying backwards and forwards, giving that fantastic deep croak that seems to come from the back of their throat. Superb! 
Yesterday, the wind finally turned southerly, but I don't know why I was getting excited, as it was a southerly off a northerly system. Anyway, it was calm enough to attempt a ringing session at the Nature Park, and so under 7 oktas cloud cover with a 5 - 10 mph southerly I put a couple of nets up in the reedbed and scrub.  
At first light I could hear Pink-footed Geese leaving their roost on the estuary, but as I was in the reeds and scrub, I couldn't see them. Later in the morning there was some passage of Pinkies, 770, and all were birds heading either north or north-east, and I assume that these were birds that had roosted on the Ribble, that were heading to feeding areas further north into Lancashire and Cumbria.
I spoke to Ian during the morning, who I know would be birding at the Point, and he said that there was no vis, and this is what I was seeing, or not seeing as the case might be, at the Nature Park. However, when I started playing Meadow Pipit and Greenfinch song/calls on my MP3 players birds started dropping in, so there must have been some movement.
I ringed 29 birds as follows (recaptures in brackets):
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Meadow Pipit - 2
Great Tit - 1
Song Thrush - 1
Greenfinch - 21
Chiffchaff - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 1 (1)
Cetti's Warbler
Two singing Cetti's Warblers and a Raven made it into my notebook, and that was it. 
Some new research from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) implicates rising temperatures in the steep decline of the Willow Warbler in Britain. 
Willow Warblers are doing better in Scotland, where temperatures are cooler, and evidence is building to suggest the population in southern Britain is a casualty of recent anthropogenic climate change. 
The BTO used data from the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) to separate the impacts of climate change and habitat change on Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff populations. The analysis revealed that Willow Warbler numbers across the UK fell by 41% between 1994 and 2018, while those of the closely related Chiffchaff grew by 133%. In Scotland, where temperatures are cooler than the UK average, Willow Warblers increased by 77% and Chiffchaffs by 244%.
During the period studied, the mean breeding season temperature was 12.7 C in England and 10.2 C in Scotland, close to the optimum breeding temperatures for Chiffchaff (13.5 C) and Willow Warbler (11 C), respectively. 

Met Office data show that UK temperatures in the last 30 years have been about 1 C warmer than those during the three preceding decades. Changes like these can have impacts including producing a mismatch between young birds' food requirements and insect abundance, an overall reduction in food abundance and shifts in habitat suitability. Anecdotally, I have noticed a decline in Willow Warblers in the 47 years that I have been birding. Worrying! 

Thursday, 15 September 2022

When the north wind blows...

...the Pinkie migration flows, but that's about it over here in the west when we get a series of northerlies. I've blogged many times before about how awful a northerly in the west is for migration in autumn, and two recent visits to the coastal farm fields demonstrated this. 
At weekend, I headed along the sea wall at first light under 7 oktas cloud cover with a 10 mph north-easterly wind, and got set-up at my vis mig and sea watching vantage point. A few Swallows were moving, and after a while watching them, I decided that most of them weren't on the move, and they were just feeding on aerial insects over the fields and shore. I had 53 that I didn't consider were moving, and nine that were. In addition to the Swallows, ten House Martins and a Sand Martin headed north into the wind. The only other vis that I had were five Meadow Pipits south, and singles of Alba and Grey Wagtails.  

The sea was equally as quiet, with a pair of Eiders, 23 Cormorants, two Gannets, five Common Scoters and a Sandwich Tern. I had a walk around the farm fields afterwards and I recorded no grounded migrants other than a single Wheatear

This morning was when the Pink-footed Geese were heading south under 7 oktas cloud cover, with again a ten mph north-easterly wind. I had 1,467 Pinkies head south, and they were still heading south over my garden well into the afternoon.  
Pink-footed Geese
A few more Meadow Pipits, although still woefully low numbers moved south, with a total of 13, plus eleven grounded individuals. And that was it for the vis! The sea was once again very quiet, although I did have a summer plumaged Red-throated Diver head south, and the sprinkling of other birds at sea included seven Cormorants, 16 Common Scoters and 7 male & 4 female Eiders.

A flock of 22 Linnets and 15 House Martins made it into my notebook, and a Little Egret entertained, as it ran around a tidal pool chasing food. I doubled the number of grounded Wheatears to two, and one was particularly confiding (see below). 
Distant Little Egret on a tidal pool
It's forecast to be northerly again tomorrow, so even though I've semi-complained about these rubbish northerlies, I'll still have a look as it is September after all! 

I've just pulled a notebook off my book shelf for 2010, as I am want to do, and how very different it was on 15th September that year. I was at the Point and the wind was a force 6 westerly, and it was producing a few seabirds. It must have been good as I had a session in the morning, and again in the evening! I won't go into detail, but just list some of the highlights in the order that they appeared on the day, and of course in my notebook:

Guillemot -9
Little Tern - 1 juv.
Common Scoter - 89
Leach's Petrel -29
Kittiwake -15
Manx Shearwater - 2
Gannet -6
Long-tailed Skua - 1 pale morph juv.
Great Skua -3
Red-breasted Merganser - 2
Arctic Skua - 3 dark morphs & 1 pale morph
Red-throated Diver - 1 
Razorbill - 5
Sandwich Tern - 2
Pink-footed Goose - 76
A very different day indeed! 
Over on the right you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing group up until the end of August. Three new species for the year were ringed during August, and these were Grey Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Tree Pipit.  

Below you will find the top five ringed during August and the top ten 'movers and shakers' for the year so far.

Top 5 Ringed in August

1. Linnet - 29
2. Willow Warbler - 21
3. Greenfinch - 16
4. Blackcap - 10
    Robin - 10

Top 10 Movers and Shakers

1. Sand Martin - 160 (same position)
2. Blue Tit - 98 (same position)
3. Great Tit - 75 (same position)
4. Willow Warbler - 55 (same position)
5. Linnet - 46 (straight in)
6. Sedge Warbler - 33 (down from 5th)
7. Robin - 27 (straight in)
8. Pied Flycatcher - 26 (down from 5th)
    Goldfinch - 26 (down from 7th)
10. Blackcap - 25 (straight in)

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Where Have All The Birds Gone?

This is a question that I, and other Naturalists, have been asking for a while, and I'll come back to it later. Yesterday morning, I headed to the Point for first light to have a look on the sea, and the lack of birds, particularly for this time of year, brought that question to my mind once again.
Under 6 oktas of cloud cover with a south-easterly wind force 2 - 3, I headed along the shore to where I was going to position myself for a bit of migration monitoring in the form of sea-watching and vis migging. 
There was some vis, but it was slow, and the direction of movement was either westerly or easterly. This stretch of coast at the head of the Fylde peninsula, overlooking the border between Liverpool and Morecambe Bay, runs east to west, and any visible migration observed from the Point moves either west or east. As a general rule, the movement in spring is easterly and in autumn westerly. However, because of the wind direction there was some autumnal westerly movement, but also some birds were moving east into the wind. 
Anyway, all the vis that I recorded were 12 Meadow Pipits, three Grey Wagtails and three Linnets. Quiet indeed! As the tide was running in there were a number of waders roosting on the shore, and I was hoping for a Curlew Sandpiper or two amongst the Dunlin, except there were no Dunlin! Roosting waders numbered 43 Oystercatchers, nine Turnstones, 201 Sanderlings and 47 Ringed Plovers.
Ringed Plovers
The sea was equally as quiet as the vis, and the sea-watching has been quiet here for a few years now, and that question 'where have all the birds gone' keeps coming back to haunt me. Cormorants moved west from their roost to foraging areas in Liverpool Bay and numbered 34, and the best of the rest was three Gannets, 33 Common Scoters, two Auk sp., a pair of Eiders, a Guillemot and only five Sandwich Terns.
Just five Sandwich Terns! At this time of year their numbers should be in three figures, but the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is wreaking havoc with Sandwich Tern populations as well as that of Gannets, and partly answers the question of where have all the birds gone. 
Out on the golf course were a few birds, and it often holds a number of migrants because there is quite a lot of cover, and there are also large open areas of course, being a golf course, that attract pipits, wagtails, finches, hirundines and waders etc. 
A flock of 14 Curlews were feeding out on the golf course, with a single individual of their cousin, the Whimbrel. I thought that there was a few Swallows moving, but then I realised they were birds that were feeding over the golf course, and were just wheeling over my head as they flew round. A conservative estimate put the Swallow numbers at about 60 - 70.
Whilst I was watching an Atlantic Grey Seal bobbing up and down in the sea through my scope, I heard a Yellow Wagtail calling, and when I looked up there were three that had been flushed by some golfers. They then headed in the correct autumnal direction for here to the west.
The only grounded migrant at the Point was a single Wheatear, but probably the best, or most exciting bird of the morning came in the form of an Osprey that I picked up low over the sea heading west. What was interesting, that by flying just over the sea, it wasn't attracting the attention of any Gulls that would normally give an Osprey a hard time. The views were great through my scope, but the views through my camera not so great, as you can see below. But you can tell what it is though. 
Osprey at sea (above & below)


Even though I didn't have any grounded migrants to speak of, I decided to have a look in the cemetery to see if there were any, err grounded migrants, and unsurprisingly there were none. I did have four Whimbrel go over, heading south-east, so that was okay. 
My next, and final stop, was at the Quay to see if there were any waders feeding on the newly exposed mud created by the falling tide. And indeed, there were, but nothing scarce, just 188 Redshanks, 10 Oystercatchers and a Curlew. I had four Little Egrets at the Quay, which is a good count for me at this site. 
I had walk round onto the estuary, and at the old ferry port I had two Ravens. It started off with one bird calling from some of the superstructure, and this attracted in another bird from across the river. I encountered them again when I headed back round to the Quay. At this point the heavens opened, and I had to beat a hasty retreat back to my car. 
That question of where have all the birds gone has been cropping up a lot recently. In fact, you could say that it has been cropping up for fifty years, but over the past few years, and this year in particular, things seem very noticeable that all is not well. Of course, all the main conservation organisations have been talking about population declines, but I've noticed more and more from Naturalists blogging about their local patch, that there is a distinct lack of birds.
Climate change is undoubtedly one of the major players in the mix, and I think that adding in the impacts from HPAI, a perfect storm is brewing. There are other factors at play, and how big an impact they are having is not clear. An example of this is lead shot, and the fact that there is still no decline in its use. In February 2020, shooting organisations across the UK called for a voluntary phasing out of the use of lead shot for game shooting, and two years on a study has found no decrease in its use at all! In fact, over 6,000 tonnes of lead shot are still finding its way into the British countryside annually, contaminating land and posing a significant risk to the health of wildlife, as well as that of people and livestock.  
So, where have all the birds gone is a difficult question to answer, and it is a question that we need to be able to answer soon, before it is too late!

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

On The Cusp

The three weather forecast apps that I use suggested that the wind strength in terms of suitability for ringing was on the cusp this morning, and I hate forecasts like that. A bit stronger than forecast, it would be a waste of time setting nets, a bit less, then game on. What to do? I looked at the forecast for cloud conditions overnight, and it suggested a 'clear-out' morning rather than a 'grounded' morning, and I decided to go birding instead.
I went to the cemetery first, as the cemetery is only about 155 metres from the coast, and is often the first place you will find any grounded migrants on the peninsula. At 0630 I had 2 oktas cloud cover, with a light east-north-easterly wind. And there were no grounded migrants, just a little bit of vis with a small movement of Goldfinches heading south and west. 
I then headed to another coastal location, the Mount, which is a little further from the coast than the cemetery, but still only 200 metres. As the name suggests, it is a small hill with some woody, parkland vegetation on it, and again it attracts migrants. Like the cemetery, it is well lit, and this adds to its attractiveness to nocturnal migrants. It was very quiet in the Mount with no grounded migrants and just a Grey Wagtail over that made it on to the pages of my notebook.
If I had gone ringing, it would have been to the Nature Park. The Nature Park is still fairly coastal, lying just 335 metres from the Wyre estuary, 1.7 km from the north coast (Morecambe Bay) and 2.4 km from the west (Irish Sea and Liverpool Bay) coast. Based on what I found, or didn't find, in the Cemetery and Mount, I felt justified that I had made the right decision, and would have caught very little.
I decided to head to the estuary and walk along the Quay towards the mouth of the river. Out on the mud of the quay few waders were feeding, with just 22 Redshanks, two Curlews and a single Oystercatcher. There was a flock of 42 Goldfinches, mainly juveniles, feeding on seed heads of a variety of plant species along the edge of the quay and the saltmarsh, and four House Sparrows and a couple of Linnets were amongst them.
The Wyre Estuary (above & below)


On the superstructure of the former ferry port, a Peregrine was perched, but as I approached it headed off towards the mouth of the river. Walking back along the quay I heard the call of a Whimbrel, and two birds dropped onto the mud at the edge of the saltmarsh. 
A dodgy, distant shot of the Peregrine before it flew off
One of the two Whimbrel

The only vis I had here was a single Tree Pipit over, and after a pleasant hour's walk I was back where I started. 
Two out of the three weather apps that I check are suggesting that it will be very much too windy for ringing tomorrow morning, so it might be more of the same as today. 
I was reading in the summer edition of the Buglife publication, 'The Buzz', that UK flying insects have declined by nearly 60% in less than twenty years. This came from the results of a citizen-science survey, led by Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) and Buglife, that found that the abundance of flying insects in the UK has plummeted by nearly 60% over the last 17 years. As Buglife stated, this highlights a worrying trend and the crucial need for insect-focussed conservation research, nationwide. 
The findings, published in a report published by KWT and Buglife, show that the number of insects sampled on vehicle number plates across the UK reduced by a frightening 59% between 2004 and 2021, and these findings are consistent with research which has widely reported declining trends in insect populations globally. Very worrying indeed! 
England suffered the greatest decline, with 65% fewer insects recorded, Wales recorded 55% fewer insects and Scotland saw the smallest decline, but still with 28% fewer insects. The observed declines are statistically significant, and are indicative of a worrying decline. Why the difference between the three countries I'm not sure, but I can speculate that it is as a result of climate change (less of an effect in Scotland, combined with a northwards expansion of some insect populations) and habitat quality. 
I'll leave the last words to Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive Officer at Buglife, and Paul Hadaway, Director of Conservation at KWT. Matt said this vital study suggests that the number of flying insects is declining by an average of 34% per decade, this is terrifying. We cannot put off action any longer, for the health and wellbeing of future generations this demands a political and a societal response, it is essential that we halt biodiversity decline - now!
Paul said the results from the Bugs Matter study should shock and concern us all. We are seeing declines in insects which reflect the enormous threats and loss of wildlife more broadly across the Country. These declines are happening at an alarming rate and without concerted action to address them we face a stark future. Insects and pollinators are fundamental to the health of our environment and rural economies. We need action for all our wildlife now by creating more and bigger areas of habitats, providing corridors through the landscape for wildlife and allowing nature space to recover. 
As Paul said, this needs a political and societal response. The only way we are going to get a political response is through the ballot box, and it is probably time that the mainstream political parties receive a wake-up call! The societal response is very much down to us, and we can all do our bit to try and halt this decline before it is too late for the insects and us, but will the 'Love Island', soap opera and social media obsessed general public at large care enough to do something about it? We can only hope so!

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Still Ticking Over

At last, I managed a ringing session this morning at the Nature Park, my first since 13th August, but more of that in a moment. 

Things are still ticking over for me as far as autumn birding is concerned, and its Sod's law that I have loads of time at the moment, but the weather hasn't been playing ball. A few days ago, I had to check a hedge for nesting birds, and Gail accompanied me on what was a dreich morning. The highlight after standing in the rain for over an hour, was a flock of at least 60 House Martins that had been brought down by the low cloud and constant wet stuff. 
The following morning had more of a migratory feel to it, but once again it was too windy for any ringing. Two Grey Wagtails south over the garden added to the migratory feel, and later in the morning Gail and I had a wander along the quay. Out on the mud were 160 Redshanks, four Oystercatchers and a Little Egret, and a 1CY/female type Wheatear grounded at the old ferry terminal. 
A few Swallows were flying in and out of a few of some of the wrecks in the quay, and I don't doubt that these former fishing boats will be providing a safe place to nest for the Swallows. The wrecks out on the saltmarsh certainly used to, so I suspect these wrecks will too. 
Some of the wrecks that used to have Swallows nesting in them
Back to this morning. Conditions were perfect for operating mist nets, with no wind and at least 6 oktas cloud cover, but along with the conditions you need the birds, and it felt very quiet this morning. Sometimes it feels quiet, and you still catch reasonable numbers, but not today, with just ten birds ringed as follows:
Robin - 2
Goldfinch - 1
Blackcap - 5
Chiffchaff - 1
Dunnock - 1
At least it was a leisurely 5:45 a.m. start! There was nothing going over at all, other than a handful of Swallows that headed south and east. As I was putting the nets up, all two of them, I had a flock of about 15-20 'twittering' Swallows, that probably had come from a roost close by. Unlike Starlings, Swallows do leave their roost early, and there would probably have been more, had I been there earlier. 
Three Cetti's Warblers and a Chiffchaff were singing before it warmed up, and a Stock Dove went over. I had a flock of 73 Goldfinches, which I'm guessing are part of the larger flock of 200 on the old landfill site. A Great Spotted Woodpecker in reedbed and scrub is always noteworthy, but that was it. 
At the moment the forecast is looking favourable into next week, and I've still got time, so hopefully Sod's law won't make an appearance again! 
On this date in 2007, it was a very different morning with a brisk west-north-westerly wind, and most definitely sea-watching weather. A few hours at the Point logged 172 Oystercatchers, 422 Knot, 46 Gannets, 102 Sandwich Terns, a Great Crested Grebe, 85 Common Scoters and one pale morph, and four dark morph Arctic Skuas. A very different kind of a morning indeed!

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Ticking Over

It's been fit for ringing all week in terms of wind strength, but as I mentioned in my last but one Blog post, I decided not to bother as it has been too clear and too hot. Looking at other posts by fellow ringers, I feel happy that I made the right decision. However, I did always plan to get out this weekend, and I managed a ringing session at the Nature Park yesterday, and it was most certainly a case of 'ticking over'. 
It was nice and cool when I arrived on site at 5:30 a.m., and two thousand Starlings were in the process of exiting their roost. I just put two nets (100 feet) up under clear skies, with the slightest of breeze from the east. As I said before, it was certainly just ticking over, and I ringed 14 birds as follows:
Whitethroat - 1
Robin - 1
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Greenfinch - 8
Wren - 1
Lesser Whitethroat
Normally, when reporting on what I have managed to ring, the above would also say recaptures in brackets, but rather alarmingly, I haven't had any recaptures (birds previously ringed on site or elsewhere) for some time. I say alarmingly, because it is the recaptures that provide you with the data on survival, both in adults and juveniles, and to a certain extent on movement. Ringing is basically a mark and recapture ecological survey, and it is the recaptures that provide a great deal of conservation data. Why no recaptures?  I'm not sure. I'll have to look at the bigger picture later in the year. It could point to poor survival from previous years, but why, certainly something that warrants further investigation. 

The birding was very quiet, certainly no grounded migrants, and the only visible migration, that wasn't actually visible, was a calling Tree Pipit bombing south up in the stratosphere. I have mentioned a few times before, that I feel very lucky that as a birder of a certain age, I can still hear species like Tree Pipits, as a lot of birders my no longer can! And that was all that was worth mentioning. 

It's cooling off from tomorrow onwards, and the weather is going to stir things up a bit, so I'll try and get out on any morning that's fit. 
I read an interesting short article in a recent volume of Scottish Birds, about a Tawny Owl thawing out a dead House Mouse! The article told of a guy who regularly operates trail-cameras in a mixed woodland near Forfar, and in the past, he has placed dead day-old chicks on stumps and branches in front of his camera to capture photographs and videos of Buzzards. Whilst downloading some of the images, he saw that a Tawny Owl had taken one of the chicks.
He found a dead House Mouse in one of the mouse-tarps in his home, and he took it to place in front of the camera. It subsequently rained, and then turned cold with an overnight frost. When he retrieved the camera and looked at the video footage, it showed a Tawny Owl swooping onto the mouse. The Tawny Owl attempted to peck the mouse loose from the branch, but it was frozen on. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the owl fluffed up, settled on the mouse, and appeared to brood it for 26 minutes! At the end of this period, it stood up, picked up the, now thawed, mouse in its bill, and immediately swallowed it. Amazing!