Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Ultra-rare breeders

It is many birders' dream to rediscover an 'extinct' species. The recent media fuss over a purported Slender-billed Curlew at Minsmere, Suffolk, reflects this. In Bird Watching magazine's November issue, there is a special feature on some birders who have re-discovered 'lost' birds, such as the New Zealand Storm-petrel and India's Forest Owlet.
So, you can imagine my surprise and delight when, in London (9.10.04), I stumbled upon a large mother of an apparently-extinct species, crouching over her eggs, laid in a small scrape on the ground. These were the best images I could muster at the time, from a respectful distance, so as not to disturb the animals too much...

As I approached, one of the young was twitching as it hatched and the mother lent over to shield her vulnerable offspring.

The brightly-coloured male stood an anxious guard.

Little did either of the parents know, that lurking just a few metres away, twitching with patient anticipation behind a ridge, two mighty feathered predators were waiting to pounce on them and their offspring.

So much did the young Weedons like this 'moving' exhibit at the Natural History Museum, that we came back about four times to watch the parent Oviraptors and the hunting Velociraptors in the dinosaur exhibit's late Cretaceous reconstruction of the feathered beasties roaming our glorious planet. [My favourite is still the sleeping dinosaur as you leave the exhibit, ah, nostalgia...].

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