THE long summer drought had a strange effect on some common British birds - including causing the common-or-garden blackbird to imitate the fish-eating osprey by launching raids on ornamental ponds.
Members of the British Trust for Ornithology's Garden BirdWatch scheme have reported seeing blackbirds - which normally live on worms and insects - dive-bombing garden ponds to catch tadpoles and even newts.
Blackbirds turn hunter
One female blackbird was observed wiping slippery tadpoles in grit before feeing them to her chicks, presumably to make them easier for the young birds to swallow.
Blackbirds were also seen to catch dragonflies and, more unusually, one male blackbird was seen to catch minnows from the shallow end a garden pond in Lancashire.
It is not just blackbirds that have indulged in a spot of angling. Garden BirdWatchers have reported seeing carrion crows taking frogs and magpies taking newts. Paul Stancliffe, Promotions Officer at the BTO comments:
"Garden BirdWatchers have submitted four million records since the survey began, providing scientists at the BTO with invaluable information, whilst making a huge contribution to our knowledge of this ever increasingly important habitat for wild birds."
- Garden BirdWatch is the longest running survey of its kind in the world and has over 16,000 participants recording birds, bird behaviour and other wildlife in their gardens. To get involved contact Garden BirdWatch on 01842 750050 or by writing to BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch, Room 43, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.