Thursday 28 October 2021

The Hoopoe at Warwick 27th October 2021

A Hoopoe was discovered in a landscaped technology park in Warwick a couple of days ago.This was less than an hour from my home so it would have been remiss not to go and see it. Hoopoes are always nice to see wherever and whenever they turn up.

This particular bird had chosen the closely mowed, landscaped surrounds opposite the reception entrance to the offices of the computer giant IBM.  The offices formed a three sided quadrangle with the road at the bottom end.The path to the reception ran between two broad strips of grass and one of these was where the Hoopoe had decided to make its welcome appearance. 

Hoopoes are prone to arriving in unlikely places such as here, and the last one I saw, just over a year ago, was feeding on the front lawn of a house, so it would appear that closely mown grass is obviously to their liking as they can easily find the grubs and invertebrates they feed on.

I joined about twenty other birders and photographers lined up against one side of the office buildings looking across to the furthermost expanse of grass where the Hoopoe was standing motionless in the grass. 

I waited and eventually it began to feed by making vigorous thrusting motions into the soil with its long slightly downcurved beak. There was no shortage of food, judging by the number of times it hauled a fat grub out of the soil, held it in the tip of its mandibles, tilted its head and opened its bill wide to toss back and swallow the grub.

From what I could discern it was feeding on the larvae of craneflies, probing in the grass, similar to the way Starlings do, until it found one and then extracting the fat white larva from the ground. There was no shortage of them and the Hoopoe would regularly take a break after feasting on them, standing quietly in the grass until it decided to seek out some more.

Occasionally it would raise its crest. I could see no apparent stimulus for this but certain things of which I was unaware seemed to get it excited and prompt it to fan its crest. A wing stretch also resulted in the crest being erected.This was, quite naturally, what all of us wanted to record but it was such an irregular occurence that you had to have a lot of patience and a bit of good fortune to catch it.

The day itself could not have been less suited to photography. It was grey and heavily overcast and made matters very difficult but it was good to forget about camera settings for a while, just to stand and watch this exotic looking creature gracing the bland unlikely surroundings it currently found itself in.


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