Olaf Lipor is a well-known Scandinavian naturalist with a long track record of engagement in citizen science projects. His previous Guest Blogs here, about two years and one year ago, were on a Fat Tax and Citizen Science.
Olaf is not yet found on Twitter.
I am aware that the pages of this website are popular among many amateur ornithologists, both young and old, throughout the world, so I am thrilled to be able to use them to share with you my latest avian discovery.
You will no doubt be aware of my pioneering paper on the philanthropic relationship between the charming Goldcrest and the wholesome Woodcock, a relationship that enables the Goldcrest to migrate distances that would otherwise be beyond it. In this relationship, the much bigger and more robust Woodcock allows the smaller, delicate Goldcrest to, in common parlance, ‘hitch a ride’. The tiny bird tucks itself in to the dense warm feathers of the Woodcock’s back and holds on tight whilst it is carried vast distances across seas and oceans.
You will of course remember that in my paper I predicted that as we ornithologists study our subjects more and more closely we will discover further examples of this sort of philanthropic relationship, I mean how can we really believe that the small Barn Swallow flies all the way from southern Africa to my humble home in northern Sweden without the aid of a bigger bird? (For your information, my money is on the White Stork. You heard it here first.)
I am now pleased to announce that last spring I was able to discover another example of this delightful avian habit. You will forgive me my tardiness in publishing this, but shortly after my discovery I resumed my lifelong passion for studying the hallucinogenic effects of many of the fungi that grow in these parts and, as I so often find when doing so, time just seems to go. Completely.
In the upland bog habitat that surrounds my simple log cabin, I am able to witness many truly wonderful things, but also many sad circumstances. Last spring the Meadow Pipits returned as normal and were busy getting on with the breeding season when the weather turned against them. It rained solidly for several days, the bog soon filled with water and the soil was saturated. Oh those poor Pipits, I watched their struggles from my cabin window, once more lamenting that regrettable incident with the Wolverine and the Kinder Egg that has left me so lame and slow.
As I watched one Pipit struggling manfully to keep its feet as it walked about the slippery grassy tufts, I was amazed, delighted, indeed heartened to see a male Hen Harrier glide across the bog and reach down with one of its long legs and pluck the stranded Pipit from the mud, rescuing it from a certain watery grave. The much bigger bird cradled the grateful Pipit in its talons, holding it tight to ensure that the poor waif did not fall. The Harrier was undeniably delighted with the success of its mercy mission and shouted with what can only be described as anthropomorphic joy. Its mate, a lovely ringtail, was also part of this rescue and she flew up to meet and no doubt congratulate her grey hero. As I watched these two birds literally dancing with joy, I realized they were working together, the male dropped his precious cargo which was safely caught by the female and off she flew to the higher, dryer ground of the heathery ridge, whilst the male resumed his search for more Pipits to rescue. It was a shuttle service of salvation!
I watched this amazing philanthropic relationship play out in front of me on several more occasions, each time the ringtail would take the rescued Pipit to the same, no doubt dry and safe spot on the ridge. Eventually I roused my stiff limbs and despite my slowness I hobbled over to the ridge and found, to my delight, several young Harriers looking very content with their brave selfless parents. I didn’t find the Pipits, but I am in no doubt that they were somewhere close by, rejoicing in their rescue. Yet more proof of bigger birds aiding smaller ones, we truly do live in a wonderful world!
I would write more, but have to find my hearing aid, I think I just heard on the world service something about a new species of Crow being discovered. Sounds fascinating, but why oh why give it such a dry, uninspiring name. I mean, Corvid 19 is no name for a bird.