Thursday, November 28, 2013

Waiting for the frugivores

click photo to enlarge
The waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) doesn't seem to have made its appearance in Lincolnshire as I write this piece, but it can't be long before they do. Interestingly the first locations where these winter visitors are spotted are usually urban or suburban, often the superstore car-parks of Tesco, Sainsburys or Morrisons. The reason for this is the prevalence of large numbers of small, berried trees in these locations; trees such as the rowan. Waxwings are frugivorous, that is to say fruit eaters, and so they make straight for where fruit is available in large quantities.

Frugivorous is a word I came across for the first time only recently and it means "fruit eater". Autumn is a time when fruit in the form of berries or wind-fall apples is plentiful, and frugivores are quick to take advantage of the bounty. Today I saw a horse gorging itself on rose-hips, carefully avoiding the thorny stems to pluck off the ripe, red berries one at a time. That's something I've never seen before. I've seen horses eat apples from a branch or from the ground, but never rose-hips. Who would have thought they had a fancy for them?

The tree in today's photograph has lost almost all its leaves but still has a full complement of berries. I came across it outside the museum in Lincoln. As I took my shot, captivated by the way the silhouette of branches and the bright berries contrasted with the flecked brickwork behind, I wondered how much longer they would hang there before blackbirds, fieldfares, redwings or, perhaps, waxwings, descended on the branches and stripped the tree bare.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 36.3mm (98mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On