Yes I know, a hell of a title and probably I should have called it something more like unusual bird behaviour notes, but I couldn't resist it.
Like many gardens, I have a pair of regular Dunnocks that visit and they frequently breed in the garden. I used to have a particularly tame bird I called Dennis and I think the male at the moment is 'Son of Dennis'. I watch them a lot but this week, as far my Dunnocks are concerned, the least said the better perhaps. Most birds are monogamous including some Dunnocks, but the latter are also well known for their polyandry (a female with more than one male), polygyny (a male with more than one female) and polygynandry (a pair consisting of two males and two females), but the five in the garden at the moment are behaving more like they are having an orgy. There's singing, fighting, mating and general very bad behaviour from these birds, Quite frankly I'm shocked.
Curlews are not uncommon in the Waldridge area but have decreased especially as a breeding bird. A few pair are still breeding but last year only 1 pair attempted to breed on the fell proper and that was unsuccessful due to disturbance from dogs and dog-walkers. In winter there is still a decent presence with the birds roosting at Washington and arriving early morning to feed on some undisturbed damp grassland. The best chance of seeing them is a first light as groups fly over the Front Street/Railway Station and head west towards the fell and areas beyond. I see these most days at this time of year as I head to work and Friday was not much different except ... A aflock of 67 birds flew quietly in V formation as often they do heading inland. When they got virtually over my head they circled and did this several times. I thought maybe they had had seen a bird of prey or something, but they didn't call just kept circling. Then I heard in the distance, a call of another Curlew to the east. I assumed it was another flock heading this way but in fact it was just a singleton and it flew towards the big flock, calling continuously and neatly joined the formation. It now stopped calling and most strangely they stopped circling and continued on their way west. Had they heard their 'friend' and waited for it. Highly unlikely I would have though but I'm at a loss for an explanation.