Unusual Natural History

I have 4 pages devoted to unusual natural history 1 2 3 4 and three 1 2 3 devoted to food that I hope you will visit. But first some background information to the photographs . . . .  an unusual sight beheld John Sykes as he climbed over a style at Wick fields near Christchurch. Two raptors were joined, clenched by their talons motionless in shock both by his approach and at the predicament the birds themselves were in. A female sparrow hawk and a male kestrel were locked together. The sparrow hawk would have been the one that grabbed the kestrel without realizing its potential as another raptor, as it also has sharp talons and knows how to use them. The chances were that the sparrow hawk would not have overpowered the kestrel enough to kill it, but it would have been capable as its toes are and claws are longer giving it the advantage, and being a bird used to out maneuvering bird feet along with sheer determination, it may have been able to secure its meal. I have seen sparrow hawks give up on town pigeons before, especially if they are disturbed by people. It is a very unusual sight to see, both common species of birds of prey together and I am sure that sparrow hawks rarely take other raptors, if so then a small kestrel would be the only likely species. Larger birds of prey often take small raptors. John managed to snap this photo before both birds flew away seemingly unharmed.
The feet of birds are immensely different in small ways, depending on their evolutionary paths. All parts of anatomy in animals evolve to suit and feet are good indicators of the lifestyle in which an animal lives. While most birds have the typical design, the length of toes and claws are distinctly different in species. Two water bird, the Coot (Fulica atra) and Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) have webbing on the sides of the toes. The coot,(left)being twice the size of the moorhen has large lobed webbing, for swimming and paddling across the water surface, whilst the moorhen has more slender toes with reduced webbing for perching and walking among pond weeds. Both species are members of the Gallinule family which comprises of many worldwide species.
I find many road victim animals, and many of the thousands of animals I come across every year are owls. Despite the wise nature attributed to owls, it is indeed a myth. Owls are actually not as clued yup as many other types of birds of prey, and are not good at working things out or learning in the same way. I have found a variety of animals within the stomachs of birds. Birds excrete their waste through just one exit hole, the anus, and solids cannot pass except soft fruit like material, so the indigestible parts such as fur, feather and bones has to come back out the way they went in, through the mouth. Pellets can be found in places where raptors rest up. Vegetarian or omnivorous birds have gizzards to break down seeds and shells.
In these photos, a slow worms peeps from the stomach of a tawny owl, four shrews in various stages of digestion line up after I opened the stomach of a Barn owl, A bank vole mimics the leg of the Barn owl that ate it, and a line up of slow worms (Anguis fragilis) and common lizards came from a buzzards stomach. A few baby lizards can be seen spewing out of its mother’s body. Common lizards (Zoocoma vivipara) release the young within a thin membrane, which in more southerly parts of Europe is replaced by an egg shell. There they can be sure that the eggs can incubate. It is in temperate regions of the world where reptiles give live birth mainly, they benefit from being able to seek out warmth and thermo regulate, thus incubating the eggs in a more predictable manner. Pregnant reptiles are slower moving and so are more easily captured. In Britain, the Adder (Vipera berus), smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), slow worm and common lizard all give live birth.
Having been back from Indonesia for three months,  I had gone over the many photos of invertebrates that I came across many times and wondered if there was anything that I had missed, perhaps dead tiny creatures in my luggage bags, or an insect within a photo that been overlooked, and that night I took out a book that I had been reading in the jungle at night under the glow of head mounted lamp and found three little flies that had been squashed between the pages. Here is a photo of the best preserved specimen.
Foxes always have happenings attributed to them; something is always going on in regards to these animals. Foxes can vary in colour, but not immensely. I have seen a variety of variations, the most bazaar being one that had the same markings as an African hunting dog. The most beautiful to me was a pink fox, not a hairless individual caused by mange, but a fox that was a mellow pink, purple all over. Many foxes have the same coloured fur in between their pads on the underside of the feet. This individual was entirely the same colour. Black foxes are not common and I saw a ash coloured one this very year near Wareham in Dorset. Albino foxes do occur rarely but I have never seen one, I have found white spotted foxes near Wimborne in Dorset as the picture below shows. In one area many of the foxes have white spots all over the body and tail. I have found several road victim animals similar. Foxes are often getting themselves into trouble, they are opportunists and I have concluded that they follow large cats to scavenge the leftovers of their meals especially deer carcasses. In my large cat study areas I sometimes find the dead bodies of foxes killed and often eaten by leopards, Puma or lynx. Here a large dog fox grimaces after a leopard killed and ate half of it. Ravens and pheasants picked at it later. In another place, a vixen and her three cubs were killed and eaten leaving just one body of a cub to dry out in the hot sun. The body was as it is seen in the photo. It was dark when I found it hence the strange colour of the photo.
Not all the big cats are leopards, puma or lynx but giant feral cats, domestic cats grown to immense proportions. This seemingly impossible biological fact has puzzled zoologists for some time now, as more and more proof is obtained from many parts of the world. Here in Dorset a cat skull 13cm in length was found, its head was the same size as a badger. I am convinced that many sightings of big cats are of these super domestic cats.
I have pictures of albino rabbits and hares, polecats and badgers and there are more interesting examples to come. Here is a baby black rabbit .Rabbits naturally have black morphs and dark blond morphs but I find that this happens in colonies that are stressed, isolated  or inbreeding  is occurring.
The white hare was found by a person in Kent, England. It looks in colour just like a mountain hare in winter.
The hairless badger is one of the strangest animals that I have ever encountered in Britain. It was grossly deformed and may have been joined, two together, however a large part of the animal had been eaten by another mammal. The badger had no hair on its body anywhere, and its ear mantles were longer than normal and flopped over like a dogs. Its foreleg muscles were greatly enlarged as it had no hind legs and must have dragged itself along fields looking for worms. It was young, presumably just nine or ten months old, but fully grown and had the dimensions of a boar.