Summer Birds

We are having a storm here but it is quite a nice storm with strong warm winds. Warm makes all the difference. Β It has been blowing all night and so I found myself sitting outside at four o’clock this morning enjoying the wind buffeting the trees.

I am kicking off with birds today and perhaps the weather will brighten up in a bit. I have seen some beautiful birds this year.

RobinUnlike the butterflies I don’t have to say goodbye to the birds. A couple of lightweights have gone south, fair enough but winter is a wonderful time for watching birds.

Here are a few birds that have featured here this summer.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Sizewise it is about as “great” as a starling. Quite a small bird but it has wonderful presence. The female turned up about a month before the male and made herself at home.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerShe was on the feeder every time that I looked out of the window.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerEventually the male started visiting us too.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerGreat Spotted Woodpeckers don’t really eat peanuts. As a species they are totally dependant on dead wood habitat and the insects that live therein.

The juveniles visited us for a few weeks but their arrival signalled the end of the visits. They have been missing from the garden for the last couple of months.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerMeanwhile… out on the waters edge…

Mandarin Duck

Mandarin DuckMandarin ducks nest high in trees often in old woodpecker holes. Once hatched the chicks have to leap out of the nest and plummet thirty or forty feet to the ground because they are ducks not woodpeckers. They are very light and survive the fall. It is a spectacle that I would really like to video.

Mandarin DuckMeanwhile out on the farm….

Red Legged PartridgeThis is a Red Legged Partridge, an introduced species. Introduced for the shooting they are quite common here. My bedroom overlooks fields and I can actually lie in bed and watch these birds through my window but I still have to get out of bed to get decent pictures. No situation is perfect πŸ™‚

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged PartridgeGoldfinches played a major role in our summer. My new landlord’s favourite bird, he had never had them in the garden. They love sunflower hearts and I filled the garden with them.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

GoldfinchThis is a juvenile Goldfinch.

GoldfinchGoldfinches were not the only birds breeding here. The one that got the most blog space was the Barn Swallow. There are lots of swallow nestling videos on this blog but for me the best bit was when they first arrived.

They are supposed to mate for life. Some of the birds are just finding their mate. Some of them are Β reuniting. They fuss over each other so much. It is lovely to watch.

Barn SwallowIt would do no good telling me that birds are not capable of emotions. They greet each other with all the excitement of a puppy meeting it’s owner. I have also seen them mourn when they have lost a brood. These are very emotional birds.

Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowThroughout the summer we had all manner of new arrivals, too many to show them all here.

BlackbirdBlackbirds raised a brood in a tractor.

BlackbirdDespite a very wet start to the year the Blue Tits were also very successful.

Blue TitBlue Tits have a large brood and all of that feeding can leave mum feeling a little bit frazzled.

Blue Tit(This bird is actually just moulting, perfectly healthy and happy, or it might be a Zombie Blue Tit, they do happen, I think πŸ™‚ )

The bird that had the greatest success was the House Sparrow. They can have several broods in a year and our birds had a constant supply of food this summer, they made the most of it.

House Sparrow

Blue TitThere are dozens of them and they have been moving around the farm in small flocks. So much so that I was beginning to worry that I was upsetting the balance of nature… Until today that is…

Blue TitI filled the feeders up three days ago and they haven’t been touched, something is wrong.

SparrowhawkThis Sparrowhawk has visited the garden a couple of times this year. He hasn’t stayed very long and hasn’t caused any big problems. It is nice to see him.

I saw him or another just like him this morning. Now he is in his full adult plumage and looks quite beautiful. (no photos yet)

SparrowhawkTo have had any impact on my Sparrow hordes he must have taken up residence or more likely his presence is just keeping the birds away from the feeders. Today I am on Sparrowhawk watch.

Sparrowhawkand looking forward to a great winter of wonderful birds.

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71 thoughts on “Summer Birds”

    1. Thanks John πŸ˜‰ For the first two pictures the hawk was about forty to fifty feet away, halfway down the garden, closer for the last one. I don’t really do lenses. I use a bridge camera, it is basically a good point and shoot. Mine is a Panasonic FZ200 and you can pick them up for about Β£300 now. It is small and will go from macro for my butterflies to 24 times zoom and greater if I use digital zoom. It is cost that led me down this route. There is a wildlife photographer that I really admire. One day I thought that I could do that and started looking up the kit he was using. The first lens that I looked at, not the biggest, would set me back seven thousand pounds. I quickly decided to leave photography to the experts. I am just a happy snapper. I take pictures so that I can remember the detail when I get home and that helps me to identify things. My camera doesn’t do everything for me, on an auto setting the pictures are not very good but you just have to learn a little bit about speed and light and then take lots of pictures, some of them will work. πŸ™‚ Fizz isn’t great with birds. She doesn’t bother the bantams that wander around the farm but she will chase after fledglings that she finds on the ground.

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      1. Thanks for the info. Unfortunately I thinks I’m stuck with my little Canon. By the way, what actual breed is Fizz, she is such an intelligent looking girl.

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      2. She is more annoying than intelligent. She has escaped from her garden and has been whining and scratching my door for the last hour. So I have decided to go for a nice walk in the rain. She is a Shih Tzu πŸ™‚

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      3. I think your FZ200 is superb and takes as good, if not better, images than my DSLR & telephoto. I suspect you have a very steady hand too, especially on those macros.

        Many people don’t realise that they move slightly when they press the shutter button, hence their ‘soft’ or blurred images.

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  1. Gorgeous shots. Can’t beat a good Sparrowhawk. Best bird might just be the spanking smart a Blackbird. There’s a great new bird book out by Anthony McGeehan, Birds of the Homeplace. Not a field guide but genuine detailed descriptions of birds and their behaviour, written in an accessible way for the average person.

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    1. Thanks Andrew πŸ™‚ The hawk that I saw this morning was stunning but I am pretty sure that he had made a kill. I am just waiting and wondering how long before he gets hungry again?

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  2. What a fantastic series of bird images and I loved the narrative.

    I’ve seen birds (mothers I presume) fuss over their young in such a loving protective way, I have no doubt they are full of emotion & regular parenting. I’ve seen them chastise their chicks when they stray too.

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    1. Thanks Vicki πŸ™‚ I know that we shouldn’t apply human emotions to animals but those Swallows certainly showed what looked like joy and sorrow and demonstrated a lot of care. It is hard to watch them and refuse to believe that they have similar feelings to us.

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  3. Such lovely birds and great pictures you take of them. We have birds that are somewhat similar to most of yours except the Mandarin duck, which has always fascinated me since it looks so exotic. I never knew that their arrival “on” the earth came from such a height tho. Thank you for all your wonderful posts!

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    1. Thank you Sarasin πŸ™‚ That leap from the nest had me puzzled for some time, wondering if they somehow had to fledge and learn to fly before they could become ducks πŸ™‚ I imagine it would be very hard for me to film. A very small bird falling a very long way, I would have to stand well back and you wouldn’t really see the bird. I bet someone has done it though. πŸ™‚

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      1. I have watched little chicks come down several times on TV….they usually are fortunate enough to have a pile of leaves to plunge into, breaking a hard fall.

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  4. The first image of the barn swallows makes me think the one is saying to the other, “Do you see all that out there? One day my dear, it will all be yours.”

    My mother lived in a cabin on a mountaintop in north Idaho. She made friends with a Pileated woodpecker who returned every year with her young, so my mother began calling the woodpecker “Momma.” She would walk into the forest and call “Momma! Momma!” and the woodpecker would come sailing in, and swoop down and take cookies from her fingers. If my mother was late getting outside, Momma would dive bomb the kitchen window over and over till my mother finally went outside to feed her.

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  5. OK, I’ve just gotta ask this because I’ve been wondering–why is the British bird called a goldfinch when it’s mostly not gold? The male North American goldfinch is outrageously yellow so it’s just kind of funny to me and I wonder which got named first. You’re an expert birder so I wonder if you know the history? πŸ™‚ PS, nice pics!!!

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    1. Ha Ha Thank you Lori πŸ™‚ Well our one has a golden voice and sometimes lays golden eggs πŸ™‚ The combination of the words gold and finch to make a name is recorded from Anglo Saxon times (5th to 12th Century) Goldfinc was a common Old English surname and probably denoted a trade such as someone who caught and sold birds. When it comes to common names of birds, plants etc. this is not an exact science and many things have more than one name. It was certainly a name applied to birds long before the Americas were discovered. Like a lot of things the name would have been carried by settlers who applied it to the most suitable bird that they found living there. Your Robin isn’t actually a Robin at all it is just a bird that looks like a Robin. Our bird’s scientific name is Carduelis carduelis and the word Carduelis is derived from the Latin word Carduus meaning thistle. So scientifically, no mention of gold, our finch is a thistle thistle finch and another name for a Goldfinch is a Thistle finch. (I haven’t just looked that Latin up, it is from memory so if the spelling is slightly out forgive me, the content is correct) πŸ™‚

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      1. What a wonderful response! And, yes, indeed, our goldfinches love thistles, too. I don’t deadhead our coneflowers so that they can come snacking whenever they like. PS, not sure I believe you about the golden eggs but I will keep my eyes peeled. πŸ˜‰

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      1. Thank you. They are a lot of fun and Rita, the baby is growing up in time for winter:) I came back to look at these beautiful birds because I miss summer already and it’s so dreary outside. The skunks show up every day, I think the possums hang out at night, as do the raccoons. They’ve always been around because I feed them and they live under my art studio in the yard (which was never used for that, by the way:). Glad you like them. πŸ™‚

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  6. Simply stunning! The colors and beak shapes are so interesting. I especially enjoy the ones where they are snarking at each other. Sex, food, collaboration and conflict – fundamentally nature!

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  7. Wonderful photos of the birds on your side of the pond. The Mandarin duck is exquisite and I have seen ducks, here, fly away from a high nest and wait on countless little chicks to gather courage to drop to earth.

    I agree that animals have emotional pulls just as we do. Other than that, why does a dove or swan, for instance, go it alone after the death of a mate….or a dog grieve for years over the loss of its master?

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    1. Thank you Becky πŸ™‚ It is not as easy as I make it look. The reason that I didn’t post the female Mandarin was simply that I couldn’t get her, well not good pictures. I am pretty sure that ducks like you πŸ™‚

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  8. Fabulous bird photographs. Our swallows and House martins left weeks ago – much earlier than usual – and I haven’t seen any since then. I think they had got fed up with our cold August and as soon as the wind was in the right direction they uped and left. We have had such warm winds too and 21 degrees today – summer temperatures.

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  9. Fantastic photography, Colin. It is fun seeing the different birds you have in England vs. here in the NE USA. Our goldfinches look very different – all gold with black on head & wings -female is olive.
    The Mandarin ducks are so beautiful – I want a pair!

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  10. Some great photos and interesting information, for example, before this I had never heard of the Zombie Blue Tit let alone seen photo of it in the wild.

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  11. Some beautiful birds and some beautiful photos. We get Great Spotted Woodpecker very, very occasionally and it is always a red letter day. Somebody once said that they are the perfect unusual bird. Rare enough that you love to see them, and common enough that you might!

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      1. Wood ducks use holes in trees or in boxes provided by man. The chicks may have to jump up to sixty feet to join the hen! Then she leads them to water.

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  12. Such awesome photos! I love them all. I accidentally photographed a Mandarin duck in Louisiana amongst a large flock of birds and found out they are not even native here in the states but rather get imported by people and then they get released. It was such a prize to find there in the flurry of all my other favorite.

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  13. Can’t believe you can take such wonderful pictures with your camera. I have a D7100 and several different lenses and mine don’t come out like that. I’m envious. Just goes to show that the equipment is only half of the battle. Individual skill is most of what counts.Thanks for stopping by again.

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  14. Amazing birds… and photos! We are amateur “birding” addicts (even though I get quite a variety in my own backyard), but even similar species – like the barn swallow, Gold -Finch, and Woodpecker look completely different here in Texas. (U.S.) I feel like your blog is the “real find” of the day!:) Thank you!

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