Category Archives: Back Garden Birds

Feeling The Heat

The purpose of our “Selfies” is to try and capture the feel of the day. These are from December… Great long shadows and it is cold and windy.

Selfie

SelfieNow this is April…

SelfieHer mud is drying up.

MudThese are my holiday snaps and I have been on holiday for a long time.

There may be trouble ahead….


I wouldn’t like to be that Rat when Fizz the Great War Dog gets a’hold of him.


She just needs to practice a bit, she is warming up.

Oh yes, I have bought the Goldfinches a nyger seed feeder.

Nyger feederThey are loving it and empty it very quickly. I will do more about that in another post.

On the subject of birds. The Bullfinches have stopped using the feeders but they are still around. We have an Apple orchard at the bottom of the garden and I think that they are drawn to the buds there.

Disappointingly the Long -tailed Tits have gone. Like the finches I think that their comings and goings are related to the natural food supply but I don’t know what has drawn them away.

The little Robin never came back. There are still lots of Robins about and sometimes I look out of my door and shout, “Come on! One of you must be Christopher.” No, he has gone.

But all of that fades into absolute insignificance because when I opened my door yesterday I heard a song that filled my heart.

Barn SwallowNow I know what they say, that “One Swallow does not a summer make,”  but that is rubbish, it is summertime now 🙂

There is something that I have got to do this year. Swallows pair up for life, each autumn when they leave they separate and then in the early summer when they return they reunite. It is something to witness and I have got to video it this year. They are so excited to be reunited, like little puppies and it doesn’t last for that long but for a little while there is a great video waiting to be made.

Barn SwallowI am going to love hearing their song again.

The little Mud Eaters beat the Swallows back by several days.

House MartinI didn’t really do the House Martins justice last year, they don’t nest outside of my front door like the Swallows but I will try harder this time around. I love their little feathered feet.

I like a little heat.

SelfieWildflowers then, there is so much going on that I don’t know where to start.

Walking along the country paths it just looks like a mess of green…

MessUnless you know it.

Cow ParsleyThis little leaf is the Cow Parsley and in a few weeks it will be painting the most beautiful pictures.

Cow ParsleyThat reminds me of another April challenge. The St. Mark’s Fly.

St Mark's FlySo called because the adult flies emerge around April the twenty fifth (St. Mark’s Day), these are the ones with long dangly legs that trail behind them when they fly.

St Mark's FlyThe challenge is to photograph the female, I just could not find one last year. They only live for a couple of weeks and the window of opportunity is a small one.

But back to the present, this leaf is the Hogweed.

HogweedForget any misconceptions that the name might suggest, this one is a very beautiful flower.

HogweedAlso the large, saucer like, flower heads are an absolute magnet for insects. I am finding my first flowers now and it will be here until the very end of Autumn.

I have got to leave the wildflowers for a bit because I have got to take Fizz for a walk, I will come back to them. While we are out I am going to upload some wild animal videos for you to watch.


These are female Fallow Deer (Dama dama) They are just losing their winter coats and so they look a little bit tatty but they are healthy animals.


This week the trail camera returned 180 videos over two days and nights. 136 of those were of my little friend the Fox but I also got 44 clips of the deer in the daytime, a nice return.

This is the same spot that I videoed the Boar in last week and it is proving to be a good place to set the camera. As well as the Deer, Fox and Boar I have been getting clips of Badgers, nothing exceptional but it is good to know that they are there. I feel happier if I can say that I am putting the camera out to film Deer, they are hunted just the same as the Boar but there isn’t the same hysteria and people are much more likely to go into the forest to look for Deer.

This location is not in the Forest of Dean, it is woodland some way outside of the forest boundaries and the Boar here are the animals that the Forestry Commission have been kind enough to drive out of the forest as they attempt to disperse them across the whole county, or country even.


A few other things that are good about this location, apart from the fact that it is rich in wild life, It is an unmanaged Sweet Chestnut coppice, I wouldn’t normally like that because there is very little else that grows in such a coppice but it does give me quite good views of the animals. This is also a Bluebell wood and that will make a nice backdrop and nobody comes here. I have filmed a lot here and have never picked up Dog walkers or anybody at all, that makes me feel quite safe about leaving the camera out. I will continue to film here for a few more weeks.

Okay I am back and Poochy has been walked. It is quite blustery out there today.

Back to the wildflowers. I like them because they are beautiful…

Ivy-leaved Speedwell(Ivy-leaved Speedwell)

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellFizz likes them because they make a nice soft bed.

Fizz in BedGet off the bed!

I am very pleased that I got pictures of the Town Hall Clock buds last week because this week there were no buds to be found.

Town Hall ClockAnother flower that has just appeared…..

Remember the diminutive Harry Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)?

Hairy BittercressThis is the girl of his dreams, Lady Smock and if you think, like Harry that she looks good enough to eat, well, she is.

Cuckoo FlowerCuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis). The leaves and flowers are the best bits to eat, they  have a peppery flavour that adds a lot to a herb salad.

Cuckoo FlowerBoth she and Harry are Cardamines and they can cross pollinate but  will she, wont she? That is what Harry would like to know.

Cuckoo FlowerA couple more “firsts” for the week, this little splash of pink is Herb Robert.

Herb RobertLast year I was able to find this one in flower throughout the winter but this year, this is my first.

Herb RobertI have also seen my first signs of the spathe of the Arum Lily.

Wild ArumThere will be much more of these flowers in the weeks to come.

Well it has been a long post and you must be feeling pretty tired.

Tired FizzI have just got one more wildflower to do today and then we can play ball.

FizzThis is Hen-bit Dead-nettle. I found it growing on my steps when I got home.

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettleI will try and find it in more picturesque surroundings.

Goodnight Fizz.

Selfie

 

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The End of Scruffbag

There is not an awful lot to report today.

We have had new visitors to the garden. This is a mixed pair of Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula). Apologies for the quality of the pictures but the weather was awful, I offer these as a record of species.

Bullfinch male(male)

Bullfinch female(female)

It has been about a year since I saw a Bullfinch in the garden, then it was just one male and he didn’t stay. These have been around for about a week now and obviously I hope that they do stay. Bullfinches are very fond of buds, especially of fruit trees and we have an apple orchard at the bottom of the garden, so hey, what’s the problem? At the moment they are digging into the sunflower hearts and the seeds are sticking to their faces, I don’t know if it was just because it was raining when I took these pictures but they look like babies plastered with food. I hope that they nest here.

Now I am a famous Botanist, Entomologist and Big Game Hunter (Heck, I am probably even an Astronaut, I haven’t checked) but despite all of my qualifications, most people still come here to see Scruffbag. So here is Scruffbag in the weather.


It has been very up and down, that’s all I’m saying.

BTW. This post is called “The End of Scruffbag” because tomorrow my valued associate is going to the beauty parlour to get fixed, after today you won’t recognise her.

Fizz

FizzSo Fizz is planning a post on FB saying that I only love animals that eat worms. That is not really true, there is plenty of room for one more animal in my life and soon there will be three of us writing this blog and that will be better than two.

European Robin

European RobinWe spent a lot of time playing “how close will you get?”  Then yesterday the bird started eating out of my hand but.. It is not perching on my hand yet. I have to put my hand on the floor. This is just awkward because it involves a lot of me being on the floor and it is uncomfortable but we are getting there.

Wildflowers next and after a very slow start things are picking up.

On Sunday I found my first Wood Avens, I would say, out of season, but I did find a few early flowers last year.

Wood AvensMonday brought White Dead-nettle and…

White Dead-nettleMy first hazel flowers. (female)

Hazel FlowersTuesday brought Red Dead-nettle and about time too, this one is two weeks late..

Red Dead-nettleThere are still no Primroses though but please don’t write in on this subject.

PrimrosesIn the garden we have got yellow ones, red ones, we have even got a blue one and have had since the beginning of January. I am just not finding them in the wild.

My area is at a bit of altitude and a good two weeks behind sea level so you may well have wild primroses around you, plus they will come out in the open before they come out in the woods but I was photographing them here on February the third last year.

Okay, say goodbye to Scruffbag.

Sccruffbagand for those who really can’t get enough of her, here is a video.

You are only going to want to watch this if like me you are a student of animal behaviour or if you like big eyes. She is keeping the ball from me but she doesn’t just run off with it, she walks a few paces and waits for me to catch up and as I bend down she takes another few steps out of reach and waits for me again.

If you think that is weird you should see her play the gate game. There is a gate on this track, she crawls under it and waits for me to climb over. As soon as I climb she crawls under the gate and sits on the other side watching me. She thinks this is so funny 😀

So I wrote about Hazel. In February I am having trouble keeping up with the wild flowers as they appear, White Dead-nettle isn’t on Easy Wildflowers yet. It is pretty obvious that I will fall behind in the summer. Oh well, I will just do my best.

I left a lot out of this post, there are no leaves or bark, I am not even sure that I mentioned that Hazel is a tree. It is one that I will come back to.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Corylus avellana, The Hazel Tree

Hazel catkins are an inflorescence of small flowers that form in the autumn and are with us all winter, they can begin to open in January if the weather is mild.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)(Catkins in November)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)(February)

Each catkin is a flower head, comprised of about 240 small flowers. Each flower is covered by a triangular downy bract, beneath the bract are four stamens and each stamen has two yellow anthers (the pollen producing male part of a flower).

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)A single anther will produce around nine thousand grains of pollen and one catkin, nearly nine million. A Hazel tree produces a lot of pollen.

Hazel is wind-pollinated and not reliant on insects so most of the pollen produced is blown away and doesn’t find it’s target.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) The target for the pollen is the style of the female flower.

The Hazel tree is monoecious, meaning that each tree has both male and female flowers. The female flowers grow in clusters from small buds above the catkins. Only the red styles of the flowers protrude from the buds and the female inflorescence typically measures 2-4 mm across, It is a very small flower.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Despite anything that you may read to the contrary (or that I may have told you in the past) the location and timing of the female flowers has nothing to do with avoiding self pollination. Corylus avellana is self incompatible, it cannot self-fertilise.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Each female flower has two red styles (The pollen receiving female part of a flower). Each bud contains a cluster of between four and fourteen female flowers. Only the styles emerge from the bud.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Once pollinated the female flowers produce the fruit.

Hazel nuts in July.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Unripened Hazel nuts are white and appear either singly or in small clusters. They are surrounded by a leafy, green sheath called an involucre.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) The fruit begins to ripen and turns brown in August.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Note that in this next picture, taken on the twentieth of August, next year’s catkins are already growing on the tree.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)In December a few nuts remain.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Now the trees are characterised by the dried involucres that stay on the tree long after the nuts have gone.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)There is a mass of misinformation on the internet. I used the following sources to verify the accuracy of my post.

Acta Agrobotanica Vol. 61 (1) 33-39 2008

Molecular Biology Reports April 2012 Vol. 39 Issue 4 pp 4997-5008

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Fagales

Family: Betulaceae

Genus: Corylus

Species: Corylus avellana

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Wildflowers in winter 🙂

Like a Puppy on a string…

We do have quite a bit to report today. The Badger cam turned up an astonishing creature that I really didn’t expect to see, I will show you that in a little bit.

Fizz is on a bit of string for a reason and it’s not just because I lost her lead, I am keeping her out of trouble today.

But first, our first butterfly of 2015.

Small TortoiseshellIt has been hibernating in my flat. It was quite sunny yesterday and I guess the poor little thing thought that spring had arrived.

I had exactly the same thing last year with the same species waking up in February. I kept the curtains shut in my bedroom to keep the sun out and it went back to sleep. I let it go in March.

I have given this one a good book to read and sent it back to bed.

Small TortoiseshellThis is last year’s stowaway.

Small TortoiseshellI was out searching for wildflowers this morning and I found this one.

Common-field SpeedwellI found two of them in flower. This is Common–field Speedwell. There is so much that isn’t in flower that should be but I wasn’t expecting this one until March.

Common-field SpeedwellSo another nice surprise 🙂

Common-field SpeedwellThey may not look like much at the moment but in the summer they will look like this.

Common-field SpeedwellThe third nice surprise was that the Mallards are back.

Well the drake is, no sign of the female yet.

MallardShe will be here soon. They breed on our ponds but last year she didn’t nest here. That was a shame I would have loved ducklings on the pond.

MallardFor the next couple of months they will strut about the garden as if they own the place. It is nice to have them here.

Mallard

MallardSo what has Fizz been up to?

FizzWell yesterday I said that I would take her for a picnic.

FizzShe announced it on Facebook and all sorts of rabble turned up.

Gatecrashers

Gatecrashers

Gatecrashers

Gatecrashers

GatecrashersIt’s all gone Pete Tong!

Next is a little video that I made yesterday. This little bird sings for me every day and I always want to remember this.

That brings us to the mystery animal, this is the last thing that I expected to see up there.


The mystery is not what it is but what is it doing up there?

The only water around is the stream that feeds the pond the ducks are on. That is only a couple of feet wide and nearly three quarters of a mile from Badger cam.

It is of course a European Otter, Lutra lutra. I am told it might be a dispersing juvenile but dispersing from where?

Could there be Otters breeding on our little stream out back of the farm? I doubt it. I don’t know anything about Otters, I really didn’t expect to see one here. It is an exciting mystery 🙂

The Big Garden Birdwatch

That is what we have been doing today.

Every winter in the UK (since 1979) the RSPB asks the British public to take part in a survey of the birds in their garden. About half a million people take part and it has become the worlds largest wildlife survey.

So for one hour over this weekend we were asked to record the birds that visit our garden. They don’t want you to count how many times Blue Tits visit your feeder because that would be the same birds over and over, instead they want you just to watch and record the largest number of each species that you can see at any one time.

So during my allotted hour there was one point that I had four Blackbirds on the grass together, four is the answer, not how many Blackbirds I saw in the entire hour, get it?

This is my view of the garden from my kitchen window that will do. Most of the birds will be around the feeder, I have put plenty of food out on the grass to try and bring them into my field of vision and if I get three or four of one species on the feeders at the same time then I am scanning around to try and see more.

The GardenMy results were not very spectacular. Some birds that I could almost guarantee to show up, didn’t. So for Collared Doves the answer was none, there are a pair that live here and I see them every day but during my hour they didn’t show. I hope they don’t get the idea that Collared Doves are extinct in Gloucestershire.

Blue TitIt is quite a fun thing to do. It requires a lot of attention. We had ten species visit during our hour and it could have been quite a few more. They all visit at the same time so I am trying to keep track of three House Sparrows over there and two Blue Tits on one feeder and two Robins squabbling amongst the bushes and so on.

BlackbirdI couldn’t take pictures while I was counting, I was too busy and then I couldn’t take pictures afterwards because it was just so murky but I did my best to try and show you what it was like.

RobinThe results that I returned were..

6 House Sparrows
6 Blue Tits
4 Goldfinches
3 Great Tits
2 Robins
4 Blackbirds
3 Chaffinches
2 Dunnocks
4 Bumbarrels
1 Wren

My favourite was the Wren, I hardly ever see them in that part of the garden and didn’t expect it.

It doesn’t look like a lot of birds but there were quite a lot of birds, they just didn’t all appear together and I was just following the rules. Quite a few local species would appear to be extinct if they just looked at my results but I expect that other people will report seeing them and an hour isn’t very long.

Blue Tit

Blue TitI could easily have missed the Bumbarrels too (Long-tailed Tits). They are not regular visitors but they have been here for a few days and just at the right time for the survey.

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed TitSo that is the Big Garden Birdwatch. The RSPB will collate all of the results and tell us which species are in decline and which are doing well and they will use that information to focus their conservation efforts on the birds that need the most help.

Yeah, You And Whose Army?

Fizz has been having a few problems with the livestock today, I’ll tell you about that in a minute. The day starts with feeding the animals.

It’s probably best not to mention what Fizz had for breakfast, that might have been what started her off.

BreakfastEven before Fizz gets fed and before it gets light, the early bird gets the worm.

European RobinThe Robin tried to land on my arm last night but it was getting dark and I didn’t see her coming, so suddenly there was a lot of fluttering as she tried to perch on my arm and taken by surprise, I moved my head quickly and I think that I said, “Hello” and I scared her off. This morning we were friends again.

There have been a couple of notable birds on the feeder this week. Long-tailed Tits have been here for the last few days. They don’t visit very often so it is nice to see them.

Long tailed titThey arrive in small flocks and feed together. I have counted eight of them on the peanut feeder at the same time and you can hardly see the feeder for feathers. A very beautiful little bird.

Long tailed titThere was also a Woodpecker on the feeder today. I haven’t seen a woodpecker since the little ones fledged last summer so I am hoping that she will start visiting regularly again.

Goldfinches are back in their charms. They disappeared late in the summer when the thistle seed appeared but they will stay here now.

Then it was time to feed the Sheep. They have really taken to this idea of being fed and when they see me they come running, it doesn’t matter if I have got food or not, I might just be taking the Dog for a walk.

This is a rubbish, short video but you will get the picture.

I cut the video so short because the camera was shaking, I wasn’t scared, just common sense really.

SheepThey are eating pellets, well it says “Sheep Food” on the sack that I get them from.

They are all enjoying their food except for that white one at the front, that one is always focused on me. I think that this must be the Bull Sheep (if there is such a thing). It is the one that I observed in my last post and it is always in front and always the first to approach me.

Bull SheepAs Fizz would say, “Remember this face.”

The BullIt says she is number 00127 on the green tag but I just call her “The Bull.”

So I went back and fed the birds some more and played with Fizz in the garden. Then I was cold so I went and got some breakfast and coffee.

Then it was time to walk the Dog.

Remember that I said it doesn’t matter if I have got food or not, they come running when they see me.

That ArmyOh! That army. Col! They’ve got an army.

You can stop that.

Bull SheepThe Bull is interested in my Dog as well as me.

Well, I rescued Fizz from the Sheep and we had a nice walk and a game of ball, on the way to the woods to check the trail camera.

Fizz

FizzNow I would like to have some kind of reference to nature in my blog posts. There is not going to be a wildflower bit at the end of this post because I have been having major problems with my new operating system. It is fixed now but it took me all day yesterday and I am behind.

One little nature observation though…

Wild ArumWild Arum, Arum maculatum is coming into leaf everywhere. We won’t see the spathe until April, it spends a long time as a leaf but it is still nice to see another little sign of spring.

Wild Arum

Wild ArumThings are not going well up in the woods. The camera has been out for four nights and all we have seen are Foxes.

This is a very nice Fox but I have watched 150 videos of Foxes and I wouldn’t mind seeing something else.

That was just one video that I more or less picked at random. It has a nice atmospheric sound track.

As we walked back to the farm we could see them all waiting for us.

The GuantletIt was time to run the gauntlet once again.

SheepThere were familiar faces in the crowd.

Face in the crowdI think that I better lock the door tonight when I go to bed 🙂

Waiting and Watching

Okay we are waiting for the Sparrowhawk.

On Saturday morning I saw a Sparrowhawk make a kill in the back garden, I am pretty sure that it was a successful kill. I have seen this hawk here twice before and so far he has visited the garden got his dinner and then disappeared for a couple of months, he has not been a problem or made any impact on the bird population. I have come to look forward to his visits.

This is the bird on an earlier visit (previously unpublished photographs)

The pictures may seem cruel but predators exist in the world as part of the balance of nature and they have to eat. Predators kill and eat other animals. Starvation is the main cause of death for these birds.

A lot of people don’t have much sympathy for the Sparrowhawk because it is cruel. A small bird like this will die quickly as the hawk’s talons pierce it’s body but the hawk will eat larger prey alive. So do a lot of our birds, Blackbirds don’t strangle worms before they eat them but it is a lot easier to feel sorry for a bird than it is a worm. The hawk isn’t being cruel, this is just how it is.

Sparrowhawk

SparrowhawkThis is a juvenile bird and I believe that it is most probably a male. The bird that  I saw on Saturday was a male in it’s adult plumage, possibly the same bird. An adult male is a beautiful and striking bird, It’s back and wings are steel blue and it has orange cheeks, that orange colour sometimes extends down it’s breast. I really wanted to photograph it.

The other thing is…

My bird feeders have remained almost untouched now for five days and I want to know if the hawk that I saw on Saturday has anything to do with that.

Seed Feeder

Peanut FeederAt this time of year it is normal for bird feeders to be quiet in the UK, there is an abundance of natural food about but the last time I filled these feeders they were emptied in three days and the change has been sudden.

I decided to watch for the hawk’s return. He can come and go in the space of a minute so to know if he is staying here I have to watch constantly, if I take a half hour break I will learn nothing.

He ate on Saturday morning and so I decided to watch from Saturday afternoon until the same time on Sunday. Twenty four hours in a hawks life.

It was a no show. when he didn’t show up again on Saturday I felt certain that he would be hungry in the morning but… no Sparrowhawk, so we don’t have a problem. That’s a pity…or is it.

Instead of a post about a beautiful bird here is a post about me getting annoyed and getting a bad back.

Play with me.

FizzI can’t. I’m busy.

You don’t look very busy.

This is the garden layout. Take note of the Honeysuckle bush beside the feeder, that is a problem.

Back GardenI think that the open aspect of the garden has saved us from having any real problems with Sparrowhawks. They are a woodland bird and they like tight spaces where the prey bird will find it’s exit blocked. They also like small town gardens with high fences and lots  of shrubbery for the same reason. They are also an ambush predator.

Whine, whine whine.

The first time that I saw the hawk it hid in the bush beside the feeder and it sat there for about twenty minutes before giving up. Every bird in the garden saw it go in and knew it was there. It didn’t get a kill on that visit but next time it changed it’s tactics.

Excuse me there is something outside of my back door.

Fizz

FizzI don’t know what that is and I am not opening the door to find out.

The next time that the hawk visited it flew openly into the garden, all of the little birds dashed into the honeysuckle bush and the bird perched on top of the feeder.

SparrowhawkThe honeysuckle isn’t offering the birds any protection at all.

SparrowsIf an old fellow with misty bifocals can see them from his kitchen then the hawk can see them from half a mile away. It plucked a Sparrow from the bush as easily as you or I would take an apple from a tree (a small tree that we could reach).

The second kill that I saw followed exactly the same pattern. It is so easy for this Hawk that I do not really understand why it has not taken up residence here but it hasn’t.

Don’t scratch my door! Excuse me, I have got to deal with this.

What?

FizzCan I come in?

FizzNo!

FizzSometimes when I am sitting motionless and staring out of a window I am actually being very busy.

Can’t you do nothing and throw a ball at the same time, or is that what men call multitasking?

Luckily for her I have a soft spot for little animals. 🙂

FizzThis is gonna be so good.

Fizz

Fizz

Fizz

FizzSo that is that. No photographs of a beautiful bird of prey, just happy Sparrows…

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrow

House Sparrowand a stupidly happy dog.

Fizz

Fizz

Fizz

Fizz

What a waste of a Sunday…… or was it?

Summer Birds

We are having a storm here but it is quite a nice storm with strong warm winds. Warm makes all the difference.  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 🙂

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  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 🙂 )

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.