Category Archives: Game Birds

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.



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.

Hey! Look at the pretty face.

Yesterday I was accosted by a Red Legged Partridge. Show us your legs….

Red Legged Partridge Red Legged PartridgeHe wanted to do a photo shoot…

Red Legged PartridgeI said, “But I have already done the Red Legged Partridge.” and he said, “You didn’t get my best side.”

Red Legged PartridgeHe did have a good point, not all birds have such a pretty face.

Red Legged PartridgeSo I agreed to take some snaps of him. I hope you like them.

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged PartridgeHey’ look at the pretty face.

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged Partridge

The Beautiful Game (Part Two)

This is a Red Legged Partridge.

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged PartridgeFizz and I were out hunting for wild flowers. We had all of our camouflage gear on so that we could creep up on them unnoticed and so of course this bird didn’t see us until it was too late.

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged PartridgeWe may have set out to hunt wild flowers but a hunt is a hunt and I will shoot anything when I am in that kind of a mood. I expect that you would have done the same.

Anyway this was a particularly stroppy bird. When he did see us he wasn’t going to give way. He strutted up and down on the top of his hedge cackling and crowing at us, puffing out his chest.

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged PartridgeEventually Fizz and I let him have the day. We were not scared, just sensible. He was a big Red Legged Partridge.

The Beautiful Game (part one)

Subtitle: Regional colour variation in species Phasianus colchicus, the Common Pheasant.

Well, the first time I saw this bird I thought it was a Badger.

Common Pheasant

I know that it doesn’t look an awful lot like a Badger now and I am supposed to be a bit of an expert on Badgers. (Badgers have four legs)

The first time I saw it I was walking down a narrow and overgrown country lane toward a Badger main sett. Fizz was with me and way ahead of us I could see an animal running along the track dodging through the undergrowth. I thought that it was moving like a bird but all that I could really see was it’s silver back and the only thing that I could think of that size and colour was a Badger.

I know better now.. (Badgers can’t fly)

Phasianus colchicusI have seen it three times now. After photographing it in this field I saw it again on the Badger track in exactly the same circumstances and this time I had no trouble identifying it as a bird. (My expertise grows)

Phasianus colchicusI always think of Pheasants as brown birds and so I had to ask the question why is mine this colour. What I found out was that there is a lot of colour variation in pheasants and this one isn’t particularly unusual. Also colour variation tends to be regional and that means we might have quite a few silver backs around here.

Common Pheasant

Common Pheasant

Common PheasantSo it might not be the same bird that I keep meeting.

Common PheasantI have done some research myself into this question of regional colour variation.

I looked out of my bedroom window.

Common PheasantI am not sure. They don’t look particularly silver to me. One of them is a bit silver. I will have to find some more.