Tuesday, 12 February 2019

10th February - Nothing Good Ever Comes Easy

Horrible start to the morning, with rain, and a forecast that said it would last all day, but by late morning the rain had eased and the forecast had changed.  I decided tyo go out for a walk, and headed for Old Down Wood the first time I have been in the wood for some time, probably since the summer.

As I walked between the fields along Brislands Skylark could be heard above, and I managed to pick out two of the birds above the fields.

Walking into the wood there was a Song thrush singing by the entrance, and all along the path several Robins singing.  In the field to my right there were Redwing on the edge of the field, and a couple of Yellowhammer flew up, the first of the year.

A little further on a Nuthatch was calling, it took a little while but finally I found it sitting on a broken branch.  The call was the alarm call





A little deeper into the wood I picked up the buzzing call of a Marsh Tit, there were in fact two birds present, this one calling from the hazel tree, catkins and all.


As I approached the cross roads I came across birds flying up out of the beech leaves on the ground.  There were Great Tits and Blue Tits, but the most numerous were the Chaffinches.  They would fly from the ground to the surrounding bushes and trees.


The parrot like call of the Jay rang out and a Jay flew low over the ground and then up into a tree at the back of the path.


I searched through the Chaffinches for any sign of their cousin the Brambling.  There was plenty of white flashes but no distinctive white rump that would have belonged to a Brambling.  There was another addition to the tits present, with both Coal and Long-tailed Tits joining the flock.

I walked around to see if the Tawny Owl was in the tree I have seen him in for the last six years.  Unfortunately though there was no sign of him.  There are paths trodden down around the tree as people have avoided some of the fallen trees, and maybe this has contributed to the owl's absence, I like to think he is perched somewhere else.

Heading back towards the pond, I turned back when I could see another flock of birds around the beech trees towards the fields.  I doubled back and walked through the new plantation.  Bullfinches were about, and another Nuthatch again calling as it hammered away at another dead branch


A little further along I came across another group of Marsh Tits, this time I counted six which along with the two earlier made a good count of eight birds


I stood watching and searching for anything out of the ordinary, chaffinches fed on the damp ground, along with Robins, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes.

My first walk through Old Down for some time was welcome, and also quite encouraging.  The paths have been flattened out and there is no deep puddles, the ground being quite firm.  A lot of the bramble has also been cut back opening up the main rides and looking quite good for butterflies in the spring and summer.

I left the wood and walked to the pond where I walked around it hoping for something, but went unrewarded.  From the pond I walked on towards Kitwood.  I was going to head across the field and walk back into Old Down, but scanning the field I picked out a covey of partridges.  So I decided to turn back and walk down the hill to the school where I was able to get a better view of a group or covey of twelve Red-legged Partridges, another year tick



I headed up Gradwell, and coming around the bend  by the horse stables I came across a Great Tit with a lovely background.


It had made a lovely change, and not having been in the wood for so long meant it was once again interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time just standing still and watching the birds all around me.  There was nothing special, but that didn't matter, it made a nice change.  I think I had become bored with the sameness around me, with maybe not the quantity and quality of birds I could get elsewhere.  Today though it was very rewarding, and worth a visit later as spring arrives

Thursday, 7 February 2019

3rd February - Come To Believe That I Better Not Leave

With the first real frosts, the Redwing appeared and started to strip the berries from the tree opposite the house.  There was the first snow earlier in the week, and that brought more to the tree, but a heavy fall on Thursday night and through Friday brought in the big guns, the Fieldfare.

Close up these thrushes are beautiful birds, with the grey and maroon colours and the checked arrow head markings down the sides.





They also sit with the bill point upwards which emphasises the markings on the throat


The Fieldfare is probably the shyest of the thrushes, run very close by the Ring Ouzel.  But whe the snow comes they seem to be able to override this behaviour, and are quite prepared to come into the garden


The berries being an major attraction of course



Here there was the chance to compare both of our regular winter thrushes, the Fieldfare being much larger and with the distinctive grey head and rump.


While the Fieldfare would come and go, and probably only two to three birds the Redwing were around in good numbers.  At one point I counted ten birds in the berry tree, and there were several more hiding in the surrounding bushes.  As one decided it had enough, it would fly off to be replaced by one from the bushes.


The Redwings to sit with the bill pointing slightly upwards



Previously there have only been single birds feeding on the branches, but with demand now high for the berries it was every man for their self.



The broad evergreen leaves catch what warmth there is in the sun


Another beautiful thrush, most of the Redwings we get here the UK move in from Scandinavia and Iceland, who knows when we visit Iceland in the spring we could be hearing the same birds singing!




The road up past the house is on a slope, and come the snow come the abandoned cars.  The owner of the is Mini, when they abandoned it Friday evening, clearly did not know where they were leaving it, the thrushes have probably ensured it will not be left there again.



As ever the other garden birds were about in good numbers, these Blue Tits waiting and deciding on when best to move into the feeders, probably looking to avoid the Starlings


The garden has become over run with Blackbirds and it has been difficult to know which one is our tame bird from inside the house.  This is him though, I know his as he would stay when I went into the garden while the others all flew off


The two male and one female Blackcaps are still about, both males aggressively defend their tree territories, chasing off the Goldfinches and Siskins when they get too close.


But it was back to the Fieldfare, this being the real opportunity to photograph them close up in the year.




The snow doesn't look like it will remain for long.  There are reports of the cold weather possibly returning later in the month, but by then the berries will be gone, hopefully they will be brave enough to come to the apples that no doubt we will put out.

Monday, 21 January 2019

18th January - More Garden Birds...

The berries on the tree outside the house have remained so far through the winter, but with the forecast of a cold snap at the end of the week I felt there was a chance that they might finally attract some interest.  It wasn't what I had hoped for, but every year I enjoy the sight of the Redwings feeding on the berries.

As the gloom cleared there could be seen movement in the tree, and as it became lighter the Redwing started to appear






The Redwing would fly in, gorge on the berries, and then fly back to the bushes.  There were about twenty birds present and appeared to take it in turns to feed.  Waiting and watching for their chance



While not having the beautiful subtle colours and plumage of the Waxwings, they have a beauty all of their own.






And there is always the berry in the beak moment


The cold weather produced a lot of activity around the feeders in the garden.  This stunning Goldfinch


The three Blackcaps, two males and a female.  The female would take her chance when the males were not around, while the males appear to have settled on sides of the garden, and are very aggressive towards any birds that come close to the feeders.



The goldfinches being the target of most of the attacks


The last of the birds to arrive in the garden are te Starlings.  While the summer breeding plumage is a mixture of metallic petrol colours. the winter plumage is dominated by light buff tips to the feathers that produce a spotted plumage just as impressive.



A few more Redwing pictures




Last weekend it was the Lesser Redpolls, this weekend we had two stunning male Siskins



The cold snap looks like continuing through the month although with temperature rises.  This will bring more birds to the garden, hopefully some interesting ones to.

I have recently turned to Instagram, and will use this site to post pictures from around the village.  If you are interested please follow me at #mrchrisrose.cr