Friday, 18 January 2013

18th January - They Say a Snow Year's a Good Year

All the forecasts came true this morning as snow swept through causing the usual chaos on the roads around the village.  It seems incredible that what amounts to a relatively low accumulation that would not worry other European countries can paralyse the UK. 

The garden as you would expect became rather busy, and it was fascinating to watch the antics of the common birds, while keeping an eye open for any possible unusual visitors.

The Goldfinches were present in good numbers, the maximum count at any one time being 11.  As usual they would sit in the surrounding trees with the shyer Greenfinches and then drop down to the feeders.


They would then monopolise the feeders with all four perches taken, and would be quite prepared to fight off any intruders.


Long-tailed Tits would come and go through the morning, they would arrive in groups of up to eight.  Their favourite is the suet block, initially one will start.


.  Then quite quickly others join it to create a bundle of feathers feeding on the suet.


Once they have had enough they go as quickly as they arrive, however sometimes they leave a straggler behind wondering where they have all gone.


If you saw the gorgeous Winterwatch film of them going to roost this week you will know that they are probably travelling around in family groups.  They clearly all seem to get on well.

There have been good numbers of Blue Tits in the garden this winter.  Today there was a maximum count of ten.  As well as the seed feeders they seem to be attracted to the apples I have speared on to the branches of the tree.


and if you wondered if they actually feed on the apples here is the proof.


While I was watching the Blue Tit a female Blackcap appeared and made its way straight onto the suet block.  They don't seem to mind the presence of other birds, and tolerate the smaller ones, however they are quick to disappear when the Blackbirds get close.


Look quickly at this picture and it looks like a milk bottle, which reminded me I can remember when the tops of milk bottles were ripped open by the Blue Tits in cold weather to get to the cream.

The BTO is running a survey on Blackcaps in the garden through January, so lets hope the male turns up as well.

The Great Tits show no interest what so ever in the apples and only use the feeders.  This one was cautiously making its way through the branches towards the feeder.


We seem to have two Robins in the garden, but I am not sure if they are a pair, as there does seem to be some conflict taking place.  As soon as one becomes aware of the other the head goes back and it flies to the top of the trees.  They never actually clash so maybe they are a pair that is not to sure of it yet.

The Robins like to use the feeders but are not comfortable sitting on the perch, they fly in and hover as they take the seeds.


The Dunnock is not usually a subject for my photographs which is a shame and something I should rectify.  This individual was obviously finding food hard to come by, and resorted to copying the technique of the Robin.  In this shot it was eyeing up the feeder just before launching itself to the perch.


As well as the Green and Goldfinches in the nearby trees there was a large flock of finches flying around in the distance.  They would perch up in the tree and then fly around before settling back in the tree.  It was quite a sizeable flock of which this was probably a third.


The next visitors probably came from the flock, they were Linnets, the males have yet to get the blush pink breeding plumage but they sill look quite smart.  They feed in the same manner as the Goldfinches, and also like to use the niger seed feeder too.


There was only one Pied Wagtail present today, and it didn't make any effort to search for food.  I had cleared an area on the lawn, but this was very quickly covered again.  The wagtail just seemed happy to sit in its usual spot at the top of the tree and watch the antics of the others.


Blackbirds are primarily ground feeders, but today with the heavy snow falling they were struggling.  They usual patrol under the feeders for the seeds and suet that drops as the finches and tits sort through for a suitable seed, today this just wasn't possible.  So they guarded the apples in the trees very carefully.  In their haste to keep the apples from others they would feed quickly and end up knocking them out of the tree.  Gradually through the afternoon the only apples left were those on the thin branches, but they still continued to try and est them.


This male though was quick to fly off when this female moved in. 


She is quite distinctive, and as it got darker we watched her learn quickly how to balance on the perches of the feeder to get at the seeds.

Lets hope the snow eases tomorrow, and we can actually get out and find out what the rest of the patch thinks of this weather.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos and commentary. My grandparents lived in Soldridge Rd from about 1964 to 1992 and the snow pictures brought back memories of when Four Marks and surrounds were snow covered even when Alton and Winchester had rain.

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