Monday, 21 January 2013

21st January - Had Chosen Thus to Fling His Soul

We haven't gone far these last few days, and truth be told the best bird watching has probably been in the garden.  There have been reports of Skylarks, Thrushes and Wood Pigeon flocks being seen flying high to the west and south, and with the ground still with a thick cover of snow, they will be gone for a time.

Sunday saw a steady fall of light snow for most of the day, and the feeders in the garden were very busy.  The Starlings are always good entertainment, and in the snow they also look gorgeous with the white spots highlighted along with the buff tips to the wing feathers.


There has been a female Blackcap for the last few days, and she has been quite accommodating with the other birds, sharing the apples, and even feeding with the Blue Tits on the same apple.  This morning the male turned up, and looked splendid with it's black cap, and would feed from the apples like the female.


However unlike the female it was not prepared to share the apple with anyone else.


The lone Pied Wagtail was back, and today it was quite prepared to feed on the snow.  With the overnight frost the surface was a little crustier, and it would run around chasing dropped seed from the feeders like a little clockwork toy.


The Chaffinches too take advantage of the food falling from the feeders rather than expend energy either fighting others off the perches or hovering to try and land on the perches.


Sunday saw my largest count of Chaffinches in the garden with eleven males and five females at one time.

The Blue Tit count also reached a high with twelve in the garden at one time.  They are always busy moving from the feeders, the apples and the ground feeder.


In the early afternoon the snow fall became heavier, and the Pied Wagtail settled for a warm spot on a neighbours roof.


Monday morning saw the sky clear, and there was no snow flurries.  This seemed to have an amazing effect on the birds.  The Blue Tits were seen chasing each other, while the Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves were doing display flights over the garden.  It was as if the snow wasn't there.  After a while though things settled down and the serious work of getting food returned.

I came down to get a cup of coffee when I noticed a flash of red in the tree in the garden, a closer look revealed it was my first Great Spotted Woodpecker ever in the garden.  It was a female and she was feeding on the suet block.


She seemed to have difficulty dealing with the suet, and would peck away at the block, then throw her head back to help the swallowing.  In doing so she would close her eyes.


Another nice surprise a little later was a beautiful Song Thrush feeding on the apples.  The throat and chest looks gorgeous in the reflected snow light.


I love it when thrushes look straight at you!


The House Sparrows were now chirping in the weak sunshine.  This male doing so from one of my trees.


On Friday there and been a female Blackcap, and she was back to day, creeping through the branches so as not to disturb any one feeding on the apples


This morning though she was joined by the male.


The question I was waiting to see answered was would they both feed from the same apple.  The photograph provides the answer.


They did not like each other at all!  The BTO is conducting a survey in January on wintering Blackcaps.  If you have seen Blackcaps in the garden they go to their web site and fill out the survey.

As the Blackcaps flew off I noticed a big bird in the distance.  Once again the unmistakable shape of a Red Kite drifted over the garden.  Wonderful a year tick from the garden!



Following the report of two crossbills in the larches at the top of Reads Field I thought I would have a look at lunch time.  Unfortunately other than a few Starlings and Goldfinches I couldn't find any.

I walked around the roads for a while.  In one garden there was a large flock of Rooks.  I don't know what the attraction was, other than the Jay last year, corvids never seem to come into my garden, despite many flying over.  These two Rooks posed nicely in the conifer.



As I made my way back home large flocks of Fieldfare flew over.  I counted 63 in total.  A little later in the afternoon I looked out into the garden to see one Fieldfare tucking into an apple in the tree.  Now I know that once a Fieldfare finds a stash of apples it is not going to give them up that easily.  The trees are full of them and it made the most of them.  Once again they are so photogenic when looking straight at you.




It stayed until dusk and as it was getting dark took advantage of the bird bath to have a wash and scrub up.  It then had a good preen in the tree before heading off to roost somewhere.


I am sure it will back tomorrow and probably the next day.


1 comment:

  1. Doesn't the snow give an amazing light for your shots. I was looking in awe as each picture appeared as I scrolled down. I love Starlings as they change hue through the seasons and especially as the bill colours up to identify male and female.
    Have had a few Fieldfare and Redwing in our garden as the farmland has frozen, but our snowfall is not as deep as yours - nearly gone here. Had some playful Long tailed tits over the weekend but no Blackcaps to report to BTO- ever hopeful though.

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