Tuesday, 3 February 2015

3rd February - It Melts and Fades

On Monday evening we flushed a Tawny Owl from a tree on the corner of Gradwell and Brislands while running.  It  flew off towards Swan Lane.

Overnight we had some snow again, about a couple of centimetres, but before it was light there were Blackbirds everywhere in the garden.  I counted at least 12 in the gloom, and they were beginning to position themselves strategically to guard their share of the food.

At about 08.00 it started snowing again, and it became quite heavy, the Blackbirds moved to what pieces of apples were left either in the trees or on the ground.  When it stopped snowing I went out and replenished the apples and mixed seed on the feeding tray.  I wasn't back indoors for long before the Blackbirds returned, and it was then the garden became a battle ground.

They are always on the look out for any bird, not just Blackbirds getting too close.  The first sign of aggression is the fanning on the tail feathers, and then the dropping of the wings.  Finally the invader is charged away.

There was one particular female that was larger than the many males, and you could see the bravado of the males fall away when she moved in, and they would let her take over.

While the fighting and chasing was taking place other birds would move in to take advantage, but if the Blackbirds saw them they were chased off as well.

The Blackbirds though were not the only aggressors, the female Blackcap was also very protective of either the fat balls when she was on them, or the apples on the branches.

The Goldfinch numbers have been well down over the last few weeks, but today they were present in very good numbers using all the feeding ports on the seed feeders, and the niger feeders.  Greenfinches have been absent as well recently so it was nice to see them also back in the garden.

The House Sparrows came from the hedge to take seed from the feeders and tables, and the Starlings of course would engage in coordinated raids on all the feeders, causing mayhem when they arrived and leaving just as quickly.

The apples were going quickly, and are very popular with all the birds, this piece was bigger than the Blue Tit that was eating it, and it could hide behind it.

The Blue Tits were very wary, and crept about in the middle of the trees, very rarely coming to the top.

A single Coal Tit appeared and performed the usual smash and grab on the seed feeders, they zip in, and then fly off almost immediately.  What was unusual was the lack of any Great Tits, I didn't see one all day.

In the afternoon a single Fieldfare flew in but didn't stop.  Normally they are the largest bird, and will guard any apple or food source from all comers, this one obviously didn't like what it saw.

The snow was almost gone now, but the sky was clear, and the temperature dropping.  At 16:30 the flock of Long-tailed Tits arrived and moved around all the feeders, calling constantly in the gloom.  Lets hope they found a warm roosting place for the night.

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