Wednesday, 18 November 2015

18th November - If You Just Make-Believe Him!

There was a kind of lull behind the Saturday storm Abigail, but it has remained grey and overcast.  Yesterday evening saw yet another severe low pass across the UK, this storm being known as "Barney".  Unfortunately it didn't turn everything purple but it did have an impact on the colour of the local trees.  As you can see where normally at this time of year my Acers in the garden would be sporting some really lovely golds and rich red leaves, the branches are all bare, the leaves all gone.

Looking back at the same time over the last four years of this blog in November there is a photograph of the beautifully coloured leaves that appear on these trees.  This morning though as Barney died away the leaves were there, but all scattered on the lawn.

The wind may still have been with us, but the skies were clear and there was sunshine first thing in the morning.  The Starlings were flying around in sizeable flocks, and in the tree outside my office window a group of four Blue Tits arrived, at first to check out the lichen on the branches.

But they were also quite interested in the nest box, with two flying in and out when they didn't think I was looking.  I am not sure if this was because they could find food inside, maybe a few insects and spiders sheltering, or because the unseasonably warm weather had them thinking of spring, but they did spend quite a bit of time in and around the box.

One also became quite interested in a shoot that seemed to be sprouting from the moss growing in a fork from the main branch.

Eventually it pinned the little shoot down with its leg, and started to peck at the small leaves that were beginning to sprout.

I am not sure what it was after, it could be their were greenfly or aphids on the shoot, or maybe it just fancied the nice new plant growth, but it definitely found something to its liking, and swallowed it.

As well as the Blue Tits the tree became host to a pair of Great Tits that were foraging on the branch tips, once again the lichen being the focus of attention.

And then once the Great Tits decided to leave a pair of Coal Tits appeared.  Much smaller than the other two tits they can always be identified by the white patch on the back of the neck.

The British Coal Tit Periparus ater britannicus is the default form in this country, though it rarely moves more than 50 miles from its birthplace. Is a much smaller bird with a duller olive mantle and back, white nape patch, double white wing-bars on grey-brown wings, white tips to its tertials, a grey-brown tail, and sullied dull buff underparts with darker flanks. The bare parts are dark grey. It is this overall ‘dirty’ impression that gives the species its English name.

There have been reports of "Continental" Coal Tits turning up along the south coast, these birds having arrived here from Europe.  Typically the continental birds subspecies Periparus ater ater differ largely in the back, mantle and scapular colour. In the Continental subspecies the olive-tinged brown of British is replaced by a cold lead-grey, which can stand out well and from some distance in good light. 

My Coal Tits have been very regular this autumn with up to four turning up in the garden the highest number for some years.

In the back garden the feeders were once again totally monopolised by the Goldfinches, with all the available ports taken by these lovely colourful, but very greedy birds.

A feature of the patio and the paths around the house at this time of year is the amount of fallen moss on the ground, this usually appears after a good amount of rainfall.  However it isn't the rain that washes the moss down, it is pushed off by Jackdaws as they search for food in and under the moss.  I watched a pair on my neighbour's roof doing exactly this.

Recently there have been a few piles of feathers at the bottom of the garden, the result of maybe a Sparrowhawk or one of the local cats.  The victims have been mostly Woodpigeons that when surprised struggle to make it up into the air making it easy for a hawk or cat to take them.  This though does not seem to be having an undue impact on the Woodpigeons in the garden as there are always young birds arriving to replace those we lose.  

This young bird has learnt very quickly that Goldfinches are messy eaters and was picking up the fallen seed from below the feeders.  As you can see it lacks the colour seen in the adult birds, and it also does not have the white neck stripes seen in the adults.

It was a little window once again, I had hoped for a lunchtime walk, but by then the winds seemed to pick up, and there was moisture in the air so I decided it would not be very productive.

The forecast through to the weekend is for more rain, but with the prospective of calmer, sunnier days at the weekend, but with a cold icy blast, bring it on.

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