Friday, 11 December 2015

11th December - Well, What if There is No Tomorrow? There Wasn't One Today

I have been away through the week, and was hoping that I would bring the cold and sunny weather I had experienced in Munich back with me.  Unfortunately overnight there was more rain, and in the morning it was grey and overcast, but it seemed still and calm something I haven't experienced for a few weeks.

As has been the case over the last few weeks I was being entertained by the antics of the Coal Tits during the morning.  I watched as they zipped in and out of the feeders and trays, and hiding back in the trees to eat their prizes.  But as I watched I noticed one individual behaving differently.  Rather than fly to the middle of the tree with its seed, it flew down to the base of the young trees at the bottom of the garden, then flew back almost immediately to the tray, where it took another seed and did the same thing.



Then as I watched it flew off again as soon as it had picked a suitable seed.



This time onto the lawn though, where it pushed the seed into the grass.



Mission accomplished, a quick look around and then back up to the tray for more.



I don't recall seeing Coal Tits, or any Tit caching food like this, and it was only one of the three birds that were in the garden doing this, the others were content to eat theirs in the tree.  The other point of note this morning in the garden was two Goldcrests, easily my highest total!

When the weather is like it has been it is difficult to get the motivation up to walk around the patch, for one it is very dark and gloomy, which is not conducive to good photography, while on the other hand the weather is also not right for bringing in any major change in the wildlife.  Colder conditions might increase the bird flocks, and maybe also bring some of the mammals into view, the Roe Deer still seem to be hiding away during the day.

So when the cloud thinned and I actually saw the sun, I decided that I would take a walk around Old Down once again.  What with the brighter and calmer conditions it might be easier to find something.

As I pulled up at the pond a Grey Heron flew off, and out on the water a Moorhen was tugging at the stalk of an old Lily Pad.



The water bird bonanza continued with three Mallard, two drakes and a duck dozing buy the side of the bank.



I walked from the pond to the entrance to the wood where there was the soft piping calls of Bullfinch everywhere.  However no matter how careful, and watchful I am they always seem to be able to hide from me, and then as I am almost on top of them they burst from the bushed and fly away.  All I get to see is the pinkish red breast of the male, and the white rumps of both sexes.

A little further in, I picked up a larger white rump, this time belonging to a Jay.  It flew away from me too.  Above there was the call of Nuthatch, and around me the feint calls of Goldcrests.  

I decided to try and follow where the Bullfinches had been and walked around the perimeter.  The Bullfinch calls died away, and I did not manage to find them.  Their calls eventually being replaced by those of a pair of Grey Squirrels.  When I found them they were arguing over a drey that was nicely built in a Silver Birch Tree.



I left the squirrels and walked on.  I suddenly became aware that the wind had picked up, and there was a significant breeze moving the branches and what was left of the oak leaves, fortunately though it was still quite bright.

Looking out across the field there were Rooks and Jackdaws feeding, and also away in the distance I could make out several Common Gulls in amongst the sheep.



I came back on to the main path, and headed for the crossroads, stopping every so often to listen for bird calls.  Once again I could hear Goldcrests, and with them Blue Tits.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker called but never appeared and overhead the cry of a crow echoed through the woods.

As I walked back towards Old Down Cottage I could hear more birds around me.  A Blue Tit appeared in some branches eager to show me that not only could it perch horizontally.



But also vertically!



A little further on I could both hear and see bi
rds at the top of the larches.  This is what I had been looking for for a while now, and whilst they were not the birds I was hoping to find, it was a start, Goldfinches will increase in numbers, and hopefully they will bring in some more rarer birds.



As I stood watching the Goldfinches, a Nuthatch called again and I watched it fly over my head to a tree close by, where it made its way along the branch, then posed in typical Nuthatch fashion.  With the dullness and the white sky, a silhouette looked quite different.



As I walked out of the wood I looked and listened for any sign of the Bullfinches, but they were not there.  A Blackbird fed on Holly berries and several Redwing flew over calling.  I walked back to the pond and made my way around it in the hope that I might find something in the boggy areas, but all I saw were the three Mallard and another Moorhen that shot out of the reeds like a missile.

So pretty much the same stuff in both terms of the weather and the wildlife, very much like our own Groundhog Day.

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