Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How Fickle are the Birds

With the recent cold weather, the cold frosty mornings, the days when the temperature failed to climb above the point of freezing, the garden was alive with birds. Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Robin, Wren, etcetera, etcetera, you get the picture. At the weekend the weather changed and the frost and the ice disappeared. So to it seems did the birds, they did a vanishing act.
Yesterday, although I admit that I did not spend much time in a position where I had a view of the garden, I did not see a single bird. They were in fact conspicuous by their absence. The food put out in the morning was still untouched as the afternoon turned dark.
How Fickle are the birds.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

House Sparrows | Great Tits feeding

The Great Tit loves to feed on the fatball. Fats and oils are what the birds are looking for in this cold weather. It is essential that these small birds replace the body fat that has been converted into energy and kept them warm overnight.

The Sparrows and the Great Tit are having a good time on the seed feeder and the fat ball.

The Woodpigeon wants to get in on the action too:

A male House Sparrow watches from the sidelines while taking a rest:

Ever resourceful, the Woodpigeon finds a way in beneath the feeder:

Many of the Woodpigeons are regulars and know all the tricks to getting a meal.

Bird Tally This Week

The cold weather certainly brings a change to the number and species of birds that we see in the garden.

Species in the garden:
Collared Dove
House Sparrow
Blackbird (male) + (juvenile)
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit

Species seen nearby or overhead:
unidentified gulls

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

House Sparrows

With the onset of the cold weather, a greater number of  birds have been appearing in the garden. The House Sparrows visit throughout the day eating seed and enjoying the fat balls.
I wrote recently of the  problems I was experiencing with my gadgets, well the situation gets worse. I seem to have trouble with my camera. I suspect that the lens might be kaput. The pictures I have shot during the last few days have been taken with the "still capture" mode of my video camera or with my Nokia phone.
The video camera has a good optical zoom but the quality is not very good.

Here the House Sparrow is joined by a Coal Tit
 On top of this feeder is a conveniently placed fat ball
 I always place the feeders close to a tree for easier access and safety
" Is anyone there?"
 Tucking in to the fat ball
 Taking a rest and letting the food go down
Looks like there's not much more of this fat ball left 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Latest Update | My Garden Birds

Over on my other blog "Life With Woodpecker" I recently wrote about the problems I had encountered with my various computing/internet devices. Well my tales of woe I am afraid did not stop there. With everything up and running once more, I was eager to get back to posting updates on the subject of my garden birds.

Using the longer range zoom of my video camera along with the burst mode feature, I acquired quite a number of decent pictures of various species of birds in the garden. I even had some amusing shots of our local Grey Squirrel. I know I transferred them off my sd card but when I came to upload them onto this blog, I could not locate them anywhere. I literary spent hours trying to find them, searching through every directory on my notebook, on my desktop, even on Mrs Peckers laptop (because I had been sorting through pictures of our recent trip to Jersey on there) and every datastick and sd card I had. They seem to have completely disappeared.

I have tried to get a few more today but somehow I feel they are not as good.

This Woodpigeon always sits in his food.

The Robin put in an appearance again today. 

Another Woodpigeon enjoying some seed on the bird table.

This juvenile woodpigeon is waiting to tuck in but is wary of the adult below.

A juvenile Blackbird takes advantage of the food on offer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Garden Birds

There seemed to be so many birds in the garden this morning, just for a spell at least. Another of those brief moments in time, when it seems that all the birds have been switched into feeding mode. It coincided with me sitting in my favourite spot by the glass doors leading onto the patio.

The birds were putting on a great show. The Robin was chasing a Wren, being rather a bully actually, something they are well known for, not always as cute as they appear on the Christmas cards. Each time the little Wren broke from cover to seek out some food, the Robin would appear with an aggressive attitude, intent on forcing the Wren into hiding once more.

Meanwhile the Coal Tits had come to raid the feeder again and to fly around hiding seed here, there, and everywhere. I do enjoy watching them caching food for a rainy day, I wonder if they ever come back to claim it. Perhaps they work on the assumption that if they hide away enough, then by visiting these same places when times are hard there should be enough to be found.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Blue, Great and Coal Tit influx

Following a few months which saw very few species appearing regularly in my garden, more birds are now beginning to show. Between 08:00 and 08:30 this morning, I have been watching Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits in an intense feeding attack on the cage feeder. It was great to watch this breakfast activity.

It would seem that the regular influx of these bird species that we seem to enjoy has begun. In winter, blue tits, great tits, coal tits and others will form roaming flocks which scour gardens and the countryside for food. Infact many species of small birds that do not tolerate each other throughout spring and summer, come together as a strategy for survival.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Cold & Frosty Morning

Saturday just gone, started out as a very Cold and Frosty Morning. So cold in fact that the water in the bird bath was frozen into a solid block of ice. The coldest so far and the type of morning when I really feel for my garden birds.

Right on cue, as though summoned to appear because of the icy white conditions, a Robin flew into the garden. This was the first Robin I had seen here since early in the summer.

I got the distinct impression ( it could of course be all in my imagination) that this red breasted little fellow was new to our garden and had a great time exploring all the nooks and crannies and features with natural bird appeal. All the leaf litter left where it falls, fallen apples and lettuce leaves left to rot beneath the apple trees, become a larder filled with grubs and insects, a natural larder of bird food. In addition we have the Bamboo and shrubs with no name that still retain their leaves and provide an area of safety and adventure.

The Robin seemed to be suitably impressed because it stayed in the garden throughout the morning and was still to be seen on the Sunday morning before we headed out to visit or daughter.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Blue Tits Say Hello

So I had the thought that the birds were becoming very friendly and wanted to get to know me. I wrote yesterday about the Blackbird that came up onto the patio and was looking at me (well in my direction) through the glass of the patio doors. 

Well, there I was today, in the kitchen looking out of the window when hoppity hop along the clothes line, which is attached at one end to the brickwork above the said window, came a Blue Tit doing a very good impression of a tight rope walker. Another two Blue tits were searching through what is left of the foliage on the Pear tree but this little blue and yellow fellow, was a mere couple of inches (that's something else in centimetres) away from the top right hand corner of the window looking in at me.

How delightful I thought, I wonder what it is trying to tell me. Maybe how glad it is to be back here and what a lovely garden I have. Or maybe it wants to compliment me on my choice of fat balls and seed mix that it has enjoyed partaking of.

I must admit to being a little dissapointed to notice that right in the corner between the window frame and the brickwork was one of those fluffy kinds of spiders web and that was where the Blue Tits interest lay.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blackbird On An Autumn Monday

A jotting from Monday.
A Monday morning in Autumn and I am using my Aspire netbook on the glass topped dining table while looking out onto the garden through the patio doors. It looks very damp out there and maybe a little on the cold side, just the sort of conditions that will aggravate my arthritis. I am happy to be inside, feeling nice and warm.

A lone Blackbird has hopped up onto the patio decking in that typical Blackbird run and hop sort of way. He peered in (yes I am sure he was having a deliberate peep) through one of the gaps of the slightly angled vertical blinds. It is at this point that I become fully aware of his presence, but as I stare back in an attempt to have a decent look at this bird, our eyes meet and in an instant he is gone.

What I could not get a good look at because he flitted away so quickly, was the colouration of his plumage. He, and I was of the opinion that this bird was a he, was not completely black as a normal British Blackbird male would be. It seemed to be wearing a somewhat large proportion of brown feathers, but now that he has gone I can not bring to mind exactly what he did look like. I find that the memory of such a brief encounter fades so fast.

I think it is possible that it could be a young male in the process of the moult and so changing his attire from the brown and speckled feathers of the young bird to the deep black plumage of the adult. But, and this is where I am not certain until I can get a better look when it surely will return, it could be one of the Brown Headed blackbirds that we had visit us here last winter. They are a different species of European Blackbird that come (and this is off the top of my head and could be quite wrong) from Northern Europe.

I will look to see if I managed to get any pictures of those unusual Blackbirds from last winter or if I made any notes about them. Meanwhile I will eagerly await their return.

Note: Wednesday 24 October. Since Monday I have not been at home much in the daytime and even then have had but a very cursory glance into the garden. Tomorrow I should be spending the day at home and will look out once more through the patio doors, in the hope of seeing more of my garden birds.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Woodpigeon | Wet & Windy

The Woodpigeon sat with feathers fluffed up to preserve body heat, the morning had started out cold and damp.

This Woodpigeon, whether new to our garden or not I am not sure, has taken a liking to this bare Cordyline tree. It likes to rest here having partaken of the seed in the garden and watch the world go by.

The Pigeon sat tight as the intensity of the wind increased, becoming quite blustery at times.

A sudden gust of wind almost blew it from its resting place, but it had a firm grip on the branch.

As it settled back down, the Woodpigeon had a look around, the way you do, to see if anyone was watching.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Starlings a little more

These same Starlings continue to drop into the garden to feed. Since their first observed arrival mentioned in my previous post, it has been easy to identify the family group as being four fledgelings accompanied and looked after by two "adults". On that first occasion they were among a larger group of Starlings and other birds busily feeding. I have since been able to see them swoop down many times throughout the day to take advantage of the food on offer.

Meanwhile an adult pair of Starlings who I presume to be the parents of this group, are forever mating, on the fence, on the garage, on the rooftops, going "at it" all through the day starting the next brood no doubt.

While all of the youngsters seem to enjoy taking a rest in our garden during some brief moments when their appetite has been satisfied, there is one that I do fear for. This cute little fellow likes to stand on a small patch of grass where he cannot possibly have a clear view of an approaching predator and tends to remain there when all it's siblings have departed.

I think four young, brown, European Starlings might soon become three.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

First Young Starlings

Well the first young Starlings of the year have appeared in the garden today. It seems like they waited for a break in this incessant rain we have experienced lately to leave the warmth and safety of Ron's roof and fly down to our garden to be fed.

I expect the older birds (I think it is the yearling birds and not the parents that are responsible for feeding the fledglings) were anxious for them to leave the nest and so not have to fetch and carry the amount of food that those youngsters would be demanding.

At this point there is just four young fledglings that have flown down to enjoy the al fresco dining experience with suet pellets and meal worms being the favourite dishes on the menu.

If last year is anything to go by, there are many many more to follow in their footsteps during the coming weeks.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Starling flocks, Sparrowhawks and Takeaways

The events of  Tuesday night involving flocks of Starlings and the Sparrowhawk, have prompted me to blow the dust off my keyboard and tell you another tale of my garden birds.

I am sure many of you will have seen through the medium of the television, the internet or maybe even first hand, the amazing spectacle of huge flocks of Starlings filling the skies prior to roosting. The birds come together in enormous clouds, wheeling, turning and swooping in unison. To see this murmuration, as it is called, in real life is fantastic, I can now tell you that to witness it taking place from your own garden, around and above you, is awesome.The performance we watched the other night was (I think) unusually long, but that may have been due to the Sparrowhawk.

For the last few evenings as dusk approached, I had been watching flocks of Starlings numbering maybe a hundred or so birds, gathering together and performing similar aerial acrobatics though on a lesser scale . Many of them would then drop out of the sky to populate our local "High Rise" Conifer tree. This tree is HUGE, and although standing in the garden that is diagonally to the rear of our own garden, is well within 10 metres of our kitchen window. We call it the "High Rise" because it serves as accommodation for a whole variety of different birds throughout the year. Much goes on within those wispy straggly conifer fronds, unseen by the outside world, birds roost, birds nest, life begins and life often ends. The tree has been a regular roost for Starlings throughout the winter and the noise emanating from it as dusk approaches is amazing. It is a constant chatter, chatter, chatter as the birds settle down for the night and I am sure, catch up with each other on the days events.

But back to Tuesday night. The Starlings began to appear and from the outset there were more than I had seen on the other nights. More and more birds began to fill the sky and soon they started to perform. Hundreds or maybe thousands of birds moving together as one, they would gather in a ball then split apart to swoop and dive, twist and turn. It was a mesmerising dance of wings against a backdrop of a clear blue evening sky. At this point it was still relatively early, these murmurations do not usually occur until closer to dusk, as the light fades and darkness begins to fall.

A large flock were swooping overhead, were these our regular roosters? I do not know, but they had their eyes locked onto our "High Rise." Wave after wave of  whooshing Starlings dropped like arrows from the sky, to be swallowed instantly by the tree and disappear from sight.

The Sparrowhawk seemed to come out of nowhere like a low level guided missile!
 A brief blur, a fleeting glimpse, then there was nothing to be seen. The bird of prey intent on grabbing a meal, had also disappeared into the conifer, but seconds later was to emerge with a Starling firmly grasped within the talons of it's left foot. At a much more leisurely speed, the Sparrowhawk flew off to find a nice quiet place where it could enjoy this Fast Food Takeaway meal.

Wave after wave of panicked Starlings now fled the tree and took to the skies once more, joining the throngs that had increased massively in number. There were now thousands of birds, this had become a full on murmuration of Starlings which continued until the last fading rays of light.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Brambling (Fringilla Montifringilla)

Yesterday we were greeted by a hefty covering of snow, we were also visited by a number of birds that I have never seen before, a species which is mostly a winter visitor, the Brambling.

Was it because of the snow that they could not find food in their regular haunt, I do not know, but now they have discovered our bird-food cafe, perhaps the Bramblings will return.

Of course it is possible that they have been here previously and we have failed to see them and when I come to think of it I guess we were lucky to see them yesterday. Mrs "P" just happened to look into the garden at the right time.

My dearly beloved had ventured outside early in the morning to put out plenty of food for the birds and ensure that the water bath was clear of ice for them. Later she was watching through the kitchen window as all the regulars were taking full advantage of the free offerings when she noticed that the Sparrows were not all Sparrows. She could see that amongst the throng of those regular visitors were a number of similar sized birds with a noticeable difference in plumage.

She called me into the kitchen to take a look and I initially identified them as Chaffinches. As I watched however I soon realised that they were not Chaffinches at all, although similar, the colouring was wrong. The Brambling then came to mind, although I have never seen them before in real life, I somehow just knew that these were Bramblings. We were able to confirm this identification within a few minutes with the aid of our bird books.

I will be looking out for them now to see if they do indeed appear again, this pretty little bird, the Brambling.