Big Garden Birdwatch 2016
it's that time of year again, so I filled up the bird feeders and settled
myself down in the garden (well wrapped up, it was nice and sunny but with a
very chilly breeze) for an hour to see who would pop by for a snack.
through the winter and definitely when it is very cold, I keep the bird feeders
well stocked with seed, kibbled peanuts and sunflower hearts, as well as suet
balls; as a result of this, there are quite a few regular visitors to my garden
and very few leftovers!
The hour started with one of a pair of Collared Doves who often come in and perch on the nectarine tree together.
next spotted one of the Dunnocks hopping about through the branches along the
back fence. They tend to forage amongst the ceanothus and honeysuckle
branches, before the flitting across into the bay tree, occasionally looking to
see if the coast is clear to have a peck about on the lawn.
Of late, quite a few of the Dunnocks have appeared and courting seems to have started early this year. I have seen 'wing flicking' displays, chasing and have heard quite a bit of singing. When the Dunnocks are on the lookout, they often perch up on the honeysuckle branches and have a good look round over adjoining gardens for likely partners! In previous years, I have had a couple of pairs following each other around the garden, so no doubt the same will be soon be seen.
of bird couples, after a brief spate of chasing another male out of the garden
in early January, one of the local Robins is now visiting daily with his young
lady and during my hour, they both appeared.
This pair arrive and follow each other around, one on lookout whilst the other goes to the feeders or down onto the lawn. They both seem to favour the suet balls or the peanut / sunflower feeder.
Robins have a 'set route' through the nectarine tree to the feeder as well as
favoured perches around the garden. I am still seeing the occasional
singleton visiting as well.
Blackbirds can often be watched pecking around on the lawn, but they are
extremely skittish, so I often watch them feeding from the kitchen window. I
have also been seeing one of the males chasing another off - early courting
behaviour again. There are quite a few Blackbirds in the neighbourhood
and they seem to work together once there are youngsters, with a Blackbird
alarm call going off if any kind of threat presents itself, from an
opportunistic Magpie to one of the neighbourhood cats.
of a sudden, I heard a ringing 'Teechu! Teechu!' which heralded a brief glimpse
of the Coal Tit.
local Mob of House Sparrows began to congregate, some at the top and some at
the bottom of the garden, before they took turns at the feeders.
surprise visitor in the branches at the end with the Sparrows, was a handsome
down near the feeder, they have a looksee, to make sure it is safe,
before taking a morsel and diving undercover to eat.
One bird, notable for it's abscence was the Great Tit, over the past few weeks I have been seeing quite a few of these visit the garden, however, apart from one who stopped by briefly, they were not popping in today! (During an afternoon stroll on the local patch, there were plenty about however along the edge of the woods).
I have rarely seen any birds of prey IN my garden (although traces of a Sparrowhawk's dinner have been found and I once had an eye to eye encounter with a Kestrel that flew in, sat across the table from me and then flew off, not sure who was more surprised, me or the Kestrel!) however, I do often see one or two of the local Buzzards floating overhead on occasion. During my hour, there was a bit of a commotion going on overhead, with some of the local jackdaws making a lot of noise. I looked up and the reason was clear, they were trying to harass one of the local Buzzards.