Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 Part 2!
we arrived home after our weekend away with
time to spare, so after unloading the car and a spot of lunch, I filled up the
birdfeeders in the back garden and settled myself, very well wrapped up, to see
who would visit. It was a chilly and very overcast afternoon
have three that regularly visit and appear to share the territory fairly
amicably. Two of them visit together and follow each other about the
garden and I believe they may be a pair; another visits, most often alone and
has favourite, but different perches to the other two. He can often be heard
singing from the branches along the back fence or closer to the house in the
Field Maple. He is shown above, on a low limb of the nectarine tree, enroute to
I've watched the Robins often and have learnt to just about distinguish which one is which - they all have slightly different markings; a small band of white feathers at the shoulder perhaps or a slightly lighter brown edge to one of their wing feathers... Shape and size wise, all three are the same - going from sleek and slim to little puffed balls of feathers when it is cold!
three of them will go to the fatball or seed feeders, the pair often taking
turns and they all will forage under the feeders for dropped titbits as well.
For a few weeks now, I have been hearing them singing and have been watching as they flirt their way around the garden in courtship - this afternoon was no different, there was a lot of wing flicking going on and a definite session of 'follow my leader'as they worked their way through the branches.
Occasionally, they would perch lower down before dropping down to the lawn to peck around for food - I've never seen them take food from the feeders, they mostly feed on small insects foraged from amongst leaf litter or ground vegetation, however in the colder months they will supplement their diet with small seeds or peanut pieces in the garden.
a seemingly 'ordinary' little brown bird, when you look closely, they have the
most beautiful markings and are rather beautiful. They also have a very
beautiful and melodious song. Their lives are far from dull though and
could almost be said to be rather racey - Dunnocks are polygamous and both
males and females will often have more than one mate.
The males are easily recognised, with stripey chestnut brown backs, a dark eye stripe and pale cheek, apparently the more dominant males have a larger 'bib' as well,
the females are more subtly marked and juvenile House Sparrows resemble the females in appearance. A few of the females which have visited have also shown plumage anomalies, one with two white outer tail feathers and one recently with two white primary feathers on one side - often those birds have been the most skittish and hard to photograph, but they are definitely House Sparrows.
With the House Sparrows eyeing up the feeders and chattering and squabbling amongst themselves, after few nervous fly-byes, first three, then a further two Starlings added to the commotion!
As with the House Sparrows, Starlings are Red listed, they may be quite common in gardens, however their numbers have declined elsewhere.
The visitor on this occasion was a youngster with paler plumage, although from time to time we have visits from the more brightly coloured adults. A couple of Blue Tits also chased each other into the garden - flying round and round after each other, before settling in the big bay tree
then coming down for food;
on in the 'hour' a couple more couples, showing the same behaviour also arrived
- it seems dining out and courtship was for the Tits and Dunnocks, the theme of
Generally Coal Tits will feed on insects, beech masts and conifer seeds - all of which can be found in the local woodland - although it is mostly Oak Ash and Beech, here and there are a couple of big old Spruce trees. I often see thm around the woodland margins agiley foraging amongst the branches for food. In the garden almost without fail, they will head for the peanut and sunflower feeder. Over the past couple of years, these have become regular visitors and they are are one of the small members of the Tit family.
Just before I went indoors I could hear bubbling clicking and chirruping and suddenly the regular flock of Long Tailed Tits arrived. In this troupe, there are between twelve and fourteen regulars, on some occasions though recently I have also just had a pair visit, so am hoping that possibly that may be the start of another family group!
Long Tailed Tits travel in a family group, which is a mixture of adults and juveniles and are a familiar sight in the local woodland as they travel through the trees and are also a cheering and familiar sight in the garden. When they first arrive, they will settle here and there, making sure of how safe it is, they then head for the fatball feeder and never cease to amaze me with how many of them can get on one feeder at any one time! (I managed to catch two of them, but at one point the feeder had five or six of them all tucking in)
Whilst some are dining, others are always in the nearby trees chattering to their companions and keeping a lookout.
all had had their fill, the leaders of the troupe will fly off calling, with
the others shortly following, all of them chattering to each other to ensure
that no-one gets left behind.