Big Garden Birdwatch January 2018
Well I seem to have blinked and a year has disappeared! This
year, I managed only one #Biggardenbirdwatch, we were at my Dad's on the
Saturday having a belated Burn's Night lunch to celebrate his 90th birthday, so
all attention was on the Birthday boy and not on his garden birds, although a
Wren was spotted in the Philadelphus along the fence during lunch!
Next morning, I filled up the bird feeders; I use kibbled peanuts and sunflower hearts in one, fatballs in two others and a standard 'high energy' seed mix in two others. Once I'd got my cup of coffee and camera to hand, well wrapped up, I settled on a chair just outsode the back door to watch and count. The weather was markedley different from the previous day, cold, but with sunshine and quite a bit of blue sky, it was quite breezy from time to time as well!
The first birds to arrive, in the Hazel at the end of the garden were the Blue Tits, three of them. One paused amongst the catkins, watching the others as they visited the feeders.
Blue Tits are resident in the UK and are doing quite well. They are common in gardens and also in parks and woodland, occasionally in the winter they are joined by visitors from the Continent. I rather like them - they are great characters to watch, not taking any nonsense from bigger birds in the garden, at times looking quite determind and at others very cheeky!
In the bushes at the far end of the garden, I could then see three Dunnocks wing flicking and hopping through the tangle of Honesuckle stems and Mock Orange. These continued to various favourite perches around the garden.
Most mornings and also late afternoons there has been at least one of these Hedge Sparrows singing away in the garden. For 'Little Brown Jobs', if you look closely, they actually have the most beautiful colours and certainly don't lead quiet lives when it comes to courtship!
As they continued to chase around the garden, the Blue Tits began to position themselves for a turn at the feeders. After watching them on many occasions, they all seem to have 'safe' routes to the dining table!
A different kind of chatter began to emanate from the Bay tree and the stems along the end of the garden fence - the House sparrows had started to arrive! There is a flock of nearly two dozen, who roost for much of the day either along the back fence or in or near the Bay tree down the side.
The Sparrows are very skittish once they are away from their 'roost' areas and will flit for no apparent reason, so once they have ventured down to the feeders and the surrounding branches I have to be very still! They enjoy the fatballs and it is not uncommon for a couple of them to be on the same feeder tucking in at the same time!
A flash of red and a flurry of wings and two Robins arrive. These have been discussing territory on a few occasions of late... however, there is plenty of space and food for all, so they settle in different parts of the garden - one on a favourite perch.
Keeping an eye on me as well as (by now) two others that are at the end of the garden, after a while instead of 'tick tick' I was treated to a serenade.
Meanwhile, the Dunnocks have started chasing again and a rather sleek looking character pauses for a moment in the middle of the Nectarine tree, before deciding that a snack is in order!
Here and there amongst the branches of the Nectarine (where three of the feeders are suspended), there is now a selection of Blue Tits, taking turns at the feeders, one of the Robins, who is flitting back and forth between various branches and occasionally pecking around under the feeders and a female Blackbird, who, having made something of an entrance to the garden, has decided to help tidy up the lawn.
She soon finds plenty to tuck into!
From surrounding gardens I can hear one of the Coal Tits calling, however, he doesn't turn up until much later in the day and after my 'counting time'. I can also hear Great Tits calling and after a little while a very smart character makes an appearance!
I think I have seen this one before as, before heading to the sunflower feeder, he tends to 'pose' a bit and I was certainly treated to a series of 'have you got my best side' moments before he flitted to the feeder and then disappeared off to a secluded branch in the honeysuckle to devour a tasty morsel.
As with Blue Tits, Great Tits are countrywide and on occasion in
the winter months are joined by visitors from the Continent. The males
are slightly larger and more richly coloured than the paler females; younger
birds are also slightly paler as well. The Continental visitors are
slightly smaller than our 'home' birds.
From a high perch along the back fence, a familiar bubbling
clicking and wheedling voice is heard - it is one of the local Starlings.
Often one will perch there, chattering away in the sunshine, before taking
advantage of the feeders in the absence of other Starlings - later in the
afternoon, several did appear and were soon busy squawking and squabbling away
as they competed between themselves for the best feeder! This one though, had a
look around, before gradually making his way to the sunflower seed feeder
first, then later spent a while dangling from the fatball feeder.
The second Robin, has by now decided that pecking around in the lawn is not for him, so after a few poses, also hops onto the sunflower feeder before disappearing again.
Meanwhile the House Sparrows are beginning to congregate again, with, it seems a couple posted on lookout duty; given that there is the remains of an explosion of feathers over the grass at the bottom of the garden, I suspect that the local Sparrowhawk had been dining out the previous day.
The last bird of the hour to appear is a female Great Tit, who, after cautiously emerging from the branches at the end of the garden, makes several trips back and forth to the feeders.
And the final count?
Thirteen Blue Tits, four Dunnocks, twenty two House Sparrows,
three Robins, one Blackbird, one Starling and three Great Tits. (Other
regulars, such as the Long Tailed Tits - there is a pair and a small flock
which visit seperately, Collared Doves, Coal Tit and Wood Pigeons all visited
the garden later in the day)
One Week Later....
Well Saturday morning there was a surprise in the garden... In
the local woods I have spent quite some time with neckache as I peer up the
tree trunks and along boughs, trying to watch the Nuthatches there. Never
once have I ever seen one in the garden!
Well, as I was making myself a cuppa, I glanced out the kitchen window and did a double take, there was a Nuthatch peering back at me from the fatball feeder!
The photo above was a bit of a 'grabbit' through the back door, however, throughout the day several return visits were made and the Nuthatch became slightly less skittish about me standing outside the back door. For quite a bit of the time it stayed inside the Bay tree or amongst the tangle of honeysuckle and Mock Orange branches along the back fence, where it was having a good forage, before returning to the feeder.
I continued to keep an eye on the garden for the rest of the day and on two occasions, the bird returned, accompanied by a second Nuthatch, so whether they are a pair remains to be seen..
After a brief interlude watching a pair of Long Tailed Tits out on a lunch date (we had a pair visiting like this last year)
I was treated to one last glance of a cheeky Nuthatch busy on the topped up fatball feeder!