When we got back from our walk a bird flushed from the feeding area as I opened the back gate. It perched for a few seconds and I managed one picture
Later as I set my moth traps up for the night, and the sun was already setting, it arrived back in view on the water fall. Sadly that meant I need to use around ISO 5000, but the pictures are still usable.
This year, so far hasn't been a good one for Bramblings, and time is running out, so I was good to get this very approachable bird this evening. Perhaps tomorrow will see an small flock feeding up before moving on. There are still a few Siskins around, and a couple were singing, in competition with the Goldfinches and noisy Chaffinches.
I only get Siskins in the garden for a few days each year, so it was good to get them feeding outside on the patio while I watched the football this afternoon. A few Chaffinches and Goldfinches joined them.
The males are very much brighter than the females.
I always enjoy the first "frog day" in the pond. Luckily the frogs here, unlike in some other areas, stayed dormant until after last weeks cold snap. I guess there were well of 50 croaking away. There are very aware of movement and quickly disappear if I approach to quickly. I forgot how damp the grass was and found that after my approach flat along the ground I was very damp!
I expect most people have seen the news that the Hedgehog population in the UK has fallen by by 50% since the year 2000. Like so many statistics that bring us bad news, it actually masks a far worse situation. Between the year 1972 and 2000 the population had already halved. This means that since Pam and I watched a family of Hedgehogs on our lawn in Crayford the population had reduced to a quarter. Nearly always number and changes in species populations are related to time not very distantly past. I am sure that this means the generation now growing up, and hopefully more conscious of the problems that the word wildlife has, are actually unaware as to how fast most other species are declining. I remember when I was not much older than my birding Grandsons are now, the fantastic number of migrants that could be seen on the east coast after a fall. A look at the ringing totals of most observatories will show that these days have gone, and what is considered the norm would have been very disappointing in 1961. This was reported in 2014 "The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found." A few species are prospering, but a world full of feral cats, feral Pigeons, Wood Pigeons, domesticated animals raised for food, and those species that our gun toting Country "sportsman" like to kill, is not a very appealing world. While some of the iconic species are making the headlines all the time, it is important we realise that the prospect of the biggest mass extinction ever is not only possible, but probably inevitable unless human behaviour is modified drastically in the very near future. The pictures were taken in 2005, we haven't had a record of one in the garden for the last two years.
The Yellowhammer is one of the farmland species that is not
doing too well. It has been in steady decline for about the last 40 years. One
of the main reasons seems to be the lack of winter seeds available. Fields are
cleared and replanted almost immediately, and fallow or stubble fields seldom
seen. In the village there is a horse manure dump, and this can provide some
good food at times when in the right conditions. Today, with my new walking
partner Betty, I waked along Collingwood Road, but there was a tractor and
trailer bringing a load from the stables and consequently no birds were around.
We took the foot path back towards St Vincent Road on the return route and I
was surprised to see quitter a large flock of birds feeding n the large field.
The area hadn’t been cleared or replanted and a lot of dead vegetation was on
the fallow field, making good conditions for seed eaters. The curve on the
field, humps and bumps and depth of the vegetation made it quite difficult to
count the birds on the ground, but as they flew around I was able to get some
idea of the numbers. There was a minimum of 50 Yellowhammers, and a few each of
Meadow Pipits, Chaffinches and Pied Wagtails. Disappointingly I didn’t find any
Yellowhammer at the manure dump an a previous visit.
This winter there has been an unprecedented arrival of Hawfinches in the southern half of England. This seems to be dues to a seed failure in their wintering areas. There have been some good photos of Hawfinches at Godmersham in the last few days, but I've contrived not to manage any. While Pam and I, were there yesterday we had five bBuzzards overhead, and I couldn't help but think there was a time when a Kent record of a Buzzard was a bigger event than a group of Hawfinches. The Jackdaws were having fun on the church roof.
A distant Hawfinch, I managed not to photograph any close ones!