Saturday, 27 November 2010

Garden Delights

The cold weather and a very heavy frost seems to have brought a lot of birds into the garden. There have been a few interesting visitors. Yesterday there were brief visitors from both a male and a female Blackcap to the drinking pool and at least one Goldcrest was feeding in the cotoneaster.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers are regulars but there have been a couple around and they seem to now prefer sunflowers seeds to peanuts. Their loud "kik" calls could be heard frequently, higher in the trees as they waited to come down to the feeders.

Numbers of Great Tits and Blue Tits is always difficult to judge as roving groups come in and out of the garden.
As well as making used of the peanuts and sunflower seeds many of them also took the time for a bit of feather care. Bating and preening is particularly important during cold weather as it is so important that their insulation is in tip top condition.

There were at least eight Blackbirds around the garden, and they spent much of the time eating berries, I just hope there are enough left for the Waxwings when and if they arrive!

Chaffinches were the most numerous of the finches, but they spend most of their time foraging on the ground. On the feeders Goldfinches lead the way at the moment, but it was also good to see an increase in the Greenfinch numbers.

On the ground, along with Chaffinches there were numerous pigeons. Numbers of feral pigeons always increase in the garden in winter, I think they come out of some ones pigeon loft, I just wish they'd feed them, instead of me, there are also a good few Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves.
One surprise was a male Brambling that spent some time feeding on the ground, just outside the lounge window. I hadn't seen it before, and one it was disturbed I didn't see or hear it again. I was certainly quite a handsome individual.

I was also pleased to see a couple of male House Sparrows down on the pool bathing. They have been in short supply here for a year or two, I hope that they make a recovery quickly. Somehow it just doesn't seem the same without a flock of them around the house. No one seems to have got to the bottom of the cause of their decline in urban areas, and I think there may be some evidence of a bit of a comeback in some towns. It will be interesting to see what the London Bird Report says when the next issue is published. When I was a child a visit to St James Park always meant watching loads of Sparrows feeding, some sitting on the hands of regular providers. Lately there have been on records of sparrows at all, from the Royal Parks.

Late in the days a flock of Starlings dropped in a usual and completely commandeered the facilities. Starlings are another bird that has drastically dropped in numbers in winter, possibly because the population in eastern Europe and Russia has decline because of the huge changes in agricultural practice.

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