Monday, 21 January 2013

Snow Birds

The snow is now bad enough down the lane to the back of the house for me not to want to drive down it. So I confined myself to the house today, apart from going into the garden to top up the feeders. The pictures are taken through the windows, so are even worse than my normal standard, but it saves me getting castigated for letting the cold in if I open them!

These Starlings got the benefit of a de-snowed feeder once I'd added some more fat balls to it. This is a popular feeder as most species have learnt to get on it, but the Starling do a pretty good job of keeping possession until something a large as a Jay appears.

Although Chaffinches are now adept at using most feeders, they spend much of their time on the ground mopping up the bits dropped from above. With two feeding stations, one on each side of the house it's difficult to get a count of the birds in the garden, but I reckon there are at least 40 Chaffinches around most of the time.

Sharing the ground level are an increasing number of Blackbirds, there were about 25 around the garden today. They have to put up with the local Feral Pigeons that muscle in on the pickings.

The birds providing the crumbs are the less than delicate eaters, Greenfinches and Goldfinches. There are up to 30-40 Greenfinches around at peak times but fewer Goldfinches this year with a maximum of around 10.

Even though there's lots of water around in the form of snow it is still important for birds to have bathing water around. It may look pretty cold in the pond stream, but it is necessary if the birds are going to maintain their feathers in tip-top condition. 

This morning as the snow came down, some areas were very soft and I noticed a couple of Blackbirds sinking far enough into the snow to need to use their wings, almost in  a swimming or rowing motion, to propel themselves through it.

There are a few Pied Wagtails around the Village, but I rarely see them feeding in the garden until we have bad weather. They seem to be gleaners of small pieces bequeathed from above, I'm yet to see one attempt to go on a feeder.
On the other hand our national bird, the Robin, had managed to learn the tricks of using feeders in the last couple of years. This one is on a feeder very close to the lounge window, but it has now fear of coming close.

Even the more wary Gold and Greenfinches will come to this feeder, although they can be spooked by movement inside. 

I've put a small hanging bird table on the pergola just outside the lounge ( there's a vine on it but the grapes never ripen so no wine yet!). I really is very small and usually only Blue Tits get on it.

This Goldfinch is on a piece of the vine that I should have pruned, and is waiting its turn for the sunflower seed feeder. I've yet to see then on the fat-balls.

As the weather gets harder so the tolerance distance between the birds gets smaller. They seem quite prepared to feed almost shoulder to shoulder at the moment.

Over the years Song Thrushes have become less and less frequent as visitors to the garden, we've got enough snails for them but they for some reason they are in decline. Yesterday I saw one feeding on the snow a couple of times and today there were two at one time. Always a welcome addition.

As I said the hanging bird table is very small and despite several efforts a Starling that was determined to get on there failed very time. This Blackbird was more persistent and after two or three goes finally mastered the art of landing on a very small runway.

Great Tits, like Blue Tits seldom stay on a feeder to feed. They pick up a choice morsel and then fly off into cover, only to return a short time afterwards and do it all over again. I resume that this is an anti predator strategy, although somewhat strangely I haven't seen a Sparrowhawk in the garden for a few weeks. On the other hand House Sparrows have made a small come back, and I counted six in the hedge a couple of days ago. It would be great if this fledgling flock could reach the 30+ that were regular in the same bushes up to around five years ago.

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