Sunday, 3 March 2013

Bottom's Up

In the garden the number of birds feeding has been pretty high of late (about 20kgs of sunflower hearts per 10 days). One bird that we seldom get in the garden, although they are common round the village, is the Long-tailed Tit.

It has therefore been gratifying to have two or three visiting regularly since the middle of February. Their high pitched calls immediately signalling their presence. In the last week we have also hosted a couple of small parties of Siskins, but on neither occasion did they hang around around for long, and I haven't recorded them on consecutive days. The male Blackcap is still around, but is a bit more sporadic in its appearances.

Now we are into the month of March the fine morning arrived with some hope, but in truth not so much expectation. I have a real liking for Garganeys in spring, it isn't just the beautiful appearance of the male, but also their weird amphibian type call. The Restharrow Scrape has be obliging in previous years, but not so today. That being said it still hosted some well turned out  wildfowl.  Pochards are not particularly common on this shallow scrape and from this angle this one is doing a reasonable impression of  its American cousin a Canvassback. The beak colour dashes hopes of a rarity, but it does show how camera angle can make a Pochards head look long and "snouty".

I'm always on about the vermiculations on a Pochard, and this drake was an impressive example, sporting its best bib and tucker in preparation for the breeding season.

When it comes to dandyish sartorial elegance there are few of our breeding ducks that can compete with a drake Teal in all its glory. Well there is one, but today it hadn't, yet arrived on its way back from Africa. The appearance of a Garagney is still just a hopeful anticipation.

Just to emphasise that time is moving on, and the hormones in some species are becoming more active, two Lapwings were "making out" on the island in front of the hide. They were still at the preliminary stages, but even in these early days of courting they are fantastic to watch. The both pressed their breasts in to the ground and stuck their rear ends in the air. All the time this very formal looking dance was accompanied by a strange noise, best described as rather like Tim Brooke Taylor playing a Kazoo badly on "I'm sorry I haven't a Clue".
ON the way back I stopped near a wood not far from home that I think has a pair of Common Buzzards in residence. I hadn't watched for long before one appeared over head ,circling in the sunshine. At this time of year, on sunny days, it's worth looking out for birds of prey advertising their ownership of their territories by circling high overhead. Spring is on the way, at least until March changes direction, as it is prone to do.

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