Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Garden Wildlife Health

There has been quite a lot of discussion recently about the reduction in the number of Greenfinches visiting gardens. This first came to our attention a few years ago when an outbreak of the disease trichomonosis hit several species of garden birds, particularly finches and more specifically Greenfinches. On the Kent-birders chat group Kevin Thornton had brought to our attention the recently launched Garden Wildlife Health WEB site The site has been set up to monitor the health of garden wildlife and has been set up by several major conservation bodies including the Zoological Society of London, the BTO, the RSPB and Froglife. Funding comes from various sources including DEFRA. The site is worth a look, as well as allowing you to report any incidents there is also a great deal of advice and information there.

Strangely the last few days have shown a definite increase in the number of Greenfinches visiting my feeders. They seem to arrive in groups and it is impossible to know if it is a result of a larger more widespread movement or local groups moving from one food source to another.

Looking through some photos I took of the feeders today I noticed that this bird was carrying a ring. Without trapping it isn't possible to read the information on it.

The Starling is another species that has been unusually scarce this winter, again that is until the last couple of days when quite large numbers have been visiting.

Like the Greenfinches above these can be quarrelsome when sharing a food, so three on one peanut feeder was unusual and didn't in fact last for long before a fight started.

Over the last few year the regular numbers of Goldfinches attending has definitely increased, and in my case this has nothing to do with nyger seed. Each time I've tried it the feeder has remained untouched and the Sunflower hearts have remained to food of choice.

At one time this feeder had four Long-tailed Tits, a Blue Tit and a Great Tit on it together, but that didn't last long. Great Tits seldom stay on any feeder for more than a couple of seconds before extracting a piece of nut and taking it off somewhere less exposed to eat it. The same is true of Blue Tits on sunflower heart feeders but they stay longer on peanuts, possibly because they find it more difficult to remover larger chunks of  nuts than do Great Tits.

A Blue Tit was again spending a lot of time inspecting this nest box. It's one fitted with a camera, and so far been used. I need to check out the wiring to make sure it's still working.

My favourite time when window gazing is when a party of Long-tailed Tits arrives, another bird that I rarely saw in the garden until recently.

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