Rat-A-Tat-A-Tat!

Well I guess she was nest building a few weeks ago as the feeding area is awash with rats now!! There are at least four new faces scurrying around popping up amongst the branches, in the wall and under the leaves. They don’t seem to bother the birds but I’m a bit worried that they’ll chase off the voles and shrews so I’m planning to cut back on the ground feeding I do and stick to just filling the bird feeders. It may be a bit unfair on the ground feeding birds such as the chaffinch and dunnock but however cute these new arrivals are I don’t want a plague of rats.

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Put Out the Bunting

During the Summer months you’d be hard pressed to see a Reed Bunting. As their name suggests they tend to prefer to breed and roost in wetland areas and their plumage is a perfect mix of browns and blacks to enable them to blend in.

About the size of a sparrow they are having to adapt to different habitats and will now nest in drier areas and fields of crops.

In Winter though you may find them in your garden as they move onto seeds as a source of food. The male has a black head and a drooping white handlebar moustache while the female is a mix of browns with a distinctive cream highlight above their eyes.

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In Spring the male will sing from the tops of bushes and trees generally close to where its bred before. The female will be responsible for building the nest low down and well hidden in the reeds or undergrowth.

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Rocking Robins

Over the last few weeks there have been 6 or 7 Robins regularly visiting the feeding area at my local nature reserve. They have been quite well behaved with very few chasing incidents. I guess they weren’t quite in territorial mode but that all seems to have changed this weekend.

The robins are much more feisty with two seeming to try and assert their authority, continually harassing and chasing the others. I guess a well stocked feeding area would be a great territory to offer a female as a potential nesting site.

A short walk away from the feeding area and you’re very likely to meet the friendliest robin on the reserve. Quite a few times he has fed from my outstretched hand, an amazing experience as he sits and pecks the proffered seeds. The weirdest thing is the lack of weight, the lightest touch on your hand  almost as if there’s nothing there. This week however he wasn’t interested in food and sat belting out an array of songs, a robins greatest hits as he staked his claim to his territory and to the passing people who he hopes will have a pocket full of seeds!

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Nature’s Free Show

I’ve only ever seen a starling murmuration on TV so when I heard there was one virtually on my doorstep I had to go down and see it for myself. I had my camera with me but the mesmerising show taking place over my head meant I didn’t take any pictures. Sometimes you just have to watch the show.

The flock was small to start with but within minutes others of varying size joined the moving kaleidescope. It seemed Nature was playing with iron filings and a magnet drawing them across the sky to create continually spiralling shapes and patterns. For twenty minutes the birds freewheeled like a shaken Etch A Sketch giving the watchers a black and white firework display.

And then whoosh the whole flock of maybe a thousand birds descended into a tree, their chattering the only clue to what had just happened.

I’ll definitely be going back.

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