My Garden Birds

My small flock of sparrows which visits the garden feeders has blossomed from 6 to over 20 regularly coming in for a feed. This is good news for a bird which has been in decline over recent years and they are regularly joined now by up to ten starlings another bird which has been suffering falls in numbers.

_X0A5284The sparrow flock was also joined recently by a summer visitor who seemed to have joined the wrong crowd. This juvenile willow warbler has been a regular visitor and always arrived with the sparrows. It’s the first one I’ve ever seen in the area as they are_X0A5263usually more of a woodland bird and we are a mile away from the nearest wood. Beautiful to see, but I do hope it remembers its not a sparrow and manages to migrate before the weather changes. The tits are starting to re-visit the feeders with coal, great and blue tits all enjoying the nuts and fat balls. Hopefully they’ll keep me entertained throughout the colder months.

 

Meet the Neighbours

As you know I’ve been watching the local woodpeckers recently but within yards of their nest are three others species. All three have occupants and the parents are busy feeding all day long.

Just down the path are the nuthatches.

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Opposite the nuthatches are the Great Tits

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And just down from them are the Blue Tits nesting in the hole above the perch..

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It won’t be long till they all fledge and then the parents will probably start on a second brood.

 

Back in Black (and red)

Last year I watched a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers raising their chicks in my local wood. I’ve been going back over the last couple of weeks and spotted they were back and using the same nest hole. Both parents were flying in and out with food for the young. Looking at the type of food they were taking in I’m guessing the young are still very small as all the morsels were tiny. Over time as the young grow the size of the food increases, last year I saw other birds plundered chicks being offered.

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It won’t be long till the young woodpeckers will be poking their heads out and shouting for more food. Hopefully this year I’ll see them fledge.

Another Nemesis Ticked Off

I seem to have a habit of spotting a bird or animal and then fixating on it till I get a decent shot. Is it just me or do all wildlife photographers behave like this. It’s like having a different nemesis every week.

The treecreeper has been one of these elusive species for awhile now but spending more time in woodland rather than the banks of rivers does increase the chances of seeing them. They have amazing camouflage and blend in brilliantly with the trunks of trees on which they search for food. They have a slender down turned beak with which they probe the bark for small insects and spiders and on a couple of my pictures they seem to have a long tongue which will help wheedle out their prey.. They fly to the bottom of a tree and ascend on a circular route before flying down to the base of the next tree. They have long curved claws to help them climb and rise the tree in small hops.

From watching them recently they seem to have a number of trees they visit in turn so if you spot one hang around and see what their route is.1g1c

It’s Time to Find a Nest

For the last three years I’ve watched a nuthatch preparing its nest in the same hole in a tree in my local park. And it’s back again this year getting it ready to welcome the next generation. Apparently nuthatches never go far from the area they were born in so they may be the same parent or one of its offspring from a previous year.

They use mud to reduce the size of the hole to protect the eggs and young from predators such as magpies or woodpeckers.

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This wasn’t the only one I saw at the weekend enjoying the sunshine and the start of Spring.

Down in the wood I watched a pair flitting from one potential nest site to another like a pair of newly weds selecting a home. There were three possible sites they flew in and out of in close proximity to each other so it’ll be interesting to see which one becomes home. They then proceeded to mate as if to seal the deal!

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Another Returning Visitor

When I first started visiting my local nature reserve a lot of the regulars mentioned Redpolls and how they were a regular visitor in the colder months. Well I never saw any for the first two years as they seemed to forget about visiting us. When I did finally see my first one I thought for a moment it was a sparrow with a very sore head!

They are a greyish brown sparrow sized finch with a very distinctive red cap and the males often have a breast speckled though with pink and red. They are partial migrants moving South in small flocks as the colder weather takes hold, then back North as Spring arrives. I guess the one on the reserve this weekend was heading back North.

They are generally forest dwellers eating seeds and nesting low down in trees and bushes where they lay between 3 and 7 eggs. 

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Siskin Spotting

Like the Reed Bunting I blogged about recently the Siskin is another bird you’re going to find tricky to spot for most of the year. They are one of our smaller finches with a long, narrow bill perfect for extracting seeds from plants and trees and spend most of the year in woodlands and conifer plantations. Their distinctive yellow, green and black plumage means they are very hard to spot once the leaves are back on the trees. However in winter they are a regular visitor to garden feeders especially enjoying niger seed and peanuts. For the first time this year I’ve had a couple visit the feeders set up at work and at the weekend this striking male kindly posed for me.

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Guess Who’s Back?

Spotting and photographing a Jay was very high on my to do list when I started wildlife photography. My local nature reserve soon became a favourite haunt as it was very much a hot spot for them and the feeder set up meant they could easily be snapped stuffing their beaks with peanuts.

They were regular visitors during the winter months until this year when they hadn’t been seen in the feeding area at all and people were beginning to ask where they were? We’ve had a very mild winter this year so it looks like they’ve been finding enough to eat or their stashes of peanuts and acorns hidden away for leaner times were seeing them through.

This weekend though they were very obvious by their noise and at one point on Saturday four flew over my head together but resolutely refused to drop in to the feeders. Sunday was a a different story though as two decided that this was the day to fill up on some redskins. A pleasure to see them and reassuring to know they hadn’t disappeared but had just decided to make us wait. Absence makes the heart grow fonder so they say!!

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Like Nailing Jelly To a Tree

I’ve written about these little devils before and I’m sure I’ll be writing about them again as i still can’t get a decent picture of them.

Britain’s smallest bird must also be the quickest! At the weekend I took just over 170 pictures of a pair who were bombing about in the undergrowth at the local Nature Reserve. 170 pictures later and I still haven’t got one that I’m that happy with, however my recycling bin is full to bursting. Hopefully they’ll hang around so I can finally get a shot!!

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