The numbers of Waxwing flying around seemed to prove we were having a "Waxwing Winter" as these adorable "pink punks" were seen almost daily, in flocks 15 to about 100 birds. The female Sparrowhawk continued to prey unsuccessfully on the House Sparrows, which were gathering in the shrubs, typically 20 or more. Up to 3 Blue Tits were seen in the garden, but more were in the vicinity. A couple of Great Tits fed occasionally on sunflower hearts. A Robin, up to four Blackbirds and two Dunnocks were regularly seen about the garden, often rummaging among the leaf litter, etc. Every now and then a single Starling visited the suet feeder. At least two Goldfinches remained in the area, visiting the niger feeder for several minutes at a time. As many as 4 Jays reappeared and took crop's full of peanuts at a time. Magpies were being rather noisy with repeated fallings out among two groups of 2 and 3 birds respectively. Wood Pigeons started their courtship display flights - clapping their wings as they rose into the sky. As many as 3 Collared Doves were visiting the garden, and a couple of Stock Doves. A Mistle Thrush was heard singing most mornings from just before sunrise.
The first of the winter's snow brought many more birds into the garden. There were up to 4 Blue Tits, two Great Tits and a Coal Tit visiting the garden for food, typically peanuts, suet and sunflower hearts. The Coal Tit was snatching and dashing much less and spending more time actually feeding. As many as 13 Goldfinches visited the sunflower hearts, niger and peanut nibs in a feeding frenzy at the beginning of the month, but later there was only up to 3 visiting. Occasionally, there were also up to 3 Greenfinches trying to get to a perch, but these had disappeared by the end of the month. Up to 4 Blackbirds were rummaging among the leaf litter most days, with a female seemingly being "top bird". The Blackbirds were also feeding on raisins and sultanas on the ground feeder table. Before the end of the month, a Mistle Thrush was singing from before sunrise. A solitary Redwing was seen in a neighbour's tree, but flocks of several dozen were seen and heard as they flew over. The number of House Sparrows was fairly constant at around 15 to 20 birds, and they continued to spend a lot of time in the Berberis and Photinia shrubs, feeding on peanuts, suet and kitchen scraps - the snow increased their number to 26. Three Starlings visited one day, feeding from the suet, peanut feeders and kitchen scraps, but more usually only one bird was seen. A pair of Collared Doves visited more often. There were at least two Wrens, which usually ended up squabbling if they met. Three Dunnocks, with their wing flicking and chasing became a regular feature, with two of them spending much of their time underneath the Azaleas. A Robin became a regular visitor, but then a rival turned up at the beginning of the month. The competition soon left, but returned later and quite a fight ensued between the two birds. A couple of Magpies visited the ground feeder table for kitchen scraps from time to time, but there were about half a dozen birds in the area. Chaffinch was heard calling and seen in a neighbour's tree and a female visited towards the end of the month. About a dozen Waxwings flew over the garden one morning (20th). A Tawny Owl was heard calling on a few nights. The Grey Heron was seen flying around the gardens on several mornings, and fleeting glimpses of a Goldcrest were also had occasionally.
October was very much a month for finches and tits. Several Blue Tits, a Great Tit and Coal Tit were frequent visitors to the garden for food. A large flock of mixed tits was in the neighbourhood, comprising about a dozen Long-tailed Tits and an unknown number of Blue Tits and Coal Tits. Goldfinches were very busy, almost being permanent fixtures, at the feeders - 11 birds at a time, but there were more than this - as were 3 Greenfinches. One morning, a Treecreeper flew into the garden before making its way to a neighbour's Sycamore tree, where it spiralled its way round the branches for a while. As many as 4 Blackbirds were in the garden, though more usually it was a solitary female - no winter immigrants were seen. The number of House Sparrows fell from fifty-plus to about 20 birds; they spent a lot of time in the Berberis and Photinia shrubs, but were also continually flitting from one garden to another in search of richer pickings. A solitary, bedraggled Starling visited in the early part of the month. We were still managing not to attract Wood Pigeons, though they were possibly quite content with the natural foods available in the local woods, where there was a bumper crop of most nuts and fruits this year. A single Collared Dove visited. A Magpie visited the garden occasionally, though there are at least 8 birds in the neighbourhood. The Jays did not visit the garden much, but one was seen occasionally flying over. If we were lucky, a glimpse of a Wren could be had some mornings as it darted about the garden or investigated one of the roosting pockets. A Robin became a regular visitor, but was still rather timid except when it chased away up to two Dunnocks. The female Sparrowhawk worried the birds a few times, but never attacked.
The feeding frenzy that started towards the end of last month continued into September. More than 50 House Sparrows were sometimes in the garden - feeding, bathing and preening. A solitary Dunnock was seen most days, looked like it may be the juvenile, but was in mid-moult and looked a little unkempt. A couple of Blackbirds visited regularly, but did not stay for very long. No Starlings were seen. A few tits were visiting regularly - Blue Tits and Great Tits - but a large mixed flock was also about, comprising 20 or more birds, including Long-tailed Tits and Coal Tits. The number of Goldfinches visiting at any one time reduced to about half a dozen but, surprisingly, there were still one or two fledglings being fed by parents. A Robin started to sing some mornings, but was rarely seen. A Chiffchaff passed through the garden one evening. The female Sparrowhawk was making an increasing number of reconnaissance visits and attacks.
Over 30 House Sparrows were gathering in the garden - feeding, bathing and socialising- and there were still some fledglings being fed by parents. A couple of Dunnocks were seen most days, one was a very attractive, spotted juvenile. Three Blackbirds visited regularly, but not often together: a male, a female and a juvenile - were they once a family? A solitary Starling continued to visit, but a flock of thirty or so birds was also moving about the neighbourhood. Up to three juvenile Blue Tits, one juvenile and one adult Great Tit, and an adult Coal Tit visited the feeders most days. The Goldfinches swelled to an impressive 11 birds visiting at one time, some were newly fledged birds - possibly from second or thirds broods. A number of Greenfinches - both sexes and all ages - were regular visitors too. A surprise visit by a juvenile Bullfinch was all too brief. A Jay resumed its visits to the garden after an absence of about 3 weeks. About half a dozen Swifts were screeching and chasing insects; the last ones were seen around the 16th day. A Robin was seen in the garden a few times, but always seemed very nervous. A Willow Warbler paused briefly in the garden before continuing its search for insects in neighbouring trees. The female Sparrowhawk made a couple of failed attacks on the House Sparrows. A Grey Heron was seen in neighbouring gardens and on rooftops.
The cold spell at the beginning of the month increased activity at the feeders. Up to about a dozen House Sparrows were feeding on sunflower hearts and peanuts, a couple of Dunnocks, one a juvenile, were feeding around the shrubs, as many as 7 or 8 Goldfinches fed on sunflower hearts and niger seed, and up to 7 Greenfinches, were feeding on sunflower hearts, sunflower seeds, peanuts and niger seed. Juveniles of each finch species were visiting in good numbers. Up to 4 juvenile Great Tits and 4 juvenile Blue Tits were feeding on anything they could find. A party of Long-tailed Tits passed through occasionally, but did not stop in the garden. A male, female and juvenile Blackbird were often in the garden, sometimes feeding and sometimes bathing. A single adult Starling visited most days, probing the lawn for insects. A juvenile Chiffchaff was seen in the garden, feeding on insects. Swifts continued to be active overhead. A Whitethroat was in the garden towards the end of the month.
The House Sparrows became less prolific with no more than about 10 birds in the garden; some fledglings from second broods or late first broods were been fed in the garden. A solitary Dunnock rummaged around the lawn and shrubs. The first fledgling Starlings visited the garden. Several Goldfinches continued to visit, including parents feeding fledglings. Up to 6 Greenfinches, mostly adult males but also fledglings, fed on sunflower hearts. On the 20th, we had a surprise visit by a handsome male Bullfinch. Up to 3 juvenile Great Tits and a juvenile Coal Tit visited. There were two fledgling Blue Tits and a really scruffy adult. A party of Long-tailed Tits passed through now and then, but only one stopped in the garden once. A couple of Jays visited regularly but was usually chased away by the Magpies, which had nested in a neighbour's tree and reared 3 youngsters. One juvenile Song Thrush was seen in the garden a couple of times. A juvenile Blackbird was often in the garden, but usually chased away by an adult male, and a female Blackbird visited occasionally. A Stock Dove visited briefly one day. There were squadrons of Swifts flying overhead, sometimes flying just over our heads.
House Sparrows start to build their nests, collecting moss and grass from the garden. A couple of Blue Tits were still visiting and regained their interest in one of the nest boxes. A solitary Great Tit was seen occasionally, as were two or three Long-tailed Tits, but none entered the garden. A Coal Tit visited the garden, many weeks after the last visits. The Dunnocks were about, but usually only one bird at a time - perhaps they're nesting? A little Wren was seen most days, and the Goldcrests were also seen occasionally. A Robin suddenly appeared on the 26th after a considerable absence. Half a dozen or so Blackbirds continued to feed and chase one another in the garden. Several Mistle Thrushes remained, throughout the day one could be seen and heard singing from atop a neighbour's sycamore tree. Two Song Thrushes visited, but were seen less often than in bad weather. As expected, the Goldfinches returned after their winter absence from our garden; feeding on sunflower hearts. A pair of Greenfinches visited occasionally, always feeding on black sunflower seeds. A gorgeous pair of Siskin appeared one morning and fed for a while on peanuts and sunflower hearts. Two or three Starlings descended on the garden from time to time to feed on kitchen scraps, peanuts and suet. One or two Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons and Stock Doves visited the ground feeder table most days. The Jays were still taking peanuts - only 3 were ever in the garden at a time. The pair of Magpies stopped repairing and adding to last year's nest in a neighbour's tree and started to build a new one. A Grey Heron sat on the roof of the greenhouse one morning, and was seen flying over a few other days. A couple of male Blackcaps had been in the garden, looking for insects among the shrubs; possibly over-wintering birds heading back to the continent. The first Chiffchaff was seen and heard in the local patch (7th March).
The weather was very mixed; some days quite mild, others bitterly cold with heavy frosts or snow. Up to 4 Blue Tits continued to visit the feeders, with one pair showing interest in a nest box. A solitary Great Tit appeared occasionally, and Coal Tits and Long-tailed Tits were rarely seen. There were still up to half a dozen or so Blackbirds feeding in the garden. Several Mistle Thrushes were in the neighbourhood; throughout the day one or two could be heard singing, with the occasional confrontations between rival pairs, and a couple feeding in the garden when the weather was harsh. The Song Thrush was also a frequent visitor when frost or snow was on the ground. About 30 House Sparrows spent much of their day in the garden, as did a pair of Dunnocks - one has warts on its toes. No more than about three Starlings were seen in the garden; this is really worrying, it looks as though the population has crashed. A couple of Collared Doves and a solitary Wood Pigeon were seen most days, and a pair of Stock Doves visited occasionally. Jays were still taking peanuts - up to 5 birds, though only 3 were ever in the garden at the same time. A female Sparrowhawk made a brief visit a few times, failing to catch any of the House Sparrows it chased. A little Wren was seen most days, and the Goldcrests were seen occasionally. During latter part of the month a pair of Greenfinches were visiting occasionally and feeding on black sunflower seeds. A female Chaffinch fed from the seed table while snow was on the ground, but the male stayed in a neighbour's tree.
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