News Archive for 2009
- December 2009
The autumn has provided well for the birds this year with bountiful crops of seeds, nuts and fruits, but the cold winter days seem to herald their return to the gardens.
While there are still no Redwings or Fieldfares, there are quite a few immigrant Blackbirds adding to the resident population. As a result, up to 4 Blackbirds may be in the garden at any one time.
Up to 3 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits and an occasional Coal Tit are feeding on sunflower seeds and hearts. Long-tailed Tits have not be seen or heard for a few weeks.
A couple of female Chaffinches and a male have been seen, though there is usually only one in the garden, foraging nervously underneath the feeding station.
The number of Collared Doves has dwindled to typically 2 or 3 birds, but Wood Pigeons have apparently taken their place with up to 5 visiting.
There are 3 Dunnocks and two Robins present, though the latter are rarely seen together unless chasing one another, and when not chasing a conspecies they have a go at the Dunnocks.
Goldfinches are still generally low in number, but up to 8 Greenfinches is a regular sight, squabbling for a perch on the black sunflower seeds. Up to 4 Bullfinches have been visiting, so this may be a sign that natural foods are dwindling.
House Sparrows are still relatively stable at around 8 birds.
The female Great Spotted Woodpecker has returned, making several forays to the suet each day.
A couple of Jays remain frequent visitors, taking peanuts away to a cache somewhere. Magpies are also visiting.
Both male and female Sparrowhawks have been visiting a few times each week.
- November 2009
There has been more activity around the feeders in November but still reduced compared with past years.
None of the "true" winter thrushes, that is Redwings and Fieldfares, have been seen but quite a few immigrant Blackbirds are now present. As a result, there are now up to 4 Blackbirds in the garden at any one time.
Up to 4 Blue Tits are feeding on sunflower seeds and hearts, though there are quite a few more than this judging by the mixed flocks that are seen occasionally. A couple of Great Tits and a Coal Tit are also regular visitors.
A couple of female Chaffinches have been seen in the neighbouring gardens and one has been in our garden, foraging underneath the feeding station.
Collared Doves have reappeared in number, with up to 5 birds entering the garden to look for spilled seeds from the bedding out plants, which have now been uprooted and composted.
Two Dunnocks are often in the garden and now a Robin has started to chase them away from the feeders, so this Robin has obviously set up its winter feeding territory to include our garden. A second Robin appeared briefly one day - the other soon saw it off!
Goldfinches are still generally low in number though we have had up to 6 birds on one occasion; I assume they are still feeding on thistle heads, etc., in the countryside. The same cannot be said of Greenfinches, which have returned in strength, leading to squabbles breaking out around the feeders as up to 8 birds look for a perch.
House Sparrows are relatively stable at around 8 birds.
A couple of Jays remain frequent visitors. Surprisingly, these relatively shy birds now see off the Magpies if they venture near the peanut feeder from which the Jays extract peanuts to either eat or cache. A Carrion Crow was a surprise (and, for us, extremely rare) visitor one day - they are always in the neighbourhood, but rarely in gardens.
Both male and female Sparrowhawks have been visiting a few times each week.
A female Great Spotted Woodpecker continues to visit very occasionally, though when she does it is for 10 minutes or more while feeding on suet balls. House Sparrows, whether naively or bravely, attempt to feed on the suet at the same time but soon discover it's better not to argue with that bill!
Up to two Wrens are once again a common sight in the garden as it hunts among the nooks and crannies for insects.
- October 2009
Just when you thought the garden couldn't become any quieter...
Up to 7 Blue Tits and 4 Great Tits are regular visitors to the sunflower hearts and black sunflower seeds.
A few more finches have started feeding on sunflower hearts and seeds; a couple of Goldfinches and up to 6 Greenfinches. No sign of the Bullfinches.
No more than about 3 House Sparrows are in the garden and there are not that many more seen flying around the neighbourhood.
A couple of Dunnocks are often in the garden; one of them enters the sunflower heart feeder and feeds on nibs.
A Jay continues to visit the garden for peanuts.
Two Nuthatches provided some surprise activity on Sunday (18th); taking both sunflower seeds and peanuts and caching them in various locations in our garden and neighbouring gardens.
- September 2009
Although numbers started to pick up in August, September has so far remained rather quiet.
There are several Blackbirds present though only one has been in the garden, usually early morning at around daybreak looking for worms in the lawn.
Two or three Blue Tits are regular visitors to the sunflower hearts. A Coal Tit quickly puts in a brief appearance now and then, snatching a sunflower seed before dashing off to hide it somewhere. There are as many as 3 Great Tits - I wonder if any are the ones from our nest box?
A solitary immature Bullfinch has visited a few times, feeding on black sunflower hearts. Up to 6 Goldfinches, comprising both immature birds and adults, continue to visit, feeding on both niger and sunflower hearts. The number of Greenfinches has fallen with typically just a couple of birds, inevitably feeding on black sunflower seeds.
House Sparrows numbers have fallen again to between 5 and 10 birds.
A couple of Dunnocks are often in the garden; one of them enters the sunflower heart feeder and feeds on nibs.
A Robin visits more or less every day, grovelling in the undergrowth for insects but also taking sunflower hearts.
Both Jays and Magpies have returned, though Jays are by far the more regular visitor.
Wood Pigeons are venturing in the garden more and more, usually for a drink.
- August 2009
Towards the end of July we were down to a meagre 10 species of birds visiting the garden. Although August started similarly, with birds heading for woods, parks and anywhere else that the abundant autumn fruits may be found, the number visiting the garden have started to increase.
Up to 3 Greenfinches are visiting the garden, usually feeding on the black sunflower seeds but occasionally choosing the niger seed. A couple of Goldfinches are often on the sunflower hearts and occasionally on the niger seed. A solitary female Bullfinch is visiting now and then.
There are as many as 22 House Sparrows visiting at any one time: sheltering in the shrubs, preening and bathing in the sunshine and feeding on sunflower hearts, seeds and suet.
Up to 4 Blue Tits and a couple of Great Tits are regular visitors most days, usually taking sunflower hearts. A Coal Tit has also been putting in some brief appearances: snatching a black sunflower seeds and then flying away with it, no doubt hiding it somewhere.
Both a Robin and Dunnock are visiting more often; the Robin usually heads for the sunflower hearts and, maybe somewhat surprisingly, so does the Dunnock.
One Sunday (9th), a Nuthatch put in a brief appearance.
A Jay has been seen flying around the neighbourhood for a few days and stopped off in the garden looking for the peanut basket, looking quite bemused by its absence.
At the beginning of the month large numbers of Swifts have been gathering overhead then swooping and chasing one another between the houses - this usually happens in the days leading up to their departure for the African wintering grounds. The last Swifts were seen on the 6th day, but then a couple have been loitering until 23rd.
A juvenile Sparrowhawk visited during the last week of the month and appeared flummoxed by the House Sparrows hiding inside the Photinia tree. As soon as the Sparrowhawk flew away to perch in the neighbour's tree about 20 sparrows made their break for freedom.
- July 2009
The month started in the same way June finished and looks like finishing that way: relatively few birds, either by species or in number, are visiting the garden. This is most likely because recently fledged young and their parents have dispersed into local woods, parklands and countryside to feast on the cornucopia of insects, seeds and ripening berries that are now available.
There are often a couple of Blue Tits on the sunflower heart feeders, though there have been frenzied moments with up to 8 present, mainly juveniles but also shabby adults. Great Tits, Coal Tits and Long-tailed Tits have not been seen for a few weeks.
Up to 3 Blackbirds may be present though there are more in the neighbourhood; for instance, 3 male blackbirds, 2 female blackbirds and a couple of juveniles. Mistle Thrushes and Song Thrushes have been neither seen or heard for a while.
A pair of Bullfinches remain frequent visitors throughout the day to the sunflower seeds, though in reality there may be more than just one pair. There are also up to 8 Greenfinches present, usually on the black sunflower seeds, but sometimes on the niger and sunflower hearts. In addition, up to 10 Goldfinches (including several juveniles) are visiting the sunflower hearts and niger seed feeders.
There are a few House Sparrows, typically no more than about 5, peaking at 13 birds. Still, fluttering fledglings continue to appear, being fed by their parents. These may third broods.
There are up to 2 Dunnocks in the garden - an adults and a juvenile.
Up to 2 Wood Pigeons are visiting.
- June 2009
Generally, both the number of species and number of birds visiting the garden reduce at this time of year: some birds are incubating or brooding, others are feeding their recently fledged young in the tree canopies and may even have taken them into more natural habitats, such as woods, parks and countryside.
A Blue Tit, whose plumage looks extremely "battle worn", has been a regular visitor to the feeders for a week or two. Around the 6th, the same Blue Tit has been seen feeding three fledglings, perched impatiently with fluttering wings on branches in a neighbour's tree. A Coal Tit has raided the sunflower seeds on a couple of occasions.
The pair of Blackbirds that nested in a neighbour's hedge had started feeding young at the end of May, judging by the frequency with which worms, etc., were being delivered. Unfortunately, they were attacked by a pair of Magpies at the beginning of this month. In an onslaught that lasted about half an hour, the male put up a brave defence but the female inexplicably simply perched on a neighbour's hut and watched. Anyway, it seems that the young were lost. The male is still singing but the female has not been seen for a few days, so it may be that she is incubating again.
A male Great Tit has visited the garden a few times since "our" Great Tits fledged. The male that nested in our box had no distinguishing features, but the visiting male behaved in the same way at the feeders as our male - grabbed a sunflower seed and perched on the same feeding station arm to eat it. No juvenile Great Tits have been seen. Since then, an adult male and up to 6 juveniles have visited the garden to feed on sunflower seeds, especially early in the morning - now, these must be "our" Great Tits and, if they are, it's great to see they are all doing well!
At least 5 Bullfinches - two pairs, one pair with a juvenile - are visiting the feeders for black sunflower seeds and niger seeds. There are also up to 5 Greenfinches and 3 Goldfinches (including a juvenile) visiting.
House Sparrow numbers swelled temporarily to about a dozen as fledglings followed their parents. There are 3 Dunnocks regularly in the garden - a pair of adults and a juvenile.
A solitary Starling is an occasional visitor - often feeding briefly on suet before having a bathe.
Up to 3 Wood Pigeons and a solitary Collared Dove are visiting.
- May 2009
A pair of Blackbirds have nested in a neighbours garden and both are regular visitors to the ground feeder table, taking suet treats or sunflower hearts, and to the header pond, especially in late afternoon, for a bathe.
A couple of Blue Tits are seen daily in the garden, though rarely together, looking for caterpillars, etc., among the shrubs or taking a sunflower seed. The pair of nesting Great Tits are not the only ones in the garden, another pair also visit quite frequently but there never seems to be any trouble between them.
At the beginning of the month at least 3 Bullfinches were still visiting the feeders for black sunflower seeds or niger seeds, but have not been seen for a couple of weeks now; there were at least 2 males and one female. Up to two Goldfinches and 4 Greenfinches are also feeding.
The number of pigeons had reduced, but has increased again to a pair of Collared Doves and three Wood Pigeons visiting now and then.
Some days it is difficult to work out how many Dunnocks there are; there seems to be at least two pairs, but possibly more involved in each relationship, which would not be surprising for this species!
After a lull in numbers, House Sparrows are increasing again as more females are leaving their nests in search of food. The highest count at any one time has been 10 birds, with up to 5 fledglings present.
A Magpie is a regular visitor and a Jay has also been making a nuisance of itself.
The Robin was dropping in for a suet treat a few times each day, but has not been seen for a while - it is heard singing on most evenings.
A single male Starling is continuing to visit, though I've no idea where it may have nested.
- April 2009
A pair of Blackbirds are regular visitors through the day; feeding on suet on the caged ground feeder table or bathing in the header pool on the pond. The Song Thrushes have not been seen in April. However, the Mistle Thrushes are both feeding occasionally in the garden and regularly heard singing.
The male Blackcap has not been seen for a week or so. The female has not been seen since 5th April, prior to which she spent practically all her time in the Photinia tree, leaving its shelter briefly for sunflower hearts or a drink of water. A Willow Warbler was in the garden on the 12th, but has not been seen or heard since.
There are still at least 3 Blue Tits and two pairs of Great Tits feeding on the sunflower hearts and seeds; one pair, of course, are the ones nesting in one of our nest boxes. A couple of Coal Tits are also in the garden every now and then. A pair of Long-tailed Tits are seen flying through quite regularly and now and then they visit the garden to feed on the suet balls.
At least three pairs of Bullfinches are still visiting the sunflower seed feeder. Up to 5 Greenfinches and 4 Goldfinches are also visiting, though numbers have fallen quite noticeably now.
A couple of Dunnocks are not usually too far away and their warbling song is a common occurrence now. The Robins have not been seen for over a week now.
House Sparrow numbers have stabilised around the usual handful and nest building in neighbours' eaves has started.
A Sparrowhawk has visited on at least one occasion.
A couple of Collared Doves and up to 4 Wood Pigeons have started to visit the garden. most often for a drink of water.
On a couple of occasions a couple of Starlings have landed in the garden, but don't usually stay for very long.
The biggest surprise of the month has been a Ring-necked Parakeet.
- March 2009
After the cold spell (including snow) in February that brought a great many birds and some new species into the garden, searching for food and water, milder March has so far seen a return of more usual numbers.
A couple of Blackbirds, which may be a pair, are regular visitors through the day; feeding on suet on the caged ground feeder table or bathing in the header pool on the pond. Both the Song Thrush and the Mistle Thrush continue to visit for the same suet treats, though there are now two Song Thrushes, which are sometimes bullied by both other species. The Mistle Thrush no longer becomes panic-stricken once it has squeezed through the cage and had its fill.
A male Blackcap has practically taken up residence in the Photinia tree; feeding on sunflower hearts and occasionally sings sweetly. For a time there was also a female present, again spending most of her time in the Photinia when not on the sunflower hearts, but the male has not been seen (or heard) for several days now.
There are still at least 3 Blue Tits and 2 Great Tits (a pair) feeding on the sunflower hearts and seeds. The Blue Tits have also been loitering around the camera nest box, though have not yet been seen to enter. However, both Great Tits have been in the nest box, somehow squeezing through the 25mm hole. Long-tailed Tits have not been seen for a couple of weeks, but a Coal Tit has been present during the last week of the month.
There are two pairs of Bullfinches, which appear as fixtures on the sunflower seeds; rarely does one look out and not see them perched there, munching contentedly on the seeds. Up to 12 Greenfinches are vying for places on the black sunflower seed feeders, as well as 5 Goldfinches (mainly on the niger and sunflower hearts). The normally domineering Greenfinches have been "seen off" by both the Bullfinches and Blackcap! A male and two female Chaffinches are often in the garden, wandering timidly around the garden in search of titbits.
A couple of Dunnocks are not usually too far away and their warbling song is a common occurrence now. Another regular visitor is the Robin - or rather Robins, there are two, one slightly brighter and larger than the other, but I doubt they are a pair because there has been some territorial posturing.
House Sparrow numbers have dropped to a meagre handful at best; I still standby my theory of them being oppressed by finches.
We have discontinued offering peanuts in the open-top feeder so as to discourage the Jays, now that the breeding season is not too far away. Consequently, they have not been seen for over a week now. A pair of Magpies feed on the lawn some days.
A solitary Collared Dove visits every now and then; there not being a pair suggests they are nesting. Up to 3 Wood Pigeons also visit, but these are now mostly preoccupied with courtship.
The Wren is observed infrequently. As are the Starlings, with only one having dropped into the garden for literally a few seconds one day.
A Sparrowhawk is still seen, at least once per week, but continues to be unsuccessful at seizing prey in our garden.
- February 2009
With heavy snowfalls, February got off to a cold start and brought lots of birds to the feeders, but once the snow had gone the numbers of birds dropped back to more normal levels.
With deep snow on the ground, there were at least 12 Blackbirds vying for their share of food. They were feeding on seeds and suet treats on the ground feeder table. A Song Thrush is also a regular visitor - though I have my suspicions that there may be two - when it is not singing from atop neighbours' trees and aerials from before daybreak. Three Mistle Thrushes also visited the ground feeder table for suet treats during the heaviest snow. The best treat, however, was a flock of 8 Redwings landing in the garden; a couple of them taking sunflower hearts or suet treats from the ground feeder table.
Up to 6 Blue Tits and a pair of Great Tits have been busy; fetching sunflower seeds and peanuts to takeaway and eat within the cover of a shrub or tree. One Blue Tit gave a brief display flight from the top of the forsythia tree. A couple of Long-tailed Tits have been seen on the suet balls, but several others have been flying around. A solitary Coal Tit has put in a few fleeting appearances as it has grabbed a sunflower seed before dashing away again.
Four Bullfinches, probably two pairs, have been perched on the sunflower and niger seeds for much of the day. One of the females has been showing considerable aggression towards Goldfinches and Greenfinches. There have been 3 Goldfinches and up to 11 Greenfinches feeding. A male and female Chaffinch continue to visited regularly, but often seem overwhelmed by the activity around the feeders. A solitary Siskin spent some time on the feeders during the coldest spell.
There have also been 9 House Sparrows in the garden, feeding on the ground feeder tray, suet and sunflower hearts.
Three Dunnocks have been foraging among the shrubs and occasionally visiting the ground feeder table for a suet treat. These may also have paired up as there is some animosity between a couple of them.
There are two Robins; sometimes they seem tolerant of one another and other times a fight ensues - of course, this may mean there are more than two Robins and a couple of them have paired up.
Both a male and female Blackcap have been visitors, albeit on different days; both feeding on sunflower hearts.
A diminutive Goldcrest made a brief appearance, searching for insects among the rose bushes and other shrubs, before feeding on a suet ball. The Wren has also been seen a few times.
A couple of Jays and a Magpie have also been in the garden; the Jays taking peanuts as usual, the Magpie foraging on the lawn looking for peanuts planted in the past by the Jays.
A pair of Collared Doves and Wood Pigeons are also visiting; trampling the snowdrops that have broken through the frozen soil while searching for spilled seeds.
Four Starlings visited; feeding on suet balls and treats.
A Grey Heron landed next to the garden pond one day, while there was snow on the ground and part of the pond was iced over, but the net prevented it from fishing!
A handsome male Sparrowhawk has launched futile attacks on the birds.
- January 2009
Up to 4 Blackbirds continue to be regular visitors to the garden; feeding from the ground feeder table, underneath the suet feeders and also foraging among leaf litter underneath the shrubs and trees. A Song Thrush has been a daily visitor and has resumed singing after falling quiet since about New Year's Eve; it is usually feeding among the undergrowth but regularly bullied by the Blackbirds.
As many as 5 Blue Tits may be seen around the sunflower hearts and there has been the occasional burst of territorial song from them. A couple of Coal Tits, on the other hand, continue to their usual habit of snatching and dashing away with black sunflower seeds. There are at least 2 Great Tits, a male and a female. A party of a dozen or so Long-tailed Tits are often seen flying over and a handful has been in the garden on a few occasions, foraging among the plants for insects but also going on to the suet balls.
There are at least 3 Chaffinches, two males and a female, though there are usually no more than two in the garden at a time. The males can be heard calling quite often, "pink pink". Greenfinches and Goldfinches are still visiting all the time - usually up to 7 or 8 of each. Several Bullfinches are about - at least 3 males and 2 females, though only 3 have been in the garden at any one time. Two surprise visitors, while doing the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, were a couple of female Siskins and a female Blackcap.
The number of House Sparrows is fairly steady at about 8. When they're not chirruping inside the Photinia shrub, they seem to be flying around the neighbourhood sampling different garden's offerings.
A couple of Jays are daily visitors to the peanut feeder. Magpies also try, but more often than not fail to get the peanuts, though one Magpie is slightly more successful.
The Robin is usually not too far away, although this month a second Robin has appeared on the scene and a few scuffles have ensued. Scuffles, albeit much less violent, have also started among the Dunnocks as a third one has moved into the area.
A little Wren has been seen more often this last couple of weeks, searching nooks and crannies around the garden for insects. There has also been a gorgeous Goldcrest in the garden on a couple of occasions, foraging among the shrubs and around the suet balls.
Two Woodpigeons and a couple of Collared Doves are occasional visitors.
21 Feb 2015
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