I always leave lots of seed heads on the evening primroses, lavender, Michaelmas daisies, etc. for the birds to eat and for insects to over-winter in, but at this time of the year am very tempted to tidy everything up as it looks such a mess and there isn't much else to do.
I 've managed to restrain myself and have been rewarded with large flocks of gold finches and best of all today there was a flock of redpoll which we haven't seen in the garden for years. I feed the birds and today recorded 18 different species, most of which I could see while having my cup of tea in bed.
The redpoll were mainly on the evening primroses.
I just thought I would mention this in case you are tempted to have a tidy up. Messy gardens are more wild-life friendly at least until Spring.
I agree with you, I can't believe looking back at the summer photos there could be SUCH a difference. I have leaves still all over, it came cold at the same time they came off this year, we have a huge conker tree and you know how many Big leaves they drop. We have had goldfinches, a few years ago when we moved in there was quite a few, now not so many. Had a nest in the conker tree a couple of years ago, a baby was on the ground, cold and nearly dead. I warmed it up, tried to feed it, and he was such a little cutie. He died that night, it seems they need the saliva from the parent to digest their food, but at least it was a comfortable passing in it's sleep. The nest was far too high to get to. I have seen the blue tits lately, they like the nice young buds on my nectarine tree! Blackbirds busy throwing up the leaves looking for worms that lay under them. I always leave most leaves on the beds till spring, and most of the dead plant tops, all sorts live in them. I often find lady birds in the seed heads of many plants, dahlia, delphinium, anything they can crawl in. When I finally clean them up I have to leave the recycle bin lid open while they crawl to the top! There is also a gatekeeper butterfly I had this year, and I discovered they only have one lot of young, the caterpillar overwinters under debris on the ground. I also saw a Red Admiral drop an egg while on a dahlia.
You did well to see 18 species, I have never counted them but we do get quite a few, in a country area. Redpolls are very rare, it must be 25 years since I came across them last. We have had bullfinches, Jays, woodpeckers, wagtails, a hawk (which got a pidgeon in our garden), and there is a bird we have each year lately i feel sure must be a nightingale. Others I have seen in the trees, making noises I don't recognise, I will have to get a proper book and study them. One nuisance, although they are a bird with equals rights, is the magpye, we have a thrush which goes and comes back, then the magpye steals the young. Each year we have a pair of mallards in our beck at the front, just before they go off to nest. They dive for the acorns that come off the oak tree next to it, and sun themselves on our lawn. We have a regular squirrel that buries its nuts and digs around for them again, I get hazelnuts springing up everywhere. I saw it yesteday, it nibbles conkers, don't know when its supposed to hibernate. I also saw a huge bumblebee a few days ago on my neighbours viburnum, just opening flowers.
Rambling and yarning is pretty much what we've always done in this forum Wallaby *G*
It's very tempting to tidy the garden up but like you two we find the birds come in for the seeds (if I haven't got there first) and it helps to form a protective frost mat for the overwintering plants.
We saw a Red Kite in the summer overhead and it returned recently making the resident fowl silent and watchful but no goldfinches here that I've seen. There is a tree creeper somewhere abouts and the usual array of bird species.
We planted with wildlife in mind and have tried to keep as many nectar plants as possible over a long season but they've been gone for a few weeks now.
Your garden sounds lovely Wallaby *G*, and yes, Baa we do tend to have a ramble on this forum. We do seem to be like minded people don't we, we set one another off.
The Redpoll are here again this morning and seem to be going around with the Siskins and Goldfinches. They look beautiful, they were all sitting on separate twigs on an Amelanchier tree I have recently pruned near the house and just looked like Christmas tree decorations.
I have had the same problem with the Magpie, every time the Song thrush has a nest in the garden they steal the young. One year they took three consecutive broods. I felt like taking the air rifle to them, but would have probably shot a passerby instead.
We've never had any Red kite here, but a Sparrow hawk passes through the garden usually twice a day, and last winter when it had snowed it landed on the wall about six feet from our bedroom window.
Last summer I saw it pluck a House martin from the air and then land on the garage roof to eat it. Nature in the raw!
Your comment about the Gate Keeper butterfly was interesting. We had quite a lot last year, much more than usual, and I didn't know the caterpillars overwintered in leaf litter, so that gives me even more of an incentive to leave things alone.
I'm going to get all my seed catalogues out now and check through the seeds I have left. At least I can plan and order my new seeds ready to get gardening a.s.a.p. even if it isn't the weather for doing anything outside. I find gardening so thereapeutic, I get withdrawal symptoms if I don't have a potter in the garden or greenhouse. Still, the day length is on the increase again and the birds seem to sense it, they have started singing again, the Robin is getting a bit territorial and the blackbirds are pairing up. Roll on Spring.
Patbarr, I bet you wish you had your camera on hand when the sparrowhawk landed on your wall! You must be in it's hunting path, what a treat. I had our squirrel on the ledge of our front window once, he was going back and forth as if trying to look in, his front legs up on the window, no time to get the camera. It is quite low to the ground, and large. We had been giving it some left over nuts, walnuts and hazels, leaving them at the bottom of the oak not far away, he would take them up the tree and sit on the blue tit nesting box, nibbling them.
I felt so sorry for the song thrush, so beautiful to have it singing, it would stand guard and chase the magpye, but I found 2 babies under the conker tree with no heads, they do just take off the head, horrid!
I had lots of different butterflies this year, as I grow more flowers it is attracting them, also getting good established shrubs for them to hide in. Saw a small tortoiseshell only once, but had a female speckled wood, the male I think I saw him darting around bushes. A pair of peacocks on my seed grown dahlia collarette 'Dandy', a pair of Red Admirals regularly visited the seed grown species dahlias, I think i saw 3 different commas, like the dahlias but mostly sedum 'Frosty Morn'. Also a pair of brimstones, they liked the species dahlias, and actually are the only central European butterfly to hibernate as a buttefly in evergreen shrubs, wihtout seeking a more protected site. I saw one lurking in and out of my ceanothus. They have the longest life span of 10-11 months, emerging Feb or March, mate and lay eggs in April in one brood. The caterpillars feed on buckthorn species.
The gatekeeper caterpillar feeds at night on common lawn grasses, perennial rye grass, bents, fescues etc, so it is a good idea to have some rough patches. The adults feed on flowers found mostly around bramble thickets.
The Speckled Wood hang around shady shrubs, and rest on the leaves of other shrubs and herbaceous plants. It hung around a large hebe under a red leaved cherry, also on the dahlias and other shrub nearby, fed on the hebe flowers but alsolikes well ripe juices from berries. i have boysenberries, raspberries and victoria plums. The bullfinch I saw last year on dried seed on the boysenberry. Speckled Wood caterpillars (2-3 broods) feed on species grasses, like Yorkshire fog, Bearded Couch, Cocksfoot, Wood Sedge, False Brome etc. I have been pushing leylandii hedge clippings around the roots of the trees to mulch, and some rough grasses grow there which I leave as not doing any harm, they possibly provide food, but the chickens from across the road are allowed to wander, and they have been scratching it all out and feeding, I think I managed to scare them back a litlle, the neighbours need to be scared back too, they started roaming all over my garden. I have never seen so many, and want to keep encouraging them, I had to buy a book, a Collins Butterflies and Moths of britain & Europe.
I've put in acouple of orders for tubers and bulbs, from jungleseeds and jacquesamand, i was going to order seeds, have a preliminary list for Chilterns sorted, also want some from plantworld-devon, and tradewindsfruit, oh the expense! No good waiting though, you can soon miss out. I have got it real bad when it comes to 'wanting' more plants over winter, as if there wasn't enough to do! It just breaks out in a spending rash.
A pic to share, the woodpecker I took on 9th June climbing the oak, from our small to window, I got him all the way up. The box below is a blue tit nesting box, each spring I hear the 'tap tap' when they think they have to peck out the hle, then you have to watch very carefully to see them, they dart in and out. I had a small nest of some sort in my passiflora caurulea on the south wall, found it when trimming it back, it runs along the electric cable and into the roof. It could have been a wrens, we always have some, and of course the robins.
Spring should be due soon, I think we have had winter!
I love watching the birds in the garden too
I used to do the BTO garden bird survey when I was in the UK - endless fun recording. I think I had 60 something species overall after a couple of years - 18 in one day is fantastic :)
I had the redpoll/siskin/goldfinch troops, which are lovely to watch. One of my favourites were the long tailed tits which used to do a regular round and seem very indifferent to humans so you can get quite close if you just stand still while they pass (if that makes sense lol). I had redwing on the lawn one year too, after the apples I put out, oh, and a lesser spotted woodpecker on the Scotch thistles - drilling the stems for grubs. Yes, I'm an 'untidy' gardener too and leave as much as possible for the wildlife - as well as planting things specially.
Here the nuthatches are surprisingly common - dominating activity at the feeders. I have a feeder on a dead tree just outside and we get treecreepers on there, as well as the blue, great and marsh tits (I've not seen coal tits strangely enough). We have an overwintering warbler too, but I'm not sure which one
The other day in the countryside I was thrilled to see a purple heron - a very unusual sight at this time of year - thought they were all in Africa lol. It's a fantastic area for birds of prey. I'm still learning to ID them, but we definitely have red and black kites, peregrines, buzzards, kestrels, booted and bonellis eagles. They occasionally fly over the garden...
That's a very long waffle for me - I've loved reading what you're seeing :)
Thanks for the photo wallaby
Hi philomel, I'm sure we could drag a bit more waffle out of you!
Wow what a lot of birds of prey, so nice to know there are places they can thrive, I was just reading a thread on the DG newsletter, take a look, the pic with the bird of prey on the post. A lot of urban sprawl drives out their food and thus the birds.
Without looking at a map, are you somewhere near the south of France, I did have a good drive around and it sounds like something down toward the southern wine growing districts. Birds I imagine would find it easy to emigrate from Africa. Do you like life there? A lot of us would love to go, such a vast country and more space, and beautiful country, not to mention the quality foods. And the wine! That's it, now I am going to have to do a search...again!
have you any pics to share with us? You can tell I'm getting all gastronomically excited here, can't you...
Hi Philomel, It sounds to be a wonderful area you are living in now. Are you near the Pyrennes? The best I can do is the Pennines, and we are only just on the edge. I've just down-loaded Google Earth so that I can track down my son while he is on his travels in Laos. I tried to find your town, but France isn't as detailed as the UK, USA and Canada. I got quite a shock when I looked for my house, it is so clear you can even see the garden paths. It doesn't cost anything to download and the geographical feature are brilliant. You can fly round the world and zoom in on anywhere you like.
Anyway, for anyone interested in birding the most amazing thing I have ever seen was from a high hill in a small town on the Bosphorus, a short boat ride away from Istanbul. It was September and the migration was in full swing and every morning between 10.30 and noon thousands and thousands of birds of prey, eagles, vultures, buzzards and huge flocks of storks came wheeling down the river from the Russian Steppes on their way to warmer climes. My partner identified them for me and there were the Bonellis etc, that you mentioned. Birders from all over Europe were there with all the gear waiting for them. You could almost set your watch by them they were so regular, just for a week or so. The first sign that they were coming was the noise, and then a vast stream of huge wonderful birds.
Istanbul was pretty amazing too!
By the way, Wallaby, I like the woodpecker photo. My bird photos tend to be spot the kingfisher ones. I know there was one there when I took the photo, but it takes a bit of finding.
Pat you sound to have had an amazing time! Thanks for the tip on the satellite tracker, will search it out.
The oak tree is fairly close to the house, but I had to climb up to the small top opener (uPVC, don't open that well!) and shot through the gap. it's 5mp so can zoom in quite a bit and crop without loosing pixels. Besides, it wasn't flying!
Yes, wallaby, I'm in the SW - roughly half way on a line drawn between Toulouse and Biarritz, on the edge of the Armagnac (brandy) producing district and surrounded by vineyards growing grapes for 'Cotes de Saint Mont' wines (very good in all 3 colours). A local speciality is Floc which is armagnac and first press fresh grape juice mixed 50% and matured for a while (yummy :) I suppose the grapes and wines are nearest in character to those of Bordeaux (claret etc) but have a flavour all their own.
We are also in the area where the french come to eat, producing foie gras, ducks, geese, delicious lamb, beef and pork and lots of vegetables - oh and melons and asparagus are specialities here too.
We're about 2 hours from the top of the Pyrenees and, though we can't really rival the Bosphorus Pat, there are a lot of birds migrating through the mountain passes. We also get the odd chough etc even as far as we are from the mountains. The most unusual bird I've seen flying over was a Bittern - never seen one flying before. Also, I stepped out of one of our doors one morning to find a Nightjar a yard from me trying to use its camouflage on the concrete (didn't quite work). It sat there for about a minute and then we made eye contact, it knew it had been spotted and flew off with a whirring of wings.
Mmm, must go and look for Google earth - keep meaning to and not getting round to it. Thanks for the nudge :)
Oh dear, another reason for updatingmy computer - I still have Windows 98 and Google earth needs a newer system :(
Does it have any towns? we are between Plaisance du Gers and Nogaro
Alternatively (to give larger towns), we are almost equidistant between Pau, Auch and Mont de Marsan. These are the 'capitals' of the following departements respectively
Pyrenées Atlantiques (64), Gers (32) and les Landes (40).
Cranes overwinter in les Landes and I'm planning a trip to go and see them soon.
philomel, it sounds heavenly. We drove through a gorge near Toulouse going from west to east, ancient caves there , through a place which I remember as something le Puy, nestled down amongst hills, across the flat wine producing area, then toward the Italian border in the alps, then northwards thru Grenoble up to the 'balloon' mountains, just a circular loop really. I have once before been to Auch though on a previous drive, I remember Aachen on the coast, went to Lourdes, and that marvellous place on the cliffs, Roccamadour, spelt wrong poss. but a long time ago. We also took a trip to Rome, going through Lyon, thru Switzerland, the Mont Blanc tunnel, Bologna, Firenze, Rome, back up the coast to Pisa, then along the Mediterranean coast thru all those tunnels and over bridges. Went nothwards near Nice, across to Etienne, up to Paris where i didn't have a clue which exit to take for the ring road and ended up just heading northward until I saw a sign of a place i recognised on the map! Oh it was fun, but some inconsiderate prat on the road here gave me a nerve injury on the shoulder, put a stop to all that. The warm weather would be great for me though, not to mention everything else.
I also looked at the Google Earth site, I got a new computer this year, and have all the requirements, but not on broadband. I can see I will have to be upgrading before very long! My partner is really into sky viewing stuff, he has adapted a model helicopter with a camcorder, which actually works very well, but this has perked up his eckles.
I used to dream I could fly when young, we had some eagles in Australia, my father looked up at one flying over once and it plopped in his eye! Perhaps I need to do what that guy in the film did, followed the Canada geese on their flight, bring back the memories of youth.
I've just looked up the towns you mentioned Hilary, and it shows Nogaro, Pau, Auch and Mont de Marsan. You can see all the small fields and there look to be quite a few lakes. For some reason it names some quite small roads, but not the towns they run through. It is just like being in a plane. It tells you what altitude you are when you zoom in. You look to be quite near to Spain. My partner's mother is Spanish, from Bilbao, but she hasn't been back for about 40 years, and as she is 84 now I doubt if she will.
You sound to have travelled quite a bit Wallaby 1. I've never done much driving abroad. I get confused if the controls are the wrong way round. It's OK while I'm concentrating, but if I have to do something quickly I automatically go for where the hand brake is in my own car and go into silly female driver mode. I'm sure it wouldn't take long to get used to it though.
The snow and ice has melted here today and it's been very wet and quite dark. My new hens don't seem to have got the idea that they should shelter and were cold and wet through when I fastened them up this afternoon. I hope they don't get ill. The Warrens feathers don't seem as waterproof as the Daisy Bells. I'll have to keep an eye on them.
Yes, we're about 2 hours from Spain, and there are lots of rivers and lakes, which I love. The Atlantic is only an hour and a half away, but when you don't want to travel and don't need the waves there are lots of local beaches on the fresh water which are a lot of fun.
I always used to find that it was when I went back to the UK that I would forget the drive on the left thing... so watch out for a madwoman in a hire car in February LOL
When I watch UK TV I get this really uncomfortable feeling, wondering why they're driving on the 'wrong' side of the road.
I haven't visited half the places you name wallaby, but have been to Puy en Valais, a really striking town with all the steeples. Although I stayed nearby when house hunting I never actually got to Rocamador, so that's on my list of 'to go to'. Have just got a camping car, so hope to travel. My brother and family are in Milan and have a villa in a little village near the smallest of the Italian lakes, so that's definitely a direction I shall be heading :)
The temperature has shot up here too Pat. Last year the hybrid cuckoo hens started laying on January 1st. This year the marans I raised from eggs have gone one better and started laying on the 27th December. These are the noir cuivré - black with copper necks. Their eggs are very dark brown, see photo below :) I put on shop bought brown egg in the box for comparison
I hope your new hens are settling in well now and learn to avoid the rain etc
Pat it wasn't a big problem for me driving, I went in my own car, but you have to rely on your passenger to tell you WHEN you can pass, and you can imagine what fun that is! A male sitting there saying, yes go now, me saying do you mean NOW, he saying er...WAIT! He has a problem sorting his left from his right, after stopping I always had to put him in gear, imagine turning left or right on a T junction, which side of the road to BE on, and which side of the road to GO on.
philomel your brain is set to recognise a direction with your vision, and if that's changed it is like throwing your balance, I have this problem now with the injury, if I cross my ankles I get a balance loss in my brain. I only have to THINK I might lose my balance if I do something like bend over a slope, and my brain does a quick balance check like a shot from the left to the right, the power of thought helps us protect ourselves, but can also kill us.
Puy en Valais is the place, you wind down into the village, in the 'valley', and there are statues all over the hillocks, and yes steeples, we climbed a very steep lot of steps to a church on top of the hill in the village, it had some unusual history attached to it I don't remember, but what old church has not. You will love the lakes in Northern Italy, we drove up the side of the first big one, Maggi...? I need my map!, then around the top near Switzerland, and down to Como. It is very difficult following road signs in Italy, you have to look for the next MAJOR place, and that is not always there, so a good nose for direction is required. When we hit lake Como it wasn't obvious, and the wrong 'way' took us up one of those really tall steep mountains with a deep narrow valley covered in tall pines and other trees. Just kept going up, up, thinking at some stage must start going down, down, there were goats with neck bells, and a mountain herder, just like in the movies.
It started chucking with heavy rain, spent a night in Como, still chucking so moved south, still chucking when we got to Milan, so continued south, Milan was an endless drive through tall buildings, couldn't imagine what they were all used for, looked neither residential nor commercial. The lakes were so beautiful, where all the rich used to go, bit flat in between, but once past Bologna started getting into mountains, and the colours, burnt brown soils, vinyards, those tall Italian cypress sitting on the hilltops, clouds lurking on the peaks and in the valleys, old villas wobbling precariously on cliff edges. Rome is amazing, easy to find a cheap 1* hotel, they are reclassified from B&B, all Italian places are clean, just don't get the TV and telephone etc. We paid 70,000 lira in 1992, where most were well over 300,000 lira, and we were closer to the centre, all you have to do is follow the signs towards the railways, always accommodation, and always near city centre. Then it was 2010 lira to £1, changed by 50% later to 3,000. If you haven't been to Rome, it is a must, the size of the old buildings is mind goggling, white horse statues on top of one. The Trevi fountain you would not believe. It is in front of a huge building, near town centre, and by size comparison the fountain looks small. there is a 'pool' in front of the statues of horses, and the building behind towers over it. Then you look at people walking amongst the horses, and they look like ants! On top of all that, it seems to be enclosed in such a small space, other tall buildings crowd around it and make it look small, but it is huge. We spent 2 days there, were going to look around some museums, but would you believe it, 'closed on Mondays'. Being time restricted to 2 weeks, couldn't hang around. Trying to get out of Rome was impossible, took forever, and Italian drivers are notoriously good on the hooters, pedestrian crossings ignored, you will see little old ladies dressed in black shouting and waving their fists at them. We saw 5 accidents in Italy, one we were there when heard a huge thud. Had stopped in at a roadside petrol station/cafe, a big 4WD was exiting when a little fiat zipped in and thud. It was quiet too, hardly a car around. Always a big vehicle with a small fiat, one was a mercedes with its bonnet stuck under the side of a truck. Saw no accidents in France.
Lucky for you having a brother there, we all should have a relative there really! Oh well, back to the seed catalogues.
What beautiful brown eggs. Two of my new hens have layed today and quite a few of the older ones are getting nice red wattles so they shouldn't be long before they start up again. My Marrans used to lay nice brown eggs, but if they fidgeted about in the nest they rubbed the brown off. Its funny how some eggs have the colour all the way through and some seem to be painted on.
Your descriptions of Italy are making me want to travel again. I've been to Venice and Sicily, but never stayed in Italy. My younger son is always travelling all over the world between jobs, or should I say he has jobs between travelling. I keep suggesting he settles in some beautiful warm country so I can visit him.
Oh you're really gettig me going on the travel lust too wallaby!
I bought myself a new toy for Christmas - a GPS. It's fab!! So no more having to stop and study the map at intervals my poor retention span can cope with. It's taken me by fantastic back roads to places I thought I knew all the best routes to. It'll be a real boon driving around either solo or with my 95 year old Mum - who used to be an ace navigator, but it's not fair to ask it of her now. I wondered whether it would be a white elephant, but I'm hooked :)
I'm about to join you with the seed catalogues wallaby
Your new hens must be happy if they're laying Pat :)
Ooh! Lovely eggs! Yum yum! My garden is pretty untidy; hopefully now that my formal college/uni studies are over, I'll have more time to mess around in it. I still have a college guitar class, once a week, and also a Saturday morning music jam (organised by the college) but it's definitely a lighter workload. The daffodils are starting to poke their tips through in some of the gardens now.
Have you noticed how the birds are singing now the days are lengthening again?
This morning we had a treat when a female greater spotted woodpecker landed on the seed feeder outside the window and started taking the sunflower seeds out one at a time and took them to the pear tree, where she embedded them in the bark. She was there for over five minutes going backwards and forwards from feeder to tree. I wonder what the tree will look like if they germinate!
Strange that Pat, I thought they picked things FROM the bark, not buried them! Great, you should get sun ripened pears! I should have a bird feeder, but the cats would like that too! Then it would be a cat feeder. They are clever little monkeys.
I had never seen this before, I knew they probed about in bark for insects, but perhaps they thought there was a good supply so they hid some for when they were hungry.
I have my feeders hanging from the branches and use old pairs of tights to suspend them at a height that the cats can't reach, but which I can manage to fill them, and I try to put them on fairly thin branches which the cats find too wobbly to walk down. Then the squirrels are the next problem. They chewed the little perch bits off the peanut feeder last week, so the bottom fell off. I've replaced the perch with a knitting needle of the right thickness and put a cork on the sharp end to stop them pulling it out, and a bit of blue tack where it goes through the feeder so that it doesn't revolve when the birds land on it. They haven't been on it again yet, but I'm sure they will try.
Yes, the grey squirrels have a lovely time with bird feeders ;o) I didn't have trouble with them til my last couple of years in the UK (which I didn't know were going to be) and bought one of those caged in feeders, which worked well. They had been pulling my other (metal mesh) feeders apart.
Now I'm out here I can be very smug (LOL) as there are only red squirrels. I gave my special feeder away to a guest who was having trouble in their garden.
Did you do the Big Garden Bird Watch today? I got 16 species in the hour we were supposed to do it, but all the best ones stayed away - typical! The most interesting was a large flock of siskins which stayed around all day. There were at least 20, but they wouldn't stay still long enough for me to count them accurately.
I didn't know there was one! I did see a pair of birds I didn't recognise yesterday, but by I had got the camera they were gone. I saw one of them the day before just flitting past the window into a shrub and it was enough to recognise the colouring. They reminded me of a larger blue tit but not blue, I don't think like a coal tit or great tit either, but about the same size. The blackish cap was there, some light blackish and whitish wing markings, but also a sort of burnt umbra colour, I really must get myself a book, or have a search on the net. And set up a feeding station!
The Bird Watch is the annual one run by the R.S.P.B. so they can monitor how well, or badly our garden birds and British birds in general are doing. You write down the maximum number of each species you see at one time and all the species you see in one hour, any time during the day. You could do it this weekend either Saturday or Sunday, but I'm afraid you'll have to wait for next year now.
I can't think what the birds are that you saw. It sounds rather like a coal tit, but I don't think the wings have any white on them. Then chaffinches have dark wings with a white wing bar, but they don't have black caps. Bull finches have black caps, but you couldn't mistake their deep pink chest and white rump for anything else, so I have no idea. Perhaps they will come back so you can get a better look at them. We do sometimes get over-wintering black caps, but I've not seen any for a while. You will have to get the bird book out.
I know what all those birds look like, it just caught my eye when I first saw the one flitting by as something different. It was the next day they were both sitting on the twigs on lower branches of the conker tree, I saw them from an upstairs window so got a reasonable look as they weren't far from the ground. I have seen quite a few different birds over the years, never this one. I am curious, so will have to search for it.
One hour in any one time isn't much to count birds in is it? i have seen it advertised in mags before but don't buy them now, it's knowing when!
What an interesting day it has been for bird spotting. I saw a pair of hedge sparrows (dunnocks) near the house this morning picking up bits off the grass, I know we have them but very rarely do you see them, and never together. Later I saw a female sparrow on top of the blue tits box on the oak at the front, it was looking down at the hole trying to figure how to get there. Then a blue tit came and shooed it away, sat in it's hole for a while and went. I normally see them later than this when starting to nest, and mostly first hear them tapping at the hole, not sure if this is a habit in order to make the hole the right size, or to attract the female. For the rest of the season you have to look very carefully to see them, they flit in and out very secretively. So I suppose they 'reserve' their box well before they use it.
A little later I looked out and saw 2 Great Tits at the base of the oak tree, picking up bits, and then on the bark pecking something off it. I rushed downstairs to get my camera, but when I got back of course they had gone. Then I saw a Jay a little further along by the roadside, on the other side of our beck. It was picking something off the grass as it walked, so had my camera, do I risk taking a shot through the glass, or should I open the window? I opened the window, which made a little squeak and it flew across the road to a tree at the front of the house there. It was probably the low flying helicopter that went past behind the house that scared it, would you know it? I couldn't quite pick it out, but then it decided to glide off, it went down low to the ground behind the stables opposite, so I missed it! We have seen a jay on the rare occasion before at the edge of our garden, last summer it was there a little more often, perhaps as I put in more beds it has more to interest it, or give it cover. I have not, as yet, managed to get a pic of it, but I will keep trying! It is such a rare bird to come across, but we do have woods nearby.
Just reminding myself to search for the mystery birds, I think I am developing a nice little organic haven here for them, it is so rewarding, I really loved having all the butterflies here last year, and am looking forward to having much more. I heard on the radio the other day someone asking if anyone has seen a ladybird yet. I can see them all winter, they hide in my plants, I often see some between the camellia leaves. So you see, you have to develop a home for them and they will live with you.
Your garden sounds lovely Janet. Your oak tree will attract the Jays as they like burying the acorns. Birds and animals never co-operate when you want to photo them do they? Or if you go for your binoculars, they are never there when you get back. Is your camera a digital one? My son says you can't take good digital shots through glass as they use infra red, but I've taken some nice photos through train windows with my SLR.
There are huge flocks of siskins on the feeders again this morning, goldfinches, greenfinches, a pair of blackbirds, two pairs of dunnocks a robin, wren, a small flock of house sparrows and blue tit, great tit and coal tit and a few chaffinches. Nothing unusual, but lovely to see them and all their beautiful colours. It is very cold here today, I had to thaw the ice out on their bird bath.
Patt it was cold here too, I couldn't go out for 5 minutes and really got chilled. The thermometer on the lawn read 32F, or 0C freezing! I did go out to get the budgie some chick weed and ended up doing a bit of cleaning up and rose pruning, once I did something it wasn't too bad, but I think it was still. It felt good to get something done, when February comes you can usually say the temps have changed just a little, yes DOWN.
We have all of those birds but I am not familiar with siskins, don't often see the chaffinches and greenfinches, but I'm sure they are around, I just need to entice them! The guy across the road said he had counted well over 40 species of birds, he has a paddock behind and then woods, that is where we get nice sunsets this time of year and I always curse the house, trees and cables in the way!
A greenfinch once ran into our large front window and died, its partner was there looking and waiting for it, so sad. We have the occasional pigeon run into the greenhouse too, just about every year one hits a house window, some die, they hit it with force and break their necks. I think the trees and sky reflect into them and they think they can go through.
Have plenty of blackbirds, one year a female used to come to within a couple of feet of me when I was cleaning up border edges, waiting for worms. They feed their young with left over cat food at the back of the house, so they probably weren't scared. It's the magpyes we get every year that I dislike, looking for young birds. I counted 5 in our back garden one year.
We always have crows nesting in the chimney pots, they used to use the unused one from the bedroom, our neighbour had her firplace taken out and chimney capped, they also put an old concrete slab on that one ( she is strange, blames us for everything!). I thought she was doing us a favour, now I know it was because she thought it would make her place damp. it was our fault when her oil boiler made a smell (poss atomising), the coal man got some differenet very gassy coal, it built up gases and we had a chimney fire. She had her smell when she came home and put on her heating after about 2 hours (she lives at her parents mostly), but she jumped on the opportunity to blame us. I could tell a very funny story about how she said the smoke was going up our chimney, turning to gas and going down hers! it was very distressing though, she had a rogue builder/chimney man tell us we needed to put in a liner at £1400, had the environment agency to monitor a smoke test that she 'didn't mind paying for us'. Days after we hadn't had a fire and she still said it was 'lingering' and her lungs were sensitive to the smell. Smoke test was negative, she still said it was us (the heat of a fire seals up the crack!) and we would pay for her chimney work to put in air vents. Strange thing was we didn't have a smell. It was like a comedy of errors, i just told her in the end she was a fire risk, she had two neighbours, and she had better sort it. That was last March and I haven't spoken to her since. She now comes and goes like a ghost, I strut around like a peacock! That's the last time she will trouble me, she has always been trying to tell me what I should do, what I can and can't do in my front garden, monitoring the width of the road which is ours and she uses! Haha, and their sewage drains run through our property as shared pipes, we are the ones that keep them clean, considering shoving a dead hedgehog up hers! Anyway, now that I've had a good grumble, yes it is nice but the neighbour undesirable, and now the crows nest in our main chimney. We thought the nest was just resting on the bar at the top, but it was full of twigs all the way to the bottom and took hours to get out! Then we put a wire cage on it as they were still going in when we had fires just at night. Within 3 days of full time fires the wire cage was completely clogged with soot, so had to take it off. I recently complained in a nice way to the coal man, the coal is cleaner now but still not as good as we had. And we will have to put a cage on again before the crows come back in spring.
I do have a digital camera, and have taken some good pics through the window, but one I tried out the back once to get a bull finch on the boysenberry (dried berries) was murky, and the Jay was at an angle so thought it might reflect. It is double glazing too. I have a Sony DSCV1, it has infra red and sends out the rays automatically on dark objects, also takes perfect pictures in complete darkness. It just reads the object, flashes and presto! It has a thread for adding lens, might do that at some stage. I haven't heard of ordinary cameras using infra red. i do hang out of the window upstairs to get sunsets, I can also get some through the hinge gap, have to remember to put the strap around my wrist, it is a low window and I put one foot on the outside ledge, one inside. Shame if I fall off!
Your photography sounds rather precarious hanging out of windows and balancing on windowsills. Your camera is very good. Isn't your neighbour horrible, the dead hedgehog trick would give her a few more smells to cope with wouldn't it.
I don't suppose you've identified the mystery birds yet have you? We had something on the feeder this morning that we couldn't make out. It didn't stay long enough for us to get a good look at it. It was small and came with the siskins, but was brown rather than green. I thought its chest looked like a goldfinch, but the rest of it didn't. It may have been a female redcap, but will remain a mystery until it keeps still enough for us to have a better look.
I'm just going to do a little digging now as it's warmer today, and I let the hens out to help me do the top garden. I'm going to sow some seeds in the greenhouse too. I can't wait any longer - getting withdrawal symptoms!
No, still haven't looked for the mystery bird, too much else gets my attention! Yep, would love the hedgehog trick, not that I am a vindictive person you understand, but some people just deserve it! It would at least give me something to SMILE about!
I think spring is around the corner, tulips pushing up today, and snowdrops have buds, we deserve it after all this cold! I need to get some dead leaves up, that is a never ending job, crocus well and truly pushing now, and tete a tete daffodils, they didn't mind the cold did they? So I have to get my butt off the seat and get out, it is still and about 45F so should be OK, no chilling winds! I have already put in some seed, got some from tradewindsfruit (19!) and put 3 lots in, more to do, put 5 lots of palm seed from rarepalms in to soak last night, I really do make work for myself but I love it! I daren't count the number of seed I have bought this year. Did you see the voting on Phil on the home page? Ours is Melissa mole, and she didn't see her shadow on the 2nd Feb, so we must be getting spring!
Hi Wallaby1, I saw the film Groundhog day so I suppose that is what it is all about. We haven't had any moles in the garden since our ginger cat died. He used to bring live ones home. I've no idea where he got them from.
Spring is certainly in the air with lots of new growth on everything and all the buds swelling on the shrubs and trees. The birds are all pairing up too and singing their little hearts out every morning. They have all been checking out the nest boxes too which is lovely. I've trimmed all my hedges so they won't get disturbed once they start nest building. I left the holly til last as it had quite a lot of berries on. It didn't get cut last year as the blackbirds started nesting before I got round to it, so it was quite a challenge this year. About 20 plastic sacks of prunings to get rid of.
We've had several tawny owls around looking for mates in the past two weeks. Very noisy in the early hours calling to one another from next door's chimney, our T.V. aerial and our sycamore tree and all round the surrounding woodland. Quite a racket.
It is still only February though, and it is very unusual if we don't get snow here in the last week in February. It is my birthday on 26th and I can't remember one when there wasn't either snow on the ground or at least a snow flurry or two. It is heartening to see the days lengthening so fast though.
I've been sowing lots of seeds this week in the greenhouse, some in the propagator and some under fleece. The book I'm reading has really set me off.
Hi Patt, you must think I live at this computer, yes most of the time! I hadn't thought of the film being linked, but it probably is! Groundhog day seems to perpetually breed, I'm sure there are more of them each year!
You must live in a very nice aea, sounds like country. We had an owl on our roof a year or two ago hooting away, and in the trees, I don't always hear them but they are around, it was around in the day time too. I have seen Great Tits around a lot lately, they don't seem to stop long enough to get the camera. On one of our mild days recently there was a bird in our 'beck' on the leaves using it as a landing pad to have a bath, it's just at the front of the house and easy to see from the upstairs window. The Great Tits were also flitting about, then a blackbird scared the other off and had a good bath. It went just to the side and came back when the blackbird went. It looked like a female Goldfinch, and I managed to get a pic before it went. I don't think it was the mystery bird, a bit paler, couldn't see it's head very well, it was facing the other way! I cropped it to bring closer, it is a bit fuzzy, I used the zoom and you can't take a pic quickly with that.
There was also a Robin sitting on the Elderberry just opposite the oak tree, got a pic of him too.
I have lots of flowers open now, Helleborus, Crocus, Cyclamen, Snowdrops, Iris reticulata Pauline now. It is beginning! 10 day forecast only gives us 5-7C, but if we get some sun it can't be bad. You might be a bit cooler, it goes uphill to Sheffield, 3-4C is a good snow temperature. We mostly get a wet snow flurry around Easter. I have posted lots of pics in the bulb forum if you want to see them. http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/575352/ there is more on the link of the previous thread.
My propogater is full after a reshuffle, but I got a small one last year and have pots waiting on the floor ready for the seed, just have to put them in! I have to keep it going a bit at a time or won't get them all sown! Arrrrgghh
Hi Janet, I love your bulb photos, and the Queen of the Night helebore is wonderful. Must get one.
The garden is full of birds today, I think the weather is changing for the worse as the starlings and chaffinches seem to congregate for a good feed when it's turning colder. I saw a frog coming out of hibernation in the pond yesterday. I hope it waits a bit if it is going to freeze again.
It is a pity it is so cold and dull today, you have spurred me on to get my camera out. There were little hive bees on the naturalised crocuses yesterday which would have been a lovely shot. If I take any pics I'll post a thread.
The ponds are still frozen and the garden covered in an inch or so of snow.
Lots of lovely colourful birds about and the two squirrels are very frisky - baby squirrels on the way?
The daffodils still haven't opened, but are covered in big fat buds, so they are just waiting for the weather to warm up a bit.
On Fridaynight/Saturday the temperature inside the greenhouse dropped to 22 degrees F ( -5 C) and all my potatoes turned black even though they were under two layers of fleece. Yesterday the temperature rose to 90 degrees F in the sun and I had to open all the windows. The poor plants don't know what to do. I wish it would start to warm up again.
I suppose we should be grateful really, my son has a friend in Estonia and they have had a good covering of snow continuously since October, and he says the temperature has risen this week to minus 11 degrees C.
Roll on Spring.
The song thrush has been in the garden a lot this week which is nice.
We have two pairs of blackbirds and they have started building their nests in the holly hedge and the conifer hedge which we managed to prune early enough this winter. Last year we had to leave it uncut as they had already built their nests very early.
One of the female blackbirds has been around for a few years now. She is quite distinctive with an apricot coloured bib, very much like their ring ouzel relatives' white one. It is good to see a few surviving when there are so many cats about. My neighbour keeps reporting his cat bringing all sorts of colourful birds home, and I suspect they are mainly from my bird feeders as I have to chase it away several times a day. I've been throwing water at it, but I may progress to stones if it persists.
Patt such a shame if the cats are getting the birds, we have a stray the neighbour adopted the same time we adopted another, he is a nice cat but sometimes comes back here to try and secure his second food source! If you have a hose pipe and spray it with that it's a bit more scary for them.
We have had flurries of snow, days of 5C but chill winds, todays 8C so must soon get out and do something! We had -4 Wed, -7C Thurs, -4 Fri, -2 last night. Thats in the neighbours greenhouse, it's now getting a lot of sun and getting up to 30C, but that is likely less air temp. My 8 year old Mandora from a seed looks like the leaves are drying and curling a bit from the extremes, but it has never been anywhere but in a greenhouse over winter and is big, nearly hitting the roof, so should be OK. A bit of shade might have been better, but it got too big for my greenhouses.
I saw 3 Mallards in our beck the other day, they were 'ducking' their heads for acorns on the bottom. The extra male I have not seen before, we always get a pair. I wonder if it has lost it's mate, like swans maybe, pair for life? I think I saw a dead female on the road last year.
I got a picture from the upstairs window! Got 3 actually, this one the other male you can see in the dead iris leaves behind the others.
I tried to take a photo of all the birds on the feeders this moring, but every time I got close enough they flew away. The squirrels also looked very cute until I got the camera. Here is the only one I got of the squirrel, and there is the Song Thrush in the background. You would think they would co-operate in return for all the food I put out! Don't know why I bothered really. It should go down as one of my spot the creature shots.
I'm going to have to spend a little time and effort to learn to use Adobe photo shop. I had cropped it (so you couldn't see the huts and greenhouse as they look rather a mess just now), but it wouldn't save the bit I wanted. I'll have to do a course on it. My son tried to show me last time he was home, but I found using the layers quite confusing.
I have the Dell one, Jasc Paint Shop, didn't pay for the upgrade as AOL9 has a good photo shop on the Picture Finder which does me. It''s very simple, if you crop then all you do is close the X at the top, it asks you if you want to save, that simple! if you want to keep the original, then click 'Save' at the top menu, it will just put a no. (2) etc next to the original title, and click 'save' then close the page and you have both.
We've had some lovely birds in the garden this week with all the snow. It is a bit warmer today so the snow has gone and the frogs are in full swing. There are hundreds of them in the big pond and it is just like frog spawn soup round the edges.
Here is a photo of a greater spotted woodpecker I took this morning. I'm actually sitting in bed with my cup of tea - can't get much more civilized birdwatching.
Great to have it so close! I have noiticed a lot of activity amongst the birds the last few days, they can't wait for spring!
I captured a blackbird having a bath in our beck, there was also a blue tit nearby. I have niticed they come at the same time for a bath as the blackbirds, or vice versa. Strange, if it was the first option I would think they were using them as cover against hawks. I got some of the blue tit having a bath just after the blackbird, but further along but it was too small to get a good pic., I need a bigger zoom lens.
I like the splashing blackbird and the photo of the dove is very unusual.
We've had a pair of collared doves regularly for the past few weeks, but unfortunately Izzy the cat from across the road caught and ate the female yesterday. There were feathers everywhere and the male kept coming back to look for her. I felt very sad, but it is nature, and today a pair of long tailed tits were busy collecting the fluffy feathers for their nest, so some good came out of it.
I've taken steps to keep Izzy away from the feeders. I have sprayed the smelly tar stuff that you put on the chickens to stop them feather pecking all over the hiding place in the hedge that she uses, but I'll bet she just finds another place.
There was a pair of bullfinches in the garden this morning the male was busy eating the food I had put on the bird table, and the female was equally busy eating all the flower buds on the plum tree - typical.
I loved the photo of the blackbird doing his ablutions...
We have one here that in the summer, when I've been sat on my patio, it comes down onto the gravel patio which is just up a couple of steps from this one, and it seems to sunbathe ,it spreads its wings right out, and crouches down on the ground, motionless.
I always wondered if it did that because it felt safe near a human ..daft as it may sound..but i have had quite a few hawk attacks here, so maybe they think it won't attack when a humans near.
My remaining cat is too old to chase birds now, poor old thing has a job to walk, let alone build up any speed!!...or jump..thankfully (for the birds)
I had to chuckle at the vision of you sitting in bed watching the birds...comfy viewing!!...I did try putting up a feeder on the eaves, but nothing seemed to want to visit it, and after spending 3 weeks constantly tapping on my window in the breeze (much to his annoyance..) it finally fell down in a gale.
When the roses grow in the summer, I get a bit more foliage around the window then, sometimes I can see s few little birds on it, but not many.
Jazzy, my daughters bedroom is on the north side of the house, and our back wall is smothered in climbers, roses, clematis, etc, and right outside her bedroom the sparrows roost, the noise from them is incredible some mornings..
We put a feeder up in her window, and they flock to that one, bit like a take away on your door step I suppose.
A little mouse used to go on there at night too, so Jazzy put a little mouse box in the foliage outside her window, don't know if anythings inthere.
The feeders that I've got out are being emptied at a rate of knots at the moment, I seem to be refilling them every couple of days.
When hubby did my sunlounge out, the lovely comfy ,battered sofas went, and in came a nice new metal dining set...lovely to eat from in the summer, but not very condusive to curling up in , snuggly and warm, and just watching the birds.and with this cold weather, it hasn't really been warm enough to sit outside at all yet.1/2 hour of sitting on one of the chairs and your bums numb!!...must persuede him that we need just a little sofa in there...even a wicker one would do.
I blame Ikea, the metal may look smart, but bring back the chintz!
sue your wall sounds lovely, I bet there are birds nesting amongst all that growth. I have Virginia creeper on the west wall on one side of the window, a climbing rose Guinee on the other with a clematis Jackmanii, but it gets a bit dry there and moles dig around, the rose has been slow but after about 5 years looks like doing something, and jackmanii got mildew but is alive. Virginia creeper is robust!
On the south wall I have a passiflora caurulea which goes to the roof, I cut some back each year as it gets dead ends and needs to be controlled, last autumn there was a small nest in it. There is also a tit nest box on the wall just around the corner from our back (east) door which I thought wasn't in use, but I have seen a bird flit very quickly to it, and have heard the tapping when they are 'preparing' it. The tit box on the oak tree is always in use, a neighbour took out a tree that had a box on it, I suppose they are short of boxes! Must make more available.
The mouse must have thought it a friendly place, bed and breakfast all in one place!
It could be right about the blackbirds, ours are quite tame as they grow up with us, one female used to follow me along the border as I cleaned the edges about 2 feet away waiting for worms. They feed their young on leftover cat food from near the back wall, one recently was waiting for me to go so it could feed! I had noticed them in 2004 sunning themselves on the lawn, it was actually hot for a while. The Mallard ducks do the same, for a short spell they sun themselves on the bank of the beck.
Well I'm back from holiday and it's nice to see some sunshine here too. Didn't see many unusual birds in Cyprus. The best ones were a Hoopoe and then two Lesser kestrels which were mobbing an ordinary kestrel while it was having a dust bath.
I had a good bird watching session yesterday morning - 20 species of birds came to the feeders in front of my bedroom window in about 45 minutes. We usually only get so many in really bad weather and when it improves there are usually about 12 regulars at any one time.
The greater spotted woodpeckers have started coming quite often for the fat blocks and the long tailed tits like the fat too. I'm trying to see where they are nesting as they are collecting feathers, but haven't spotted it yet.
We have a kamikazi blackbird in the garden. It is a young female and I'm pretty sure it is the one that the mother bird trained to grab worms while I was digging last year. It is even bolder than its mum and dives under the spade if it sees a worm. Very dangerous, but amusing.
Pat was it warm? Wouldn't they let you stay? We've only just started getting sunshine, it has to warm up sometime!
The mind boggles at that many species of birds, can you list them? I had a blackbird female that used to wait near me for worms, only one year though. They are a bit too brave! There was a male squashed on the road not long ago, just opposite, they nest in the hedge across the road. I saw the female come over for a drink, she will have a nest of young ones to feed on her own. I felt sorry for her, it's a risky business nesting one side, drinking the other.
I saw my regular wagtail a few days ago, the female was also there. I don't think I have seen the female before, the male darts around the 'lawn' after insects quite often. I got some pics, but it was dull and I had the camera on zoom, it was trying to focus on the bank in front of me I think. I got 2 pics with both in the frame, in one they were about a foot apart but it was blurred. The other they are at either edge.
I did an image search for the wagtail, and the mystery birds I saw could have been the white wagtail, an immigrant from Europe. The wings were light brown with some white/black pattern but not much, and the head had a black cap, it seems to match. The size would be right too
I like the wagtail pics. and glad you've identified your mystery bird.
We sometimes get grey wagtails around the pond but I've not seen the pied wagtail in the garden for a couple of years although we do see them nearby.
My bird list for the 4th had our first summer migrant - the chiffchaff. There were three of them calling to each other from different trees across the garden. Sorry to be boring but here is the list:
Greater spotted woodpecker - female
Long tailed tit
Most of these were pairs with large numbers of siskins, chaffinches and goldfinches. I've just counted again and it is 21 not 20. The only regular I didn't see was the coal tit and I'm not too pleased with the bullfinches as they have taken a fancy to the blossom buds on one of the plum trees.
Izzy the neighbours cat has set up a new hiding place behind the pear tree and so I've had to take steps to put her off. I've already sabotaged her previous hiding place inside the hedge by putting holly branches in it and also spraying it with the smelly tar spray you put on chickens to stop them feather picking. So I've also sprayed around the base of the pear tree where she sits and put down rose prunings and a few gooseberry twigs. I just hope my cat doesn't prick her paws on them.
Patt you have a good range of birds there. The Redpoll is a rare bird isn't it? I remember years ago that it was, I had a husband who knew all the birds and their sounds, and there was one nesting at the top of a railway bank in a bush.
I haven't seen some of these, but if I fed them I might. Do you have open country around you? The long tailed tits, chaffinch, siskins I haven't seen either. Some might be difficult to spot unless close.
Talking about cheeky blackbirds, and cats, there was a male blackbird trying to elbow in on the cat food today as our straypuss was eating. It always notices when the food is out and hangs around, but today it was funny to watch as it went from one side to the other, up on a pot, behind the cat, trying to work out how to pinch some.
I have seen a pair of birds lately that I don't know. The size of a sparrow, the male has broad white bands on its breast and wings. The female has the colouring of a Dunnock, but the size of a sparrow. They were out the back on a rhododendron, the male went on the coal bunker so I got a pic from upstairs through the window. The female sat on top of the rhodo with a feather in her mouth and I snapped her too.
Janet, your pictures haven't come on. Don't know if it is my computer or not.
The redpoll is quite rare, it is more of a moorland bird round here and we rarely see it in the garden. But they must have been short of food and having a bit of a struggle with the bad winter and come into the garden more than usual this year.
Your blackbird likes living dangerously. They do seem to like cat food don't they?
Two of my hens, the Lavender Araucana, also like cat food. Yesterday I didn't close the kitchen door properly when I went up the garden to feed the hens and when I came back the Araucana had gone in the kitchen and eaten all the cat's breakfast. They ran outside again when they saw me, like naughty children.
I have looked through the RSB site and found a Grasshopper Warbler that looks similar to the bird on the Rhododendron with a feather in it's mouth. That and the one on the coal bunker were in the rhodo together and I assumed they were a pair, now not so sure. The grasshopper Warbler's call could be what I heard not long ago, I was hearing it every day around 12 noon and it sounded as though it was in the conker tree, but couldn't see it. I have a feeling it was too long ago for this bird, it says from April. I came to the conclusion it must have been a woodpecker as it was a sort of rattle, but it didn't quite sound right . The G Warbler makes a cricket like trill, could this be it? It also states they move like a little mouse creeping through the foliage. The one on the bunker was creeping through the rhodo, it reminded me of a wren the way it darts around. You can't see the breast but it had possibly two broad bands of white going across it, or appeared to have, but the white was stark. There is no mention of male/female differences on the RSPB.
If you look to the left of the bird on the rhodo there is another a short distance away, I hadn't seen it until I cropped the picture. It doesn't quite look like a sparrow, there looks to be a greenish colour on the wing but isn't a good shot.
He went right up to the half barrel with the azalea in, and around the other side of it, hopped on a pot and onto the barrel, wondering how he could sneak in! Kept doing this for ages, Straypuss was SO slow eating...
Still no photos Janet. You would know by the song if you had grasshopper warblers in the garden. It does sound like a cricket and sings its little heart out, usually at dusk. I haven't seen one but have heard them quite often where farmland joins woodland on the South side of Sheffield. The summer migrants have been arriving over the past couple of weeks, so it could be. Look forward to the pictures appearing for a bit of a clue.
Patt mine are showing up to the 'Spot the camougflaged bird', the bottom ones missing, though they were there last night. I did notice some others going missing later, as noted by several others in Daves thread.
The sound I heard if you think of a woodpecker tapping wood, or maraccas, a slighty duller sound than the tapping but continuous. It is a sound I hadn't heard before. Whatever it is they were building a nest with feathers!
The more I look at that bird with the feather in its mouth I think it's a sparrow! It does look to have slight differences though, there are so many little brown birds. The markings on its head, the beige stripe behind its eye and dark line under look much stronger, and wing pattern slightly different. I have a pic of female sparrows too.
You can just see the white on the other bird going around its neck, there was so much white it really stood out on its breast. Other than that it looks sparrow-like too! The other bird on the rhodo definitely is not a sparrow, I can see at least 3 different colours on its wing, the top greenish, a bit of whitish, brown, then blackish. It looks to have a finch beak too, shame I can't blow it up more but it loses too many pixels.
The photos have appeared. The blackbird is certainly living dangerously. The cat looks as though it is saying "who's creeping about behind my back?"
Yes, the other birds are sparrows, and your spot the bird is a Song Thrush. It is surprising how variable the markings are on birds of the same species if you look closely enough. We probably just don't take that much notice of sparrows. There is a very striking Chaffinch in our garden that stands out from all the others as he has much more white on his wing feathers and all his colours are bolder and brighter. He's obviously the top bird.
Even the ordinary birds are different, I've mentioned before one of the female blackbirds which looks as though it has a beige coloured necklace on so she is easy to pick out from all the others. There was even a white blackbird in the woods nearby for a couple of years, and when I was a little girl a blackbird with a white head lived in the garden for about 6 years.
Would you know it! I saw a magpie the next day alight in a tree for a quick gander!
I have had some chaffinches on the freshly cut moss-grass lately, coming every day, the female just plods around without a care. I haven't seen them regularly before, only a glimpse, that was the other bird on the rhododendron.
I have been taking pics on the zoom through the window, it comes quite close. It is so sweet, nick-named Orville due to that bottom. I think there are 2 different females, another I took from the front window looks less patterned on the wings. The male flitted onto a low branch over the water yesterday, saw him again today land on the grass with the female and got both in the same shot, not downloaded yet.
Chaffinches are lovely colourful little birds aren't they. Lots of birds are really attractive close up, even house sparrows, although they all look brown and boring from a distance.
I've heard the first cuckoo this week and the woodpecker has been drumming in the woods across the road all day. It quite often uses the nest boxes for resonance, but usually ends up pecking them to bits.
A pair of blue tits has finally decided which nest box to use in my garden. They have been going in and out of them all trying to make up their minds.
Yes, chaffinches are lovely birds. We're lucky to have tree sparrows here as well, so it's fun to look at sparrows more closely to see which they are
The hoopoes are back and I'm here with fingers tight crossed that they use the same hole in a lime tree that they did last year, very near the house...
A nightingale is singing at a friend's house and the swallows are renovating their nests in the barn and sitting.
The redstarts are back and fighting over nest spots and I've heard the golden oriole for ages (but still haven't seen him in the 2 years I've been here)
I think there are great tits in the box the bluetits used last year - there was certainly a battle royal a couple of weeks ago.
Oh and I have 15 3-5 week old chcks just let into the run with the big hens and some more eggs just hatching. One of the hens has just gone broody, so I'm getting some eggs to hatch under her from a friend (the dad is one I hatched last year.
My blue tits were pecking the hole in their box on the oak tree in February, I saw them both so in a few days ago, you have to watch carefully when they are nesting they are secretive then. Of course there is more than one pair but some boxes elsewhere. I saw a starling hanging off the top of it this morning, trying to look in the hole, I suppose they would eat the young.
I heard the tapping sound in the conker tree again this morning, it does sound just like maraccas, a dull woody sound, and each time is only 5 rattles, it just doesn't sound like a woodpecker! Could be the type of wood, but do woodpeckers only do 5 taps at a time? I couldn't see anything.
The pair of chaffinches, not sure if it's the same couple, I think I have seen 2 different females. the male looks duller but it was probably a dull day.
It could be Nuthatches, not really sure what they look like, will have to do a search. There are often birds that I don't know hanging around in the trees, I'm sure I have a nightingale each year now. I saw it last year on the roof of the house, on the ridge, singing away but mostly it's difficult to see them in trees!
I am so pleased to see these chaffinches coming regularly, it pays off to keep a garden organic. Weedkillers can't do the wildlife any good.
philomel you should have your camera strapped to yourself just in case you see that golden oriole, it sounds like you have quite a bit happening there!
Pat I heard the first cuckoo on the 19th, last year they were 3 weeks early. Strange seeing it was so cold, it has always been on May 1st or the evening before.
Our pair of mallards had been on the grass at the front a couple of days not long ago, I have seen the 3 of them flying over. They were in front of the neighbours, I snuck behind my shrubs to get a pic but the camera has focussed on the the shrubs instead
Well I saw the bird making the rattling sound, it is a woodpecker, clever one at that, it can count!
I have had a couple of blackbirds fighting for dominancy, one seems to be the attacker, the other just wants to hang around but must be a threat. I could see one pushing the other, like a fight was about to emerge, so grabbed the camera, shot on zoom through the kitchen window with elbows resting on the taps! At the beginning there were another 2 males watching, they saw the camera and came closer to have a good look, there is a small bank near the window and 3 of them were stood there peeking at me.
Very difficult to shoot (pics!), they would meet, rise up a few feet and down again, so hard to follow. Some shots would have been brilliant if they hadn't been blurred! I did get some that I think are reasonable, I posted them on the Photos forum last night, so to save doing it again I will link it
They were still at it come dark, the dominant one kept pushing the other around in the H. chestnut tree, onto the top of the hedge, and yesterday were at it again! Perhaps the good (cat) food source has something to do with it.
It was funny after the main fight, they got onto a flower bed and one was chasing the other round and round a plant just like kids!
I've only ever seen Golden Oriole twice I think it was in Crete. You are lucky.
Some Bee eaters caused a bit of a stir last year by nesting somewhere ridiculous (for them) like Newcastle. I didn't go to see them, but lots of twitchers did. It was even on T.V.
Your blackbirds are very agressive aren't they. It reminded me of a mad chaffinch we had last year who spent two weeks trying to attack his reflection in the bedroom window.
Patt that should have been a good picture opportunity! Perhaps it thought it was a good place to nest and wanted to get in! Or did you have some food there it could see, tea and biscuits in bed?
I'd say one of the blackbirds is aggressive, I've never seen them like that before. I wonder if it's the one that comes for the cat food, it's game for anything and would want to protect it's food source!
We've been visited by a Sparrow hawk twice this morning. The cockatiels were going berserk in their cage in the conservatory and when I looked outside there was the Sparrow hawk sitting in one of the plum trees a few yards from the door. He stayed for about half an hour but I couldn't get a photo without scaring him away. Then an hour later they were panicking again and it was sitting on a post next to the cherry tree at the back, in the pouring rain. Again I missed the shot as he had gone when I went for my camera.
It is amazing how the cockatiels know it is a bird of prey - it must be an inborn instinct.
The other excitement was Blossom the cat catching and eating a Dunnock while we were doing a tour of the garden when it stopped raining for a few minutes. His mate was calling to him from the tree while Blossom took him into her den under a bush to finish him off. I hadn't seen her hiding place before, but it had several bits of dead creatures and feathers scattered around so must be a regular spot. Cats are horrible.
Don't you feel for those poor birds! The partner must have been petrified. My Mitsi is an old girl now, but she would still have a go given the chance, it would most likely be a young one. She doesn't eat them either, gives them a good lick and a bit of a chew and leaves them! I wonder if there are babies in a nest. Horrible yes, I had a female blackbird hit the shed window and broke it's neck, it had a twig under it's chin, possibly going for a second brood. There was a male not far away looking my way around the corner, maybe it's mate. No counselling for them!
We had a hawk of some sort once, it came very close to the house as it attacked a pidgeon. I was stood at the door a few feet away. It cleared off, so I left the pidgeon a bit further away, I thought it would come back for it. It did, but i didn't see it. The whole breast had been eaten off. Don't you feel like you should have your camera strapped to your wrist!
I have had some greenfinches on the odd occasion outside the kitchen window, that looks to be my point of activity lately. It could be the newly dug patch has been attracting them, that's where I see them. There was a female foraging near the window and a male came up and lifted his wings slightly as if to say you know I am desirable and can't resist me, I ran to grab the camera and did get a pic with him facing me, his beak looks a blob but he has bright yellow edges on his wings, I think the colour improves for the mating season. They moved over to the dug patch, there was 2 females and one was picking around the pile of dug grass sods, I think getting nesting materials.
Yesterday morning (after seeing the greenfinches) there was a pair of ducks at the far corner near the water and bridge, I say ducks because the male was a mallard, the female white. It looks like a farmyard duck, so I guess it is either an albino, or the other male that was spare to the pair I had before found himself an escapee. She looked very sweet, the beak is a bright orange. They were there for ages, he went at one stage behind a flower bed and she patiently waited.
Would you believe it, in the afternoon we had yet another pair, this time the female was not a blonde bombshell, but a dark, dusky mallarden. They had landed just as a thunderstorm was brewing up, and stayed for a long time.
Hi Janet, I like the duck story. That is something we rarely get in our garden. I think the last one we had had come visiting from a farm a mile away and the farmer came to collect him. I do have a plastic mallard in my pond which my younger son bought for my birthday a few years ago. It's looking a bit faded now but quite realistic - at least he didn't buy me a gnome.
Are you near a river or local duck pond? I wonder what colour the ducklings would be from the white female?
Hilary, how are your chicks doing? I've stopped raising my own as it is too heartbreaking to kill the cockerels. I had hatched some eggs in the incubator and a large golden chick decided I was his mum. As he grew up he followed me around and liked me to pick him up . He grew into a magnificent creamy white cockerel with golden neck feathers and plumed tail. Unfortunately my neighbours didn't appreciate the crowing so I had to get my son to despatch the cock and his four male offspring. I felt like a murderer. I had tried for weeks to get someone to take them, but no one wants cockerels. So I haven't the heart to raise any more. Why can't they be mainly hens? and why do cocks have to crow at 3.30 a.m.?
I guess I could keep ducks like Baa's Beetle, but I imagine they have some dodgy habits too.
Hi Pat, we have a water drain along the front of our house, dyke, creek, ditch, beck, whatever you want to call it! It has engineering bricks along the bottom for the full length of the property, they are the same as the old Victorian bricks going along the back of the house, the ones you can see in the pic with Straypuss. It hadn't been dug out for 20 years when we moved here, there was quite a depth of soil/leaf mix to be dug and it was full of irises the previous owners had planted and spread them. No water could flow though, we keep it dug out and unless it's very dry weather we have water in it. You can see a bridge behind the ducks in the first pic, and bullrushes, Typha at the edge of the bricks down a slope. I have planted different grasses and water plants along the edges. There is a brick well just through the pipe under the bridge, a deeper hollow which holds more water, but the drain on the other side of that is much deeper and there are always ducks at this time of year. I have had newly hatched ducks around, one got lost and Mother nowhere to be seen, so I mothered it and I really could have kept it, but they are best with their own, I called the RSPCA and they collected it. It had taken me on as Mother, snuggled into me and went to sleep, they are so sweet and people eat them. There are lakes around Lincoln, it's gravel pit country, they are about 5 miles away but the drains probably provide them with what they want.
I might get to see some ducks with more white on them, the male does look to have a small white patch just above his beak so they might be related.
Ducks do have some dodgy habits, beaks like shovels, they will eat you out of house and home, and the size of their depositories is also undesirable, but the babies are so adorable, they follow you everywhere.
Lovely ducks wallaby :)
Hmm unfortunately, though I love ducks, ours flew out of the pen and pooped round the swimming pool. I've now turned the duck pond (in the hen run) into a wild life pond and it has dragonfly and damsel fly larvae and newt tadpoles, so that consoles me for not having ducks any more.
The first lot of 15 chicks are now half grown.
I have a second lot of little fluffies about 10 days old and there are also three very intent hens sitting on 3 clutches of eggs - they tried to sit on 2, but I pursuaded them that 2 on one nest wasn't very efficient *grin*
Just going to download some photos I've taken of the poulets, but have to restart my puter (don't ask ;) so will post this and then hopefully have some piccies good enough to post later
How large do your hens grow? The light coloured chick has huge feet, do you think it is going to be a big chunky cockerel? I like the one with the feathery legs too. I might try a few new breeds when I re-stock, although my favourites are still the lavender Araucana. They are about 6 years old and still laying their little blue eggs nearly every day.
I've just thought, do ducks like slugs? Perhaps I could get a couple to tackle my slug problem. Have you seen my slug photo on the What's happening in the backyard link? I think a 12 bore shot gun might be a satisfying solution, but it would ruin my plants.
All the teenagers have a Brahma dad - they're BIG with feathery legs.
The light one's mum was a white hybrid meat breed. She was HUGE. I'm hoping after hope that the poulet is a poulette, as I shall only keep the hens, but have a horrid feeling you are right Pat.
The dark ones have Marans noir cuivré mums. They're black with copper heads and necks and feathery legs. They are a large breed too.
The small chicks have the same dad, but the mums are a mottley crew owned by Lily, a friend who has hens, a goat, sheep and lambs, piglets, pigeons, rabbits, etc etc.So it'll be fascinating to see how they turn out.
You're very welcome to your pick of the cockerels Maggi ;o)
Also, Lily and I are going to share whatever comes from the eggs that are under hens at the moment. There may be some of those spare. Again mainly Brahma dad, though some may be from a lovely white Landaise cock that Lily has. A few are from a speckled bantam hen of hers that is very elderly, so I think she wants to keep those to keep the line going.
Are you after hens or cocks too?
I'm afraid I'm after hens really, although my son really wants to get a cock and try to breed our own chicks...not sure what the neighbours would think about that! (Or rather I am sure, but it's better not to put it into words). We only have three aging hens left at the moment, giving us, at most, one egg a day between them, so we really need to re-stock. I'd love to try different breeds with different egg colours, but the only type available here are the orangey coloured hybrid layers. If you or Lily have any "poulettes" surplus to requirements, you have an eager buyer here...
I was just wondering where all the fledglings were from all the earlier nest building as I hadn't seen any young ones at all, when this morning two young blackbirds turned up. They are quite well grown but still only just out of the baby stage. Rather trusting as far as cats are concerned and not very strong fliers yet.
The Mahonia media x Charity is covered in fat juicy berries and the blackbirds are having a party, there were six on it at once, including the young ones and they were joined by a Mistle thrush - which I've not seen in the garden for ages. It is a wonderful plant with its lovely scented flowers in winter and then these berries just at a time when the birds are having trouble finding food. I've noticed a lot of bluetits on it when the flowers are out. I don't know whether they are eating the petals or if they can get nectar. I wouldn't think it is insects as it is usually really cold weather when it flowers. Last year the blackbirds actually nested in it, so they hardly had to get out of the nest for a snack.
It seems the young blackbirds here have come and gone, I saw them for a while but now I have a female coming when I feed Straypuss, he doesn't need to be there, as soon as I come out the door she flies in. It's probably too hot, they must be shading themselves, in fact they all seem to have diapppeared in the last couple of days.
The blue tits have been flying in and out of the box still feeding, up to a couple of days ago anyway, haven't really seen them lately. Perhaps I've been too busy.
The cold weather we had and all the rain has killed some of the bumble bees, now it's hot I have seen very few and there was a lot. If they died early then the young wouldn't be fed, and there will be a shortage. I had a red tail bumble going to it's holes with nests in the bank, I've found 2 dead red tails, poor things were hanging under the lily leaves in the rain and cold.
The thrushes had a couple of young ones around the garden, I saw one when it was just out the nest with not enough feathers to fly properly, they seem to have gone too but I hear them singing away all evening, not tonight though, too hot? I got a pic of a young one waiting for its feed, a blackbird was behind it and they don't like other birds around, so it did a quick skip trying to push it away. This was through the kitchen window, I had to enhance it to make it clearer.
Hi Janet, Is that a Song thrush, or a Mistle thrush? It looks to have very round spots. The blackbird party is still in full swing, but they are eating from the sunny side of the bush so I can't get a good shot of them. Here is one of the young ones on the lawn after it rained this afternoon. Four have turned up today they all look as if they are from the same brood, and there are still lots of adults and the Mistle thrush is taking beakfulls of berries away, so must be feeding young. I hope they have good digestions if they are eating copious quantities of Mahonia berries and not much else.
Hi Pat, your blackbirds all look to be waiting for something from within those bushes, or they don't like their photo being taken!
I had thought these thrushes looked a little different, but I do have the Song thrush singing it's head off. I have noticed a different song which I couldn't quite pick, you know when you say 'what is that, it sounds like a blackbird but I first thought it was a thrush, but didn't sound right. Mistle thrushes apparently do sing a little like a blackbird according to what I have read, and the marks are more typical of a Mistle Thrush, i.e. round, but on this one the round spots look to join up to make circles! They also fiercely defend their berry bushes, I now wonder if that is what ate half of my blackcurrant crop last year! Blackbirds usually get some, but not that many. The bush is really sprawling and the branches lay on the ground with the weight, I will have to try to cover it, need some old net curtain. I'll feel guilty if I do, but oh heck I love blackcurrant jam! There is a very large hawthorn across the road, they like to nest in those and eat the fruits. They eat slugs too, no mention of snails, I've seen a few snail shells lately so maybe between them I should let them take what they want! You need to encourage Mistle thrushes with your slug population!
I cropped the pic down but it was already cropped a little, so pixels may break up.
Hmm I agree with Pat, that does look like a Mistle thrush. They are noticably larger than a Song thrush too - getting more towards fieldfare size.
One nickname for them is the storm cock. They are the ones you hear at full volume just before a thunderstorm. They certainly sing more than a little ;o))
I needn't have worried about there being no young birds yet. Yesterday and today both the bluetits and great tits brought their newly fledged babies to the feeders outside my window and were breaking bits off and taking them to their fluttering youngsters. The blue tits preferred bits of fat block, and the great tits spent most of their time nibbling the hull less sunflower seeds into smaller pieces for theirs. I took a few photos, but they must be the worst wildlife photos ever. I could see six birds when I took the picture, but can only see one and a blurr on the photo.
I've had to dash outside to frighten away the magpie three times as it was attacking the fledglings. Nasty bird.
The young blackbirds on the photo I sent were waiting for something, they were eating the fruits that the other birds dropped onto the grass.
Well today the garden is teeming with baby birds, robins, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, house sparrows, wrens, gold finches. They are getting stuck in the strawberry nets, going in the greenhouse and not finding how to get out again, bouncing off windows and generally behaving like toddlers.
The sparrow hawk managed to rip the tail and quite a few other feathers off a young male blackbird, but it got away and was wandering round the garden looking very traumatised yesterday. I gave it some bits of cheddar cheese which it enjoyed when it calmed down a bit and I managed to keep the cats away. I've not seen it today so I hope it is alright.
There is one pair of House Martins nesting under the eaves in the sheltered housing next door. There were lots until last year when the council painters ripped all the nests off just after the birds had returned for the summer. They are already feeding young and you can hear them tweeting when the parents fly back in.
My friend has a barn with six pairs of swallows and some redstart, so she feels very honoured. When we were on holiday in Turkey a few years ago the hotel had a covered passage leading from the hotel into the garden and swallows had nested there. The hotel staff had constructed a little net under the nests so that the droppings didn't upset the guests and the swallows were dashing in and out of the hotel feeding their young.
Today's special is the first time I have seen a Bullfinch on the feeder eating sunflower seeds. We occasionally get them in the garden, but I've never seen one on the feeders before.
Such a shame people have to rip out House Martins nests, it's nice that the hoteliers looked after them. They do seem to nest on the north side under eaves, my neighbour has a pair that keep returning, he doesn't mind even though they poop near his back door, people are too tidy. I don't have a north side.
I haven't seen many baby birds, but I don't feed them, you are making me want to do that. You got a shot! You must have had the camera attached to your wrist!
All the birds are bringing their babies this week, new additions are four fluffy house sparrows, one very speckley gold finch, a greenfinch and a rather boisterous family of starlings. The young blue tits and great tits are growing and maturing by the day, getting more adept at sitting on the perches and holding the wire of the peanut feeder. One even managed to hold a piece of peanut in its claw while it nibbled bits off.
The bullfinch is one of my lazy shots taken from my bed - I usually have the camera on the bedside table. It is a good time between 7 and 7.30 am while I'm having my cup of tea, all the birds are coming for their breakfast. You may have noticed the background is always the same, with just the plants changing with the seasons.
The bullfinches have brought their young to the garden today. I heard a call I didn't recognise and there were the adults with four little ones. They stayed in the shrubs in the front garden and didn't go near the feeders at the back, even though the male visits the sunflower feeder a few times a day now.
When it's warm I put my cockatiels out in their cage and Nemo the youngest has started doing bluetit impressions - the little 'tse tse tse' noises they make. He also does a very good trim phone, the squeak the fridge door makes and the Laurel and Hardy tune. He talks a bit too and usually says 'Hello Birdie' when my son walks in - not that that is his name.
Pat you will probably have bullfinches around next year like blackbirds! They are training up their young, what a site that must be!
Nemo is trying to be a bird in the garden, they are clever aren't they. Do you put Laurel and Hardy on just for him? I bet he has you running for the phone! I have heard Starlings mimick the phone ring. Huh, would you believe it, I found this site on starlings getting confused with their mating call and mobile phones, they intend (in 2001) to try to reverse it and in the same breath intend to introduce other sounds, including woodpeckers hammering! Well now they won't get confused will they!
My budgie Joey is very clever, he will try new things once or twice now ang get bored with it. He copies my high pitched voice I put on when I sometimes talk to him, and has developed a noise the same as when I say 'yes' to him and often greets me with it. I can't tell the difference between his and my partners wolf whistle, it's a very soft one. He had a spell of coming onto his outdoor perch, the cage door is always left open, wanting me to talk 'close', I whispered 'Joey's a pretty boy' which he could already say, but he copied my whisper when I was close to him! He has had spells of communicating his 'clever' deeds, when he swirls his head around the bell at the bottom of his mirror it means he is clever, and he has rushed to do that to 'tell' me when he managed to say 'cheeky boy' once! But like all things clever, he soon needs the next trick to amuse him!
Starlings are excellent mimics and some can even talk. I remember watching a programme a few years ago about a rescued starling, something wrong with him so he had to be kept as a pet, he talked, I thought it was a hoax at first!
We've never had a talking budgie but Joey sounds lovely!
Beetle developed a loud wheeeeeeep noise similar to the whistle mother would make to him (I can't whistle for toffee) but when he got his quack he stopped. He tries to tut back though if you tut to him, his chin/throat moves trying to click his tongue but it's silent LOL.
Funny, we say animals can't really talk but they manage to communicate with us far more effectively than we might realise dont they!
Baa, you try telling the animals they can't talk! I bring Joey back a bunch of chickweed every morning after I do the rounds of the greenhouses etc. I used to remember to bring it on the first round, but lately I have had other things take my attention and often forget.
I will be stood at the sink and he is there talking away telling me over and over 'Joey's a pretty boy', making the kiss sound, whistling, and thick me is stood there replying 'yes, Joey's a pretty boy'. 'Joey's a cheeky boy', kiss kiss, whistle whistle whistle, then all of a sudden an extremely loud 'chi chic chic' is shouted out. Oh, sorry Joey, I forgot your chic weed!
He loves it when I call 'Joey's a rowdy git', he starts shrieking to be the loudest budgie in the cage, and I am trying to shriek but can't match it! I think he was reared in an aviary and not handled, he was only 9 weeks old when I was given him as a birthday gift and seems to want to contact but can't quite manage it. He has his spells where he will swoop over my head at close quarters, a sort of buzz there and back. We have touched nose/beak but then he realised my nose wasn't my mouth, and couldn't quite do that! He is a real character. bright gold and green, when I am wearing my cheapie Lidl's green T shirt and green/yellow floral legs I get looked up and down, he gets excited! Wear blue and he looks at it, a little disappointed I think. I looked after my daughter's budgie for a while a couple of years ago (he's blue and white) and he was very excited with it, he is only 2 and 1/2 but I think he remembers it, he was so disappointed when it went home. What goes on in their heads is more than we know.
ROTFL Wallaby, Joey has trained you well! Budgies are such bright little birds aren't they, does he wonder how you change your "feather" colour?
You're so right that more goes on in their heads than we can know. I've told this one before but here it is again. I have an odd accent so when I went to work to help out during the lambing some years ago, the sheepdog struggled to understand me and I could never remember if I should be saying lie or lay down. Within a few days Megan the collie and I worked out a system between us where I'd stand where I wanted the sheep to come and would point in the direction I wanted her to go. She knew her job far better than I did even though she was still quite young, so I left the gathering up to her but she would look at me to see if I'd spotted any sheep that hadn't flocked and I'd again point her in that direction. Occasionally I'd shout some instructions and she did come to understand my voice more. I was only there for the 8 weeks of lambing but it was odd to be taught part of my job by a dog LOL.
And they call them 'dumb' animals! Cats, dogs, cows, birds, you name it, they are all very clever!
I have had blackbirds keep putting holes in a very inadequate net and they eat all the biggest, best strawberries! They jump on it, run at it, every day I have tied up new holes. It's one of those stretchy types, I can't put holes in it but they have a sharp pecker! They are training a set of strawberry picking youngsters to 'pick their own'! A newly fledged baby kept getting stuck trying to get out, but soon found the hole when I tried to release it!
I saw it when first out of the nest, it could only fly a couple of inches off the ground and it went somewhere near my 16 year old Mitsi cat, who seemed not to take any notice. I knew better, she knows I wouldn't let her play with it, so I left the door ajar so I could listen.
Sure enough, I had just come in and there was an almighty squawking! Mitsi sat upright looking down with intent, the bird laid on it's back kicking like mad and making a racket. It learnt a valuable lesson I think! It's feathers were a light greyish colour, unusual I thought.
After the battles the males had earlier I suppose I am getting a special breed of fruit greedy blackbirds around here, the raspberries are ripening now and they will be getting those. They never used to get that many, blackcurrants either, but now they just strip them. I put nets over the blackcurrants so this year they are ours!
You are both so right about the intelligence of other creatures. We can learn so much by observing them, and seeing all their different characteristics. I hadn't thought about dressing in budgie colours Janet, but thinking about it they do react to colours. I can just imagine you being trained by the sheep dog Baa - Is that why you call yourself Baa?
The funniest (most irritating) thing Nemo has done is to copy the nastiest most raucus noise possible from a tape of birds and animals in the Amazon jungle, and they all get excited when I say "shall I put the tape on?". They screech and jump about the cage until I play it.
Pat, you are so considerate to play your cockatiels jungle music! I bet they would like the Disney Jungle Book music, that would really make them dance! Cockatiels are so sweet, I have been very tempted to have some when I've seen them in a pet store.
I can visualise you now dressing up in corresponding colours, but they are nice subtle ones!
I didn't think of Baa being called Baa because of the Baa Baa's! I am getting slow! I suppose I had aready wondered about it and thought it meant something more sober like British Administrative Assistant. Tell us Baa, what is it?
Baa is a nickname which was bestowed upon me before DG. I worked primarily as a dairyman, I served my apprenticeship/YTS on a dairy farm but have worked with a number of different animals. Baa is pronounced in the anglocised way rather than the ovine, nor not in the Stephen Fry/Blackadder Baaah way, if you were curious. A lot of people here spell it BAA and I wondered why, perhaps they thought it was an acronym too! Perhaps I'm coming across as too serious these days? (eeek)
Wallaby it sounds like your fruit are now a training area for commando blackbirds LOL.
I really love the idea of playing the cockateils jungle sounds Patbarr, are they jungle birds originally?
So is it pronounce 'B(ay)a' with the pronounciation on the double 'a' as in both sounds of the word?
I'm afraid I sometimes have that 'too serious' problem too, I don't know why!
Did you see the pics I posted a link to the Photo forum of the blackbird males assessing their dominancy? One just kept chasing the other for weeks after that, wherever one would land, the other would chase it off all day long!
I've had a really upsetting afternoon. I heard lots of screeching and alarm calls from the trees over the wall and went round to see two magpies attacking a fledgling blackbird. The parent blackbirds were going frantic. The magpies dragged the little bird down behind the flats and were having a tug of war with it, pecking it and throwing it about. I ran down and scared them off, but it was giving its last gasp. I tried to bring it round, but it was too badly wounded and died. I hate magpies!
Pat that is horrible! I had a female blackbird coming for cat food, it used to be the male but they were feeding babies, and she would turn up even if I went to the door! The male started turning up to watch over her, but didn't go for food himself. She had some feathers stuck up on one of her wings, I think she had been attacked. They do look after each other, yes I hate magpies too! I have heard them around, only saw one briefly some time ago, but they are terrible bullies. A few years ago I had 8 in the back garden all at once!
Patbarr, I am so very sorry you had that terrible experience, just horrible. We have some birds of prey here and I am very glad that I have only seen (or seen the evidence of) a very few upsetting things happen before my eyes.
Thank you for the welcome :-] wallaby1 and Baa. I just started really paying attention to the birds this year and have been extremely fortunate in the numbers that visit my yard. My favorite is a Crissal Thrasher because he is so playful. The Quail are bringing their little babies now and they are adorable family units.
Birds can be very sweet and entertaining most of the time. It is fascinating to hear of the very different birds you get on the other side of the Atlantic. We get most of the species that are common to the rest of Europe in Britain, but haven't even seen a lot of the American species.
I'm afraid the woman across the road who bulk buys cheap white sliced bread especially to feed the rooks, jackdaws and magpies is attracting all these birds into the area. It looks like an Alfred Hitchcock movie at feeding time with them all perched in the trees, on roofs, chimneys and T.V. aerials, and then they come marauding all over my garden upsetting the hens and attacking all the young birds. I'm considering making a complaint.
This morning I looked out to see a Willow Warbler having a shower in the bird bath. It is the first I've seen this year, so a nice surprise. The greenfinches have brought another two fledglings to the feeders so they have had three broods this year, and there is a very bossy young robin. He is extremely macho and sparring up to everything in sight, but looks so funny as he is just shedding his baby speckled plumage and has a little red breast just peeping through.
This afternoon I had the first sighting of long tailed tits for ages. It was a really large flock, over 20 and they stayed around in the fruit trees for half an hour or more, hopefully they ate plenty of grubs.
I am a big fan of our feathered friends too and I have enjoyed reading all of your tales.
When we moved here in May, two years ago there was a Swallows' nest attached to one of the naya beams. Having seen 3 smashed eggs on the ground we were over the moon when eventually 4 babies hatched. We were very entertained all summer with their comings and goings. After a couple of weeks we noticed that only 3 heads were popping up to be fed...long story short, they started to fledge and sure enough, only three young were perching. We did wonder where it had gone. Mystery was solved when later in the year as the parents were cleaning the nest for second brood...out fell a mummified baby bird. It had been in that nest the whole time. I must admit it creeped me out a bit.
They do the funniest thing...when removing the droppings from the nest - they fly over us in the pool and discharge them like bouncing bombs. Never been personally targeted but it is very amusing. They are such acrobats weaving in and out of the arches and gliding low enough to skim up water from the pool. The bats do this too - I think it is amazing that their sonar is as accurate as eyesight.
Our English cats are ridiculously optomistic in their hopes of actually catching one of these birds. We ROTFLOL watching them move their heads in snyc with the relentless dive-bombing whilst doing that strange chattering that cats do whenever they see a bird they think is within their grasp.
Since the first year we have had no sucessful Swallow broods. The nest was destroyed last year, and we don't know if it was in-fighting (they do seem to squabble a lot) or whether it was a predation (by what?). This nest is not easy to get to...it is at leat 12 ft high in the rafters and not near any perches or ledges. Even after rebuilding it they have not managed to raise their young this year either as the same thing happened. I wish I had been there when it happened but I was out both times. Yesterday I heard them settling down for the night the two of them in the partly restored nest. They looked so cosy and cute. I wonder if they will get it together next year.
You are lucky to have swallows nesting, even if they haven't been successful recently, at least they keep coming back. My friend has a farm and has said just the same as you about them dropping poo sacks like little bombs, but hers seem to favour their patio table and chairs as a target. Fortunately she finds this amusing and she hardly has time to sit out in the garden anyway as she is always rushing about to committees and everything else which is going on in the community.
This morning I've been watching a Tree creeper meticulously searching the bark of the pear tree just outside my window. It's funny how they only creep upwards and then fly down to start going up again. That is the first sighting I've had for months.
ooh I love tree creepers Pat
We have a tall horse chestnut that has died just outside (the previous occupants pruned it rather too severely) and I love to watch them on that. We also get the nuthatches, which run down as well as up :)
We also have swallows in the barn. They drink from the swimming pool, which causes amusement to the guests as they carry on even when the pool is full of humans. Fortunately noone has reported a direct hit... yet...
philomel, I have seen a tree creeper on the Horse Chestnut tree, there must be things on them they like to eat.
Our tree was under pruned rather than over pruned. Some large lower branches had been cut off with too much left, one was arounf 5' long and the rot was going down it. That's what happens, it goes all the way to the middle and kills the tree. It was starting to look unhealthy, since I cleaned a patch for potatoes it has some roots going into it and feeds from the compost and fertiliser. I also built up around the base with soil from the water drain that had been there for 20 years, full of leaves too. The hosta bed is built up under the edge of it with loads of compost and drain soil, the roots go upwards but the hostas are doing OK other than mole undermining.
Chestnuts have to be pruned while in growth otherwise they bleed to death, some trees are pruned while dormant so that may have been the mistake. We cut the branches to leave a lip just beyond the main trunk, the cambrium layer under the bark grows over the edges and heals it. The rot in the long branch had just reached the main trunk. Unfortunately many people don't research their needs, they think it's allright to just hack away.
I saw a group of birds flitting around the tree a couple of days ago, I couln't get a good look but they reminded me of a coaltit in size and colour, they were chitting too but I really couldn't describe it.
I also had a woodpecker sitting on top of the electricity post a while back, making a 'khark' sort of noise. I wasn't sure what it was but took a pic on zoom, and could just see the red colour, it had a very sharp long beak. I wonder what the call meant, perhaps it was calling out to others.
Yes, this poor tree has been "pollarded" at about 10 metres, Just cut straight across the trunk with no branches left at all. It would have made a wonderful shade tree (much needed) too. I've planted a Catalpa to do that job in the future, but it'll be a few years before it's large enough
Were the group of birds long tailed tits? The tails can be difficult to spot at a distance and they are very social, travelling in groups and are about that size,
We have plenty of green and spotted woodpeckers around here, I even saw a black woodpecker up in the Pyrenees, would love to have one of those in the garden!!
That is a shame your tree is dying, they do make a good shade tree, even for here! They also provide lots of compost material, it seems that many people just see a large tree in the garden as a nuisance, grumbling at the work it creates rather than appreciating the benefits. I can be guilty of an occasional grumble, then I smack myself around the ears and tell myself it is useful, and attractive.
I looked up long-tailed tits, the descrition on the rspb site fits perfectly
"The long-tailed tit is easily recognisable with its distinctive colouring, a tail that is bigger than its body, and undulating flight. Gregarious and noisy residents, long-tailed tits are most usually noticed in small, excitable flocks of about 20 birds. Like most tits, they rove the woods and hedgerows, but are also seen on heaths and commons with suitable bushes."
They were excitable and chatty, they seemed to be enjoying themselves. You do notice the character of a different bird like this, some are shy, some coy, secretive, they didn't hang around once I arrived on the scene and I really wanted to observe them more!
Looked up black woodpecker, a sharp looking character!
Catalpas are lovely trees, I have 3 paulownias I grew from seed, 6 years old now and 2 years in the ground, they look great from the kitchen window when the sun shines through the leaves. I will keep them cut back, they grow a lot in a season and you get larger leaves.
Ah,I grew Paulownias from RHS seed a few years ago, but they're in england of course...
That's reminded me that I have some seed so will sow that again, lovely trees, yours are beautiful.
I have been given a self-seeded Albizia, which I've put out there too.
Long tailed tits are about my favourite bird. I love their constant talking and watching them play follow my leader across any gaps in the trees. They're such a lovely soft colour too.
The chestnut is dead :( so I may put an ivy up it - though the bare trunk is quite attractive with plenty going on ...
Very interesting to read about how lively the birdlife is in your gardens! Unfortunately the bird fauna in Iceland is mostly confined to seabirds and waders, not too many perching birds :-( The most frequent vistors in my garden are starlings and redwings, but I am lucky that there are a few blackbirds living in my neighbourhood! They are a very recent addition to the birdlife here and I think they only live in a few places in and around Reykjavík. Before I moved to this neighbourhood I hadn't seen them and didn't even know there were any so it was a very pleasant surprise. I love to hear them singing in May and June. There's a Blackbird and a Redwing that have a sing-off every spring - they both seem to want to secure the same nesting area - so the nights are filled with song in June! Some of my neighbours find it quite annoying but I think it's just grand falling asleep and waking up to their singing. Even if one of my girls wake me in the middle of the night they're still at it. Then all goes quiet in July and we don't see many birds until the berry feast begins. The Starlings are gathering and fly around in large flocks eating the elderberries and then when the Rowan berries are ripe in September the fiest begins with a constant chattering of Starlings and Redwings. I've recently noticed flocks of Redpolls in the birchtrees eating seeds - there will be more of them in the fall.
I have a small pond in my front garden that has become a popular bird-bath and so I've seen a lot more birds than I would have otherwise. One bird I'd never seen before this summer was the Norther Wheatear, both male and female came for a bath once in a while and I'm pretty sure they were a pair with a nest somewhere in the undeveloped "lava islands" around the neighborhood. Later I spotted an immature bird that I didn't recognise but it could have been one of their fledglings. The birdlife is much more lively in the winter time when I put feed out for them although not much more varied just bigger numbers. Then the snowbuntings join the group - as soon as the first snow falls they appear and disappear just as abruptly when it melts.
We get the birds you mention in our gardens as winter visitors, although I've never seen a snow bunting here.
At the moment we have about 12 blackbirds eating all the Elderberries in the back garden. It doesn't look as though I'll be making much elderberry wine or cordial this year. They are having a wonderful time so I can't begrudge them their feast.
I saw a pied wagtail the other day checking out my pond - looked like an immature bird. It didn't dive in this time - maybe some other time it'll be ready to take the plunge:-) It's the first time I've seen one inside my garden, they seem to prefer open spaces - I often see them out on the street.
We don't often see pied wagtails in the garden, but there are always some in the car park next to the sports centre - open spaces like you say.
We do sometimes have grey wagtails having a shower in the waterfall. Last winter on an extremely cold frosty day I watched a wren standing under the outlet from the filter having an energetic shower. I wondered how it could possibly do this without getting hypothermia. It must have been trying to wash insects out of its feathers.
There are lots of young birds coming to the feeders just now. Most are still in their speckled juvenile plumage and some seem to only just have left the nest and are fluttering their wings for their parents to feed them. It seems to have been a good breeding season for them to have young so late in the year.
The house martins have raised three young and are feeding another brood. They will be lucky to get strong enough to migrate as they only have another couple of weeks before they are leaving. The swallows are already gathering and sitting on the wires as though they are discussing their journey.
We've had a very musical robin sitting at the top of the pear tree singing his little heart out all week from very early in a morning. Funny how they all go quiet during the summer. They are probably too busy raising young to have time to sit about singing, and they won't be needing to attract a mate or stake out their territory at that time of the year.
It does show that Autumn is here. We've had some much cooler nights this week and it is getting dark much earlier, the hens had gone to bed at 18.45 today.
I don't have that many species of birds in my garden, as I live in a city, but they are big in numbers.
When I arrived here many years ago, there were no birds at all, as there was nothing for them to eat, to drink or to nest.
From the very beginning I focused on making my garden bird-and wildlife friendly. So I planted a lot of climbing plants.(a good alternative for when you don't have the space for many big trees).
Very soon I discovered that many birds love to bath and I provided for several birdbaths.
The species of birds I have at the moment are
about 25 sparrows.
A couple of black birds (they don't allow any others as they are very territorial).
About 5 Turkish turtle-doves
a varying number of blue tits.
In the winter time I get some extra guests like; more tits, red robins, wrens.
Often my tiny garden has the aspect of a busy air port.
Here is a picture of them having a great time in the bath
bonitin - beautiful photos! Your garden looks like a tropical rain forest! The magpie is a handsome looking bird - didn't know it was such a hazard to other birds. Here the sea gulls are the biggest "nest robbers". They circle over the neighbourhood May through June.
The wagtail came back a few days ago - and decided to take a bath! I was so delighted - it and the wren were the only birds in the neighbourhood that hadn't taken a bath there yet. Still waiting for the wren - haven't seen it around all summer.
The seagulls are probably the most hated birds here - they've been a bit of a pest for the last two summers. Seems that they don't have enough to eat so they've been flocking around Reykjavík and here in Hafnarfjordur. Both the duck ponds here and in Reykjavík are full of sea gulls - they take the ducklings and steal the bread. So not popular with people going with their kids to feed the ducks ... I even heard that they'd been lifting steaks off barbeques!!!!
The pied wagtail is a very handsome bird. I've never seen one over here. Perhaps it is unique for your region ?
I'm sorry to hear that sea gulls are so hated in your country.
Perhaps I only saw their charming sides without having to deal with their negative aspects. It shocked me to hear that they even could attack ducklings. I may not think of it!
Yeah, I don't think there were any ducklings this year in Reykjavik :-( Sea gulls are all right if they stay in their place - the sea. Ofcourse it's bad that they're not getting enough to eat so you do kind of feel for them ... but most people just want to get rid of them.
The pied wagtail is wide spread all around Europe according to the info on birdguides:
I don't know the reason for the food shortage - it's something that's been a problem for the past 2 years at least and not just for the sea gulls - the artic terns didn't nest in the Reykjavik area this summer for the same reason. They're main food source is a small fish(don't know the name) that just seems to be gone or at least there's not enough of it ... they don't know the reason why.
Don't know why they go so far inland in your area - here they're just along the coast - well, here every town is on the coast - you don't see them far inland here.
We traveled to the West fjords of Iceland (in the NW) this summer and there we saw a lot of nesting arctic terns that seemed to have enough to eat - it seems the food shortage is just here in the south ... maybe the sea is too warm or something ??
Hi Rann, I love terns they look so much daintier than seagulls. We saw quite a few when we were in Scotland, there were also Razor bills and lots of buzzards and ravens.
The Housemartins have all migrated this week, two days ago there must have been over 100 flying over our house for several hours, making their high pitched little calls, but today there is not one to be seen and the silence is really noticeable. I hope the weather holds for their journey as there were some very young ones. The pair nesting in the eaves of the house next to us have had three broods this year, and the last ones have only just left the nest. It will be interesting to see how many return next year.
I love the terns too - although I don't like to get too close to them when they're nesting - they're very aggressive! They are the last migrating bird to arrive here so they're a sure sign of summer here - hence a welcome sight!
There are a lot of Redwings and Starlings around now - I saw about 5 or 6 Redwings in and around the pond this morning. The berry feast has begun so it's very lively here and constant squatter in the birds - that's what I love about fall, the birds start singing again!
While we were in Copenhagen over the weekend we saw a lot of magpies in the gardens that we visited - they are really pretty birds. If I didn't know they were nestrobbers I'd wish to have them around here! Also saw some very cute little yellow and blue birds with black markings that fluttered between trees picking berries - they were so quick it was hard to see them! I loved watching them - they were so cute!
Well all the Summer visitors have gone last month. It seems quite strange without the Housemartins little squeeky calls.
The weather must be changing as we are getting lots more chaffinches and today there are huge flocks of Goldfinches and Greenfinches on the feeders. The cats have decimated the Dunnocks which were breeding well and we had several pairs in the garden. The long tailed tits are still twice daily visitors to the garden and have started using the peanut feeder. The blackbirds have also returned to the garden. It is funny that a couple of weeks ago I saw a flock of mainly young blackbirds, probably sixteen altogether dashing through the trees and bushes. I've no idea what they were up to, but they seem to have dispersed again and just a couple of pairs have taken up residence again.
The elderberries have all been eaten and now they are starting on the Pyracantha berries.
There are lots of wrens and all the other tits and usual visitors but I haven't seen any Song Thrushes or the Woodpecker for a few months.
I've been putting out a handfull of peanuts each night for the hedgehogs which are regular visitors. They eat up all the bits the birds throw off the feeders too. They should be nice and fat for the winter.
We've had frost 3 nights in a row now - so I put out a piece of left-over cake for the birds. The starlings were there instantly, it's like they'd been waiting for me to put something out for them. Now a redwing has joined them as well. I've seen a blackbird around once in a while - but never many at the same time. One of them is on to the cake ... so all my regular winter visitors are here for breakfast :-)
Yesterday I saw a snipe on the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street. I've never seen one here inside the neighbourhood although I've often heard them - they usually stay out in the lava fields. I was backing out of the driveway and it huddled down then when I stopped the car it continued hunting for something to eat.
Ravens are also starting to be more visible around the neighborhood - there's quite a few of them that hang around here all winter.
edited for spelling ;-)
It must have been a surprise to see the Snipe in the street. I've only ever seen them on the moors in the wet parts about two miles above our town. There aren't many Starlings at the moment around here. They usually eat the fat block in a couple of hours, but it has been there a few days now so the blue tits are getting their share. There are Redwing in nearby woodland but they haven't visited the garden yet. They usually come to eat the Pyracantha berries, but there are so many Rowan, Holly and Hawthorn berries that they have lots to go at.
I'm still having trouble with the neighbour's cat. It caught a bluetit yesterday. It really is deadly. I'll have to put something prickly in all its hiding places - or use a catapult. I must say I've had a bit of target practice with the windfall apples but haven't managed to hit it yet - at least it scares it away for a while.
Yes Pat I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the snipe! There are so many redwings around now - they seem to be flocking together as well as the Starlings. The blackbirds aren't as many but still quite a few - they're so loud they always make their presence known! I saw three redpolls by the pond this morning - haven't seen them there before. Unfortunately it was frozen over - I guess I should go out in the morning and break a hole in the ice for the birds.
The cats are a problem here too - they were stalking my goldfish this summer. I haven't seen them get any birds fortunately. There was a cat that lived accross the street that was an incredible hunter - saw him out on the street last year eating a snow bunting. I think he got quite a few - and mice as well ... he's moved away fortunately - I'm pretty sure he would have gotten his claws on all my fish!
Poor little snow bunting, that is something I have never seen here. We do get Red poll in winter though.
I'm writing to alert people in the UK about a Trichomonas parasite that is spreading through British finches at the moment, particularly Greenfinches. I have seen a couple of sick looking ones on my feeders and have been busy disinfecting the feeders and the bird bath to try to stop it spreading. The birds are lethargic and have their feathers fluffed up and one of them had its beak open as though it either had a sore throat or couldn't breath properly. There are more details on the R.S.P.B. web site
It was amusing this morning - bird watching while having breakfast as usual. The squirrel is back and was busy hiding the peanuts that the hedgehog had left over from its supper. Every time the squirrel went back for another nut a Coal tit flew down and took any that it hadn't covered properly. They carried on for about half an hour and the squirrel was totally oblivious of the bird undoing all its hard work.
I've not seen any more sick greenfinches, so hopefully it isn't spreading.
LOL Pat. what great enertainment to have over breakfast! I can just picture it :-)
I've seen quite a few redpolls in the last few days and on Saturday a few came for a bath in the pond, 3-4 at the same time. I got a photo of one of it - sorry it's not very good - I took it through the kitchen window.
That is a lovely photo, it is having a good splash. I have never understood how birds can enjoy bathing in cold water in freezing cold weather, even if it does get rid of their ticks and creepy crawlies. Although if it is thermally heated water then maybe it would be nice.
thanks pat. I'm sure it would be nice for the birds to be able to take a warm bath :-) But that was icy cold water. It's standing on a sheet of ice that had formed over the pond and then been rained over. After a week of overnight frost and cold enough day temps. to keep the pond and puddles frozen the birds were so happy when it rained and they could take a bath! It rained so heavily last Friday that large puddles formed on the street and it was like a pool party there were so many birds bathing :-)
After the bath it sat in my "cherry tree" and pruned itself for a long time.
Thanks wallaby - It's the common redpoll (the Icelandic breed) that's here, Carduelis flammea :-) There's often a large flock of them in the brich trees around here ... the birch seeds seem to last them well into spring because they seldom come to eat the feed I put out for the other birds until in late winter. The snowbuntings on the other hand turn up as soon as it snows ... which was last night :-) I need to go out and buy some feed for them ...
There are lots of finches in the garden just now and they all look well again. It is a few weeks since I saw a sick one, so hopefully the colder weather has cleared the outbreak up.
At dusk this afternoon there were lots of blue tits and great tits going through the shrubs and there was a gold crest with them, and yesterday I saw a brambling with the chaffinches and my first sighting for ages in the garden of a song thrush. I'm amazed than any of the birds that run about on the ground survive with all the cats. I'll have to plant lots more valerian (which they chew and rub their faces on) to sedate them and give the birds a better chance.
Pat - never thought of using Valerian for that! I hate the smell of it so I threw it all out!
With the snowcover the past two weeks the birds are starting to come to my place for lunch and dinner :-) Mostly Starlings and thrushes but yesterday two red buntings came to eat the corn I put out for the snowbuntings, which haven't shown up yet for some strange reason. I've only seen one flock fly over and then I hadn't bought any feed for them yet ... haven't seen them since. Usually they turn up the first day everything is covered up in snow.
Here's a photo I got of the redpoll yesterday - a bit fuzzy since I took it through the window:
The snow is staying with you quite a while Rannveig. It has turned quite mild and rainy again here. We have lots of blackbirds feasting on the Pyracantha berries and the Sorbus. What do you put out for the snow buntings? We have only had a small number of starlings so far this year, and the red wings usually come into the garden when they are getting short of food elsewhere, but I have seen them around here when I've been out walking.
The cold weather usually brings lots of other species into the garden, but I hope it stays mild for as long as possible - I hate winter.
The snowbuntings like ground corn, but I also put out bird feed for finches that the redpoll seemed to like! The starlings and thrushes like apples and bread (with syrup if it's really cold) and on cold days they also get lard which they really like!
It's raining today so the snow's melting - I'd prefer to keep it around until January ... it brightens up this very dark time of year :-)
That must be it, Resin. The weather here is abnormally mild.
No frost yet and we are almost in the middle of December!
The abundance of food is provided by me all year round, so these two factors must explain it.
I have seen all the birds around lately behaving like it's spring, blue tits, robin, and I saw 2 very small birds which could only be wrens. Some of the plants think it's spring too, a hardy fuchsia has made fresh shoots.
Can't be good for the plants if winter decides to show up. It's still definately winter here and I'm glad since these mid winter mild spells tend to trick the plants into early growth that can be fatal ... at least here. The birds are enjoying the apples I put out for them, I've been a bit lazy since the snow melted, but the ground is still frozen so they need to be fed none the less.
I've seen some geese around the neighborhood grazing. A flock of the showed up on my driveway last winter - I ran in and gave the some bred, but they didn't come back for more.
Many birds that are migratory in other parts of the country stay put here around Reykjavik and are pretty dependent on being fed when it's cold (the thrushes and starlings for instance).
The geese that dropped in for a visit in February this year.
We've still got huge flocks of finches, which is probably a good thing as the cat likes the odd gold finch for an afternoon snack. I've seen the sparrow hawk in the garden a few times recently and have found the bodies of two collared doves, not eaten but loads of feathers around. They roost in the same tree I see the sparrow hawk in, so that is the most likely cause of their demise.
There are also lots of tits, blackbirds and the robin, which is in full song from before day-break.
Not many winter visitors yet. I've seen some large flocks of winter thrushes in the countryside but none in the garden, but there are lots of berries everywhere, so they aren't struggling for food yet.
We usually get a blackcap with the bluetits, but no sightings this year as yet.
There have been huge numbers of Chaffinches for the past three days. They usually only come into the garden when there is really bad weather, in fact we have started saying there must be bad weather coming when they appear in more than twos and threes and it is usually right.
Has anyone else noticed this? It will be interesting to see what weather we get in the next few days. This week has been mild and overcast. Might have to get the wellies and snow shovels out!
The chaffinches must have sensed the gales (atmospheric pressure changes?) and come into the garden for shelter. There are still lots about and they are getting quite acrobatic trying to compete with the gold finches on the feeders. They tend to dive on, grab a seed and fly off to eat it straight away, while the gold finches sit on the perches and eat until they are full.
I sprinkled a bit of suet into a crack in the old apple tree and the wren and great tits keep going in there for a treat. The squirrel was also investigating it this morning. I wouldn't have thought they ate suet.
My new hens are settling in now and getting quite bold. They dared to all go on the top perch with the old hens tonight, but they were all squashed to the far end so they didn't get pecked. They are growing really fast and will soon be as big as the others, so should be able to stand up to them a bit better. They were funny this morning when I let them out. They were all sparring up to one another, trying to look very tall and fierce and jumping up and down and then running away really fast.
Hi Rannveig, Suet is the shredded fat you use in cooking - for dumplings etc. You can get a vegetarian version. The bluetits like it too.
I've just been birdwatching from bed - very lazy but lovely to see them all on the feeders. The squirrel has just been on the sunflower seed feeder for its breakfast too.
Then from the kitchen window I've just been watching a plump female blackbird having a vigorous bath in the plants on the edge of the small pond. Bluetits are busy eating the petals off the Mahonia x media, Dunnocks are hopping over the mossy lawn and a Wren is delving about in the rockery. There are also lots of Goldfinches eating the seeds on the old Evening primroses I left in specially for them.
Gardening and caring for nature is so rewarding - it makes me very happy.
Pat - sounds so lovely to have all this life around you :-) The birds are gathering here for treats as well - just not so varied - it's always the same ones. Thanks for the explanation - I give them tallow which they like alot - I'll try to put some out for the wren too ...
Look who came for a bite today! I'm not sure what the english name is - here it's called a "gray thrush" ... it's a fairly common winter visitor. I saw one last winter too - that was the first time I saw it ... couldn't believe my eyes! I think it's sooooo pretty - unlike all the other birds here :-)
That is a lovely photo Rannveig, was he on his own? We see large flocks of them in the countryside, but not usually on their own, and very rarely in gardens - where I live anyway. It still looks very wintry, how long has the snow been on the ground? It is very mild here, with lots of rain and very strong gales. At least It is pleasanter to go out if it is cold and fine.
Yes - Pat it was on its own. The one I saw last time was also a loner ... I guess they come here "by mistake" so that's probably why there aren't more of them. They are a rare sight ... hope it comes back - I'll be feeding the birds very well the next few days. They need it, it was -8°C today. The snow is from Saturday and will stay on the ground at least until next week - so there will be a lot of hungry birds to feed.
You can see that it was a cold day by how "puffy" it looks ...
They are lovely birds, we don't usually see them close up. -8 degrees is a bit too cold for my liking, but I like cold clear days better than dark wet ones. The sun is just peeping through the clouds today so I feel more like getting out and doing something.
The hens are happier too. The new hens are getting quite adventurous - there were three of them sitting on a branch up the plum tree a few minutes ago. I'll try to get a photo.
Oh Pat please try to get a photo! I'd love to see them :-)
It's been very lively today - got some more snow last night, it's about -5°C so the birds are quite hungry. The fieldfare came back today although it was a bit late for the feast ... this time there were TWO of them! I didn't notice the other one at first since it stayed way in the back ... sure hope they'll come back again. I think I'll need to get them some more apples - they seem to love those :-) I just love it when we get "visitors" they're such a treat :-)
ooh yes Resin - they do love raisins! :-) I've treated them to some when I'm feeling very generous ... might give them some tomorrow ;-) What on earth are mealworms and where would I get those?
The two fieldfares have been fighting over which one's yard this is today ... lol - I think I need to put some food out in a different spot in the yard as well so both of them can get something to eat. I've heard that they can even drive the other birds away so they have all the goodies to themselves ... we'll see - that didn't happen last year. But they definately don't like others of the same kind around.
It really is surprising to hear that they are so sociable "at home" they certainly aren't known for that here. About two years ago I attended a lecture about birds in the garden and a few of the most common "visitors" were discussed, amongst others the fieldfare. The lecturer said that if we'd be lucky enough to get a fieldfare in the garden - we'd better spread the food out or we might end up with that being the only bird in the garden. lol
wow- you are good! I'm not familiar with the mistle thrush doesn't come over here as far as I know. It was funny watching the fieldfare today ... yesterday it was a bit timid and the starlings chased it away a few times but today it was the other way around. Maybe they're more agressive when they're "traveling" ... lol I'm sure they'd rather be home than freezing their tails off here. Probably thinking "I shouldn't have made that right turn - big mistake!" Poor guys.
I've just been watching a female Black cap nibbling the yellow Mahonia media petals, and a Bullfinch in the next tree the Corylus avelana contorta. Lovely to see them. We rarely get the Black caps and only usually a single bird, I wonder if it is the same one that visited last winter.
The blackbirds are checking out all their favourite nesting sites. A male was rummaging about in the little lollipop shaped Bay tree for about half an hour yesterday and the female sat on top of the tree for a while and then lost interest. They try a nest in there every year, but have never raised any young in it. I wonder why they think it is so good a place.
There are some Collared doves nesting across the road in some tall conifers and two pairs of Dunnocks are busying themselves around the back garden inspecting the privet hedge. There is a very lively little wren searching the greenhouses for insects and going over all the fruit trees. I'm surprised there are any insects left with all the bird activity. I suppose it is the balance of nature. If there is plenty of food the birds do well and if they go short there are fewer birds until the food supply increases again.
We've only ever had waxwings in the garden once about five years ago. There are reports of them in the area most winters. I heard they were a little late this year due to the mild weather, so if they are in Northumberland I had better start looking out for them.
We had waxwings visit here two years ago - the first time I saw them I (again) couldn't believe my eyes and thought to myself ... "We haven't moved to a warmer country - how can this be?" Learned later that they live quite far north in Scandinavia and come over here once in a while. The most stunningly beautiful birds ever seen here I sure!
Pat - I'm amazed that the birds are starting to look for nesting places already over there! Isn't that unusually early? I'm sure they won't start thinking of that here for another 4 months.
The fieldfares have made themselves very much at home here ... so much so that they are chasing all the other birds away. I put food out in a second spot so the "regulars" could feed there since the first fieldfare had totally claimed the original spot as his, but then the second fieldfare was very quick to claim the second feeding station so I had to put out food on the third side of the house as well! lol They're really making me work those two! Especially since it's been snowing quite a bit so instead of having to sweep snow off one feeding place - I had three.
Here's a photo of one of them in the second feeding spot - it's very close to a window so I got a very close up shot of it :-)
Oooooooh wow, Resin that one sure is a beauty! Didn't even know it excisted ... it certainly is stunning. Do you know where the Varied Thrush lives? Is it found in the UK?
Thanks for the link - a link on that page led me to another icelandic site with updates of vagrant sightings. There is a Robin visiting somewhere in Hafnarfjordur and a few days ago there was a sighting of a blackcap and waxwing in Reykjavik. I didn't know what a blackcap was until I saw the icelandic name for it on that site - we had one of those visit here 2 years ago as well :-)
Quoting:Do you know where the Varied Thrush lives?
Western North America (Alaska south to northwest California). So a truly remarkable rarity for Iceland. There is also one old record for the UK. Never seen one myself, not even on my trip to Western North America where I had hoped to see some :-((. There's a recent thread (with pics; scroll down for the best) on the [mainly USA] DG birdwatching forum: http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/684055/
Wish there had been, but no. There was a pair nested at Bishop Middleham Quarry in Durham in 2002, I guess that's what you're thinking of? Earlier, there was also a flock of 10 Bee-eaters at Cleadon (also Durham) from 20-22 May 1999 (which I went to see), but there are very few records for Northumberland (I have yet to see one this side of the Tyne).
Hi Resin, Is it really so long ago - yes I know they were nesting in a quarry as there was a lot of news coverage and I thought it was a shame there would be so many people around the site.
I once saw a gang (can't think of an appropriate collective noun for twitchers) of twitchers pursuing a poor exhausted Bluethroat at Spurn until it died as it didn't get a chance to rest and find food.
Rannveig, the Fieldfare are getting so close, they will be in your kitchen next and you won't have to go outside to feed them! They are lovely birds. It is surprising when you look closely even at the drab looking ones like sparrows that they really have nice markings and much more colour than you notice when they are flying about.
LOL - Pat! They certainly are making themselves at home :-) Maybe they'll start knocking on the window if I forget to put out apples for them. I wish one of those Robins that have been hanging around here would drop in for a visit. I've never seen one except on photos. There was a photo of one in the paper yesterday. They're really cute little fellows :-)
Some of my favourites - the long tailed tits - taking their turn at the feeder.
Yesterday I went a long walk over the moors in the snow and glorious sunshine and saw a large flock of Long tailed tits and lots of Red Grouse. The reservoir was full to overflowing and the roads on the way back were extremely icy. I felt so much better for some sun, exercise, fresh air and lovely scenery.
Don't forget that it is the R.S.P.B.'s Big Bird Watch today and tomorrow. You can download the form to fill in from the R.S.P.B. website. You just have to record the largest number of each species you see in one hour either today or tomorrow in your garden or a local park etc.
There have been dozens of lovely birds in the garden today because of the snow. I put them a special treat out - some chopped peanuts, suet and raisins as well as their usual food. The song thrush which we rarely see even came to the bird table but was having a running battle with a rather belligerant blackbird.
My new hens have started laying - one egg yesterday and two today, one of them a double yolker. It announced its achievement by marching round making an extremely silly noise. Still it was its first attempt. I'm sure the voice will improve with practise!
Another good day for variety with the female Black cap again and a pair of Bullfinches and Song thrush which has been a regular visitor this week. There were fifteen different species on the feeders yesterday and most of them in quite large numbers. Lots of them have paired up and are collecting nesting material and the tits are checking out all the nest boxes. Two pairs of Blackbirds have nests in the conifers and another pair are building somewhere at the back of the house. The snow doesn't seem to have put them off at all, but it is really too early. Still if they get an early start they usually get two summer broods in as well.
Surprising to hear you actually have 3 pairs of Blackbirds, Pat!
I always thought that blackbirds are very territorial and don't allow any other one nest or even feed in their immediate neighbourhood.
Every year I only have one couple of blackbirds. Any other blackbird that comes by and explores the neighborhood is passionately chased out. Of cause, my place is really tiny, but the couple also chases other blackbirds out of neighbouring gardens.
There must be something attractive about Mahonia flowers as the Blackcap usually appears in my Mahonia x media Charity. Yours is hoping you haven't seen it by the look of the photo.
We have quite a large garden, but the blackbirds seem to get on quite well. They go around in quite large numbers over winter and have a few squabbles when they are pairing up. After that they just go about their business and don't seem to mind one another. There is just the one male which is determined to keep the Song thrush out of the garden. It pretends to fly away and then when the blackbird has hurtled off after it, it comes back from a different direction. They are quite funny to watch.
Don't the birds sound lovely just now. I love to hear them singing in the morning. There were 16 species in the back garden this morning including my favourites the Song thrush, Bull finches, Wren and Long tailed tits all in pairs. I'll have to keep an eye on them and see if I can find where they are nesting - if they have started yet. The Blackbirds have three nests in the conifers and holly hedge, but I don't think the others have built theirs yet. The blue tits are still checking out the nest boxes but not decided which ones to use.
It is like spring today and all the birds are busy building their nests and hurtling about with beakfulls of grass and twigs. The blue tits have chosen their nest box and are hopping in and out every few minutes.
Yesterday when I was just about to open the front door I saw two magpies on the door mat. I opened the door and they just hopped a couple of yards away and stood looking at me - obviously they were too busy to fly away. Then I noticed lots of bits of coconut matting scattered around and one of the magpies looked as though it had a stiff ginger moustache - a large beakful of doormat. Hope it makes a comfortable nest.
The House martins returned on 4th April, and the Chiff Chaff have started up their calls. My friend has some Spotted fly catchers up at her farm and Golden Plover have been seen for the first time at her neighbours farm. He has had lapwing nesting, but never the plover so he is very excited. And another pair of blackbirds have chosen the silliest nesting site so far this year on the open side of a small conifer about three feet from the ground with an apple branch leading almost into the nest - easy access for cats etc. It must be their first attempt, or perhaps they are just very optimistic. It is a lovely nest though
What does one feed to baby blackbirds ?
This morning, my brother has cut down a dead pine tree. Too late he noticed that it had a nest from blackbirds. Fortunately he managed to rescue the two baby blackbirds. He has been feeding them rain worms about 20 per bird during the day. Now he is wandering whether that would be sufficient and if they have to be fed also other types of food.
The babies are almost full grown and are trying out their wings.
Tomorrow, I'll be in charge of them, because my brother has work to do,
so I would like to ask if anyone has some advise how I have to take care of them.
Thanks, Resin. I just thought that blackbirds are omnivores. My blackbirds enjoy fruits like apples, grapes, etc.. and they also like bread so, I was wondering if they also feed it to their babies.
you're not serious, are you, about the first feeding ?
They are omnivores as adults, but the chicks need high quality protein animal food while they are still growing. A small amount of soft fruit (e.g. grapes, raspberries) will be OK this close to fledging, but only as a supplementary food, not their full diet. Ditto tinned cat food (which is typically about 40% protein, compared to 70% protein in worms and insects).
Sorry, yes, serious about the first feeding - it will need to be about half an hour before dawn. Blackbirds have very good eyesight, and do a lot of their feeding while it is still nearly dark to our eyes. The chicks will let you know when they wake up hungry!
That made it all clear now ! Thank you so much, Resin!
My brother will have to do the first feedings before he leaves for his work, because I will only arrive at his place later in the morning.
I will have to overcome my feelings of disgust for the type of food I have to give them, wish they where vegetarians!
Feeding is the easy part . . . clearing up the poop they produce out the other end is less nice! They will typically produce a poop immediately after being fed (in nature, so that the parents can carry it away for good nest hygeine at the end of a feeding visit).
That was quit an experience to play for mother blackbird!!
It is unbelievable HOW MUCH they can eat!!!
I was a little insecure about the amount of food I should give because they kept asking for more even after something like 5 big rainworms.
Amazing also how they trust humans to such an extend; they are not aware of any danger. When I walked away after I thought they had enough they came running after me as if I was their mother.
Tomorrow they will be taken to a bird asil where they take care of young wild birds fallen out of their nest, also of wounded ones until they think it is safe to let them lose again in the wild.
A picture of my brother feeding them (he had to keep them inside a room indoors because of his 5 too much interested cats!):
They are lovely little birds - you have done well to keep them going. When you see the parent birds working so hard looking for food all day it just makes you realise how much the babies eat.
One of our blackbird families have left the nest this week, but unfortunately one had killed itself by flying into the window. They still seem to be looking after another two though. I'm amazed how they manage to raise any with all the neighbouring cats.
Thanks Pat and Rannveig!
At the moment I have a new cat of one of the neighbours terrorizing my sparrows. He has already killed 6 of them.
It is shocking to find the remnants of the crimes.
For a few days the whole bird community was gone from my garden and I feared they would never come back. It was sooo silent and I felt sad. But since a couple of days they all came back and are very busy making their nests,
chatting and quarreling. I wonder where they have gone to for a whole week and where they found their food.
I'll try to scare off the murderer with a garden hose. I know they hate water! I always had a dilemma with cats and birds. I love both, like I love all animals, but sadly they are not compatible.
The little chicks are taken care of now in the bird asil by a lovely caring volonteer until they are ready to spread out their wings and let free into the wild.
I feel very sad the neighbour's cat has just eaten the male Song thrush. There are feathers all over the garden around its anvil for breaking the snail shells, and the cat saw me and ran for its life.
On a happier note it is gently raining and all the birds have started singing happily - like an afternoon "dawn chorus". They have been struggling to find worms etc with the terribly dry ground and lots of them are feeding young now so perhaps the rain will bring the worms up again.
I'm sorry Pat for the loss of your male Song Trush.
I never managed to get used to the cruel aspects that are also part of nature.
Hope he hadn't babies yet. I wonder what happens if one of the parents dies. Does the remaining parent has to take over the whole task of raising the chicks ?
That is what I was worried about Bonitin, I think the female must be sitting on eggs as she hasn't been around much for the past week or two. I don't think she could keep them warm and feed them on her own.
Quoting:I never managed to get used to the cruel aspects that are also part of nature
The problem is that domestic cats are NOT part of nature - they are artificially fed, and artificially maintained at about 20 times the natural population density that wild cats would have, thus leading to vastly higher predation rates.
It is true Resin that domestic cats are not natural.
But besides this fact, one cannot deny that nature really has some very cruel aspects. One only has to watch nature documentaries like they have on the BBC.
I love to watch them, but always close my eyes or even leave the room when it comes to the sometimes really gruesome scenes. That may be cowardly from my part, but I cannot help it. I never get used to it.
I remember one scene where a chick in a nest was threatened and even killed by ants. It was somewhere in a tropical forest. The chick was completely helpless and couldn't defend itself. Its parents were out to look for food.
I felt sick with disgust. And more of all I was upset with the cameraman who didn't do anything to prevent it happening.