Posts Tagged "blackbird"

Patch walk, 15th June 2018

Its cloudy, its cooler and there’s a fresh little breeze blowing. A lot better and a lot more interesting conditions than empty blue skies and wall to wall heat, to me anyway. Blame my long standing membership of the Cloud Appreciation Society for that. Its quiet outside today, both on the roads and in the trees and gardens as I’m walking past.

Goldfinches still sing from hidden perches on the back lane. behind garden walls or on roof tops that I can’t see behind the high hawthorn hedge.

The hedge is filling with even more flowers, including a bindweed flower that is so recently bloomed that it hasn’t turned white yet. Avens, green alkanet, brambles and nettles abound alongside.

Chaffinch is singing in the copse again. Crow is moving lazily at the edges, half-heartedly looking for food.

There’s an unfamiliar alarm call at the top of the canopy of trees, but the leaves are too dense for me to be able to see. Love a good mystery like that. I’ll be wondering what it was for ages.

There’s a tractor out cutting the grass in the middle of the park. If you’re going to cut you may as well cut big I suppose. Looks like some smaller, hidden corner areas have been cut too, but credit where its due the big stands of nettles have been left. That credit will be spent very quickly, however, as I later discover.

Under the shadowy yews of the robin spot a robin is already calling to say he’s seen me before I even get there. As soon as mealworms go down on the ground, so does he. Both robins are back and forth to the nest, but in between their visits there are squirrels sniffing about…quite literally so in one case as one squirrel comes right up to my shoes and gives them a good sniff! I’m trying to get these squirrels to stay off the ground in this area, otherwise they end up being chased endlessly by the dogs in the park, so no one gets a nut if they don’t come up the tree to get them.

Seeing a fast-moving young squirrel was a definite highlight, not seen any 2018-edition squirrels before today.

Heading off around the park. Blackbird-by-the-oaks is out and about, watching me walk past. Seeing him is always good news, but going through the hedge and seeing the other side is serious bad news. Some muppet has been cutting the hedge and right by the robin nest too. Its a real mess. I see one of the adult robins close to the nest site, but they show no interest in coming down for food as they always have before. Has the nest been disturbed? It seems extremely likely, looking at the devastation of the serious cut-back the hedge has had. This is too sad to look at. How can people be savvy enough to leave nettles uncut but then cut hedges at this time of year, especially a hedge that was so obviously occupied?

Great tit and wren are singing as I wander past the overgrown areas of the park. Time to head home.

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Patch walk, 13th June 2018

Its a sunny morning but there’s a lovely breeze. Just about perfect weather to be outside in.

Been a while since the roadside grass verges have been cut now and they’re starting to become lovely, rich habitats. Alongside the daisies and creeping buttercup now the clover is flowering in force and the bees are loving it. It seems like the local councillor who tried to use the platform of World Environment Day to complain about the verges not being cut didn’t actually look at the verges closely. Sigh.

Bees are buzzing on the back lane bushes too. Sparrows cheeping, goldfinches singing from unseen perches. More bramble flowers are opening, nettles are forcing their way through and the first bindweed flowers are out.

Shining almost as brightly as the sun that is lighting them, their large trumpets  offer treasure to the brave pollinators who will venture in.

The copse is beginning to fall silent. Nesting is over here, it seems. Woodpigeons are calling, but the woodpigeon nest lies empty. No sound from tits, blackbird, wren or chaffinch. Summer has embraced the copse.

Its different in the park at the robin spot.

Here the robin pair can’t get enough of the mealworms I’ve brought for them, ferrying them back to their nest site and coming back for more. It does the heart good when they trust enough to come close, giving a “Tik!” call to remind me to throw more mealworms down.

Both birds are looking good and I’m full of optimism for this nest. I stand and watch them for ages.

Its good to see a school group using the park today, looks like a couple of classes exploring, but the noise of them in this usually quiet park has sent the wildlife running for cover. I can’t even see the normally ever-present magpies and there’s only one ambitiously amorous woodpigeon chasing an unimpressed female around. Best to head for home I think, collecting a recently moulted woodpigeon feather off the ground on the way out of the park.

Little did I know just how helpful that was about to be. On the bottom road I spy an exhausted and grounded buff tailed bumblebee, almost disappearing into the cracks between the stones. Good job I’ve got that feather! I use it to scoop up the bee, got to do something and fast, she’s barely moving, legs splayed. Its still too far to home, she needs something now. In my head a little voice is saying, in dramatic medical drama tones, “flowers, I need flowers, stat!” as I look around frantically, holding a feather and a bee out in front of me. I remember there’s a bank of flowers just around the corner, in an area abandoned behind a hedge.

Hurrying, I can see the area is full of flowers and also full of bees, so this must be the good stuff. To me it look like they’re dog roses (but I’m dreadful at identifying anything other than wildflowers) and I carefully place the bee on one of the flowers. Instinct kicks in, she tries to feed, but moving very slowly. When she looks like she’s trying to move to another flower I pick her up again, placing her at the centre of the next option. Again and again she feeds, again and again I move her and bit by bit she comes back to life. Now standing on all of her legs instead of dragging them, now rubbing her legs against her body, now her flat-folded wings separating and starting to vibrate.

When she is strong enough to move herself to the next flower, my heart soars. She’s going to make it. I don’t think I’ve done anything even remotely as rewarding for days. Get home with a big smile on my face. Don’t just look up for wildlife, remember to look down too.

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Waiting

Appliance delivery day. Something large and white that says “2 man lift only” on the packaging but one hardened delivery person carries in on their shoulder. Upheaval to the routine. Change. Waiting. Lots of waiting for 5 minutes of action when one white good goes out feet first and its replacement lands. My hands are tied, can’t go out and explore, have to wait.

There’s a sense of the seasons passing as I look out of the window from my desk. While some birds are still parading around with a beak full of food, a whole new generation is already fending for themselves.

Even the presence of a rival male only elicits a half-hearted flapping response today.

The starling juveniles are happily looking after themselves, more accompanied by parents now rather than directed by them.

When they turn up on the feeders its often the juveniles who get there first now, some of their youthful ungainliness disappearing with experience, though their genetic starling clumsiness will never leave them as their parents demonstrate.

Sparrows, whose offspring are already losing their gape and you have to look hard to see which are older birds and which are 2018 edition, carry on regardless on the roadside verge. Or at the feeders, where their presence is always welcome, even when they’re being particularly argumentative and scrappy as they were today.

Blue tit is still busy at the feeders, trying to quell the constant calls of the fledglings in the willow tree. During the afternoon a magpie blunders into the tree, cackling and screeching, prompting loud complaints from the blackbird parents and scattering the blue tit fledglings from their haven. One ends up in the bush beside the feeders, winning the lottery as it gets on with feeding itself on the bonanza. One ends up right below the open window where I sit and wait, giving me my first close-up view of blue tit fledglings this year.

Worth waiting for.

 

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What’s in the garden? June 6th 2018

If you feed the birds in your garden you’ll know that what’s visiting your garden today might not necessarily be what’s visiting it tomorrow. As the days, weeks and seasons change, so do the birds who you’ll find on your bird feeders. This is the first of an occasional series of posts showing who was visiting my garden on one particular day, to show the differences over time. Its also a good reminder to appreciate and enjoy who is visiting your garden right now, you never know when they might move on…

Birds come, birds go – the flock of long-tailed tits that called my garden home during the winter have long since gone, for instance – but if my garden has loyal, reliable visitors its the house sparrows. I love them.

Always looking interested, always curious, the females have their own unique refinement.

The males, well, they were best described by Matt Sewell as “looking like an old RAF squadron leader in a flat cap and tweed”. He wasn’t wrong.

This year’s new fledgling sparrows, meanwhile, mainly manage to look a wee bit anxious.

Whether male, female or young, house sparrows are extremely regular visitors to my feeders, multiple times an hour usually.

Also a regular visitor at the moment is a pair of blackbirds who are obviously raising young, both parent birds are constantly dropping into the garden from the fence down to the ground, coming via the branches of a bush and looking like Professor Yaffle descending from his bookend in an episode of Bagpuss. The male is visiting more often and looking good doing it.

The female visits only slightly less but manages to look rather angry about the whole thing.

Also down on the ground most days you’ll find a dunnock, sometimes two. Dunnocks are often seen mating on the patio area during the spring.

 

A less frequent visitor over the past couple of days has been the Great Tits. Perhaps their offspring are fledged and beginning to fend for themselves?

Another popular option is to bring your fledglings with you. The starlings definitely know how to do that!

The adult starlings have been bringing their offspring into the garden very often over the past 3 or 4 weeks, which is actually the first time there have been starlings in my garden and the immediate surroundings in almost 8 years. Noisy, argumentative and with a wealth of sounds to enjoy I’m glad to see them back again.

The juvenile starlings seem to find it funny too, when they’re not being contemplative while hanging off a feeder that is.

Also sort-of bringing their fledglings is the busiest of all my current garden visitors, a fast moving blue tit.

This particular blue tit has to move fast, its got fledglings to keep fed and they’re currently hidden away in the willow tree, loudly letting it be known that they’re hungry.

I can’t deny it, the cute factor is high with these, especially when they’re trying to pretend to be a leaf.

I’m not so sure the parent finds it so cute though, its flying back and forth so often that it barely even stops for a moment on the feeders. Just long enough to grab and go. Its interesting that the parent is visiting the fats feeders so often too, back and forth for hours. What about the natural food out there, has it been a bad year for caterpillars in my area?

So, there’s a snapshot (or lots of them!) of who was visiting my garden on the warm and sunny afternoon of 6th June 2018. What will the next “What’s in the garden?” post show as being different I wonder?

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Meanwhile, back at the nest. Patch walk, 3rd June 2018.

Bright sun and blue skies today, but the heat hasn’t built up too much in the morning despite there being very little breeze to speak of. The back lane is filled with bird song, blackbird, wren, blue tit, goldfinch and sparrow. Wren is singing in the copse too, but I only have eyes for the nests today.

First stop, great tit nest. Still very active, thankfully, and both parents working hard at feeding. To and fro, to and fro.

I don’t stop long, even though they seem completely unconcerned by my presence. They’re far too busy to care about a nosy birdwatcher. All is calm at the woodpigeon nest, but there’s a hard working nuthatch busy at its nest hole.

Its feeding the little nuthatch face that’s poking out of the nest hole regularly now. How wonderful! Fledging gets ever closer.

Very glad to get beneath the cool-shade embrace of the horse chestnut trees in the park. I’m very fortunate to have such a shady place to explore in the summer. I head straight for the squirrels today, as I know it will be quiet there when so much else of the park is busy with families today. Sure enough it is quiet, and the squirrels are sat amongst the daisies but come tumbling over each other in their haste to get to the food!

Well hello there…

Braveheart and Buddy seem to instinctively take up the same positions as yesterday, before chomping their way through every nut I have with me. I knew I should have restocked before I left. They’re still keen for more, but I have to leave them to it as a busy afternoon beckons.

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