Posts Tagged "dunnock"

Sunday moments

The juvenile robin is growing bolder by the day. He pops out from the cover of the bush at the front of the house to perch on the wall, already practicing his Christmas card poses. Tail is up, wings are flared. “Tik! Tak!” he challenges to no one in particular, attempting to claim this land as his own, like a child declaring that they are the king of the castle. I doubt the parent bird would agree, but this youngster is becoming a little more robin each time I see them.

On the fence a dunnock seems unconcerned with all this. They’ve got feathers to maintain, a much more important task than dealing with the bravado of youth. Bending every which way, the preening session is long before the bird is finally satisfied.

The juvenile blue tits are still resident in the back garden and seem to have claimed this feeder pole for their own. They don’t have to fly to the main pole, just walk down the white willow branches and hop down on top of the suet feeder. Stay all you want, little blue tit. The years I went without blue tits in the garden after a neighbour grubbed up their garden and the favourite habitat of the blue tit population in the area were long indeed. You’re safe here.

This one particular pigeon seems to have developed a thing for lying down. Whenever I see them they’re either lying down or spend a good 20 minutes of slow, deliberate wandering around before finally settling down. Its a curious thing. I swear I can almost hear a sigh of relaxation as it finally decides its happy and lies down. Why fly when you can perch, why perch when you can lie.

Looking for signs of that suspected blackbird nest in the copse I find something else altogether. I’ve heard wren singing in the copse for weeks, but never seen the songster. Today I did and not just one wren, but two, both emerging from another bush that hugs the edges by the road. Is this another nest I’ve missed? Clearly I’ve been missing out on a lot by intentionally staying away from the road side, intentionally taking the opportunity to enjoy a little escape from the urban noise. The birds are a lot brighter than me about such things. They know a good spot that no one will disturb when they see one. Lesson learned, little wren. Its a pleasure to finally meet you.

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Patch walk, 8th June 2018

Its a cloudy morning and with the temperature rising its already feeling quite close and humid as I step out of the door. Hmm, herring gulls are calling loudly, that’s a little unusual at this time of the year. Part way up the road the reason for all the noisy kerfuffle is revealed. 3 herring gulls are mobbing a buzzard. Its all happening at close quarters, the buzzard trying to flare its claws at its tormentors but constantly giving ground to them. By the time I’ve reached the top of the road and have an uninterrupted view things are changing again. Another buzzard floats effortlessly into the melee. The gulls don’t seem to like this change of odds and swiftly change direction, unwilling to take on 2 buzzards at once.

On the back lane, goldfinch and robin are singing while dunnock and sparrow are foraging where the road surface meets the old hedge. The only singing in the copse today is from woodpigeons. The great tit nest is still devoid of activity, the woodpigeon is off its nest and there’s no activity at the nuthatch nest hole. I suspect I’ve missed my chance to see the nuthatches fledging, they were so close a couple of days ago.

In the park and below one of the huge horse chestnut trees there’s a collection of feathers. Downy feathers, all white and grey.

Handiwork of the sparrowhawk I’ve been hearing so often recently? Seems like there are too many of them to be from the impact of just one kill. Perhaps the sparrowhawk’s favourite plucking post is right above in the horse chestnut? Its definitely worth keeping an eye on.

At the robin spot the resident robin is around, albeit a little reluctantly today as the area is currently overrun with with very active squirrels. She does come down to collect mealworms, but she’s not hanging about, smashing and grabbing, back into cover. Just how fast is she on these forays from the bushes? Faster than the zoom on my camera, I don’t manage to get a shot today.

With appointments to get to later I don’t have as much time on the patch today, so head straight to the black spruce tree and the squirrels…who aren’t there and aren’t appearing quickly from elsewhere in the park when I rattle the bag of nuts either. Still, it gives me time to collect. I do have a bit of a habit of collecting what catches my eye from what flora and fauna have left behind. Right now, with birds starting to moult, there’s plenty of feathers to collect. Crow and woodpigeon feathers are easy to identify, but the last one (all shown above) is new to me. Could it be a buzzard feather? I think it is.

Its too beautiful to leave behind either way, this one is going on display at home.

There’s also the first spruce cones of the season on the ground, not fully grown of course, but the shapes and patterns are fascinating and these are still sticky with sap.

Eventually, after going on a little wander while rattling my bag of nuts, Braveheart squirrel appears and is looking either extremely eager, extremely curious, or both together!

“Focus? Schmocus! I want to do an extreme close up!”

Its not just Braveheart who turns up today though, there’s also the polite squirrel as well as a new one who’s not come to the tree before. He squats down, both paws crossed across his chest, trying to look innocent. Trying, but the missing section of one of his ears suggests he knows how to look after himself. He gets up to the tree stump and has a good look at me, but doesn’t take a nut yet. His approach is to try and chase Braveheart for his nut instead, so the squirrels are all spinning around the trunk like fireworks.

With the sun over the yard arm and appointments imminent its time to head home.

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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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Patch & Garden, 1st June 2018

Walking the patch and the sun is out, mostly beating the clouds. Its hot and close. The breeze, when it does come, is a blessed relief.

It seems the territorial observances of Blackbirds this morning are catching. An interesting stand off unfolds along the big road. From a high TV aerial a Blackbird sings loudly and beautifully, very much something to appreciate. It seems a rival male disagrees, however, flashing past right in front of me to land on the roof just below the aerial.

Neck twisting to keep watching as I walk past, the songs are silent for a few seconds before the TV aerial blackbird pipes up again even louder. Our interloper waits for as long as is seemly to save face and then decides better of it, flying off along the houses to the safety of a garden instead. At least we know which bird has the X factor.

Down the quiet lanes, past flowers blooming in the forgotten verges.

Blackbird and wren are singing in the copse and Nuthatch is at its nest in the sweet chestnut. They’ve been particularly good parents. The park is teeming with wildlife of the “families enjoying the end of the half term holidays” variety, so its time to head home.

There’s always plenty to see on the bird feeders.

Great Tits have been constant visitors through the nesting season, they really are very smart looking birds. Nice to know I’m helping to support their nesting with my feeders. Blue tits have been coming and going so fast that its near impossible to get a photo of them. I wonder if the tits being at the feeders so often says something about the availability of caterpillars this breeding season?

My resident and much loved sparrows have been successful breeders already, having brought their fledglings to show them where the food is.

Being sparrows, of course, they always manage to be scrappy about it!

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