Posts Tagged "great tit"

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, 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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Patch Walk, 5th June 2018

Bright sun and blue skies, but the warmth of the day hasn’t really built up yet when I step out to go and explore. A perfect summer morning.

Heading up the road it seems like every garden wall has a snail attached to it today. Now I know next to nothing about snails, but I do enjoy seeing the variations in patterns and styles on their shells. Thanks to some top work from Bedfordshire Natural History Society, however, I’m reasonably confident in saying that these are a mix of garden snails and brown lipped snails. Lovely shell patterns all the same.

I can see why they’ve been called “wallfruit” in the past! Can’t help feeling a lot of them are going to appeal to the birds today, parked out in splendid isolation on garden walls like that.

Plodding along at a deliberate pace I soon reach the copse. I stop at the great tit nest site for a good while, but there’s no signs of activity there at all. No parent birds to be seen and no no noise coming from the nest when I step closer to listen. Ominously, there are both magpie and squirrel in the tree tops. Has the nest been predated? If so that’d be the second tits predation in this little copse this nesting season. Its possible, of course, that they fledged, but when I was last this way 2 days ago that didn’t seem even close to happening. Its also possible that I didn’t look long enough, so I’ll stay optimistic for tomorrow.

The woodpigeon, at least, is sitting pretty and sleepily on its nest. There were no signs of activity at the nuthatch nest, but that’s not been unusual over the past few weeks. Walking past the spot again a couple of hours later, however, I did see that little nuthatch face at the nest hole, so they’ve not fledged quite yet.

Into the park and in the spot that, up until a few weeks ago, a highly unusual gang of 3 robins frequented, there is still one robin spending time there. Its getting increasingly brave too, coming down to the edge of the area and coming closer to eat the scattered mealworms I’m putting down for it.

Its very nice to see this robin settling to my presence. Still no sign of the “leader” of the robin gang who would come and feed from your hand. He’s not been seen for weeks now. Very much missed. Perhaps the laughing cry of a sparrowhawk overhead, an increasingly regular sound in the park, has something to do with his disappearance.

Getting to the black spruce tree and Braveheart squirrel is there to greet me. He even heads up the tree when I tell him to, before even getting any nuts out! Once the nuts are out he gets down to the serious business of eating as many of them as he can manage.

Om to the nom to the om nom nom

He’s eating them in between being chased by another squirrel, who can’t quite get up the courage to take a nut from my hand yet, so decides he’s better off chasing and trying to steal a nut from the squirrel who already has one. He’ll come and look at me, but no take yet.

Hmm, not sure about you yet human, think I’ll chase the other squirrel one more time…

Time is pressing today, so I’ll have to leave them to their chasing and head home.

 

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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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Finding nests. Patch walk 2nd June 2018.

Its still raining lightly when I step out, rain that becomes suddenly stronger under the trees when the wind shakes the raindrops from the leaves. Its fine by me, I’d much rather be walking in the rain than in close heat.

Creeping buttercup, daisies and clover are all recovering back to flowering in the verges after their recent buzz cut. Where edges and corners are forgotten on the back lane there are foxgloves coming into flower. Wild finds a way.

It seems as if it may be an unpromising walk in the rainy weather, but getting into the copse soon puts pay to that assumption. It starts with hearing an unusual bird call. That always catches my attention and gets me looking. Once summer is reached so much of birdwatching is really bird listening anyway. Flashes of movement focus me and then I see a Great Tit, going into a tree hole. Its a great tit nest!

Finding the nest makes it already the best patch walk of the week. I watch both parents come and go for a while, they’re being very busy and attentive and making multiple visits in just a few minutes. I don’t want to disturb them though, so move on.

Elated by the nest find, I almost pass by the sweet chestnut tree with the the nuthatch nest in it. That would be double foolish today, as the sweet chestnut has a new resident – there’s another nest in the tree. Woodpigeons have built a twiggy nest in a V of branches.

Its hidden quite well, although I could imagine a squirrel finding it. We’ll see if they make it. The nuthatch parents appear at their nest too and then I can see a little beak begging at the nest hole!

 

How fantastic, the nutchatch chicks are getting closer and closer to fledging. I’m really rooting for this nest to make it, having seen its progress from the resident male calling for a mate to nest building, laying and feeding the young.  What a great tree this sweet chestnut is too, supporting 2 nests. That won’t be the only amorous woodpigeon pair I see today too.

On into the park and the difference in the rain to yesterday in the sun is remarkable. Its practically deserted, I see only half a dozen people the whole time. It makes such an impact on how much wildlife I see. Squirrels and blackbirds are feeding on the ground and are unconcerned as I quietly pass by.

At the hedge, having passed another robin at an oak tree with a beakful of caterpillars, I’m optimistic of seeing robin by the hedge. He rewards my optimism, going up and down the hedge a few times before eventually coming down to the ground to get food.

The female robin appears too, going back and forth from Mr Robin to the nest, but the expected food pass never comes before I move on.

Past the deserted play area – deserted other than for the magpies on the cut grass (6 for gold) – and round to the black spruce tree. The squirrels definitely don’t disappoint today.

Braveheart and Buddy both come over quickly and get down to the serious business of eating nuts. I keep them apart, Braveheart on the stump, Buddy on the V between branch and trunk, and it all goes swimmingly. Buddy in particular settles easily today, sitting right in the V of the branch and stump and giving me a really up-close view of exactly how they eat the monkey nuts I give them. Crack open the case, strip off the skin and eat the nut like you’re holding a particularly full sandwich that you don’t want to drop anything out of. I like it! Its such a privilege to be trusted by wildlife like this, to see it up close.

Head home, past multiple cooing and canoodling pairs of woodpigeons on the way. Something has really changed for woodpigeons overnight, love is in the air for them.

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