Friday, November 16, 2007

Visiting First - Coal Tit

Another first for the garden, I spotted a coal tit flitting about around the feeders. About the same size as a blue tit but with it's white cheeks looking more like a great tit. It's easily identified by the white patch on the back of it's head.

I'm sure it's not the first time it's visited but it's the first time I've actually seen one in my garden. As the trees have grown up in the nearby park there are more and more woodland birds making a regular appearance.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Low Flying Egret

Not something you see very often, at least not out of the office window but this morning a little egret flew over the houses just across from me. No doubt on it's way from the coast to the river via Peacehaven.

They're regularly seen in river estuaries these days and I occasionally see one down on the seashore. Every now and then I spot a cormorant flying overhead. What with the heron and duck earlier in the year, who knows what will turn up next.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Round And Round The Garden

Watched three robins chasing each other around the garden this morning. All sitting in the same tree and then flying from one part of the garden to the other. Following each other around and then back again. Being identical, I don't know if they were all males or males and females, so not sure if it was part of their mating ritual or establishing territory. It was good to see so many at once, especially after the sparrowhawk got one of them earlier this year. Robins are one of the first birds to set territories but perhaps the warm autumn weather made them think it was Spring.

They've obviously had a successful breeding season unlike some of the other garden birds which were badly hit by the cold damp weather earlier in the year - lack of food at the critical time, nest sites flooded or blown away. I think blue tits had a particularly hard time and some never got started.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Arundel Wildfowl Trust

Stopped off at Arundel Wildfowl Trust on the way back up from Somerset. I haven't been there in absolutely ages and it's changed quite a bit. The wetland exploration area has expanded and is now finished. Last time I was there, it was almost finished but not yet open.

Slightly disappointing this time. Although I have to say their computer system is impressive as although I didn't have my card with me, the young lad on the reception desk just looked up my details on their system and I was allowed in. I was surprised that as I walked out into the first enclosure the ducks came running up - obviously eager to be fed. A sign that they're so used to being fed, they expect it. The majority of the ducks kept at the trust are exotic captive birds from around the world but even the moorhens, mallard and pheasants wandering around are now so used to being fed they come up to you. There are several woodland bird feeding stations around the reedbed area which has been expanded in recent years and now has a boardwalk through it.

Great for families and children but from a bird watching point of view, the only hides worth visiting are the Scrape hide - although there wasn't much there this time, the Peter Scott hide and the Ramsar hide - both up at the back of the centre where the wild birds come in. Plenty of teal, a few gulls and on one of the flat islands at the back some snipe. I only had my binoculars with me but did spot a couple on the mud at the edge of the water and saw another couple on the grass. Very difficult to see sometimes as they're so well camouflaged. You just have to hope that you spot a movement as you scan along the water's edge. I pointed them out to a couple in the hide who hadn't seen them.

There wasn't much about but then it's still early in the season for the winter birds, so perhaps there'll be more around later in the year. If you want to watch wild birds then the hides are definitely the place to go or wander further up the valley to Pulborough.

Monday, November 05, 2007

AutumnWatch

Aargh - save me from the Bill and Kate show.

I tuned in to the first of the series and within a few minutes was ready to switch off, save for the brief moments of sanity when Simon King appeared and actually gave us something worth watching. The dumbing down of the BBC has gone far enough without having to put up with these two giggling and behaving like school children on what I used to enjoy as a factual, interesting programme with a bit of light-hearted entertainment thrown in. They spent the most of the programme wittering on with very little wildlife being shown - apart from the brief moments with Simon and the starlings at Westhay - except that they weren't or the red deer rut up in Scotland.

I've tuned in a couple of times since but only to watch the red deer, grey seals or other more interesting items than having to watch Bill and Kate. They're fine in small doses on their own but put them together and something horrible happens.

Let's just hope that Springwatch doesn't go the same way.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Autumn Colours

I headed down to Somerset for the weekend and the colours on the drive down are absolutely glorious. Splashes of yellows, coppery reds, browns and golds in amongst the greens which hadn't turned yet. We might not have had a great summer but the mix of cold, wet weather has meant we're having a great autumn.

The days are still surprisingly warm. We were walking around almost in shirt sleeves during the day commenting on the fact that it was probably warmer than the summer.