Friday, January 23, 2009

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 24-25th January

Top up your feeders, fill up the bird bath, put out the fat treats - this weekend it's the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. You don't have to be a member in order to take part. Just pick an hour in the day on either Saturday and Sunday and make a note of the total number of birds of each species that visit your garden. Not the one's flying overhead - they don't count.

Get the family involved. If you don't have a garden - go to your local park. Wrap up warm, grab your binoculars and see how many different species you can spot in one hour.

I wonder if the long-taileds will put in an appearance?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Flurry of Pink, White and Black

I came in through the back gate this morning to be greeted by a flurry of long-tailed tits. There must have been at least half a dozen of them as they flew off from the feeders and then one by one flew off over what's left of the fence. At least I know there are several in the area and they seem to be one of the 'early birds' as I'm more likely to see them early in the morning rather than the blue tits which seem to turn up later, around mid-morning.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Natural World: Cuckoo

If you missed it when it first aired last week you can catch up on this fascinating insight into the world and wiles of the Cuckoo on BBC iPlayer.

You can forgive their somewhat lazy and selfish behaviour - get someone else to take on the nest building and chick raising activity and the cruel way the young cuckoo chick ejects it's hosts own eggs and chicks from the nest - when you realise that their numbers have halved in the last century. Aren't newly hatched birds the most prehistoric and ugly thing you've seen?

Red Kites In Sussex

Woohoo!! My first red kite sighting in Sussex. I was driving over to my parents today and having stopped briefly at Pulborough (where red kites have been spotted before), I was on the road past Petworth and saw the distinct forked tail of a kite being mobbed by two crows. I wasn't able to stop but it was a great to see it finally as it's a very hit and miss affair as they're only seen a few times a year at Pulborough.

Has anyone else seen it around the area and are there one or perhaps more, so there's a chance of a breeding pair in the area?

Closer to home I saw a buzzard - again over the road and a more usual sight but still good to see two raptors in one day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Can Birds Smell Water?

That might sound strange but within minutes of putting out fresh water today (the bird bath was frozen solid and there'd been a very heavy frost overnight) a wood pigeon, dunnock and blackbird flew in for a drink. It shows just how important drinking water is to them at this time of year. The starlings, sparrows and blue tits are in for their afternoon feed before going off to find somewhere warm for the night.

Keep those feeders topped up - better to have a few, well fed birds than cold, starving birds turning up to find nothing to eat.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tame Blackbird

I've got a very tame female blackbird in the garden at the moment. She doesn't seem too alarmed when I open the back door the other day and she was on the patio or when I walk in through the back gate and she's eating berries on the ivy. As long as I appear to ignore her and move quietly, she just carries on.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Provide Water Even In The Cold Weather

Brrrr - it's really cold out there today. I was out and about early this morning and it was -5C. A little later in the morning and it's not much warmer. Anything with water in is frozen solid and I've just topped up the bird bath and no sooner was I back in doors than a collared dove came down for a drink.

I've also put out another feeder just in case there's a rush of hungry birds out there. I also think the smaller birds prefer the open feeder rather the one with a cage round it, which I was using to stop the pigeons and starlings taking all the food. Now they have a choice.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Late Night Snack

It must have been around midnight last night when I heard the unmistakeable clucking of a blackbird outside the window. One had obviously arrived for a late night snack on the pyracantha. Whether it was the cold that means they're feeding at night or the fact that the street lights means they can be up and about at all hours, I'm not sure. I'm used to seeing or hearing them during the day but not that late at night.