Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Present For The Birds

The birds are loving their Christmas present.  The starling was a little bemused to find the fat balls had moved but it didn't take long for the tits to spot the new feeders.  In fact they were on to it in a couple of minutes.  The hanging feeders have also been moved so now they have a variety of feeders to chose from.

They're either hungry - had the family over for Christmas or there are more of them around than usual.  There seem to be about four blue tits, three great tits, a pair of robins, a dunnock and a couple of male blackbirds a small group of chaffinch and sparrows.  I'm certainly not used to seeing so many all at once - let's hope it continues as it's lovely to see them so close.

With the new feeders and hanging arrangement, I don't need to worry about the ground feeding birds as there's enough seed that falls from the feeders to keep the dunnock and blackbirds happy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hampshire Red Kite

A cold winter's day, ice on the roads and still a little snow around but I was lucky enough to spot a Red Kite as I was driving along the A272 between Petersfield and Meon.  Would loved to have screeched to a halt, grabbed my binoculars and watched it for a while but it's not the sort of road you can do that on.  However, it was a lovely surprise to see it and a good start to the Christmas break.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

RSPB Winter Waterfowl Watch

I'd opted out of yesterday's Winter Waterfowl Watch as the threat of more snow made driving a potential hazard and probably unwise unless absolutely necessary.  As it turned out there wasn't any more snow, so this afternoon I headed over to Pulborough.

It was certainly a Winter Wonderland although not many people were braving the elements to see the waterfowl and they were all concentrated in the few remaining patches of open water or huddled up on the ice.  Plenty of wigeon, pintails, teal, canada geese and a few shelduck and shoveler.

At West Mead and Winpenny there were plenty of snipe out in the open.  I counted 15 at West Mead and around 30 at Winpenny.  It's rare to see so many out in the open as they're usually probing around near the edges or difficult to see in amongst the tussocks.  There were also a few out on the Brooks and I'm sure there were plenty more around.

A fieldfare was feeding in the cows field along with plenty of rabbits and there were several song thrush around the reserve along with masses of robins.  Nearly everywhere you looked there was a robin and it certainly wasn't the same one following me around the reserve.  While watching the waterfowl from the Hanger the peregrine flew past but didn't settle in it's usual perch and we had a lovely view of the kestrel sitting right at the top of a tree in the winter sunlight.  There was also a small group of bullfinch and goldfinch feeding in the bushes below.

The four of us gave up at around 3.30 as a) it was getting cold and b) we were the only ones watching the waterfowl.  We were treated to tea and mince pies back in the warmth of the tea room and then stood out in the carpark hoping to see the woodcock fly over at dusk.  Either we'd just missed them or they'd gone off in a different direction but there was no sign - just plenty of blackbirds and a robin singing near the centre.  A few minutes later - just as I was getting ready to leave, a barn owl flew out of wood and across to the main reserve.  Another first for me as I've never been around at the right time to see them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

December Snowfall

It's not often that I wake up to a snow covered garden, especially not this early in the season.  There was a good few inches of snow overnight, so I was out before breakfast removing the snow from the feeders and making sure the birds had plenty to eat.

I topped up the seed feeders - put out an extra feeder of seed, filled one with peanuts (which they usually ignore), hung out a few fat balls and put out seed on the bird table, which hasn't been used for a while.  I certainly want to make sure they have plenty to eat and keep them going in this cold weather.

It took a few hours but a blue tit did discovered the peanuts and spent far longer on them than they do on the seed - which they tend to snatch and grab and fly off to a bit of cover to eat, before returning.  Surprisingly a wood pigeon seemed to find the fat balls first - sitting on the arch to get to them.  I'd put these feeders in a new location

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rare Visitor: Song Thrush

For a couple of days now I've seen a song thrush in the garden.  Although they're often seen and heard singing in the park and around the playing fields, they're a rare visitor, who I'm lucky to see once or twice a year in the garden.  There's plenty of potential food for them as unfortunately snails seem to thrive in the chalky soil.  I'm always finding them under plants and clustered in plant pots.

Hopefully it will be tempted to return on a more regular basis and help keep their population down, as long as I can keep the cats out.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

It's Got Colder

It's been so mild recently that the feeders have been relatively quiet but in the last two days with a drop in temperature they're back - great tits, blue tits, a robin and chaffinches.  Even a pair of collared doves perched precariously on the feeder.

Make sure you keep them topped up and don't forget the water.

The blackbirds have been concentrating on stripping the berries off the pyracantha and appear at all times of the day outside the window - lovely to see them so close.