Tuesday, 23 February 2010

One Year (and a bit) On!

As regular readers will know I am having difficulties taking photographs at the moment due to problems with my eyesight so, apart from a couple, all of the following photos were taken last year but not posted. I will start with the two which I took through glass last week.

The only time I am ever visited by a Pied Wagtail is when there is snow on the ground, it doesn't matter whether there is a considerable amount or just a dusting but without fail, in it pops to see what food it can find. The ever present Blackbirds hate it with a vengeance and do everything they can to see it off but it treats them with great contempt and just dodges out of the way!

Pied Wagtail

The Starling, despite being on the red list of endangered species is still a quite frequent visitor to the garden although I have noticed a decline in numbers in recent years which is borne out by the fact that their numbers are down by 66% in the UK since the mid '70s and have declined significantly across much of Europe since the '60s. I suspect my American blogland friends will tell me it is because they have all gone over there :)

Anyway, the fat treats always seem to bring them into the garden.


'In yonder gay-enamell'd mead,
The starling plumes his golden wings,
Then tow'ring up the azure height,
He mounts sublime, and soaring sings.'
(Nathaniel Evans)

Now, looking back to last Summer (Summer? What's that?) one of the places I most enjoyed visiting was Draycote Water and I am looking forward to going back there when I have had surgery. This Pied Wagtail was enjoying the sunshine unlike the one battling through snow in my garden.

Pied Wagtail

Each time we went there were always lots of vociferous Tufted Ducks and I looked at so many of them in a bid to try and spot the Lesser Scaup that others had seen. Unfortunately, I was never successful but it was fun trying.

Tufted Duck

By far the most common gull to be seen at Draycote last year was the Black-headed Gull so I was surprised to learn it is on the amber list of endangered species. This one, photographed in late Summer is in its Winter plumage so lacks the black, or more accurately chocolate brown head of the Summer plumage.

Black-headed Gull

'Light floats the sea-gull on the tide.
The wearied fisher sinks to rest;
And not a cloud is seen to glide,
Reflected on the Ocean's breast'
(Mrs Henry Rolls)

Although the commonest small wader to be found along the coast, the Dunlin is another bird to be found on the red list of endangered species. I think this one may have been a juvenile.


There were also lots of Great Crested Grebes, a really elegant bird which frequently dives and comes up again much further away than you would expect.

Great Crested Grebe

This rather smart looking Great Tit was also photographed during one of our visits to Draycote, it was in a tree waiting to fly onto the feeders next to the hide.

Great Tit

Each time we went the feeders were always popular, particularly with Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and Greenfinches.

It was also popular with this Squirrel which was there for the peanuts

Grey Squirrel

'I love to see at early morn,
The Squirrel sit before my door;
There crack his nuts and hide his shells,
And skip away to seek for more'
(William Roscoe)

and it was amusing to see the ducks constantly on patrol under the feeders hoping to mop up any spilt food, they looked so funny when they suddenly appeared through the long grass.

Of course I couldn't show photos from Draycote without featuring one of my favourite birds, the solitary and beautiful Grey Heron.

Grey Heron

When we visit one of the small local lakes I can usually be sure of seeing some Mute Swans. I really do think they are magnificent creatures and although they are such a common sight I never cease to admire their beauty.

Mute Swan

'In stately majesty was seen to glide,
Over the bosom of the tide,
A graceful swan, in fairest plumage dresst;
It seem'd its elegance to view,
As conscious of superior hue,
For never swan more beauty yet possest.'

These Mallards were getting in a tizzy about something!


As was this Greylag Goose!

Greylag Goose

On a local walk another of my favourite birds, the lovely Song Thrush, was tucking into something tasty, a berry I think

Song Thrush

'How void of care yon merry thrush,
That tunes melodious on the bush,
That has no stores of wealth to keep,
No lands to plow, no corn to reap!

He never frets for worthless things,
But lives in peace, and sweetly sings;
Enjoys the present with his mate,
Unmindful of to-morrow's fate.'

and so was this Blackbird.


Finally this Greenfinch was perched high in a tree in our garden.


Before I finish I would like to say that just over one year after starting this blog on the 13th of February 2009 it has been an absolute pleasure getting to know and making friends with so many people from all over the world. I have been privileged to share your lives, homes, families, joys, sadnesses, illnesses and ultimately a mutual interest in Nature and wildlife. You have all been so kind and welcoming and I hope to share your lives via blogland for many years to come. Thank you.

I hope you all have a wonderful week watching the wildlife where you are.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Big Garden Birdwatch

Along with many others in the UK, I spent an enjoyable hour over the weekend watching the birds and making a note of the most numbers of each species seen at any one time as my contribution to the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I couldn't help thinking that if it had been a couple of weeks ago when the whole country was blanketed in snow I would have been able to record some really interesting visitors but of course I realise that wouldn't have been a true representation of my 'usual' sightings.

I was quite surprised not to see a Dunnock which I normally see quite often and there were no Great or Coal Tits either which was rather disappointing although I didn't find it as easy as I should even with binoculars due to my ongoing sight problem which I mentioned in a previous post. I have been told, by the way, that I will be having 'ordinary' surgery and not laser surgery as I was at first led to believe, the first eye will be done at the end of April and the other later in the year. Anyway, back to the birds! My results are as follows:

  1. Blackbird 8
  2. Blackcap 2
  3. Blue Tit 1
  4. Chaffinch 5
  5. Collared Dove 5 (Pictured above)
  6. Goldfinch 2
  7. Greenfinch 10
  8. House Sparrow 3 (The House Sparrow is on the red list of endangered species)
  9. Long-tailed Tit 1
  10. Robin 1
  11. Starling 4 (The Starling is on the red list of endangered species)
  12. Stock Dove 1 (The Stock Dove is on the amber list of endangered species)
  13. Wood Pigeon 3
I was very pleased to be able to include both the male and female Blackcap as although I knew the female had been around she had been very elusive unlike the last two Winters when the female was more evident than the male. The Stock Dove was a huge surprise and I only noticed it at the last moment having previously thought it was a Woodpigeon.

I am having difficulties taking photos (for obvious reasons and expect I will continue to, until at least early Summer), at the moment so the following representations of what I saw during my count were all taken by me in my garden but not necessarily during the weekend birdwatch. The exceptions are the House Sparrow and the poor record shot of the Stock Dove both taken during the count and through glass.

So, in alphabetical order:


'I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries,
and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.'
(Joseph Addison}

This photo of a female Blackcap is not too good as it was at the farthest end of the garden. I do love her chestnut coloured cap and I always think she looks less fierce than Mr Blackcap who I featured on my last post.

Female Blackcap

Blue Tit


'It glanc'd fleet before me!----
Was't a meteor that fled,
With bright dappl'd pinnions,
And gorget of red?
Nay, nay 'twas the chaffinch;
And "twink! twink!" he cries,
As he darts through the hedgerow,
With fear and surprise.'
(Thomas Gillet)

Collared Dove


The Goldfinch has for some time been the bird which visits my garden the most and in large numbers, but recently, the Greenfinches have become quite intimidating at the feeders and frequently scare the Goldfinches away!


'At the distinctive song of the greenfinch old memories awake
That voice I first heard as a young boy I never could mistake
It stirs up memories of the northern Spring and the leafy woods of May
And it has followed me across the World from places far away.'
(Francis Duggan)

House Sparrow

Long-tailed Tit


'The robin, tamest of the feathered race
Soon as he hears the woodmans sounding chops
Wi ruddy bosom and a simple face
Around his old companions feet he hops
And there for hours in pleased attention stops'
(John Clare)


I really hope I've got the following ID right, I'm pretty sure it isn't a feral Pigeon as it doesn't have the correct bars on the wings. As I mentioned before, this photo was taken in a rush, with poor eyesight and through glass!

Stock Dove (I hope)

Wood Pigeon

Well, that's it for the 'Big Garden Birdwatch' for another twelve months, it will be interesting in a few weeks time, when the results have been collated, to see which birds are being seen most often in other people's gardens.