Friday, 10 December 2010


With the current bad weather times are hard for the regular feathered visitors to our garden. Temperatures have fallen even further than in my last blog post now down to -14ºC and perhaps a few degrees even lower than that. There has been more snow and the birds have spent longer in the garden as it is even harder for them to find food in the wild.

 Today it is warmer. The snow and ice are melting and the birds have been busy on the feeders. I was just heating our lunchtime soup and looked out of the kitchen window. In one of the trees I saw a larger bird partly obscured by the branches. Quickly grabbing my camera (totally forgetting the soup that was saved from boiling over by the prompt action of Mrs Wolds-End) I got a better look at it and saw the fierce looking face of a Sparrowhawk. All the other birds had disappeared so they must have spotted the danger.

These are wonderful looking birds and I managed to get a few photos but it was tricky to get a clear shot as it was trying to remain hidden from potential prey. Shooting through windows is far from ideal but there was no way I could get outside without disturbing it.

I was only thinking the other day that the large number of birds visiting our garden may attract a predator but I presumed that the hedgerows and fields around are a better hunting ground for them with less chance of disturbance by human or feline.

Failing to find lunch it flew away and our garden was deserted by the usual birds for sometime.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Payback Time

The birds that visit our garden give us a great deal of pleasure. Most of them seem to hang around together and I am convinced they know each others' strong points as regards recognising danger and often the first bird to arrive is a Blackbird. They are so sure of their ability to identify a dangerous situation that they appear to be foolish getting worryingly close to Wolds-End Tom who after many years has given up chasing them as he knows they will fly off the moment he makes a move towards them. 

The other birds then follow as if they know that a Blackbird feeding on the lawn means the coast is clear and if any danger approaches this bird's warning call will alert them too.

We usually get a group comprising of Great, Blue and Coal tits who will approach the feeders in turn respecting the pecking order that they have established. The Great and Blue tits will give out their warning call if they spot any danger as if they are on sentry duty for the other birds.

From the hedge Dunnocks will appear together with a Robin who will do his best to chase them away from the bird table.

There is a large group of Tree and House sparrows who tend to appear after the tits and these are followed by a group of Chaffinches. 

There are quite a few Collared doves and Wood pigeons in the area and they will make frequent visits during the day.

Less frequent visitors are Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Jays and Long-tailed tits.

Winter has suddenly made an appearance and we have over 1 foot of snow in the garden. Temperatures have fallen as low as -10ºC and life has become hard for our feathered visitors.

After putting the bird food out this morning I spent some time crouched in the snow photographing the birds. I was careful not to disturb them as feeding time is so valuable to them at the moment.

They soon seem to know when food has been put out and a Blackbird was the first to arrive. A couple of days ago I dug through the snow to create paths across the lawn and very quickly a Blackbird appeared and hopped along the paths - happy to see the grass but I am not sure if he found any worms!

 Today I had the pleasure of a visit by some Long-tailed tits. Infrequent visitors but always welcome. They always seem hyperactive and were chattering away. After a short time they flew away - they never stay long.

 Then a couple of Dunnocks dropped in. They prefer feeding from the ground or the bird table

 The Blue and Great tits stayed at the peanut feeder on the other side of the garden but this Great tit popped over to investigate the bird table.
 The group of House and Tree sparrows arrived and again mainly stayed at the other feeders but this House sparrow popped over to my side of the garden

 The Robin favoured the table for food but did not stay static for long prefering quick grab and run sorties interspersed with chasing the Dunnocks.

The cold finally got to me and it was time to leave the birds to fill up with food. They provide so much pleasure that it is only fair to help them when conditions are as bad as this. In summer their visits to the garden will become less frequent as more food becomes available in the surrounding countryside but for the last few cold days they have become more reliant on the feeders.

Now then is the time to pay them back for all the pleasure they provide and with this in mind we pulled on our wellingtons and headed to the local farm store to stock up with a selection of bird food.