Monday, 8 January 2007

I don’t believe it!

Another new arrival to the bird community of my garden – only this time the bird looked instantly familiar! It appeared on Saturday morning and has been a regular visitor since. This new bird looked exactly like the last one except it had a chestnut brown cap instead of black – so not a Marsh or Willow Tit as I originally thought. I went back to the books and web to confirm the identity of this bird – a Blackcap.


Blackcap female feeding on fat cake, video 0:26 with background music, try 480p quality.


Blackcap female, shown above, could this possibly be a mate for our visiting blackcap male? They have not been spotted together but they do enjoy the same fat cake as you can see above. I've noticed that the female seems to spend more time keeping her beak clean than the male! To compare her with the male go to the link http://shirlsgardenwatch.blogspot.com/2007/01/new-year-brings-new-arrival.html. Both birds are quite happy to feed with other species in my garden but the books suggest they are not very sociable so maybe that is why they don’t seem to come to the table together.

Apparently a few Blackcaps spend the winter in mature, bushy western European gardens, but many more migrant birds appear in the spring, arriving from their wintering grounds in Spain, Portugal and Africa. A Scottish winter or Africa, yes, I can see why the Blackcap chose Scotland! No, but seriously it is usually very cold here at this time – signs of global warming perhaps. I do expect we will get it very cold yet – and snow is likely to come. So at this moment I feel a tad protective of our Blackcap pair. What if they decide to nest here?

According to the books, again, the Blackcap generally chooses to build its nest near the ground – there lies an instant risk in my garden. Cats pass through my garden and I have seen one leaping up and catching a bird, they are often spotted close to the feeding stations. I now feel the need to take further precautions against the threat of cats. Yesterday I invested in a motion sensor detection unit that triggers a 10 second ultrasonic burst which will repeat until the cat leaves the protected area. I placed it today and have absolutely no idea if it will work - but the RSPB have tested it and it is the only unit they have recommended. You can see details of this unit on at http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/mall/productpage.cfm/rspb/R0123 .

Cats are not the only threat of course with Sparrowhawks occasionally being spotted diving down into my garden – I hope to catch, an unsuccessful one, on film one day. The Sparrowhawk is incredibly fast and agile. I can recall last year the Scottish News reporting of a rare bird spotted on a rooftop in Aberdeen – the north east of Scotland. Sadly this rare bird was not caught by any television cameras – instead it was caught by a Sparrowhawk!

For further information on the birds mentioned above follow the links below:
http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/b/blackcap/index.asp
http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/guide/s/sparrowhawk/index.asp

The video clip shown above was taken in my garden on January 6th 2007.

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