Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Early Bird Watch 7-8 am

I thought it was time to do a roll call of the early visitors to my garden. I haven’t put out any food this morning as the feeders have enough. The table still has some of the sunflower seed mix left. I want to scrape and clean it later, if it stays dry, so I need the birds to eat the seeds they often leave till last or something more appealing comes along! I always find it interesting when I change a seed or mix as it can bring and lose visitors. I haven’t noticed the Blackcap males in a while – I bought the Fat Cake Guardian especially to keep them too!

The first appearance, as always, is the Blackbird. Even if I top up the feeders just before the light comes up I hear them screeching as they bounce along the top of my hedge and back and forward to my neighbours’ trees. Scavenging the ground for the food the males are often spotted fighting which is quite common at the moment. There were five this morning, a fight with a couple and one brave soul having a bath at 7am – it gave me the shivers watching it. If I was to pick one food that would keep the Blackbirds visiting it would definitely be the sultanas scattered on the ground.

Surprisingly the Siskin was the next I spotted. They really are tiny in comparison to the other birds – especially the blackbirds this morning. There were three males enjoying the sunflower mix in the feeders. I spotted one on the ground yesterday near my pond – I should probably consider, cleaning, refilling and returning my small water tray to this feeder as the wind often blows it away.

Robin , reliable as ever. There is seldom a morning that a Robin does not pop in but sometimes there can be three and then they too, like the Blackbird, chase the competition away. I only spotted one today feeding on the ground under the pine tree with the female Chaffinches. I noticed a cone on the ground – I suspect the Coal Tit is responsible for that!

Chaffinch ladies fed together. The males were later to arrive this morning, the females dropped to the ground and up to the table as a group – I spotted five. They often catch my eye in the garden – they seem to be rather clumsy in their approach to the feeders often abandoning their attempt. They seem much better, and more comfortable, landing on my shrubs and small trees.

Blue Tits were next to bounce down from the trees. They quickly appear from nowhere bright and bubbly whatever the time of the day. They are a joy to watch – three popped in during my watch. My thoughts turned to the Nestboxes but expected it would be a bit early for any activity there. I was right about our Camera Nestbox but the Terrace had a Blue Tit pecking at the entrance hole from the inside – I just spotted the movement of his head and beak.

Wrongly accused! I have to apologise to the Coal Tit for suggesting it was likely to be responsible for the fallen cone. There is another suspect in the frame for this one – the Siskin male. I have just spotted it at another cone on the tree as I write this! The seeds in the cones are the attraction but perhaps as the birds peck for the seeds they loosen the hold the cone has to the branch. Case withdrawn.

Two silent Starlings . Starlings usually come in groups, often large and noisy, but first thing in the morning we often get a solitary one quietly feeding amongst the other birds. Today there were two, they didn’t fight nor did they stay long.

Solitary Goldfinch . At first three Goldfinches were spotted at the seed feeder but later after they left one returned. Well, perhaps it wasn’t one of the first group but I suspect it is likely to have been. There is often a solitary Goldfinch at the feeders when there is a lull in feeding where the birds all disappear only to return in ten minutes or so.

House Sparrows and Chaffinch males join in. There comes a point in the morning when the level activity at the feeders speeds up with larger numbers arriving - which is usually when the House Sparrows join in. There were two males earlier feeding with the Chaffinch females but this was now a group of about 7-9. There were also about seven Chaffinch males and a few more females. Often in the morning the Chaffinches come to feed in pairs – but not today.

Great Tit times it well! I was pleased to see the Great Tit make an appearance in my watch – it arrived towards the very end. I think it is such a striking looking bird - it is one of my favorites.

It would end no other way. Two Woodpigeons waddled in at the end – well they would wouldn’t they! They do have an almost comical presence amongst the other birds – especially when they stuff themselves into the bird table.

The watch is over but the activity continues – I must add one more note before I publish this. I have just spotted a Starling on the ground gathering up material for nesting – it had quite a mouthful before it flew off! I stood up to see where it went but couldn’t see from my window. Last year we did have young, brown spotted, Starlings at the feeders – perhaps I will be able catch them on film this year.

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