Sunday, 9 November 2008

Sunday morning birds

Today my garden definitely had a buzz about it! This morning from 8.30-9.30am I sat at my window observing the birds for a morning bird count and I saw quite a change. Ah yes… I have noticed that different times of the day show different species of birds coming into the garden so I already had an idea of who might visit.

Mike and Joe have already mentioned numbers have been low in their gardens today. Perhaps it has been warmer in their respective parts of England but this morning in my slightly cold, wet and windy Scottish garden I noticed a serious increase in bird visitors.

It is difficult to count birds when they arrive en masse. I really don’t know how they do it at reserves! In my garden today the finches (including Chaffinches shown above) saw their first serious increase in numbers for this time of year. So much so that I wasn’t sure at all if I managed to count them all accurately as I had my camera in hand at the same time! In the photos here you can see how popular the feeder in my Acer tree is with them and the Robin, Blue tit and Dunnock - even the Blackbirds jump up there too.



My bird feeders are spaced around a relatively small area so when the birds do arrive in numbers I really cannot count them. I have said on many occasions that my garden is small but yet I really have a wonderful variety of birds visiting it. Today the foods on offer were sunflower hearts, peanuts, a sunflower heart and seed mix, fat balls, and finally apples thrown to the ground and on an obelisk. I must stock up on more peanuts and sultanas for the ground feeders and the hedgehog bowls. There were also berries on a cotoneaster and holly.

How small is small? I guess that is relative but perhaps the video below will give you a better lay of the land in my garden. My boundary hedge (Leylandii) breaks the force of winds and acts as a place for the birds to hide in too - especially on windy days like today. It really is funny to see them pop out in pockets all over it before they buzz down to the feeders!



Drum roll please… Chaffinches stole the top spot today. I am guessing that there were around ten today. Next month I expect that number will triple. They seem to me to be quite clumsy birds as they arrive at feeders always struggling to land. However, they are very comfortable at landing on my small, low, domed Acer. I had so many photo opportunities this morning but the minute I got my camera on them they bounced through the branches to the feeder below sitting in this tree. They really were fun to watch – the top photos above show the male then a female on the branches then a couple of males at the feeder.

Robins, Dunnocks and Blackbirds find this a popular spot too but, as you will have seen in my video above, at this time of year I cannot see many of my feeders clearly at ground level. However, I am still able to see the action on the ground where Blackbirds chase each other and the Robin chases the Dunnock. Today, I had company with my bird watch and it isn’t a species you would perhaps expect.

At a guess, eighty percent of the time in my ‘hours count’ a Dunnock sat under the Acer beside my pond. It was there when other birds were spooked with gusts of wind and it was clear it was happy there with the plants and rocks as cover. I was able to see it so clearly from my window spot but I guess any swooping visits from a Sparrowhawk would miss it. Funnily enough on one gust of wind only a confused looking Woodpigeon and two ‘not bothered looking’ goldfinches remained.

Numbers? Okay, Chaffinches ten, Greenfinches seven plus one with Trichomoniasis – will need to clean the feeders now. Blackbirds six, House Sparrows five, Blue tits three including one going in a Nestbox. One Great tit and one Coal tit although three coal tits are regularly visiting at the moment. One Robin and Woodpigeon plus two late entries of Goldfinches. Oh yes… and a flock of Geese that flew over (pink footed I’d guess heading to fields to feed from a local reserve) which I know I shouldn’t include but I will.

I was hoping I’d see some of the partial albino Blackbirds that visit my garden but instead saw one with white tail feather only and another young male in its first year that just might have white feathers to appear on the top of its head. Not sure on that one yet. So yes, a busy morning and by the end of my count the rain stopped and although the wind picked up the sun came out a little too.

What birds visited your garden today? Oh yes... and I wonder what went on in Joe’s garden.

The photos above were all taken in my garden, through a window, on November 9th 2008. On my Bird photos blog you can see more images of the Blackbird and Dunnock taken this morning.

16 comments:

Frances said...

Hi Shirl, as always I love your photos, videos and narrative, and music. So much to enjoy here. Our birds are starting to get more numerous here too. Lots of cardinals, goldfinches, mourning doves, chickadees, nuthatches and titmice were seen today. There are still lots of berries on the pyracanthas and hollies too.
Frances

Liz said...

It's great to see your garden, I'm struggling trying to design my own and this has given me ideas just exactly what I can do!!

I know what plants I want, I just struggle with the actual design :D

Lovely photos, and it sounds like you had plenty of visitors!

I had the usual suspects today:

Dunnock
Greenfinch
Coal tit
Great tit
Sparrow
Blue tit

Crafty Gardener said...

I love seeing all the bird photos, especially those of birds we don't get here in my part of Canada.

shirl said...

Hi there Frances, Liz and Crafty :-)

Frances – Thank-you! I love to see your American birds too especially the cardinals and your goldfinches which are so much brighter in colour than ours. Who needs flowers in the winter months when you have these wonderful visitors to brighten up the garden? I am surprised that our cotoneaster berries are still there – I guess it is the prickly teasel that is planted close by that is helping preserve them for much colder days. Have a good week :-D

Liz – My thoughts were that the video would show the layout that the birds have to work with so I wasn't thinking it might give any ideas to gardeners – great I am delighted if I have given you some :-) Great also to see you have greenfinches down in Sheffield as some parts of England and Wales don’t see any visit at all now. I see you are planning a tidy-up week in your garden planting bulbs etc too – I really must get out there myself. Wishing you a good week of weather! BTW Thanks so much for adding me to your ‘Follow list’ I hadn’t thought to display this feature but as you have used it I think I should show it – Thank-you :-D

Crafty – Hello again :-) Yes, this is one of the advantages of blogs being worldwide we get to see birds from other countries. I liked your Monday mystery photo – the Blue Jays look quite an addition to the garden! Have a good week :-D

Zoë said...

I love watching the birds too, and feed them regularly too (it is costing a mint).

We see most the birds you see here too; I am waiting for the Bramblings to arrive, anytime between now and March depending how ferocious the weather is in the Baltic states. They are such pretty little birds and arrive in flocks with the other finches to feed most morning. Some days we can count more than 50.

Zoë

Mike - Fenphotography said...

Nice collections of shots Shirl, glad numbers are increasing there for you, its a little strange here at the moment, birds are few and far between, but even more so all the trees in the woods behind my house still have green leaves and are only now starting to turn orange, so maybe there are still bugs about? Anyway great post.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Shirl, your garden is so beautiful. I love seeing the overall view from above. It is not a wonder that the birds love your garden too. It has so much cover for them.

I count fly overs for garden birds too. I wouldn't put them on an official feeder count but for my own personal list they are garden birds. :)

Several years ago we actually had two Canada Geese in our garden, right at the edge. If you saw how cluttered with trees and wires our area is you would not believe me. I almost didn't believe it myself. I figured one of them was injured but when I tried to sneak up on them to take a picture they flew away. I have always wondered why they stopped here. Never before or since have they stopped in our garden. They fly over often going from a small lake to the fields beyond. I love to hear their honking as they go by. Sometimes I can hear the swooshing of their wing beats, which is always special.

easygardener said...

Here its mostly lots of Blue Tits and Great Tits - also Dunnocks, Robins, Collared Doves, Wood pigeons, Jays, Magpies, Feral pigeons and a pair of Sparrows. A pair of Chaffinches arrived for the first time last week.
Lovely to see your garden, a video makes it more real!

shirl said...

Hi again Zoë, Mike, Lisa and Easygardener :-)

Zoë – Yes, I know what you mean about the cost especially when you offer a choice of menu for every taste ;-) Ah… lucky you to see the Brambling. Yes, I guess we could see around 50 too mixing the finches and house sparrows. The wildlife reserve that I visit North of me is waiting for the Brambling to arrive too. I wonder if they every come in my direction – I’d love to see them in my garden too :-D

Mike – Thank-you, these pics told the story of my popular Acer tree during my bird watch but I added extra ones on my bird photos blog too. I’ve got some lovely shots of the Dunnock there. Well, perhaps you have your answer if the trees and plants aren’t feeling Autumnal. You are probably correct that they can still find plenty of food at the moment. I am certain the birds will find there way to your garden soon especially if you have the bitter cold winds that we have here today. Looking forward to seeing them when they do – loved the coal tit shot BTW. That little bird is so photogenic albeit quick for the camera :-D

Lisa – Thank-you, I just thought it would show a different perspective (quite literally) of how I see the birds visit my garden – especially when this area is so small. Yes, I agree about not including the fly-overs for official counts. Like you, if I see them from my garden they count for my own records still. Gosh… seeing the Canada geese in your garden really must have been strange yet wonderful too. Here, we can hear many, many birds honking overhead at certain times of year and you can hardly see a clear space in the sky. It is quite a spectacle. The oddest visitor we have had has been a pheasant arrive one day. I wasn’t feeding the birds at that time and we never even saw it fly in. Of course when I got my camera…

Easygardener – That’s quite a collection of species you have visiting your garden. We never see Feral pigeons or Jays here but with the exception of the magpie (who has sat once on the roof of my bird table) the rest are regulars here too. I’d love to see a jay but don’t know how likely that is. How wonderful that you are seeing the chaffinch – I’m sure it will bring in other finches with it soon too. Yes, that is exactly what I hoped the video would do and in a month or so this area will change again so it might be fun to film then too. There will be many finches by then I'd guess :-D

Liz said...

Oh, indeed, and I think you've created nice areas where they can feel safe when at the feeders - after all if they weren't safe they'd ignore the feeders! :D

At the moment I'm working with the current layout of the garden, and I'm fully aware it's going to take time to work and change the garden, most of the planning is for plants good for the birds in both food and protection as we do get Sparrowhawk visits here.

Cheryl said...

Love the video......and the photos.....but most of all I love that hedge.....it is just so neat and perfectly trimmed, just how they should be.......

I have had an increase in chaffinch today......also greenfinch......dunnock and robin.....long tailed tits, great and blue tits to........my star guest though was a redwing, also a sparrowhawk......

Love your garden by the way....what a pretty space......

shirl said...

Hi again Liz and Cheryl :-)

Liz – Yes, I have to say that I did try to consider the safety of the birds at the feeders. It was as much a case of I’d hate to make it easy for cats or the Sparrowhawk to catch them. I think a mix of plants with larger evergreen shrubs and small trees is a good way to go. I think vertical structures of any kind help stop the Sparrowhawk get an easy flight through the garden. I placed my feeders near my bamboo to make it tricky and also fairly near the hedge too for a quick escape to cover – although in saying that once I saw the Sparrowhawk dive through the hedge too! I understand the work and planning involved in making changes to a garden. I suppose my advice would be to take one area at a time to get a good feel of what you are looking for. Sorry, I am one of these gardeners who enjoys making changes and never see the garden as complete. Have fun with yours in both the planning and the work :-D

Cheryl – Thank-you, oh that hedge... I dread every August with the work involved in trimming and then tidying up afterwards. It has to be done as you say and in the end we too have to look at it. Ah… you’ve got a party going on in your garden with your bird visitors – seeing the redwing must have been a treat. Ah… as with all parties you get the unwelcome guests like the Sparrowhawk too. Then again, it has to feed too I suppose. Although I don’t like to see them diving into my garden (becoming more frequent now) I must say that I do admire their agile flying. The little birds are pretty good at getting out of the way too – usually. Thank-you, my garden is ‘L’ shaped so this is the narrowest part and it changes a great deal through the seasons. There’s always a lot going on in this area with birds, wildife and the plants - my greenhouse is beside my potting shed too :-D

Thanks For 2 Day said...

Hi Shirl,
My birds were plentiful last fall and I'm waiting for the large masses to arrive again this year. The weather is getting colder and they seem to flock around the feeders in the cold weather.

I haven't visited you in a while so I've enjoyed stoping by! I am working on a new blog after accidentally deleting all the posts in my old one. Come over any time!

Jan

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

Great post. I would love to get some Chaffinch photos myself, but they are surprisingly hard to approach. I liked your garden video. I liked the different angles you got of your garden too.

Joe

Yolanda Elizabet said...

It was lovely to see your garden on the vid, now I have a much better idea of what your garden looks like. And I saw those gorgeous and famous rocks of you again. ;-)

I feed the birds the whole year round and as a rule I have many many visitors every day. But for some reason I've hardly seen a bird in my garden for the last 2 1/2 weeks. Usually I have to refill my feeders twice a week as they empty very quickly but now they have lasted for 2 1/2 weeks and are still almost filled to the brim. Something must have happened to scare the birds away but I haven't a clue what that might have been. Today, for the first time in over 2 1/2 weeks blue tits and great tits were at the feeders. What a relief. Hopefully the other birds will return soon too.

shirl said...

Hi again, Jan, Joe and Yolanda:-)

Jan – Excellent, it is great to watch the birds return isn’t it? Yes, the cold weather does change things doesn’t it? Nice to have you visit again, I’ve be over to see you soon :-D

Joe – Thanks, ah the Chaffinch shots I usually get are through a window. I’m glad you liked the area of my garden with the feeders. I thought this video would give you especially an idea of how I see the birds visit on our bird watches. I showed the upstairs footage as I cannot see the feeders properly with my plants at this time of year. That will change soon enough though. I wonder what we will see in our gardens next time :-D

Yolanda – As I said to Joe, my thoughts were you’d see what I see when I watch the birds in the garden. My garden is ‘L’ shaped and they do visit round the corner at the ivy on the pergola but I cannot see this and other visitors for a bird count – no windows around there! Yes, I feed all year now too. Strange… there could be some bird of prey scarring your birds but you would still see some brave souls coming to the feeders. Perhaps it isn’t cold enough and the birds are finding food plentiful in the woods etc. I would guess once a few start coming the rest will eventually follow. You’ll have to get the Bliss team on guard duty of the sky for any suspects ;-D