Saturday, 3 January 2009

Twenty-one +

No, not my age but my count from the garden for “the number of different species seen or heard in the wild, in Britain, between 00.00 on 25th December (i.e. midnight on Christmas Eve) and 24.00 on 1st January (i.e midnight at the end of New Year's Day). Escapes, cagebirds, birds in a zoo, the Christmas turkey do not count - everything else does” as challenged by Border Reiver at Quicksilverbirds. Mm… I missed the part about being heard although my experience in identifying a bird by its call is seriously minimal! However, I was delighted that the wren made an appearance in the time slot and again today.

The tiny Wren’s appearance around my pond this morning has given a wonderful start for bird photos from my garden in 2009! I know they aren’t as sharp as they could have been. My camera had been on my tripod and I had been experimenting with a faster ISO setting (1600) as it was dark in this area earlier on and when the wren came along I forgot to change it I just started snapping. All the photos below were taken through my window.



The wren was so fast that to be completely honest when I finished taking my photos I actually felt a little dizzy! Oh… but even though they aren’t the best shots I am thrilled with them as they completely show the wonderful hide and seek character of this delightful little bird. It hides from us and it seeks out the insects around the waters edge of the pond.



Sorry… I was posting on my bird species count. Okay, in my garden I saw:

Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Long-tailed tit
Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin
Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Wren
House sparrow, Starling, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon
Sparrowhawk, Jackdaw (Total 18)



Flying over the garden Herring gulls, Rooks and Pink footed geese were seen. We also saw one of the biggest flocks of Jackdaws I have ever seen (25-30) and one also made it into the garden staking out the peanut feeders! So the ‘from the garden’ count ended at 21.

I haven’t been out and about much over the Christmas period but one trip out saw a Buzzard on a tree over looking a busy road and large flocks of both Pink footed and Graylag geese were seen in fields with smaller flocks of pheasants in other fields more into the countryside. Not sure if we saw partridges too so won’t count them. So ‘out of the garden’ my brief trip took in 4 more species just by looking out the car window.



Final tally for my contribution to the Quicksilver Christmas Challenge is 25. Now this number is a fraction of the 90 that Border counted but as he said in his posting it really is the taking part that counts! To see other results (or add your own) go to the link above. I am more than happy with my count as I really am in no way what you’d call a birder and I’ll be completely honest and say that pre-blog I probably could only have identified only half the birds in my count and probably missed seeing some completely. Now… that is a result!



P.S. Border has just left me a comment suggesting
that if anyone who visits/comments here wishes to send him a submission, from anywhere in the World, he’d be glad to add these to the report. The more the merrier! I know I have recently discovered some new bird and nature blogs perhaps they might like to join in too. You can leave a comment on this posting. I have to be honest and say I love to read the lists and see photos of birds from outside the UK too. Sorry… perhaps I should have extended this invitation to you all earlier. Oops.

The photos above were taken in my garden on January 2nd 2009.

22 comments:

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Hi, Shirl! That is quite a count! I keep seeing the same birds over and over. There are house finches, goldfinches, house sparrows, robins, blue jays, dark eyed juncos, doves, Cooper's hawk, great blue heron, Canadian geese, chickadee, starlings, downy woodpecker and American crow. That's 15 for me, actually more than I had thought it would be.

Natural Moments said...

A wonderful series of wren shots. And you took them from inside the house too? Excellent. They can be hard to lock onto since they love to dart from one place to the next so quickly. I really like your blog and will be back when I see that you have posted again.

Border Reiver said...

Hi Shirl, thanks for your submission, 25 is excellent for a garden, plus a couple of others outside, and your wren photos are fabulous. And thanks for publicising the fun bird challenge, like you say it's the taking part that counts not the number so if anyone who comments on your blog wishes to send me a submission, from anywhere in the World, I'll be glad to add these to the report. All the best BR

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Lovely, lovely Wren shots. They are such delightful characters. You did well to get the pictures - if I so much as look at our wren it scurries off.
K

Susan Tomlinson said...

I love the wren shots. I think wrens are my favorites. Or maybe nuthatches. Or creepers...

Well, really, anything tiny and busy. ;-)

shirl said...

Hi there Robin, Bernie, Border, Karen and Susan :-)

Robin – Yes, I was pleased. I’ve had a few more species too like the Blackcap, Song Thrush, an odd pheasant walking through and a Heron flying over. Oh yes… and I do believe very brief glimpses of a Goldcrest and Willow warbler. They didn’t appear in the time frame though. You have a wonderful selection of species and I’ve added it in a comment to Border’s posting – he’s encouraging counts from outside the UK too :-D

Bernie – Thank-you, I was pleased with them especially through the window. Perhaps it was lucky I had the camera set to such a fast shutter speed. Yes, it really was darting about. Thank-you, I have enjoyed yours too. I wonder if you would be interested in popping over the Border’s posting to add a comment with your species count :-D

Border – Ah yes… 21 from the garden and another 4 outside. A total of 25, not a bad first contribution. Thanks, I had another image in mind for this posting and as I was collecting my info the wren came by so I just had to include it. The funny thing is, I had quite a few more shots, the startled look was it looking in my direction as my OH and daughter were playing around with the volume of speakers inside.

Karen – Thank-you, I’m delighted you liked them! Yes, they really are characters. I was just so lucky that this one spent such a long visit. Clearly there was a lot to eat around the pond edges – sometimes it disappeared below the logs for ages and I thought I’d missed it leave :-D

Susan – Me too, I was pleased – a great photo start to 2009! Ah yes… I too love the little birds. Now a visit from a nuthatch would be nice too but not likely here in my part of Scotland. Enjoy your birds :-D

Little Brown Job said...

Great start to the new year and beautiful Wren shots :-)

Paul.

Liz said...

Lovely Wren photos Shirl, they are wonderful little birds and probably one of my favourites along with the Nuthatch :)

Mine visited this morning and spent a good 10 minutes flitting around our front bed. I've left the sweet pea there because I know it likes to hunt through it for insects (even if it is an eyesore since it's long dead!) No photos though as it was barely light and the camera/tripod wasn't setup.

Cheryl said...

Hi Shirl......I am glad you had a good count.....

I have fallen for the wren......I have them in my garden, although I hear them, rarely see them. The photographs are a wren's lover delight.....especially those by the pond. Thank you for sharing, and posting so many. I am going back to look at them in detail......

JooMoo said...

Beautiful wren pics - I've not seen one in my garden :-(

shirl said...

Hi again Paul, Liz, Cheryl and Moo :-)

Paul – Thank-you, it was a delight to watch :-D

Liz – Yes, the smaller birds do get our attention don’t they? How lucky you are to have the wren visit your garden too. You’ll have to encourage a wilder area in back beds for future winters ;-) I seem to notice it more at this time of year but I don’t catch glimpses every day and that’s what makes seeing them so special :-D

Cheryl – Thank-you, I was happy with it. Oh… I am thrilled you’ve enjoyed the wren photos so much. From quite a few I choose these ones as I felt they showed its endearing character. It is great to hear that everyone has enjoyed seeing them so much. I am not surprised you don’t see them as they are so quick and depending on where they are they can be completely camouflaged in the undergrowth. Fingers crossed that this year you will see them in your garden :-D

Moo – Thank-you, oh… you really have to look closely to see them but once you see one you will know where to look again (they often return to the same places). Here’s hoping you too will get a glimpse in 2009 :-D

keewee said...

Many of our birds have gone south for the winter, but I do enjoy watching the ones which have stayed for the winter. I have seen sparrows, nuthatches,towhees,chickadees,flickers,
downy woodpeckers,greedy starlings, red winged blackbirds and a few others.

Miranda Bell said...

Happy New Year Shirl - these are gorgeous pictures of one of my favorite birds... was amazing - we spent Christmas near to St Andrews this year and not a frost till the day we left and as we headed south it just got colder and colder! Have a great 2009! Miranda

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your list sounds so exotic to me Shirl. Ha... Our feeder birds are lacking this year. Ever since our mature pine trees went down to either pine bark beetles or the winds we haven't had the diversity of birds in our garden. THose pines must have been great magnets for the birds. They provided food and protection. I surley miss them (the pines) too.

Just yesterday we did the Christmas Bird Count here in our county. I will do a posting about our findings soon.

James said...

I like your wren photos. I spend more time trying to get decent shots of my little American wrens and it's quite tricky. They're such busy little birds!

shirl said...

Hi again keewee, Miranda, Lisa and James :-)

keewee – Yes, it is great to see the selection left visiting at this time of year. Funnily enough this is the time in my garden when we see the highest number of different species. You have a good selection there though. I have just looked up images of the ‘flicker’ and what a striking looking bird it is :-D

Miranda – Thank-you and ‘A Guid New Year’ to you too!! Ah… in my neck of the woods for Christmas – perhaps you may have passed along the main roads around me en route :-D Yes, it was a mild Christmas here. We are getting regular frosts now. I hope you had a great time. Thank-you, wishing you a wonderful 2009 too :-D

Lisa – Mm.. I’ve never though of that before. I guess I see your birds as more exotic - oops… the ones you used to get :-( Yes, you mentioned this tree before but I hadn’t realised you were still without many birds. It just shows the impact of the loss of one tree to wildlife – imagine the loss of a forest. Your birds hopefully found another tree nearby. I have very small pines and they do attract the birds looking for insects - I think a Goldcrest popped by again today - this is a new visitor! The coal tits strip the seed out of any cones we get. Gosh.. I had no idea at all until Andrew at Quicksilver (Border Reiver) set his species challenge that this time of year was quite so busy for bird counts and birders. I am guessing as you enjoy birding this must be an exciting time for you! Looking forward to your posting :-D

James – Thank-you, and for stopping by too :-) Oh yes… the wrens are tricky to both catch on film and get a glimpse of here too. This is the first time in the last couple of years that I have been able to get ‘proper photos’. I have posted frame grabs from video before now. I was thrilled to get any pictures at all but when I had enough to tell the story of their visit I was thrilled :-D

Robin in Portland, Oregon said...

Can you tell me what size camera lens you use to get such excellant close ups from your window? Thanks. I love your blog it's one of my three top favorites. Please keep up the excellant work.

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

I really loved the Wren shots. They are so hard to photograph.

We have had one visiting too recently. I have just come back from christmas and new year holiday to empty feeders in the garden. Have your birds been busy eating too? :-)

Joe

Hope you had a good christmas and New Year!

Thanks For 2 Day said...

Shirl, I always love everything you post about. Flowers, wildlife, birds, etc! Birds I always see, are: Bluebirds, bluejays, cardinals, chickadees, white-breasted nuhatches, carolina wrens, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, mourning doves, starlings, crows, tufted titmice, house finches, gold finches, pine siskins, robins, coopers hawks...and frequent visits from pileated woodpeckers. I also have quite a list of birds that are here but not as often. I need to write that down, too:) I always love visiting your blog, I can count on something interesting and often, 'moving, alive and on camera'!!! Jan

shirl said...

Hi again Joe and Jan and hello Robin :-)

Robin – No problem – it’s a 55-200mm zoom lens. Wow… I am delighted to hear you enjoy your visits so much :-D

Joe – Great, I’m glad you liked them :-) I was lucky that it stayed around long enough and my camera had been pre-set to a fast shutter speed. It wasn’t planned at all. Welcome back and I hope you had a great holiday. I bet your feeders were empty – I believe it has been colder down your end of the country. Yes, today I had to get out and top up mine as we are get a wide variety of birds visiting at the moment. Wishing you all the best for 2009 – especially with your upcoming exams this year :-D

Jan – Gosh… I am pleased that you enjoy your visits as much too! That’s quite a list visiting your garden – I like your tufted titmouse. Yes, you might enjoy keeping a regular log/blog on the birds that visit week by week. You might find it interesting to compare (like GBBD postings). It is great to get feedback and I’ll do my best to keep your interest with a variety of ‘moving’ posts too :-D

Mike - Fenphotography said...

Stunning images Shirl, great setting you have there.

shirl said...

Hi again Mike:-)

Thank-you! I do love my garden and I will be honest and say I have placed some feeders considering their backgrounds for photographs and videos too :-D