Thursday, 12 July 2007

July: The Month to Enjoy Your Garden Birdlife

Quiet as July is for birdwatching, the garden is providing no shortage of entertainment at the moment. As I type there are three pairs of Swift zooming between the houses of the neighbourhood, clearly looking for nest spaces. I read the usually their colonies have been abandoned by mid-July, not so here, and it was about the same date they began prospecting last year. Unfortunately it seems most roof spaces are already occupied by House Sparrow and Starling, rather a drawback of the neighbourhood's successfulness for those species - indeed last year I watched as a very bemused male Sparrow returned to his brood under next door's roof to find a Swift in there with the chicks. Try to imagine his surprise! The Swift was chased away, and we saw nothing more of them save for the usual screaming parties at higher altitude.
Interestingly, a pair of House Martin followed in with the Swifts today, zooming around the gardens at levels far lower than usual. Do they normally follow their slimmer cousin?

Our earthy patch has become a firm favourite of the House Sparrows. Wait for just five minutes and you can be sure to see at least half a dozen of the birds come down for a dust bath, all scruffily fidgeting in the dry soil.

A Magpie visited this morning for a more liquid wash, very nervously skipping to and fro from the birdbath. A quick dunk and then a watchful pause for any threats.

The littering of feathers found yesterday prove the Sparrowhawks that sail over us will still come down to hunt. These feathers with very small and dark grey in hue, probably cock House Sparrow.

So okay, migration might be stagnant until August, still the action outside our kitchen window offers a different perspective on birding. There are stories out there, not just bird species.

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