Thursday, 14 January 2010

A Garden Bonanza

Mostly a garden update this one. All this snow and slipping down in the street has seemed worth it with the feathered visitors we've been getting. The Fieldfare has taken up residency for now, and the very wee cotoneaster and pyracantha we planted in the front garden last year have scored us a Redwing or two. The growing Reed Bunting attendance has peaked with around 15 birds at a time, and I pause to type here because a Mistle Thrush just landed on the lawn, it's squabbling with the Blackbirds over an apple core.
Extra bit of excitement came last night when closing the curtains in our spare room I noticed a shape in our heavily prune cherry tree. Twas a Tawny Owl, probably looking for the mice and voles that hoover up the seed spill from the day's action on our front garden feeders. The bird stayed a minute or two, even looked through the window at me. In the end it swooped into the gloom of our back garden, just magical. Makes species #45 on the garden list since moving in almost a year ago.

Final mention goes to the Weasel I saw darting around our patio the other day - another new record for our garden.

Looks like the thaw will set in for a couple of days now, expect we'll be back to normal by the time of the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.

As the water is still frozen there's not been much up at the pit lately. The best I can report is a Great Black-backed Gull as an overfly down in the village the other day.

In other news, recent findings suggest that Grey Squirrel impacts on woodland bird populations far less than previously feared, although locally they could be bad news for scarcer species like Hawfinch, so we can almost like them again.
The perfect excuse to add a few squirrel pictures to the thumbnails of my recent photographs below...

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Bleak Midwinter

Haven't posted for a while so I'll quickly round up the last month. Bagged two lifers in that time, the first came with the dozens of Common Crossbill at Broomhead Reservoir near Sheffield. Just wasn't getting any luck with well known local sites like Sherwood Pines or Matlock Forest, and learnt about Broomhead on Birdforum. Brilliant places, loads of Crossbills - saw a dozen or so and heard more - mixed in with Goldfinch, Siskin and some entertaining tit flocks. Seemed to disturb a Tawny Owl that flew through the wood around midday. Hand-fed a desperate Robin in the layby where we parked the car.
Peaceful place.

A corking Firecrest (#228) accounts for the other lifer, a now well watched bird at Moorgreen Reservoir. Apparently they are present most winters, the word just hadn't gotten out before. Locals speak of Lesser Woodpecker and some other interesting birds in there too. Looks worthy of more attention.

Both species bogey passerines I'm very happy to have finally cracked.
Dipped however on a Siberian Stonechat at Bevercotes Pit Wood near Ollerton in Notts. Several European Stonechats around, none quite so dandy as the Sib. Went a day late for that one.

A lot of action in the garden at the moment. About eight inches of snow will do that around here. Numbers of Reed Bunting have hit at least 11, lots of the common finches, Redwing and Fieldfare have been through, Great Spotted Woodpecker too, and next door's apple trees are being vigourously defended by a Mistle Thrush. Late one day a Yellowhammer came and went very briefly - noticed it among a very busy flocked mostly by the very horizontal perching shape. This morning 150+ geese were heading north-west while I had my breakfast, no chance of a defo ID but really they had to be Pink-feet.

Nothing up at Pleasley Pit at the moment, at least nothing on the water, it's been frozen for a fortnight, the last birds I saw were Snipe evacuating elsewhere just before Christmas. The winter thrushes remain, as do a single female Stonechat and lots of Yellowhammers.

Very quick visit to Rufford with family earlier this week where I managed a few photographs. Wild birds are so tame there it's difficult to go away without a decent image or three.