Friday, 30 October 2009

Friday at the Flicks

Yesterday was one of those days which prove the old saying that things come in threes. I should have been out for lunch but my friend had to postpone the date. I went to the local surgery to have blood taken for my annual check up and for the first time the nurse had to try several veins to get one to work. (Not my idea of a fun activity) In the evening, just as the recorder had started to record a couple of TV programmes I wanted to watch later, the power flickered a few times and died for the next hour and a half.  In the 30+ years I have lived here there has hardly been one without a power cut, sometimes several. A few years ago I installed some automatic emergency lighting which can give up to three hours of light during a power failure. I hate the darkness and it is so eerie when the whole village is without light.

Anyway. On with the show:

I don't know about being up with the Lark. Here it is a question of being up with the Blackbird. They must be the first to be out and about looking for breakfast. We often get clucked and tutted at on our early morning walks at twilight. One of the video cameras caught the first to arrive in the garden at 6.30 a.m. as daylight was just breaking. On mild evenings I still put out a dish with a few raisins, sunflower seed hearts and dried mealworms. No signs of Hedgehogs but it doesn't go to waste.

Yesterday a male Blackbird spent quite a while preening in the warmth of the Sunlight. I'm nor sure whether it had been injured, possibly in one of their many squabbles but it flew away normally a while later. The last couple of days have been so warm it has been T-shirt weather.

Before I had to temporarily remove many of the feeders the Starlings had started their winter invasion of the garden.

Have a great weekend watching the wildlife around you.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

False Alert

Would you believe it - new e-mail from AuroraWatch says the alert was falsely triggered by man made disturbance at the Lancaster site - no aurora today then :(

Still more activity on my detector than normal though.

AuroraWatch Red Alert

This morning I received mail from AuroraWatch (Lancaster University) which stated they had observed a very large increase in geomagnetic activity. This is the first red alert of a possible aurora I have received for a long time. It may well be worth those in Northern latitudes keeping a watch on the sky tonight. No guarantees but not to be missed if it should occur.

I have a relatively simple magnetometer (a device for detecting very small changes in the Earth's magnetic field) which isn't showing much activity here but it is inside at the moment. I really should move the detector where it belongs - outside away from the house electrical fields.

Outside there is not a bird to be seen or heard. Have they detected this magnetic activity I wonder? It really is eerily quiet. 

Later in the day I moved my magnetometer (built from a kit some years ago) into the conservatory and videoed some of the readouts. The numbers on the scale do not have a meaning. All that is important are changes in the reading. On a quiet day the needle will move one small division every so often. This video is speeded up 10 times. Unfortunately the camcorder ran out of space on the DVD but sometimes the needle reached both ends of the scale. The needle jumps as the unit takes snapshots of the strength of the magnetic field every so often.

At 3.20 p.m. there is still almost complete silence from the birds and I have seen none come near the feeders. It was just as quiet round the rest of the village when we went walkies.

For those interested the AuroraWatch site is HERE but it seems to be very busy so it may take a while to get any information downloaded..

A Quiet Couple of Days

Very little to report really. Not a lot going on here. Plenty of Sparrows and Starlings attacking the fat balls and peanut feeder. No sign of the Heron, nothing captured on the wildlife camera. Occasionally a lone Goldfinch arrives to check whether their feeders have been returned to their rightful place. It is a few day now since I saw any ill looking birds so I hope get the seed feeders back up in the not too distant future.

Trying different settings on the Canon I at last found out which to use so that birds photographed against a bright sky don't end up as silhouettes.

House Sparrow

There are still fleeting visits from the tit families which dash in, grab a bite and dash to the safety of the nearby bushes.

  Great Tit
Great Tit

From time to time I manage to get a glimpse of a Wren as it searches round all the junk lying about some parts of the garden.


The only night visitor has been the occasional cat. I notice they pass very quickly through the part of the garden covered by the Cat Gard so it is doing a reasonable job of keeping them away from the bird feeding area.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Black is Beautiful

It is always great to see the colourful birds like the Goldfinches and Blue Tits visit the garden. But there are others, less showy, which visit from time to time. I often have Rooks drop in, especially when I start putting out the fat balls. This morning it was the turn of a Carrion Crow. It appears to be totally black but closer inspection shows different shades of black and dark greys.

Carrion Crow

Carrion Crow

To my eyes it looks just a beautiful in its own way as any other visitor. Before the introduction of wheelie bins, when rubbish was put out in black sacks, they were regular visitors on refuse collection days tearing great holes in the sacks to get at anything edible. These days I normally only see them in the fields mixing in with the Rooks.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Paddling in the Garden Pond

With the clocks having gone back an hour last night it was light again at 7 a.m.. I had a quick look at the pond but nothing in sight. After walkies I took the wildlife camera out to fix in position. I noticed water splashes on the pond edging so I assumed Harry the Heron (named by Glo of Porcelain Rose) had already been for his breakfast. If he had then he came back for the second course about 8.30. I hadn't yet got the cameras ready. Which one to grab? Yesterday afternoon I had experimented with the camcorder - lowered the tripod so it could just see over the window ledge and with the tiltable LCD screen I could kneel down and still operate it and be reasonably out of view.

I grabbed the camcorder, set it up and slowly moved it to get the only reasonable view. Harry had landed on the lawn and had by this time carefully made his way to the end of the pond. All the time he kept glancing at the kitchen window. As he entered the pond I started the recording and managed a short clip before he disappeared from view.

I tried to slowly move the tripod to get another clear view but Harry noticed and was off like a shot. Did the wildlife camera get a picture. Did it heck as like. Partly it was facing slightly the wrong way. Partly it takes a one minute rest after each detection time. All I got was a lovely photo of the ripples fanning out from where the Heron was standing just out of sight.

Today's tasks:
1) Remove the post next to the rose bush which was to mount the wildlife camera overlooking the waterfall.
2) Reposition the post at the end of the pond to cover more of the pond itself.

Wow - 11 a.m. and both 'round tuits' done. Is this a record I ask myself. New post for the wildlife camera with a cover over the top to keep rain and direct Sunlight off the lens. Temporary post next to the rose bush removed. The other post in the way is unfortunately needed where it is as it carries the weight of my aerial mast when I tilt it over - unless I redesign it to tilt over as well. I just knew the 'round tuit' pile would keep growing.Sigh!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Something Beginning with H

I spy with my little eye - something beginning with H

Heron head

Yes - yesterday there was a visitor to the garden. Where was it? In the pond of course. It was impossible to get a clear shot from the kitchen window but at least it was a shot.

Heron Stood in my Pond

The local Grey Heron is now making almost daily visits to the pond. Today we had just got back from the morning walkies when I spotted it arrive about 7.30 a.m.. It was hardly light but I grabbed the camera and dialled the ISO as high as it would go, crept cautiously as near the kitchen window as I dared and tried for a few shots.


Thank goodness for the image stabilised lens as 1/15 sec was the fastest I could get and it was impossible to stop my hand shaking with the excitement of getting a clear view for once.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Friday at the Flicks

While there is an absence of feeders at the Birdy Bistro the Greenfinches have taken advantage of the Sunflower seed heads I had cut off and placed where I could see who eats the seeds. In the past I have always missed this activity. Some of the sounds on the recording are actually of heavy raindrops.

For weeks I have been trying to build up a video of birds visiting the bird bath which has been frustrating as each bird spends very little time there but here are a couple of short clips of a Robin (slowed down to half speed as it was only 10 seconds) and Goldfinches.

Have a great weekend watching the wildlife antics near you.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Birdy Visitors

Yesterday morning the usual multitude arrived for their early morning snack and sat around trying to work out where their feeders had gone. Some, like this Greenfinch, were enterprising and found there was food to be found if you worked at it. When I cut off the ripe Sunflower heads I had placed them where I could see which birds would eat the ripe seeds but up till now there had been easier pickings.

Greenfinch on Sunflower Head

I have been scattering the batch of dried mealworms which the Hedgehogs  turned their noses up at on the grass. Normally it has been slow to be chosen but yesterday a group of Starlings make short work of them.

Starling with Dried Mealworm

The rain had started overnight and persisted almost continuously through yesterday and on through most of last night. This Blackbird was scouring the lawn for any easy pickings and in spite of the rain there are only a few drops to be seen on its feathers.


I kept watch on the birds on and off through the day and was pleased that I did not see any sickly looking ones. I can but hope that using Ark-Klens spray disinfectant and a reduction in crowding will bring the outbreak to a speedy end.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Birdy Bistro Temporarily Closed

Over the past week I have seen a growing number of ill and dying birds in the garden. From the symptoms it would appear to be trichomoniasis caused by the dreaded trichomonad parasite. This has been reported in the UK since 2005 and mainly affects finches during late Summer and the Autumn. It can also be passed on to Sparrows. Here it was first noticable among the Greenfinches and now seems to be affecting the Goldfinches as well.

There is no cure for this but as the parasite does not survive for long outside the host the best method of slowing down the spread is by stopping feeding the birds for up to two weeks in the hope they will not gather closely in large numbers.

To this end I have removed all the feeders which the finches use. There is just a peanut feeder, a fat ball feeder and some Sunflower seeds on the table. It is safe to carry on feeding the tit family so that should help keep those going. In effect the Birdy Bistro has had to close down temporarily - for a couple of weeks or until no more ill or dead birds are seen. I had also, as recommended, emptied the bird bath but that was full again this morning after last nights rain so I think I will have to cover it up.

The trichomonad parasite causes a horrible death for those birds affected. More information can be found HERE on the RSPB website.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Where do Birds keep their Camera Detector?

Wouldn't you just Adam and Eve it! Three days with the wildlife camera by the pond - nothing. This morning I didn't fix it up as I was contemplating moving the post which holds it in place to avoid the Sun glinting on the water. Just glanced across to the pond through the kitchen window (11.15 a.m.) and there was Mr(s) Grey Heron stood in the middle of the water. It spotted me almost immediately but I did manage a few shots as it beat a hasty retreat. They are somewhat grainy as the Canon was set to 1000 ISO and there was no time to adjust it.

Grey Heron

I am sure that many birds have their own radar to detect the presence of a camera. There is little doubt it will be back so I must make sure the wildlife camera is ready at all times in future.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Worms, Sheep and Creativity

Lovely sunny afternoon yesterday so managed to mow the grass. I wonder how many more times it will need cutting this year. Was someone laughing at me heaving the mower about.


All day there were three Crane Flies on the outside of the kitchen window. They hardly moved at all. I have always know these as Daddy Long Legs for obvious reasons. When a nipper I was terrified of them as dozens (so it seemed)  flitted round the bedroom light. I am assuming these are Crane Flies though they seemed smaller than those normally seen.

Crane Fly

Jan of ShySongbird's Twitterings has come to the rescue again. Jan identified the insect as a Folded Wing Crane Fly (Limonia nubeculosa). Thanks Jan.

A regular job here is dropping any uncooked kitchen waste into the wormery. My worms exist on  potato peelings, tea bags and banana skins as their main diet with other bits as they come to hand. Citrous fruit cannot be used but they seem to like Papaya and Melon skins. Damp torn or shredded paper can also be put in, but not the shiny type.

Tiger Worms (Eisenia fetida) are used as they tend to live nearer  the surface and do a great job of turning waste food into a rich compost with the added benefit of producing a liquid which can be diluted to make a useful liquid fertiliser.

Tiger Worms get their name from the pale bands around their reddish bodies. They are smaller and sleeker than your average earthworm. They breed readily and can often be found in compost heaps.

Tiger Worms

 On our expeditions to the field at the end of the lane I see the sheep in the neighbouring field have been serviced so the Spring lamb production has started. Unfortunately I didn't manage a photo of the ram with his bag of dye tied round his chest but the patches of dye on the rumps of the ewes show that he has finished his part of the process. The ewes seem to look to the ram for protection. Normally if they sense danger they go though a gate into a further field but when the ram was there they gathered round him.


A few days ago Glo of Porcelain Rose left a link to this in a comment. Somebody's creative juices were working overtime again. I do admire people who can think up things like this.


Thank you Glo. Brilliant! Also Glo has left a link to a picture of a sleepy hedgehog HERE. There are many fabulous nature photos on the site.

Last night I got round to watching Autumn Watch and enjoyed the piece about Hedgehogs. Interesting that hibernating animals have to wake up every so often to get rid of waste products, then need a short normal sleep before going back into hibernation.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Another Winter Garden Visitor Returns.

Such a kerfuffle this morning in the bushes just over the fence near the feeders. At first I thought it was just the House Sparrows catching up on the morning gossip. A short while later I spied a couple of Long Tailed Tits flitting near one of the feeders apparently having an argument with the Goldfinches. For quite a while after that I could see a group of about six LTTs dashing about the branches. Never staying in one place for more than a couple of seconds. All the time they were there the other small birds had to keep shuffling about to get out of the way. The Goldies sat on the highest branches keeping well out of it. While the LTTs were there not one bird came down to the feeders though there were many hanging about waiting for their breakfast.

Long Tailed Tits

This time I only managed a few grainy shots of the LTTs but now they have returned there should be more opportunities in the future and hopefully some video of them later in the year.

I don't know whether the Heron still visits the pond but I have set up a wildlife camera which I hope will capture a shot of anything which does. The pond is hard to see from the kitchen and the few visitors I have seen are away as soon as they spot any movement. The camera works on movement detection day or night and uses IR flash at night to take b/w photos.

Here the camera is temporarily set up while I find the best position for it and work out how to make it secure enough to leave out all the time. It is battery operated and should run for 30 days before they need changing.


It does detect movement, even some distance away as this capture of Bobby shows. Also interesting are the reflections in the windows. Now I understand why so many birds fly into them at certain times of day.


No doubt it will capture some strange creatures but hopefully not too many like this. ;)


Friday, 16 October 2009

Friday at the Flicks

There are usually a couple of Goldfinches which insist in eating upside-down. I think they found that they don't get involved in squabbles quite so often when they avoid the perches.

I had temporarily taken down one of the feeders while I was cutting down the Sunflower. By the lunch time rush I had forgotten to put it back up so there were six perches less than normal and a sudden influx of House Sparrows.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

New Nest Box

What I had really gone to see the other day when I visited Woodthorpe Hall Garden Centre was their selection of nest boxes. In the past I had seen they stocked some with cameras built in and I was hoping they were still available. The demo box was on view but I could not see any on sale. On asking an assistant he went and checked and found the last one in store which had a colour camera. It would appear they had not been selling well and that was likely to be the last of that type there so I purchased it.

The old black and white camera in my home brew (Heath Robinson) box had failed and I don't think the box was the right size so I decided to replace that one. The camera in the new box is colour only though it does have white light LEDs which are adjustable for brightness. The main design fault is that the adjuster is next to the camera where it would have been more sensible to my mind to have that control near the power supply. Anyway I adjusted them to somewhere near pale Moon light so I could have some sort of picture at night.

The box is very substantial and all sections are fixed with screws making it easy to adapt for different birds and for cleaning. I decided to remove the top front section so it would be a Robin box. That way there would be plenty of daylight for the camera. The camera is in an enclosed section at the top and the lens pokes through a hole looking down into the box. After much cursing and wobbling on a precarious step stool I managed to fix it in some large evergreens.

Robin Nest Box

Video pictures look good so now it is back to the old waiting game to see if there are any takers next Spring. The last box was only visited twice that I saw and that was by a Great Tit which was looking for insects to eat. In the photo it looks as though the box is in full daylight but in fact I used flash as it is a reasonably shady spot.

Honey still is still AWOL. It is well over a week now since any Hedgehog visited the feeding area. The video is on auto capture but the only things which have triggered the recorder has been rain (plenty of that on many nights), a spider which insists on having a web in front of the camera, and the odd cat. Since I installed the Cat Gard there has only been one cat  on a couple of occasions but it passes through quickly and doesn't hang around any more. Honey had stopped visiting before the cat deterrent was installed so it isn't that which is keeping her away.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Devil's Backbone and Other Plants

One house plant I have grown on and off for many years is a Bryophyllum. (bryophyllum daigremontianum) Not really a great looker but I find it fascinating. Each plant grows as a tall gangly looking stem with thick leaves edged with serrations. As the leaves mature a tiny new plant grows at each of these indentations producing scores of new plants. Hence one of its nicknames - Mother of Thousands. Another name being the Devil's Backbone. As these little plantlets mature, still attached to the parent leaf, they even grow roots and when fully mature they drop off to start new plants.


Bryophyllum Plantlets
Eventually the parent plant will put out flower spikes and produce small pale flowers.
There is a web site devoted to these plants which can be found HERE.

One plant I have wanted in the garden for a long time is the Chinese Lantern Plant (Physalis franchetii). I have tried growing them from seed taken from local plants to no avail so when I spotted some in Woodthorpe Garden Centre I couldn't resist buying a couple, especially as they had been reduced in price! By the looks of the thick strong root system it would appear they could spread rapidly so mine will be container grown. The beautiful thin orange seed cases really brighten up a dull Autumn day looking all the world like Chinese lanterns.

Chinese Lantern Plant

Finally a plant I had to order. I first saw the flowers on the Persian Pink Silk Tree (Albizzia julibrissin rosea)  HERE - middle two photos -  on Crista's blog Nature As Is and fell in love with them. Reading around it would appear they can survive frosts when a decent size as long as they are in a spot sheltered from cold winds so I thought I would give them a try.

Here are my recent arrivals. One very small as yet and the other grown outdoors, though further South in the country, and large enough to be outside all year. They are deciduous and are close to losing their leaves ready for the Winter. Guess who had to investigate what I was making a fuss over.

Persian Pink Silk Trees

They will both live in the conservatory for now and I will probably pot the larger one in a container so it can be moved if the weather turns really cold. Although the leaves look very much like those of the Sensitive Plant (mimosa) these are a completely different species and the leaves do not respond to being touched.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Usual Squabblers are Back for the Winter

Birdy Bistro gets very fraught at times. Goldfinches squabbling at one end. Sparrows and Greenfinches in the middle. Now the Starlings are back for the Winter and squabble at the other end. It's a good job they each prefer different food. The Starlings here prefer the fat balls and peanuts.


The horizontal lines in the background are a reflection of a blind at the opposite end of the conservatory as I was shooting through a window.

Often I can hear Starlings in the tall Leylandii but not see any. They continuously make quiet noises and on this video clip of one you can see the throat almost continuously on the move and often the sounds are produced without opening the beak. There are also a few others nearby.

I always find it a fascinating mixture of clicks and whistles. They only seem to fall silent when there is danger and presumably when they are asleep otherwise it seems to be non stop for most of the day.

Monday, 12 October 2009

What is this Bird Song? - Solved

Last July when walking Bobby early morning past a group of trees I  often heard several birds but could never see what was singing. I recorded this one and seem to remember spending ages listening to song files on the net to no avail. More than likely it is a very common bird and with its single rising note once learned it will be easy to recognise in the future.

Blogger refuses to accept the player widget code from eSnips so I wasn't able to embed it in this post but the link should take you straight to the player on their site.

The sound is stored here: BIRD SONG.

My grateful thanks to Joe of Joe's Wildlife Garden (who found me a very similar sound file) and Frank of The Early Birder who both came up with it being a Chaffinch. It seems to be a variation of the Chaffinch 'rain song'. I had filmed a Chaffinch making its rain song in my post Bird Behaviour back in June but by comparison that one sounds as though it had laryngitis.

A few days ago I spotted this web under the bird bath part illuminated by the Sun.


Sunday, 11 October 2009

Ladybird visitors.

There seem to have been more ladybirds around the garden this year than for many years. Here I only see the seven spot variety so they still have a good stronghold in this part of Lincolnshire. In spite of the chilly weather, as soon as the Sun warms up the air many come out from their hiding places and go in search of a few juicy aphids.

by Maria Fleming

Ladybugs all dressed in red
Strolling through the flowerbed.
If I were tiny just like you
I'd creep among the flowers too!

7 Spot Ladybird

Five Little Ladybugs
(unknown author)

Five little ladybugs, climbing on some plants,
Eating the aphids, but not the ants!
The first one said: "Save some aphids for me!"
The second one said: "These are tasty as can be!"
The third one said: "Oh, they're almost gone!"
The fourth one said: "Then it's time to move on!
The fifth one said: "Come on, let's fly!"
So they opened their wings and flew through the sky.

7 Spot Ladybird

Ladybird, Ladybird 

(traditional nursery rhyme)

Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home.
Your house is on fire and your children all gone;
All except one, and that's little Ann.
And she has crept under the warming pan.

 A while ago Glo of Porcelain Rose left me a lovely ladybird poem which can be seen here.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

A Frog and No Cats

Raining again last night. I don't mind when the rain arrives overnight and leaves the day free to observe the garden wildlife. When Bobby went out for the last patrol of his estate before bedtime I spotted a shape on the concrete path. Closer examination showed it was a frog just sitting there. It even waited patiently while I fetched a camera to take a few shots.

Common Frog

This is the UK's Common Frog easily identified by the dark coloured stripes on the hind legs. Main diet is insects which it catches with its long sticky tongue, snails, slugs and worms. During the Winter it will hibernate under mud and decaying layers of leaves at the bottom of ponds. As well as lungs it has the ability to breathe through its skin so can stay submerged for long periods during the cold months. This one was about 2 inches (5cm) big so had been around for a few years.

Cats and Birds Don't Mix

There is at least one killer cat which is more than a little nuisance around my bird feeders. To keep it off the top of my fence I have added some modern plastic anti-vandal spikes. The type with blunt points which are uncomfortable but do not pierce the skin. As well as that I needed some way to keep them from skulking behind various objects on the ground. For quite a while I have looked into the possibility of using one of the electronic cat deterrents.  Looking closely at the description of many they deter all sorts of mammals but I needed something more specific.

After quite a bit of research I spotted this - the Cat Gard - which says it does not affect other mammals or birds so I invested in one.

Cat Gard   Cat Gard

Many of the ultrasonic deterrents are battery operated, needing two 9V batteries. This one is mains operated via a transformer and comes with a generous 10m of cable. It is installed 3 to 6 feet above ground so I mounted it on the shed wall facing along the fence. As it is not 100 percent weather proof I fixed it in an old nut feeder to keep the worst of the rain and snow from the plastic case.

When it first arrived I plugged it indoors. Bobby definitely knew it was working although I could hear nothing. In fact it was too much for him and he dashed out to escape being deafened. Once installed outside he took no notice of it at all. Would the birds be affected by it? Well - within 15 minutes of putting it up a Greenfinch flew up to it and gave it the once over. About half an hour later a Blue Tit landed in the box and had a quick look for any food! All the birds have carried on feeding as normal. So far I have not seen any evidence of cats since it was installed though the instructions do say it can take a while to achieve 100 percent success.

Out of interest I used my bat detector to find out what the Cat Gard was doing and here is a short snippet of the sort of thing a cat would have to endure.

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Friday, 9 October 2009

Friday at the Flicks

Weather has been pretty dull for photography and filming this past week but here are a couple of snippets. The first is one of a visiting Tree Sparrow. They are much more timid than the House Sparrows and are easily bullied. This one was having a real problem trying to find a spare perch at the feeders.

After the last Goldfinch was caught by an unknown predator out in the open I moved the ground feeder nearer the fence and shed so it would be more hazardous for the local Sparrow Hawk to swoop down on it. Also it is now stood on a small metal table to make it more difficult for the local killer black cat to creep up on it. Here a Goldfinch and Greenfinch are helping themselves to some of the seed spillage from the feeders which I tipped on the table.

I have added some other measures to help keep the cats away. More of that another day.

Yesterday I said I should have the photo of the crossed Starlings on my Coat of Arms. Well - in an idle moment I had a play with my old copy of PaintShop Pro and came up with this piece of nonsense. Shield outline found on the net and then a bit of resizing, cutting and pasting.

Shield MJ3

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Lights, Camera, Action.

Today it is the turn of the House Sparrows. It is not only the Goldfinches which squabble for a place on the feeders. Lighting very variable so high ISO.

Even this Starling found squabbling Sparrows too much to bear!

Try the basement, there's space there.

 If you don't move I'll smother you.

 Give us a kiss and stop moaning.

 I'm telling you - I booked this seat yesterday.

 I'm pleased to see that I still get visits from Tree Sparrows.
Tree Sparrow

Not forgetting a pair of crossed Starlings. Maybe this should be on my Coat of Arms.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Goldies Galore -- Honey A.W.O.L.

I think the numbers of Goldfinches is still increasing here. Yesterday I gave up counting at thirty as they spend so much time squabbling and dashing about. The feeders were fully occupied with some on the lawn and more gathering the spillage under the feeders plus others queueing on the wires above.




This one was a definite case of:
"Hey! You! Get back in the queue and wait your turn!"

Accompanying  the flapping and fluttering was plenty of cursing. Not just Goldfinches anxious for their breakfast but Greenfinches bemused at what all the fuss was about..

I haven't seen Honey the Hedgehog for three nights now. Not one visit. I was not surprised last night as there was heavy rain until 4 a.m. but the previous two nights were dry though cool. Maybe she is not straying very far from wherever her nest is.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Tree Sparrows Visit the Feeders

I didn't think there would be anything worth mentioning today. Hedge trimming, weeding, generally pottering about. I have lost one Goldfinch to some predator or other. I didn't see what but saw the evidence. Whether the local killer black cat or a raptor I am not sure but I incline to the cat at the moment.

Just went through to make a cup of coffee when I saw what at first I thought was a House Sparrow with different markings. Grabbing the camera I took a few shots before it disappeared as all the birds are very skittish at the moment. It wasn't until I examined the photos and had a look in my books that I found out what I had seen was a Tree Sparrow. In fact there had been two but I was concentrating so hard on the first one I saw I missed seeing the other.

Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrows

Tree Sparrows

 What had caught my eye was the black cheek spot and the brown head. The slight yellow on the beak was only noticeable on the photographs.

Just checked again and they are back. There were at least three and possibly four. Two stayed long enough to capture a piece of video - with plenty of Goldfinch squabbling in the background!

According to my trusty 'Collins Complete Guide to British Birds' the Tree Sparrow has a restricted and shrinking range which seems to be mainly down the east side of the UK. It is occasionally found on the outskirts of villages  but is more commonly associated with untidy arable farms. The population has suffered a catastrophic decline of more than 90 percent in recent decades. Lack of winter stubble fields and reduced numbers of weeds in crops have reduced its food stocks.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Honey Continues to Visit

Honey the Hedgehog continues her nightly visits. Last night she only showed a couple of times before midnight. One thing I have noticed the past few nights - where she used to make a bee line for the food first, now she heads straight for the water bowl. As her first visit is later than it used to be maybe she is finding food in more than one garden.

Any sudden jumps in the video are caused by the recorder as it is set to start recording when it detects movement. If Honey stays in one place for a while it will stop recording until she moves again.

When I made my last order of bird seed from CJ Wildlife I spotted this so I couldn't resist treating myself to a new coffee mug.

Hedgehog Mug

Couldn't resist this either:

"I don't care how acrobatic you are I keep telling you they won't taste any different upside down."
Feeding Upside Down
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