Saturday, 11 February 2012

Bring Out The Buntings

My fourth post of the day. Well, I have been inside a lot. I tend to come up with ideas throughout the day. Some days lots of things happen to inspire me, other days...

Predictably, given the weather conditions, the feeding stations were heaving with birds today. I was just thinking that I should write about how I would expect the Tree Sparrows, Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers to venture in from the open fields to the feeders, when this happened...literally two minutes after I thought it.

A Reed Bunting on the bird table.
These birds are reasonably common on the farm in the summer, probably even breeding in the dykes, but they keep away from the buildings and vanish onto open farmland or into the game crops during the winter, only ever venturing to the feeders in extreme weather. This individual spent the rest of the day around the feeding stations, often feeding on its own on the spilt seed at the base of the station by the pond edge.

Twenty minutes later, a bright Yellowhammer appeared on the snow then ventured onto the bird table for a couple of minutes, then it was off, never to return.

Still no Tree Sparrows though, even today. Last year we had up to 13 on the feeders throughout the cold period, and this year a few migrants joined the House Sparrows in the roadside hedge during the autumn. I suspect they breed somewhere locally, so hopefully they have found somebody else to keep them fed this winter. Still, it would be nice if they came back to my garden for a while.

The roadside hedge provides food and
lodging to an amazing variety and number of birds throughout the year.
Ever wary of potential predators, birds use this as a lookout and refuge when they come to the feeders.

Today I put up a third feeding station. If they take to it, this one will provide viewing opportunities just outside the patio doors.

The feeding stations have been alive with birds these last few days. Mostly Chaffinches, Blackbirds and Greenfinches. A few Goldfinches and House Sparrows, Great and Blue Tits. A couple each of Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks, a few Collared Doves and the occasional Woodpigeon. Regular visits by a Great Spotted Woodpecker are a delight, as are the sporadic arrivals of gangs of Starlings and, sometimes, Fieldfares. Mistle Thrushes occasionally visit too, but no Redwings this year. A Sparrowhawk sees the whole scene as a potential feast!

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