Thursday, 27 February 2014

Exciting Garden Visitors

If someone was willing to pay me to watch the birds in our garden every day, I would be very happy indeed. I spent a long time yesterday intently watching the activity from the upstairs toilet window through a pair of miniature binoculars; it is perfectly positioned to give me an uninterrupted view of the garden, the feeders and the large oak tree that plays host to many a feathered friend.
This oak tree is normally quite busy with blue tits, great tits and a nuthatch or two, all queuing for the next free spot on the feeders. What I noticed yesterday morning, however, was just how unusually busy the branches seemed to be. The ivy was absolutely shivering with life. The sun was shining on the leaves and highlighting various wings and beaks peeking through, some sampling the dark berries produced by the ivy. 

It was thanks to a particularly bright patch of sun that I caught sight of a redwing. For a split second only, I thought it might be a song thrush but the instant I saw the red smudge just below the join of the wing to the body, I knew it was a redwing and the pale stripe above the eye confirmed this for me. Extremely exciting to spot one in our garden, as I've only ever seen them on the reserve at Pulborough.
 I naturally ended up training my binoculars on the redwing for some time until it moved to the other side of the trunk, out of sight. I observed a fair number of blackbirds, both male and female, flitting about the oak, maybe six or seven, certainly more than we've had in the garden at any one time. The song thrush also made a brief appearance to gulp down a few ivy berries. A short time later, the redwing was back in view, though higher up the tree, and I was thrilled to see that a second had joined him. TWO redwing. In a garden that hadn't seen  any, as long as I had been watching it! I did wonder, with all the bustling activity at the top of the tree and on the other side too, whether there might be more than those two, but without visual confirmation, it was only speculation.
 The thrush enjoying the sun light and berries
I was content, after this discovery, to carry on watching the garden, spotting both the male and female great spotted woodpeckers together, as well as a long-tailed tit, coal tit, two dunnocks and the male and female chaffinches among the blues and greats. The male chaffinch was still looking quite peachy on the chest, his summer/breeding plumage still yet to come in, and the robin was picking up small twigs here and there, obviously preparing for the all-important task of building a nest!
A shy dunnock
A peachy Chaffinch 
The male GS woodpecker
I finally got around to signing up as an RSPB member and, as I did it online, I got a nest box as a welcome gift which went up over the weekend. It would be lovely if a family of tits moved in!
I had a great day for spotting at PB on Tuesday too. Sightings included 60+ lapwing, a heron, a linnet, a mixture of wigeon, pintail, mallard and shelduck on the water and goldfinch, greenfinch and chaffinch on the feeders. 

I hope the redwing stick around and encourage a few more to pay a visit; they are very beautiful birds!

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