Today is the first time this month that it has truly felt like summer. I'm aware that I mention the weather quite frequently in my posts but it's an important part of nature and can greatly affect the wildlife we see, so I feel I'm justified. We have all tolerated some pretty blustery days this year and finding the sun blazing when I opened the curtains this morning was a welcome sight.
It is now just about a month until my 25th birthday and on Tuesday, I purchased my first pair of binoculars as an early birthday gift from my parents. Naturally, I am keen to use them whenever possible now and they proved very useful with the peregrines in Chi yesterday. I decided to take half an hour today to do some good, old fashioned bird spotting from our spare bedroom window before getting on with my work. Our bird feeders have stood empty for the past week or so as I haven't had a chance to buy new food to refill them, so there haven't been the usual numbers of birds in the garden. I restocked them yesterday with suet balls and seed and by this morning, the avian activity was back to the norm. It certainly doesn't take long for these birds to work out where the food is!
I was really very spoiled by the sights I had today. Our male great-spotted woodpecker landed on the feeder pole, letting out persistent clucks and was very soon joined by a juvenile, complete with red cap. The adult pecked away at the suet and then passed this on to the juvy, who hung on patiently. It did feed itself several times too and it's great to see these skills being developed at such a close range. A lot of communication went on consistently throughout the feed.
Photobombed by a nuthatch!
I could hear more clucking from the trees behind and several times the adult flew up into the branches with her beak full. When I followed with my bins, I saw a second juvenile being fed and after some time, this juvy joined its mother and sibling on the feeder. Ecstatic is the best word to describe my reaction to this as I've seen a pair of adults feeding a single juvenile in the past but never two juvys! You can see in the (iffy) photo below how pale the red of the youngster's underparts are in comparison to the adult's.
Needless to say, my planned half hour deadline came and went and I continued keenly peering at the woodpecker family; what kind of crazy person would voluntarily come away from such a sight, I ask you? My dedication paid off too, as I witnessed the adult flitting about among the branches for a few moments before she flung herself into the open, twisted her body slightly then snatched a bright red beetle straight from the air with her long beak. A remarkable scene!
Later on in the afternoon, I took another half hour after my lunch to lie in the garden and just listen to the birds (I'm still working on those pasty legs of mine too!) I was relatively close to the feeders and could hear the chatter of a mass of blue and great tits, many of which came down to feed. I saw several juvenile blues, their tiny faces still showing washed-out yellow plumage, and one adult which definitely looked as if it might be suffering from feather mites. A juvy robin also landed on our garden table, only a few feet away and enough for me to see its speckled, brown chest.
Jackdaws cawwed above me, a chiff chaff persistenly sung from the deeper trees and the very faint call of a cuckoo drifted across the breeze. I'm certainly going to miss our birds when we move on to a new house so, until then, I'll continue to enjoy them whenever I can.