Sunday, 28 February 2010

Return of the Sparrowhawk!.... 27/02/2010

I spotted the Sparrowhawk perched in the Willow tree in my garden! She looked quite content though with those eyes glaring she was still on the alert! She perched in the tree for around an hour and a half. A Blue Tit started alarm calling in the tree above her and then crossed over the garden to continue calling in the Silver sensible Blue Tit! Apart from the Blue Tit nothing else ventured in to the garden while she sat perched. I reckon she had eaten and was just resting until the food had digested. After she had flown three Feral Pigeons came in to feed, they were risking it but survived! This morning there were six of them on the aerial on the roof. I had 17 Woodpigeons in the garden this morning along with Blackbirds, Magpies and a couple of the Feral Pigeons, all was peaceful today and they all fed happily!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Guess who came in for breakfast? 21/02/2010

One minute I was counting the Woodpigeons as it was Sunday and the start of a new week of BTO garden species counts, I turned my back on the kitchen window for a few seconds, turned back to the window and the Woodies and all other species had gone!!! Well it soon became apparent for their sudden disappearance, a female Sparrowhawk had caught a Feral Pigeon!!! I noticed a few feathers drifting to the ground and then spied her at the bottom of the garden. The Pigeon was on it's back motionless with the Sparrowhawk standing on it and beginning to pluck the Pigeon. I wonder what killed the pigeon, shock or stunned unconsciousness as the Sparrowhawk swept in to take her prey and land swiftly to pin the pigeon to the ground. She fed for about an hour then grasped the pigeon with her talons and moved the pigeon closer to the fence, I guessed that she was hiding her prey to return to later, I was correct. She returned approximately three hours later and started to pluck the feathers from the chest of the pigeon, she had not touched this part of the pigeon earlier, I know this because I went to have a peek after she left earlier!! She again fed for about an hour and again moved the pigeon further along the fence. She flew to an apple tree, feathers dropping from her claws as she flew, she then proceeded to clean her beak on the branches of the tree. After a few minutes she was off again. I do not know whether she returned for a feed in the afternoon as I went out looking for a Tawny Owl that I knew was in a local(ish ) area, I may just as well have stayed at home as I had no luck with the Owl, I enjoyed a good walk though so all was not lost. The pigeon had disappeared on our return at teatime, I reckon the local Tom had half inched it as there were a few feathers either side of a gap in the fence!!!! I hope it's owners were pleased with their 'gift'!

Watching the Sparrowhawk for such lengths of time made me think of how hard this long cold winter has been for the wildlife. This powerful bird needed sustenance just as the smaller birds do. She was an amazing bird to watch, gruesome at times to see her pull the flesh off the pigeon but she needed the food, just as we all need it to stay alive!

To lighten the mood I have added a photo of the area walked around looking for the elusive tree that the Tawny Owl perches on! I will find it soon.....well I hope so before the Owl deserts the tree as Jackdaws use it to nest in!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


It was a beautiful sunny and frosty morning so what could be nicer I thought than a walk to get the day off to a good start! So off I set for the Fisheries! Driving along the lanes I did wonder if I had done the right thing! The road was a little hairy in places as the sides of the road where the water had drained from the fields and hedgerow was iced over, caution needed! The drive down the track to the Fisheries was not much better, potholes that had filled with water had frozen over and the sun that by now was shining brightly shone on the ice and it was as though a hall of mirrors were in front of me, quite blinding at times. After parking up I placed bird seed on top of a few fence posts and on the birdtable that was positioned by a hedgerow. Off I set and the first sightings were Magpies and two Canada Geese in a field adjoining one of the paddocks. Starlings flew to the top of a tree and on closer inspection I could see there were also three Redwings and two Mistle Thrush. Along the walk across the top of the hill above the Pools were Blue & Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Wren and Greenfinch in the shrubbery and trees! I spotted a Buzzard two fields away in a tree, it hawked the edge of the partly covered in snow and frosty field! I watched it do this three times and then it flew over the trees and I lost sight of it, no calling today, too cold. A Green Woodpecker flew to a tree and rested for a few seconds and then away it went. The sun by now was giving off a little warmth, either that or I had so much packing on I was warming up by walking! On returning to my car I scanned the paddocks, a mixed flock of Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush and Starling were feeding! I tried to do a headcount but they were moving pretty swiftly almost in unison, I gave up the counting and just enjoyed the view of them! The bird seed on the fence posts was being enjoyed by a charm of Goldfinches, lovely to see! I set off for home and at the end of the track I spotted a Kestrel, I reached for my camera and off it flew! I will get a photo of it one day as more often than not I see a Kestrel on the telegraph wires or hovering in this area. I can't wait to see the return of the Skylarks and Swallows in this area as for one thing it will be in warmer weather days..well hopefully warmer days!

Friday, 19 February 2010

A snowy garden...again!....19/02/2010

Snow again yesterday and overnight! This is turning into a long, drawn out, cold winter! I have seen enough snow and felt enough of the cold to last me a couple of winters and I am sure the wildlife would say the same if they could! The wildlife must be feeling the strain now after such almost continous cold days and nights. The feed I am getting through at home is amazing, for the birds that is not me, though a few pastry pies and puddings have been digested by me! Well one has to keep a few fat reserves up to beat the chill! The female Blackcap has been in the garden for the best part of the day, feeding on the apples and the fatballls. Starlings raided the birdtables early in the morning along with the Blackbirds. Woodpigeon numbers are down the last few days surp[risingly, though I have still been having 8-10 in for their brekkie! Two Robins in the garden this afternoon and they appeared friendly, so maybe the beginnings of a friendship there. More snow and cold temperatures are forecast for the weekend and coming week, so no let up yet, winter still has it's grip. I am hoping to walk around the Fisheries in the morning, so it will be on with the thermals etc and one important item I must not forget, a bag of birdseed to scatter around!

Dowles Brook, Wyre Forest and Hurcott Nature Reserve....14/02/2010

Dowles Brook, Wyre Forest.
A sunny albeit a rather cold late morning/early afternoon was spent today at Dowles Brook in the Wyre Forest. The only problem here being parking spaces! The area is well used by cyclists, dog walkers, families and of course bird/nature watchers and as it is only a small car park spaces are at a premium. Today we were lucky as a space was being vacated as we arrived. Walking down the path that leads to the brook a Nuthatch was heard and then seen as it flew from tree to tree not resting for great views but lovely to see and hear. The area walking down to the brook was unusually quiet though Blue Tits soon made their presence known. We walked to an area where there is a small pool that had Mandarins on it last year, it was frozen solid. A couple of Coal Tits were busy foraging in the trees by the pool to be joined later by Blue Tits.
Walking back to the brook a Kingfisher was a pleasure to see as it flew very low down the length of the brook, sadly no Dipper today but plenty of time to catch up with it in the weeks ahead. Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Coal, Blue and Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Robin, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Carrion Crow seen along the walk. Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer and House Sparrow were seen at Lodge Hill Farm where a feeding station is set up. I was particularly pleased to see the House Sparrows, amazingly my first of 2010! Hopefully they will have a good breeding season! Raven heard and Great Spotted Woodpecker heard 'drumming'.

A quick (in theory) visit to Hurcott Nature Reserve on the way home was very productive. Wren, Great, Blue and Coal Tit, Long-Tailed Tit (in abundance), Nuthatch, Chaffinch, Siskin, Jay, Treecreeper, Goldfinch, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodpigeon, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard and Jackdaw all seen along a very short walk on the reserve, after a two and a half hour walk earlier around Dowles Brook we were very pleased with these species seen in such a short space. Three Robins enjoyed seed we placed for them all along the length of the fence top by the seating area (well comfy bench). A local birdwatcher told us where Blackcaps nest in the vegetation and another gentleman pointed out a tree where Great spotted Woodpeckers nest, funnily enough behind a nest box for Tits. I think Hurcott will be a regular feature on my agenda come Spring/Summer.

All in all a good weather day, a good walk and with some delightful bird species thrown in for good measure!


A walk around the whole perimeter of the Fisheries this morning was peaceful and pleasant. The highlight on the walk was a Buzzard 'mewing' as it perched in a tree, I watched it as it made it's way to to the other end of the field flying from tree to tree. I did not have close up views for a photo but good enough views for me to enjoy the sight of it and of course to hear the Buzzard. I love to see Buzzards, they seem to command such regal presence. High in a tall tree were a flock of 18+ Starlings with 8 Fieldfares, I was later to see possibly the same Starling flock with 6+ Redwings. It was a cold morning so I did not stay in one spot for too long, best to keep walking and keep the blood flowing to keep warm. Blue Tit, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Carrion crow, Woodpigeon and Magpie were other species seen this morning. A Moorhen pottered in the vegetation down by the pools and a few Mallards were on a patch of water on a pool that was not frozen. A couple of hours soon pass by just strolling, I really enjoy this walk.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

She is back safe and sound!....13/02/2010

The female Blackcap I am referring to.
During the cold spell of early January when the Fieldfares descended on the garden she was chased off the apple tree that bears the apples and pears I spike on there. Well, she returned during the past two weeks and has enjoyed no doubt the peace and the fruit! I was so pleased to see that she had survived the freezing temperatures. She is such a delight to see. She arrived mid December (2009) with a male Blackcap as has happened in previous years, whether they are the same pair I do not know. The male visited a couple of times and then disappeared, this has been the norm in previous years. The male has returned once since the first visit with the female to my knowledge, one cannot view the garden all day long as much as I would like to, I wonder why this is and why they don't stay together? Perhaps he will return when they are ready to fly home for breeding!
I managed a photo of her yesterday when the sun shone for ten minutes!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Fallow Deer and a freezing temperature!

The morning was a bitterly cold one but I decided the fresh air would do me good! I decided to walk around the Churchyard that has a Deer Park adjacent to it, well after driving! The Deer were huddled together, it looked as though food had been laid down for them as they mostly all had their heads down.The attached photo of the Deer was taken with an electric fence between me and the Deer! Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Crow, Magpie, Long-Tailed Tit, Robin and a distant Buzzard were the birds seen today. After beginning to feel the cold, well me nose was cold, I headed for home!

Bridleway walk and Canal! ....07/02/2010

Out walking along a local bridleway this morning I didn't bargain on having to stepaside for a multitude of runners in a cross country race!!! The first section of the bridleway was fine with Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Pied wagtail, Magpie, Blackbird, Robin, Black-headed Gull, Magopie and Carrion Crow seen. At the end of this section are a few houses with one having a Lake at the bottom of their you! On the lake were Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen and B-h Gulls! The second section of the bridleway was to be quiet..birdwise! The runners were using this section and at times the bridleway narrowed making 'giving way' to the runners a task in itself! They were very polite and most breathlessly said 'Thank you' but by the time we had walked the stretch of the bridleway it became a little tiresome giving way to say the least. I asked one of the marshall's as we arrived back at my car how long and how many competitors where in the race. I was told the race was 10 miles with approximately 400 runners, I reckon we let pass at least 300 of the 400!
A walk along a canal this afternoon was much more productive with flocks of Siskin (15+), Greenfinch (30+) and Pied Wagtail (45+). Other highlights were Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Grey Wagtail x2, Goldcrest, L T Tit, Great and Blue Tit, Blackbird, wren, Song Thrush, Redwing, Jay, Jackdaw, Collared Dove, Heron, Tawny Owl (heard) and a Buzzard hunting low over a field at the end of a very pleasant 3 hour walk! I am now shattered after a busy walking and dodging!

A walk around the Fisheries was a non starter!....09/02/2010

As I drove to the Fisheries during a snow shower I noticed that to the left of me were dark snow shower clouds and to the right blue sky and white clouds! It felt a bit surreal! On arrival at the Fisheries the showers had passed over fortunately. I soon realised that I had packed everything needed except for my wellies! Bother!!!
Undeterred I placed bird seed on a bird table that is alongside a hedgerow and also on the tops of a few fence posts, avoiding the fence posts to the paddock that had 5 curious horses in! A couple of the horses ventured to the fence to see what I was up to or rather to see if I had an apple or carrot more like. I then returned to my car and waited, and waited, and waited! Nothing, not a dickie bird or a Blackbird! A couple of Magpies and a few Crows were in one of the paddocks otherwise it was devoid of birdlife. I could however hear a Buzzard mewing but as I was sat in my car my vision was restricted so I didn't see it. After a while I decided to head for home, driving along the track I then saw a Buzzard being mobbed by Crows! Hooray, excitement! I pulled in to the side of the track and parked up, grabbed my bins and camera and watched as the Buzzard flew across a field and away from the Crows! It circled several times and I hoped it would come nearer but alas no! It flew towards some trees in the distance and I managed a shot of it as it flew down to perch! Happy with that sighting I headed for home to have a warming cup of tea, it was a bitterly cold day, no wonder there were not many birds about they had more sense then me and were sheltering from the cold!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

3 into 1 does go.... 31/01/2010

Three areas visited in one day! The first area being the Lickey Hills Country Park, locally called 'The Lickeys'. I lived fairly close (a good 10 minute walk away) to these hills in my childhood and early adult years and spent many a happy hour there.

Common Crossbills were the target species for today, 9+ had been reported the previous day. It is also a good area for Brambling and Goldcrests. The hills are a wonderful mixture of heathland, coniferous and deciduous trees and marshes. The area where many coniferous trees grow was the chosen site. After a walk along the top of the hill and looking down on to the canopies of the trees, nothing! It was so quiet, a couple of Jays were seen at the start of the walk, always a nice bird to see. Blue Tits, Magpie, Woodpigeon and Blackbird were the other species seen and a Marsh Tit was heard. It was decided to take a short drive to a nearby reservoir where we had been told that Goosanders were showing well, so a walk back to the carpark! Just as we were a few yards away from the carpark a flock of six Common Crossbills flew to the top of one of the pine trees! Bingo... what a treat and a well timed arrival! Daylight was poor so not good for a decent photo of them besides it was nice to enjoy the view of them with bins as these were a lifer and it may be a good while before sighting them again.
The short drive to Bittell Reservoir was next on the agenda. The first highlight was the sight of 40+ Canada Geese feeding in a field adjacent to a duck pond. In the semi-frozen duck pond were a Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen and Mallard. The Malllards were comical as they flew in to the pond, sliding a fair distance as they landed on the ice, thankfully coming to no harm. On the reservoir were 45+ Goosanders looking resplendent, such a smart looking duck! Also seen though at a distance wereWigeon, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Heron (10+) Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. This is a place that will be visited throughout the year, a bonus being a good walk and beautiful scenery in a lovely rural area. A Nuthatch was was seen and a Raven heard on the walk back to my car.
Next stop after lunch was the Moors Pools, Upton Warren. The highlights being Teal, Common Snipe, Curlew, Coot, Lapwing, Shoveler,Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Water rail, Pochard, Mallard, B H and L B-b Gulls, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Fieldfare, Redwing and a Wren!

6 species were added today to my year list with the Common Crossbill being a lifer. A busy day and a great birding day was enjoyed immensely!

A snowy start to the new month!.... 01/02/2010.. (a palindrome)

Snowfall through the night fell on to icy roads and pavements! Where were the gritters? Chaos in my area this morning with roads gridlocked. I took the opportunity to take a few photo's of the early morning scene of a snow covered garden and the waning moon. After putting out ground feed the Woodpigeons had a battle and I managed a shot of a Magpie as it flew up towards a birdtable. The first time I have managed to get the full spread of the wings in a pic of a Magpie.

The Big Garden Birdwatch....30/01/2010

The Big Garden Birdwatch was on the agenda today! The morning was a cold and frosty one with a temperature of -3.7c at 6.45am (ish)! The moon was almost eye height and dazzling as I looked out of my kitchen window, in fact so bright that I could not look at it full on, sunglasses were needed! A lovely start to the day nevertheless. After my brekkie I began to prepare the birds brekkie! Soaked sultanas and raisins, raisins because Asda had sold out of sultanas the previous week, I hope this was because folk had bought plenty for the birds during the cold spell we had. Scones, nuts, suet pellets, crumbled fatballs and mixed high energy seed was added to the birds brekkie! Magpies x 2 were the first to come down for food quickly followed by 13 Woodpigeons!!! Mmmm.. I thought, I hope they leave some food for a few other species. I needn't have worried as 8 Blackbirds soon arrived also Dunnock (3), Blue Tit (2), Feral Pigeon (3), Great Tit (1), Robin (1), Carrion Crow (10) and a surprise Black-headed Gull! I was pleased with the species count as it is a fair representation of my daily garden birds, though the Black-headed Gull was a rarity to land in the garden. I wished the Blackcaps had put in an appearance, though I knew this would be wishful thinking. The arrival of the Fieldfares during the middle two weeks of this month had sadly frightened them off, or I should say her off. Hopefully the female (who had visited daily before the Fieldfares took over) will return and enjoy once more the apples and pears I spike on the old apple tree. Two Long-tailed Tits arrived later in the morning but my BGBW hour had long been over so they were not added to my species count. Lovely to see them all the same. I am looking forward to seeing the results of this years BGBW after such a cold winter. Hopefully with all the publicity about the BGBW more people than ever before have spent an hour counting their garden birds

Sunset.... 27/01/2010

My first sunset photo taken with my new camera that was delivered yesterday, a replacement camera for the one I had nicked on my hols at the back end of last year! Now all I need is a bit of fine weather and a few birdies posing nicely and I shall be a happy bunny!
It was a lovely sunset last night. One of those sunsets that make you wish you were high on a hill enabling you to see the whole panoramic view of the sunset. Sunrises and sunsets seem to have been few and far between these last few weeks.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

My first Snowdrops sighting of 2010!....27/01/2010

My first Snowdrops of the year were found on Monday (25/01/10) in a Churchyard, the Church is adjacent to a Deer Park. Lovely to see such a welcome sight and a sign that Spring is not too far away now. The Fallow Deer in the park were munching away on what looked to be sugar beet or parsnips, hard to tell at a distance from them, plus there is an electric fence that seperates them from the big house in the grounds of the park and of course Joe public. A couple of Ravens flew in the distance, giving their distinctive call as they flew! Two Mistle Thrush were found feeding amongst the Deer along with Magpies, Carrion Crows and a Blackbird. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard and a flock of Long-tailed Tits put in several appearances as they flew from tree to tree around the Churchyard. On a dull and cold day the wildlife seen and of course the Snowdrops brightened the day no end!

WWT Brandon Marsh....24/01/2010.

A gloriously sunny start to the day which was to be spent at WWT Brandon Marsh! On arrival the Robins greeted us, three were spotted along the path from the visitor centre, a couple of Robins posed for pics with one Robin being enticed to feed from the hand of a youngster with the help of her mum! Also seen were two Kestrels hunting just beyond the centre.We were told that the pathway to the main hides were flooded, I had me furry lined wellies on but they are not knee length so these hides were to be a no-no today. So, a pleasant walk to the Wright Hide was the chosen path before lunch. The sun was shining brightly on the water making viewing rather uncomfortable with the glare. A Green-winged Teal was on one of the islands but hard to pick out in such light. Pochard, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Great Crested and Little Grebe, Swan, Tufted duck, Goldeneye, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Moorhen, Coot, Common Snipe and a Kingfisher were highlights in and around the pool. A single Golden Plover was seen flying with the Lapwings, lovely to see and to hear it calling. After a super roast lunch a walk through Horsetail Glade was just what was needed to burn a few calories!! Surprisingly quiet of birds, only Blue & Great Tits were heard and seen. On arriving at the Steetly hide we were told a Bittern was showing on the edge of a reed bed, well try as I might I could not pick it out! Then came the realisation that I was scanning the wrong section of the reeds, anyway the Bittern had by this time crept in to the depths of the reeds not to be seen again, well, while we there!! I was pleased to see another Birdforum member in the hide, if you are reading this Sandra it was good to meet you and your husband again and good to have a chat.
It was decided to return to the Wright Hide and see if we could get better views of the G W Teal as by now we had had a couple of showers of rain and the sun had vanished! Sure enough it was still on the island and looking splendid. It was too distant for my camera to get a decent photo, however it was good to see this bird pic or no pic! A Bittern suddenly came in to view as it flew over the pool to the reed beds, I didn't miss this! Another highlight today were the four Common Buzzards viewed from the path adjacent to the Golf course, mewing as they soared in the sky. All in all a good day was had at a reserve that I enjoy visiting immensely!

Bunkers Hill Wood.... 17/01/2010

The afternoon was a decent one albeit a cold one, a walk up Bunkers Hill Wood was to be the venue today. Not a complete walk of the perimeter of the wood today as the day was almost half gone. The easier route was taken, the steep hill not being as steep along todays chosen side of the wood. Found amongst the Pines and Oaks were 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 3 Treecreepers. The GSW's flew together so maybe a pair. The flock of Yellowhammers seen on the last visit (31st Dec 2009) were still around. Lovely to see them in high numbers and I am sure their numbers had increased though it is hard to count them as they flew off several times in differing size flocks. A flock of 15+ Chaffinch were later spotted though with the fading light it was difficult to pick out if there were Brambling amongst them. A Buzzard being mobbed by two Carrion Crows, Magpies and Long-tailed Tits were the other highlights today. Surprisingly quiet of birds really today. I dropped seed in many places along the walk. The ground was still frozen solid in places and small patches of snow could be seen in areas that were sheltered from the sun, though the sun hasn't shone much of late.

Snow again! Back to square one!....13/01/2010

Snow again overnight adding approximately another couple of inches of snow to the snow/ice still lying on gardens, pavements and side roads. It has continued to snow all day!

I am glad I took the decision yesterday (12th) to venture out and take food for the birds at two Churches local to me. My decision was twofold really as at the first Church that is within walking distance from my home I needed to remove flowers that had been placed at Christmas time. I drove around to the Church as the second Church I was to visit is not in close walking distance and I did not want to walk on the slushy, icy pavements either! On arriving at the Church all that could be seen apart from a pathway that had been cleared to the entrance of the church was virgin snow, it did look lovely compared to my garden where I had made several tracks in the snow when feeding the birds in my garden. I declined to retrieve the flowers today, I will wait until the snow thaws. After placing bird food in a few places, the food consisting of mixed seed, crumbled fatballs and suet pellets, I drove to the Church further away from my home, this Churchyard and grounds are adjacent to a Hospice and there is also a small wooded area behind the Churchyard. I have spent many an hour in 2009 just ambling and viewing and listening to the birds in these areas. The least I could do is to bring them food offerings during this cold spell of winter weather we are experiencing. So armed with my bucket of food I began my walk up the steep (ish) path that leads into the Churchyard. It was quiet of birds, a Woodpigeon was seen and a Wren heard, so at least there were some birds that would appreciate the food. I scattered food under a few very large Pine trees as I walked up the hill. The areas under the trees were clear of snow, such is the size of these very old trees. The only other areas suitable to leave food was on the gravestones, I cleared areas of snow from several and left decent amounts of food as I walked around. I didn't venture to the Hospice as I felt that perhaps the Hospice staff and visitors would hopefully leave food for the birds there and as the grounds are very large and open the birds would have sought sanctuary in a much less open space. The afternoon was a cold one with a brisk wind that chilled at times. I left for home hoping that the food would at least tide a few of the birds over for a day or two. I was sad to see the amount of snow that we had had overnight as the food in the open would be now be covered with a layer of fresh snow, then again I hope it would have been found after I had left and enjoyed by the birds there to fortify them a little. On my return home I enjoyed a warming mug of hot chocolate!

The snow has not stopped all day. The Fieldfares are still giving the Blackbirds grief and guarding the food I have placed around the garden, I have put the food out little and often as the snow is covering the food on the open ground feeding tables. The Fieldfares have been a treat to see in my garden but I must say this daily onslaught against the Blackbirds is wearing thin with me, I will be pleased when the thaw has begun and also when Spring arrives and peace reigns in my garden once more. A Redwing has today found the Cotoneaster that is below my lounge window, there are still numerous berries left so a feast for the Redwing.