Saturday 26 April 2014

An odd pair of tits

That title should get my hits up a bit! But seriously though has anyone else noticed pairs of mixed tit species going around together? We have a perfectly bog standard pair of Blue Tits using an old dilapidated nest box that has seen better days on the end of the garage block. They have been collecting nesting material for some time now. We also have a splendid pair of Great Tits that come regularly to the feeders and confound us with their multitude of different songs and calls.

Blue Tit gathering nesting material

However we also have a pairing of a Great Tit and a Blue Tit. these two birds are inseparable, where one goes the other is sure to follow. They will forage together through the Ribes bush, fly off together into the surrounding trees and appear again, always together. We've not seen any kind of pairing or mating behaviour to be honest, they just seem to be good mates, very odd.

The odd couple

This reminds me of the unusual pair of tits at Hanson Educational Study Centre in Newport Pagnell. We have often been there to look for the Willow Tit, which again almost invariably appears with a Marsh Tit. Last year we wondered if they had formed a pair and mused as to what we would call the offspring, would they be Wish Tits or Mallow Tits?
Marsh, Willow, Wish or Mallow Tit?
Here's the other one!

Friday 18 April 2014

Cottage list update.

The garden list has grown somewhat since Wader Quest gave me a breather and therefore the chance to do a blog here, we now boast 37 species.

On of the most bizarre birds we have seen has been a pair of Red-legged Partridges. Now it wouldn't have been that unusual if we were to report we saw them from the cottage window overlooking the fields, but these birds were in our garden, which has got a dirty great brick wall all around it! They ended up scuttling up the path between the houses and presumably that is the way they came in.

Red-legged Partridge among the primroses in the flower bed!

At the bottom of the field, where the Swans are usually seen, from time to time we get geese leaving the lake and sitting around in the grass, both Greylag and Canada Goose have now been added to the list. The swans though are presumably nesting somewhere as they seem to have stopped visiting the part of the field that we can see, although a walk down there the other day revealed that there is in fact two pairs.

Common Buzzard enjoys the spring sunshine

A couple of times we have seen Little Egrets flying near the lakes. It still seems mighty strange to be putting Little Egret on my garden list, along with Red Kite when I think of the lengths I had to go to to see them for the first time in the UK many years ago.

Woodpigeon collecting nesting material

A single Kestrel hovering over the field is the only one-off sighting we have had of this species, but I expect we'll see him again. Great Spotted Woodpeckers have visited the feeders a couple of times but we have yet to get a photo of one. This is the first time I have ever had these terrific birds on any feeder I have owned, a great feeling especially as we also get the Green Woodpecker on the lawn from time to time.

Green and Goldfinches, colourful regulars

Three birds that I have heard but not yet seen are Skylark, Chiff Chaff and Blackcap, one of which has sung a couple of times nearby. Another bird that I had only previously heard has now shown itself, a Song Thrush visited the area under our feeders one day but has not yet returned, however he has taken to singing much closer to the cottage now.

Song Thrush caught as he was leaving.

We have had a couple of short stay visitors. The shortest was a Lesser Redpoll that stayed just one day and a Reed Bunting that stayed for a few days. The Marsh Tit seems to have moved on too as we haven't seen it for some time.

Lesser Redpoll on its single day of visiting.

Reed Bunting stopped by for a few days.
There are still some birds that I am amazed we haven't seen, House Sparrow, at least one pair no more than 100 yards away but never ventured into sight, and Collared Doves. The estate has them, we see them every time we go out, but they have not yet appeared here. Just a matter of time I suspect, after all the Starlings have now found us, as has a perishing squirrel!