Saturday 31 May 2014

Wasn't expecting that!!

Most days I use the scope to check the lake at the bottom of the field, especially now that the farmer has obligingly removed some of the willows on the near bank. Today I was checking through the usual suspects, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Coot when suddenly a bird lifted off the water and flew with much purpose away from the lake. I was able to follow it with the scope and was amazed, and of course chuffed, to find that it was a male Shoveler!

Male Shoveler.

Species number 55, edging ever closer to my neighbours tally (not that I'm a competitive birder or anything!). It is not really a fair fight, he not having a view of the lake or field, but who wants to fight fairly? Recently our old friend in Brazil, Jeremy Minns, wrote to tell me he had seen a Blue-naped Chlorophonia, a new bird for his beach house list, and was pleased to note that he had passed the list total that we had amassed from our apartment (101 species). The same applied there as we had the advantage of a view of the sea etc which Jeremy does not, but that advantage doesn't count for much when you are no longer there and now we are obviously unable to add new species. Jeremy was delighted that he was now ahead (104 species) and with regard to the inequality of our chances for future additions he put it this way; "I like fighting someone with both hands tied behind his back!"

Blue-naped Chlorophonia.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

New bird for the garden if not for the list... Jay.

A Eurasian Jay visited our table today for the first time. Strangely though, it was intimidated by a Wood Pigeon that was occupying the table when it arrived and only came to feed when the pigeon had gone.

The Wood Pigeon that stopped the Jay visiting the feeder until...

... it had gone. A great treat to see this attractive bird close up.

The Jay sat for some time on the fence and ate from some small piles of food we had placed on the fence posts.

It also visited the covered table but was chased off by a Jackdaws. It may be a flashy bird, but certainly not aggressive or ebullient.

The CommonWhitethroat also visited today singing for all it was worth, in the drizzle, right outside our window.

This Whitethroat has a very tatty tail now.
Blue Tits have occupied both our nest boxes now. In the one we put up when we moved in in March we only noticed birds coming and going for the first time yesterday but today we saw the adult emerge with a faecal sac so they must have been there for some time unnoticed by us.

Rather soggy looking Blue Tit.

Great Tits, although not nesting in the garden, are coming and going frequently, so look like they have young too somewhere nearby.

Shame about the reflection on the window glass.

The local Robins have done OK too with two young birds visiting the garden feeders.

Juvenile Robin

The number of Collared Doves has increased since they found the garden, and that number includes some young birds with little or no visible collar.

Adult Collared Dove

Juvenile Collared Dove with virtually no neck ring.

There was also this bird that appeared briefly today which seems to be much ruddier in colour than the other Collared Doves and its legs are a deeper pink.

Ruddy hued Collared Dove.


Tuesday 27 May 2014

New bird number 51 (and 52 & 53)

To the background of our now resident Whitethroat I glanced out of the window across the field towards the lake. Yesterday, the farmer had decided that he needed to cut down a number of the willows that blocked our view of the water. I'm not sure how I feel about cutting down trees at this time of year, but the clear benefit is that straight away I can now add Great crested Grebe to The Cottage list!

It is now just a matter of time until Tufted Duck and Coot which both frequent the lake hit the list.

Great Crested Grebe; obviously not the birds we can see from the cottage. Elis has a good lens, but not that good!

When we moved in our neighbours, who also love their birds, told us they had a list of 60 species. We thought this was exciting but we didn't realise just how birdy our garden was to become and coupled with our view, which has just 'improved' from a listing point of view, I believe we will soon overtake our friends' garden list.

Stop Press! Since writing this another day has dawned and with it, the sighting of a Coot and a Tufted Duck as predicted.

Tufted Duck; comment as per grebes above.

Eurasian Coot; ditto.

Friday 23 May 2014

Got the Whitethroat I wished for!

Back from the Norfolk Bird Fair and sitting in my usual spot I saw a small bird flit up from the oil seed rape to the brambles beneath our window where we saw both the Blackcap and Sedge Warbler previously; henceforth this spot will be known as the warbler window. It then sang, revealing itself to be a Whitethroat!

Our first Whitethroat.
It seemed to be gleaning a lot of food morsels from the underside of the stinging nettles.
The list has now moved on to 50, with other additions being Lesser Black-backed Gull, Pheasant and Collared Dove which finally put in an appearance.

Here are some more photos of some garden stuff.

After the young Starlings the other day we have now been visited by this jaunty little Robin. The Blue Tits should be out of the nestbox soon too judging by the racket they are making.

The old 'shufflewing' continues to hurl himself at the window periodically.

Great Spotted Woodpecker. We finally got a visit from this lady's mate, but weren't quick enough for a photo.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Another stunner in the cottage garden.

On the blower to my mate David Lindo, better known as The Urban Birder, talking about Wader Quest business, he being a Trustee and all that, I saw a female Bullfinch sitting on the fence. David must have wondered what the hell was going on as I dropped the phone and shouted to Elis to get her camera and we then spent the next two minutes ooohing and ahhing at this bird and her fine looking mate.

Female Bullfinch arrives near the feeders.

They didn't stop very long; the female appeared to collect some nesting material and they were gone. I then remembered I was supposed to be having a conversation with a rather bewildered Mr Lindo, sorry about that David but I'm sure you understand how it is.

Female Bullfinch on the lawn (that looks more like a meadow in truth!).

Although it only stayed one day the Sedge Warbler singing outside our window was quite a treat, whatever will we get next? Whitethroat perhaps? Here's hoping!

Sedge Warbler singing just outside our window.

We have now also added fly-by House Martin and the first screaming Swifts, summer is really here, cant wait to see what tomorrow brings! Cottage total now 46.

Not sure when we'll get another of these, if ever, so I'm making the most of this one!

Saturday 3 May 2014

Garden tick, but not a bird...

What do you call a day that starts with finding a badger in your garden? A good day, that's what!
Badger digging up our garden!

And making its getaway!
Elis and I went to a car boot today to raise money through the Wader Quest mobile charity shop for our charity project. It was great fun and we did reasonably well all things considered.
The mobile charity shop.
Birdwise in the garden recently, we had been reasonably expecting a few more birds to turn up for the list since it is spingtime. One was pretty well predicted, another only a matter of time but the third a real surprise.

The expected bird was Swallow. They have bred in the past in the garages that were once stables and we hoped that they would return, in any case we thought it likely we would see one of these summer birds at some satge. Well today we did, a swallow swooped over the stable block. we will now have to leave the door open in the hope that they'll nest again this year.
Barn Swallow, not our bird but one we saw a few days ago in Wolverton. Photo: Elis Simpson.
The second bird was Black-headed Gull, as said, inevitable one day with a lake at the bottom of the field, it was a single bird in breeding plumage.

No photo of the Black-headed Gull, instead a Eurasian Blackbird with a beak full of worms.

One afternoon my son and I were gazing out across the field watching his frriends plodding about among the oil seed rape when I heard the unmistakable sound of piping oystercatchers. I scanned but could see none on the ground, then Martin, my son, pointed to three birds in flight. It was the oystercatchers. I watched them circling around calling until one of the birds peeled off and flew strongly west and away, the remaining two circled slowly down and I have reason to believe they may be forming a territory down by the lake. As a wader lover this is a very unexpected and pleasing addition to our cottage list.
Guess what? You guessed it, no decent photo, so... Greenfinch instead.

We have also had a bit of fun with a Dunnock. This chap has taken to sitting on our windowsill singing to himself in the window's reflection and occasionally pecking at himself. Once or twice he flung himself at the glass, but soon learned this was a fool's errand.
Ok, not the demented Dunnock, a Robin instead.

I still spend much time gazing skywards in the hope of seeing our first swift.

Obviously no swift picture; Eurasian Jackdaw.