So much fun watching the fledglings this week! We have large numbers of juvenile starlings now and they really are riotous. Their antics at the feeder have been a source of joy and amusement, not just for me and Simon, but also for many of my neighbours. When they all flock in together, there is hardly enough room on the feeding station for the fledglings, let alone their parents!
Fledging Blue Tit
Shake Those Tail Feathers!
Singing for Supper
When the starlings aren’t monopolising the feeding station, the beautiful fledgling blue tits are now visiting. They are so dinky but very vocal! The ragged looking adults are being constantly harassed by the cute little fluffies. Actually seeing a feed is a real joy! Sometimes the blue tit adults bring food from the trees down to fledglings perched on the feeder. They’re all still going through my suet and seed at the rate of knots, but it’s wonderful to feel like we are contributing to the welfare of these new lives!
Friday before last, I had to go to the Central Middlesex Hospital, near Wembley, for a small bowel MRI to check on the adhesions in my gut. Adhesions are often a consequence of abdominal surgery and I’ve had quite a number of operations for my Crohn’s. Anyway, I had to hang around at the hospital for a while after the scan, to wait for the mannitol solution to pass, so I went to the cafe by the entrance. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I saw a pair of song thrush busily taking food to a nest in a small tree outside the front entrance of the hospital. Surely it’s far too early for nesting!
I had come out without any cameras and I was soon cursing myself for it. Heading outside for a closer look, people were wandering around in the area but the birds were ignoring them. I stood there watching the adults bringing in several meals of worms to two very hungry nestlings. Song thrush do start to nest earlier than some other birds, usually having two or three broods during the season, which normally runs from March to August. Nesting is triggered by the weather and we have been having a very mild winter! I managed to capture a few images with my phone as a record, a couple are heavily zoomed as I didn’t want to disturb the birds.
Storm Dennis arrived at the weekend and the weather was truly appalling all week. I couldn’t return to the site with my camera until last Friday. I feared that the weather could have spelled disaster for the nest! When I arrived the nest was empty, but I could hear the thrush making chatting noises in the garden area alongside the hospital. I approached cautiously and hid at the corner of the wall to search the gardens. It was delightful to spot the two fledgings close by, hunkered down in the grass, calling for the adults to feed them. Eventually, the adults managed to coax both fledgings to take a haltering flight into the safety of the hedgerow.
My fascination with the pelicans in St James’s Park continues! I managed a short visit on Friday afternoon after an appointment at Guy’s Hospital. It’s so therapeutic after you’ve just had to hear more bad news. I was expecting it really, no big shocks but disappointing all the same. So from having to keep my own mouth wide open for the dental conservative consultant, I went to see a much more impressive wide mouth!
The bare skin on the lower mandible of the pelican is known as the gular pouch. There are other birds with gular skin but the pelican has the largest. The lower mandible expands to open the pouch allowing it to scoop it’s prey from the water. As the mandible contracts, water is expelled from the bill and the bird can then tilt its head to let the fish slide down the gullet. The gular pouch actually has a larger capacity than the pelicans stomach! You may have heard the rhyme by Dixon Merritt: “Oh, what a wondrous bird is the pelican! His bill holds more than his belican. He can take in his beak enough food for a week. But I’m darned if I know how the helican.” In fact, any surplass food is actually stored in the oesophagus!
I spent a delightful bit of time watching this very vocal wren balancing on the tops of bracken at Bushy Park last week. The best way to find a wren is to listen for them chatting a territorial call in scrub, grasses and bracken. Watch for movement of the leaves and stems that can indicate where the wren is. They’ll come to perch at one of the higher points of the scrub to chat and sing. Watching them bobbing about and singing is such fun! They’re so tiny but have big characters and an even bigger voice.
This resplendent pheasant at RHS Wisley Gardens definitely had something to shout about last Friday! It was delightful to watch him strutting about in the hazy sunshine. All the birds seemed to be enjoying a brief respite from the cold, wet snap we had. April showers have put quite a damper on birding! There’s still plenty of colourful blossom and magnolia to see around the gardens. Trees are coming in to leaf and Spring is well under way!
It’s NOT a snow bunting but it is in the snow. It’s NOT on reeds but it is a reed bunting! Bird watching can be ever so confusing 😉
These were taken on Friday morning in Bushy Park, with a smattering of snow. The bracken is a hiding place for lots of small insects that the birds are feeding on. There were bunting, wrens, robins, great tits, blue tits, chiffchaff and stonechats all flitting in and out of the bracken near Heron Pond. They can be hard to spot! I listen for the song and look for movement to find my subjects, but sometimes you don’t know they’re there until you’re almost on top of them and they take flight.
Definitely the largest fish I’ve ever seen one of the Bushy Park herons catch! Pretty sure it’s a common carp. After successfully evading the Heron Pond anglers and keeping itself warm in the dense reed-beds on a frosty night, I think the last thing this fish expected was to be gobbled up for breakfast. It actually gave it’s captor a few firm tail-slaps around the face, for good measure, on the way down! OH! Well, my mum coined it and I couldn’t really call it anything else. So with a busy Monday ahead, this is my entry for all three of the Monday photo challenges including Wex Mondays and Fotospeed. Have a great week everyone!