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ShareMondays2020 – I Predict A Riot!

I Predict A Riot

ShareMondays2020 – I Predict A Riot!

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!

The stare!

Staring Starling!

Fledgling Blue Tit

Fledging Blue Tit


Do a little dance!

Shake Those Tail Feathers!

Singing for supper

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!

Feeding a fledgling Blue Tit

Dinner Time!

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ShareMondays2020 – My Window On Wildlife

The Messy Eater

ShareMondays2020 – My Window On Wildlife

As most of you will know, I can’t leave my home as I am in the shielded group. I can’t even get into the garden as we’re in flats and the gardens are a communal space! I do, however, have a window that looks onto a small area of lawn and a little flower bed with hydrangea and roses.

Great Tit in the Rose Bush

Great Tit in the Rose Bush

When we were initially asked to stay shielded indoors, I knew that the hardest aspect of this for me, would be not getting out to my favourite nature reserves and parks to watch wildlife. I ordered a new bird feeding station, a little flower shaped feeder and a bird bath to encourage our garden birds to come to me. The feeders and bath are all set quite high, as we have two cats so I wanted to keep the wildlife safe! My regular visitors are the starlings, great tits and blue tits. The hot weather has made the bird bath a popular new feature and several of my neighbours have followed suit and added bird baths to their little patches too!

Thirsty Work

Parenting is thirsty work!

 

The little flower feeder has been very popular with the blue and great tits who both like an open feeder and good perch. I got Simon to stick it into one of my large planters to give it a bit of extra height. The blue tits are looking quite bedraggled at the moment as they have been very busy taking food to the nest. I suspect they have started their moult as well. After a very heavy shower the other day they looked especially untidy! I think it just adds to their character and tells a story of how much parenting work they are doing!

Bedraggled Blue Tit

Bedraggled Blue Tit

After The Rain

After the rain!

I have been filling (or rather sending Simon outside to fill!) the flower feeder with suet pellets for a high energy food source. The great tits absolutely love it! They’re not nearly as bedraggled as the blue tits but I am sure they have a busy nest nearby.

Take Away Dinner

Take Away Dinner

For weeks now I could see increasing activity from the starlings and felt sure that their young must be close to fledging! I was finally rewarded with the sight of a couple of fledged starlings at the feeding station. They are wonderful to see and hear! Very noisy, demanding food from every single adult nearby. The coconut feeders with suet and seed have been great for the starling fledglings, soft and easily digestible and packed with energy! They really are rather messy eaters though. Plenty ends up being dropped on the ground but the pigeons are happy to come and hoover them up.

The Very Hungry Starling

The very hungry starling!

 

The fledglings are great to look at closely with the telephoto lens! The markings are, of course, very different and they are able to open their beaks incredibly wide due to the soft gape flanges in the corner of the beak. I also noticed that the fledglings eyes are quite blue in colour.

Fledgling Starling Detail

Juvenile starling detail

I’m looking forward to seeing blue and great tit fledglings joining the starling at the feeder soon! I had a brief glimpse of a blue tit fledgling this afternoon so watch this space for more fledgling stories.

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ShareMondays2020 – Queuing For Groceries or It’s Two Metres You Tits!

Queuing For Groceries

ShareMondays2020 – Queuing For Groceries or It’s Two Metres You Tits!

So, I might have finally lost the plot from being stuck indoors so long! But, hey, if the children in Spain can spend six weeks without being allowed out of the home at all, then so can I. Honestly, I salute them! I was hardly ever indoors as a child. My love of the natural world was encouraged from an early age. Even now, the children of Spain have only just had the lockdown relaxed as far as letting them outside for just the one hour. The majority of people here in the UK have always had that one freedom! Please be grateful for it and continue to social distance as much as you can. You are saving lives!

Meanwhile, my new bird feeder has been a big hit with the starlings and tits. They’re giving me a lot of joy and plenty of amusement too, when there’s a fracas over feeding rights. The starlings do actually form quite an orderly little queue, but they sometimes forget the queuing order and it all gets rather flappy and noisy! They’re really garrulous little characters and the range in vocalisations is incredible. I must try to get some recordings! I do love keeping the windows open and hearing a range of birdsong from outside.

It’s not just the starlings and tits! I can hear the blackbird singing away at the moment, the wren serenades us every morning and evening, goldfinches chatter as they flit through the trees, the magpies seem to be in constant disagreement with everyone, the wood pigeon coos soothingly and once or twice a day the parakeets add their voice to the general cacophony. It’s a heavenly symphony! I hope you’re all taking good care of yourselves, enjoying a few simple pleasures and staying safe.

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Blue Monday : Banquet For Blue Tits

Banquet For Blue Tits

Blue Monday : Banquet For Blue Tits

The bountiful berries of the Cornus kousa, a flowering dogwood, make a fine banquet for the diminutive blue tits in the Autumn. It’s a feast for the eyes to watch them! There are a number of kousa trees around the grounds at RHS Wisley Gardens, but the best fruiting and most visited ones are just at the bottom of the rose garden. While other birds have to forage below the trees for fallen fruit, the blue tit appears to be the only visitor light enough to feed directly from the fruit ripening on the tree. Occasionally even these lightweights accidentally pick a berry that can’t quite support them and they tumble down through the leaves. I’m yet to catch that amusing sight on camera! My lead image really captures how adept they are at feeding from the berries, so I’m entering it into today’s ShareMondays2018 and Fotospeed challenges. I’ll keep on trying to photograph one their epic fails!

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Blue Monday: Signs Of Spring

Blue Tit and budding Spring leaves

Blue Monday: Signs Of Spring

I returned to the carpark at RHS Wisley Gardens on Sunday morning after the snow had all melted. The fieldfare had all gone, presumably back to the orchard fields on the exposed hillside. Hardly any fruit remained on the trees out by the main entrance so most of the birds were around the side of the shop where staff have a number of feeders out. The blue tits were out in force and I really enjoyed watching them flitting in and out of the shrubs. After the recent cold, I was reminded that it is now meteorological Spring by the sight of fresh green leaves and buds on the branches. Hopefully this will be a bright contrast to many snow images in this week’s Fotospeed challenge!

Chaffinch

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Blue Monday: Big Garden Birdwatch

Blue Tit

Blue Monday: Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a citizen science project that has been running for almost fourty years and helps provide a “snapshot” of bird numbers across the UK. The data collected helps inform the RSPB of any problems in bird numbers. Steps can then be taken to identify the reasons for these problems and find resolutions. The data collected over the years can also provide us with some great success stories. Since the start of Birdwatch, blue tit numbers have actually increased by twenty percent!

On Saturday morning I joined a group of wildlife enthusiasts at RHS Wisley Gardens for a tour of the grounds, identifying different bird species, led by experts from the North West Surrey branch of the RSPB. The highlight of the morning for me was a flock of siskin found near the bottom of  Battleston Hill. They were very silhouetted againgst the morning skies but I finally managed to get a shot of one to show you the wonderful yellow colourings. We estimated there were around fourty birds in the flock.

Siskin

Siskin

On our way up to the orchards we saw a mistle thrush in the oaks. I shall be looking out for it in the area as I couldn’t get a close enough view for a photograph. The flocks of fieldfare and redwing were also keeping their distance from us in the orchards but we witnessed them swooping and diving to outwit the local buzzard. Quite a sight! There are more flocks of redwing feeding on the lawn areas at Seven Acres and around the lakes. Recent rainfall has turned the ground marsh-like, bringing up plenty of insects and worms for these hungry winter visitors. Among the flocks are other thrush, robins and blackbirds all taking advantage of this feast. I was delighted to see the Egyptian Geese have returned to the lake again! Hopefully they will have their goslings at Wisley again this year.

Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese

We finished our birdwatch at the birdhide situated at the far end of the Pinetum, on the banks of the Wey. With so many of us in the group it was hard for me to get many photographs but we were all delighted to see the nuthatch, chaffinches, robins, parakeets, ducks, moorhens and very healthy numbers of tits. There were great, blue and coal tits all visiting the feeders and flitting around in the trees and scrub. I’m putting one of my shots of a blue tit, with absolutely wonderful colouring, into this week’s Fotospeed challenge. A perfect example of a citizen science success story!

Many thanks to Amy from RHS Wisley for organising the workshops and educational events at the gardens, and to NW Surrey RSPB for leading the event and providing some great information and close-up views with their spotting scopes.