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.
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.
I’ve been watching the whitethroat at Heather Farm again this week. There are definitely two pairs nesting within a short distance from the carpark and cafe. You can watch them flying across the reeds and singing in the silver birch while sitting outside the cafe enjoying a drink (and maybe a cake!).
Whitethroat from the birdhide
For a closer look, head to the birdhide and look behind you, into the shrubs and up into the birch. There’s another pair in the thicket and reeds by the boardwalk, over the pond, as you enter the wetlands from the carpark.
Whitethroat in shrubs seen from the boardwalk
They’re not the only birds busily building nests or feeding young in these thicket havens. Wrens, robins, dunnock, goldfinch and reed bunting are all sharing these patches, regularly popping up to the top of reeds or shrubs, to join their voices together in a wonderful chorus!
I love getting outside, exploring the landscape and discovering wildlife for many different reasons! Mostly it’s because it makes me happy 🙂 I think most of us could use a bit more happiness in our lives, so get outside and look for something brighter too! This is the Dartford Warbler that sang so beautifully for me at Thursley Common NNR last Thursday.