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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.

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Watch The Birdies!

Green and Gold

Watch The Birdies!

For me it’s one of the best tonics ever, watching the birds. It was my one request to my long-suffering hubby at the end of the weekend, as I started to feel a bit better following a nasty infection. Take me out to watch the birds. I still didn’t feel up to doing much more than sitting quietly in the birdhide, watching and listening to my feathered friends. Simon’s not quite as obsessed with birds (I think it bores him unless it’s birds of prey!) as I am so this was such a sweet gesture from him! There was only a fleeting visit by a couple of parakeets. They’re enjoying the sweet chestnut trees so much at the moment I don’t think they can be bothered with the feeders near the hide! There were lots of blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and dunnocks. I was really pleased to see the nuthatch and a pair of coal tits too. Several robins were feeding on the ground beneath the feeders and I caught sight of a couple of wrens in the undergrowth, moving far too fast to photograph! I’m putting the parakeet into Wex Mondays this week as I loved the glow of the late sun against the still-green leaves and the greens of the parakeet itself. It was uplifting!

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Winter Warmers

Winter Warmers

The bird-life at Holly Cottage, in Shropshire, is wonderful! The weather for photographing them wasn’t quite so great. I did get a few nice shots of two of my favourite birds to watch at the feeders during the winter, the Coal Tit and the Nuthatch. They really are lovely little characters!

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Watch The Birdie!

Watch The Birdie!

There are a lot of fledgeling birds in the garden now! It’s a cacophony of peeps, tweets and pips amongst the hedgerows.

The adult Blue Tits are teaching their youngsters to come to the overflow pipe for a quick drink. Some are getting the hang of it quicker than others!

The adults look pretty ragged, in fact the adult Great Tit is completely bald! Her young are still (noisily) in the nest. My lovely Coal Tit’s are really looking very sorry for themselves.

The Robins appear randomly from under the shrubbery to jump for flies and dig for worms. It was hard to get close to them today but I have some food-bribery to tempt them with tomorrow 😉

They really are all such a joy to watch!

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Thirsty Work

Thirsty Work

All our garden birds are very busy with their nests at the moment. Today has been the hottest of the year, so far!

The smaller birds, the tits and the nuthatches, have been using a cunning, man-made watering hole that is well out of the reach of the local cats! My photo today is of one of our coal tits 🙂

This overflow pipe is outside the back of our flats and is above the first floor level. It’s almost always dripping and the birds have been using it to drink from for a few years now during the hot summer days.

It’s one thing I’m hoping our landlords don’t ever fix!