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Monday, 13 August 2012

Notes From A Small Garden

After disposing of the large (12,000 litre) pond in our garden last year, and replacing it with a flower bed and vegetable patch, I was expecting some change in the birds coming to our garden. Gone would be the Herons (thankfully!), and Wagtails (Grey and Pied). What other influence it might have, I was unsure of.

We have seen some changes, some of them very welcome, and some not so welcome. Which, if any, of these changes might be due to the lack of pond I don't know.

For a start, we've had a pair of Bullfinches visiting us on a regular basis. In previous years we were lucky if we even saw one in the garden. We were hoping that they'd bring their young to see us, but that didn't happen and we're seeing them much less frequently now. I've published much better images of these before, and I really don't like images which show feeders in them, but here are a couple of my more recent efforts.

Bullfinch (male) - our garden

Bullfinch (female) - our garden
We've been getting up to five Magpies at a time (2 adults and 3 juveniles). I find that I tend to think of these as black & white birds, but they can be anything but this when the light catches them right.

Magpie (juvenile) - our garden
We're not seeing much of the adult Robins at the moment, but we do have three juveniles, in varying stages of development, visiting us regularly. Currently they're getting on fine with each other - I guess that won't last long!

Robin (juvenile) - our garden
The Starlings are now starting to outgrow their welcome.  We sometimes get more than thirty at once, and they are eating us out of house and home! We're currently getting through approximately 3lb (1.5 kg) of bird food a day. They are also extremely noisy and quarrelsome, and tend to put off the other birds. We'll be glad when they join up into larger groups and leave (he said with fingers crossed!). However, they are quite photogenic - if you can get them to stay still for a second!

Starling - our garden

Starling (juvenile) - our garden
We're not seeing as many adult Blue Tits as usual, but again the juveniles are visiting us frequently.

Blue Tit (juvenile)  - our garden
Recently we saw a Nuthatch in the garden for the first time in two years. It has paid us a couple of very brief visits since, seeming to prefer the seed to the peanuts.

Nuthatch - our garden
Our star bird at the moment is a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker. He's not very easy to photograph unless you get him on the fat-ball feeder (he doesn't go for peanuts either).

Great Spotted Woodpecker (juvenile) - our garden
The above image was taken through the double-glazing of the conservatory. I've put a stick up beside the feeder, and the bird usually lands on this first, but only for a second or two. A couple of times I've set my hide up in the garden to try and get a better image. Only once have I managed to get any sort of image, and the bird was spooked by the noise of the camera shutter.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (juvenile) - our garden
Three times now I've seen the woodpecker on the peanuts. It was only on the second occasion that I realised that this was not our 'woody' but an adult male. My excuse is that the peanut feeder is well shaded under a dogwood.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (male) - our garden
Our juvenile woodpecker has strongly protected the fat-balls from the garrulous Starlings - a quick peck and they go. However, a few days ago, one Starling fought back, and then the others followed suit. There was quite a scrap and the woodpecker departed in defeat. The following was through the glazing of the conservatory again.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (juvenile) + Starling (juvenile) - our garden
Fortunately 'woody' has not been put off by this encounter, and is still visiting us. I'm starting to think that this bird is, in fact, a juvenile female as the red 'cap' is starting to blacken, but there's no sign yet of red on the back of the neck - so 'woody' may become 'woodina'.

Finally, although not really a 'garden bird' a racing pigeon dropped by last Monday. It's been with us ever since! After a considerable amount of investigation (some of the numeric information on the rings was missing) I found its owner. It was released in Coventry on the Saturday, and its home is between Halifax and Bradford. I've instruction to catch it, put it in a box, and phone the owner to arrange collection. So far the bird won't let me get closer than 2 ft (0.6 metres) away. If I do ever catch it, I've visions of him taking it away, and it turning up here again a couple of days later!

racing pigeon - our garden


  1. Super collection Richard,love the Bullfinch,my favourite is the Nuthatch superb shot.

    1. Thank you John. I've had better shots of Nuthatch - but not in my garden!

  2. Our Bullfinches seem to have gone missing, they do this every year about this time. I have noticed our Great Spotted Woodpecker is looking a bit tatty like yours. I love the young Blue tits, they look so fresh whereas the adults look worn out just us;-)

    1. The great thing about a garden is being able to watch the birds in comfort, even on a foul day - although I do feel sorry for the discomfort of the birds on those occasions!!


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