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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Another Garden Lifer + A Year Tick !! - on 7th February, 2013

2012 was a record year for numbers of bird species visiting our garden, with 32 species putting a foot down. I noted that, by the end of January, 2012, we'd already had 18 of these species. You can, therefore, imagine my satisfaction when I noted that by the end of January 2013 we'd had 26 species visiting us - 44% up on last year! However, looking at the records, I realised that getting up to the 32 mark, to match last year, was going to be a steep hill to climb. Missing from the life list were Chiffchaff (only ever one record from the garden), Carrion Crow (seen daily, but rarely actually landing), Goldcrest (only one record in last four years), Heron (no chance since we filled in the pond!), Nuthatch (now I am sure I've seen one this year whilst I was on the phone to someone, but I'd failed to record it  - so tough luck!), Pheasant (only ever one record from our garden), Siskin (seen most years  - usually February/March, so a fair chance), Song Thrush (seen every year, but usually in January), Willow Tit (only one record in past four years), Pied and Grey Wagtails (not seen since 2010 and not much chance now the pond has gone), and Willow Warbler (seen every year, but always around August/September).

Considering the above, you can imagine my delight when a garden 'lifer' paid us a visit this morning - a Treecreeper! Given that we are not near woodland or even a copse, this was quite exciting! Unfortunately it caught me completely unprepared, and only hung around for 5 or 6 seconds, I did have time to shoot off 6 frames with my camera - which I grabbed from beside me, and was totally inappropriately set up - so I only managed rubbish record shots, but here we are.

Treecreeper - our garden
That was early in the morning. Just as the light was failing this afternoon I was putting the dustbin out for collection, and came back into the back garden via the side gate, frightening off a bird as I did so. My immediate reaction by the way it climbed the tree was "the Treecreeper's back". However, I quickly realised that this was a Nuthatch, so I have also got a year tick on the same day as a 'lifer'.

It's been a while since I posted anything on my garden birds, so here's a bit of a catch up. There was one day when the snows were here which gave us some excitement as we had four Fieldfare and a Redwing visit us.

Fieldfare - our garden

Redwing - our garden
Also during the snows a male Reed Bunting graced us with his presence for a year tick.

Reed Bunting (male) - our garden
We continue to be visited by male Sparrowhawks, but we haven't seen one catch anything for a long while. This particular individual is a little unusual in that it has large white circular patches on its wing feathers! Another rubbish shot I'm afraid!

Sparrowhawk (male with wing marking aberrations) - our garden
The Redpolls are thinning out now, the last one seen being on 2nd February. This is the last image that I took of a Redpoll - on 31st January when we had four of them visit us.

Lesser Redpoll (female) - our garden
The Bramblings are continuing to entertain us. I know, from the variations in dark feathering on the faces, that we have several different males visiting us. Visits from females are not common however. Here are some shots from this week.

Brambling (males) - our garden
I see we're supposed to have some more snow on the way - I wonder if it will bring us some nice surprises!

Incidentally, all these images were taken through the glass of my study window, often handicapped by rain, condensation, or bird lime on the outside. When it's warmer, I'll try using the hide - but the birds probably won't be there!


  1. You have so many beautiful birds! The first shot looks like our Brown Creeper. I just learned of him on a bird walk last weekend. What's with the markings on the sparrowhawk? It's so cool. You really got some fantastic shots!

    1. Thank you Gail. I've no idea why this Sparrowhawk is marked in this way - I have no knowledge of this being a recognised variant. Usually white patches on birds in general are due to leucism, but take the form of irregular and unbalanced patches. These are regular patches (almost perfectly round), at the same point in each feather, and pretty evenly distributed.

  2. Hi Richard

    Your garden is an absolute delight. A stunning variety. Mine isn't as impressive, although I did have a nuthtach for the first time ever during the recent snow.

    1. Thank you Christian. A garden Nuthatch is always a treat to see!

      I guess that we're probably a bit OTT with our garden feeders. The usual set up (added to in extreme weather) is 2 x tubular seed feeders, 2 x niger feeders, 2 x peanut feeders, 2 x fat ball feeders, 6 x pole-mounted seed feeding trays, 2 x ground-feeding trays, 1 x regular bird bath, 1 a large bird bath (approx 2ft (0.6m) x 3ft (1m)). Most of these get filled up daily, but some times two or three times daily in extreme weather. I average getting through 40kg of bird seed a month. However, the previous 40kg I bought lasted a shade over two weeks! My wife thinks it's all a bit too much, and the rest of the world would probably concur!

    2. Nah! You're a Knight in shining armour to our little avian buddies! You deserve the rewards of such a beautiful aesthetic feast, for the provision of such a nutritional feast!

    3. Thanks for the sympathetic comments, Christian!

  3. The sprawk is fascinating and I'm wondering if it is a form a lecuism, I've noted exactly the same "white-spot" pattern on a lot of the crows that visit our garden or over the park

    1. I would think that it probably is a form of leucism, Doug.

  4. Looks like your garden is a winner Richard,what a fantastic tick, not seen treecreepers for along time,just think one turns up in your garden.

    1. Yep, John, I reckon it was a real stroke of luck!

  5. You have some fantastic selection of birds visiting your garden. Those Waxwings still have not been back:(

    1. Thank you Linda. Sorry to hear that your Waxies didn't return. Not published your comment before now as I've been away on holiday!


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