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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Set To Break The Record (no kidding!) - on 1st April, 2013

Last year I broke the record for my 'Garden Year List' by one species, coming in with a fairly healthy 32 different species setting foot in my garden (fly-overs don't count). This might not be too spectacular to those of you who live in the countryside, but for a suburban garden I don't think it's too shabby a number. By the end of March last year I'd seen 24 of these. 

This year, by the end of March, I've already seen 32 different species. OK, so the scope for picking up extra species for the garden year list is fairly small, but, on past records, it would not be unusual to pick up Carrion Crow, Willow Warbler and Willow Tit - and March brought two garden 'year ticks' and a garden 'lifer'! Who knows what else the year might bring - we're only a quarter of the way through it!

The star performers in March were the Siskins, Redpolls, and Bramblings.

The Siskins have been real stars, peaking at 10 birds at one sitting on 19th March. Numbers are dwindling a bit now, but they're still showing on a daily basis. These are some images from the last few days. This might well be my last opportunity this year to post images of Siskin, so please excuse me if I indulge myself! 




Siskin (male) - our garden



Siskin (female) - our garden
Sometimes photography goes wrong and things don't turn out quite as we had hoped for. This next image was taken in extremely contrasty conditions, but I quite like the atmosphere of the shot.

Siskin (female) - our garden
This next one went hopelessly wrong but, for some reason, I love the patterns of the motion!

Siskin (male) - our garden
That's it for Siskins - I promise!

The Redpolls are also still with us on a daily basis but, again, their numbers are thinning out a little now. We peaked at 8 birds on 20th February, but we still had five visiting on 1st April. I've taken very few photos of them lately as they now favour the far end of the garden so, unless I happen to be in my conservatory with my camera at the time, they're too far away. I still haven't sussed out which ones without pink on the breast are females, males in non-breeding plumage, or just immature birds. I'm sure I'd never spot a Common/Arctic Redpoll!    

Lesser Redpoll (female/non-breeding male/immature?) - our garden


Lesser Redpoll (male) - our garden
Bramblings had been seen on an almost daily basis, and peaked at 3 birds on 2nd March, but the last bird seen was a single male on 23rd March.


Brambling (female) - our garden
Brambling (male) - our garden
Reed Bunting, although not a rare bird, is a rare visitor to our garden. In March we had visits from female and male birds.

Reed Bunting (female) - our garden
Reed Bunting (male) - our garden

Just scraping in on 29th March, a 'year tick', and only seen once before in the garden in the last four years, was this Goldcrest. Sorry, but I didn't manage an image on a natural branch - I'm not keen on photos of birds on feeders, but this is here as 'one for the record'

Goldcrest - our garden
The 'garden lifer', arriving on 23rd March (in the snow), was a Rook. It's an absolutely lousy image, but any sort of an image of a garden lifer is better than none in my book!

Rook - our garden
Nuthatches aren't seen very often in our garden, so any appearance is worth an attempt at an image. This one visited on 12th March.

Nuthatch - our garden
Greenfinch used to be one of the most common birds in our garden. Then the UK population fell victim to a parasite, and the population plummeted. They seem to be making a bit of a comeback  now, but they still cause excitement if we see one in the garden. These two were taken on 30th March.

Greenfinch (male) - our garden
Greenfinch (female) - our garden
There are, of course, plenty of 'everyday birds' in our garden, but I'll still show some of these, primarily for my overseas readers, but I hope they'll also act as reminders of people more familiar with them, as to just how special some of these birds are.

Collared Dove - our garden
Blue Tit - our garden

Starling - our garden

Dunnock - our garden
Goldfinch - our garden
Finally: ......We are still getting visits from a Sparrowhawk - or, more accurately, at least two male Sparrowhawks. I can be certain of this because one of them is the bird with the aberrant circular white patches on the wing feathers that featured in an earlier post. Until recently I'd never seen one catch anything, but I'm pretty sure last week one managed to grab a Blue Tit and make off with it. This is a shot of one lurking in the Rowan tree outside my study window.

Sparrowhawk (male) - our garden
 Hopefully I'll be back to owls soon! Thanks for stopping by.

54 comments:

  1. Loving all of your birds in the garden. A lot more diverse than the ones in my own. I only hope to have some stray visitors:) Sparrowhawks and our Coopers seem to have the same idea this time of year......terrorizing the little ones but I think they're cool. One came up to my dining room window and frightened my cats. Now that was something to see!!!

    Love all of your shots.....BUT my absolute favorite is the blurred shot of the Siskin flying off. That my friend is ART!!! Don't get rid of that pic on your files. I'm in love with that shot. Hope you are enjoying your week. Chris

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    1. Thank you Chris. Your Coopers may have similar habits to our Sparrowhawk, but I think your Sharp-shinned Hawk is closer in appearance (particularly the male). Lovely story about the Coppers frightening the cats!

      Glad to hear you like the blurred Siskin. I absolutely no intention of getting rid of it.

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    2. I just set it as my desktop background. Just an awesome shot!

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    3. Thank you Chris. I'm flattered!

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  2. Awesome serie of photos. Well done!

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  3. Fantastic garden list,very impressed.
    Outstanding image quality,well done Ricard,hope your list gets bigger.
    john.

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    1. Thank you John. I have my fingers crossed.

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  4. spectacular portraits of gorgeous birds throughout! thank you for sharing them!

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  5. Awesome series of birds! I love the Siskins and Redpolls!

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    1. Thank you Eileen. I shall miss these tiny birds when they depart, as they surely will very soon.

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  6. Holy cow! Amazing shots. What camera and lens are you using? Apparently, I need help! Lawdy, these are so superb!

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    1. Thank you Gail. I use a Nikon D300s with a Sigma 150-500 zoom - nearly always hand-held (unless I am in my portable hide on a stake-out).

      Oh, and by the way, from what I've seen of your own photography, you don't need any help at all!! Your Barred Owl images make me very jealous!

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  7. They are all beautiful birds and well-worth multiple images!

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  8. Thanks for sharing your indulgence here with an interesting account, and some excellent photography Richard.

    Siskin/Redpoll/Brambling etc, etc in your garden. As the old engine driver I used to fire for in the good old days of British Railways - and whose lips never let a swear word past them - would have said....Blinkin' Heck!!

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    1. Thanks Pete.

      A fireman on the railways eh! That's going back a bit! Railways are in my background too. I used to run railtours for railway enthusiasts - mainly in mainland Europe. During that time I was allowed to drive steam, diesel, and electric locos (amazingly) on regular service trains! Never fired a loco though - too skilled a job, and too much like hard work! Been retired for over seven years now.

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  9. These are very good photo. Ypo should be proud of them.

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  10. Wow, such amazing photos and I also like that one in flight with the wing pattern. I need to get a lot better at identifying the birds in our garden though I recognise most of the usual species. These really are great photos. Bravo. Take care Diane

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    1. Thank you Diane. I takes time to get to know the birds if you're starting from scratch, but it's worth it so you can also get to understand their habits and requirements.

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  11. I've said it before and I'll say it again... Your garden is wonderful! I'm so thrilled for you. I must say; the Sparrowhawk image, with the perfectly placed branches, retaining the true hiding, stealthy character of the bird, is excellent.

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    1. Thank you Christian. I was very dubious about whether to include the Sprawk image.

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  12. What can I say that hasn't already been said???? A brilliant selection of images mate, made all the more special in the fact they were all taken in your back garden.
    Congrats and green with envy.........lol.

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    1. Thanks Paul. It's useful to have the garden to fall back on when the weather doesn't tempt me to go out owling!

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  13. Wow, such an amazing series!
    I'll have to echo the sentiments of wonderful photography.
    There really is something about that flurry of motion shot that is quite intriging.

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    1. Thank you Carletta for your kind words.

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  14. Marvelous photos of a very nice variety of birds. I have enjoyed this post immensely, thank you!

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    1. Thank you Denise. Glad you liked it.

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  15. Wow Richard! Fabulous close-ups. Isn't the Starling a beauty!

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    1. Thank you Karen. I always think of Starlings as the 'Pearly Kings' of the bird world. If you don't know what a British Pearly King is, look it up on Wikipedia - I'll think you'll understand where I'm coming from!

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  16. Cracking selection of beautiful garden bird photos.

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    1. Thank you Jeremy for your kind words.

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  17. Lovely pictures of little birds! Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Very nice post Richard!
    Same "stars" around my garden too!
    Congrats for the Sparrowhawk, I was very lucky to have also 2 males visiting and managed some good pics!
    I love the Siskins!
    Cheers!

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  19. Beautiful shots of the birds. Love them all.

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  20. That's an impressive set of images from your garden Richard. Really liked the starlings,nuthatch and redpoll, but I really like the sparrowhawk lurking amongst the branches and the goldcrest, stunning.
    I hope you break your promise on the Siskins though, beauties.

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    1. Thanks Doug! With the Siskins I suspect that I'll be keeping that promise, as I don't think they'll be with us much longer.

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  21. What a superb post! You have an amazing variety visiting your garden and your photographs of them are simply outstanding. Very nice!
    Thank you for sharing it with us all.

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    1. Thank you Wally for your very kind words.

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  22. Great set of pictures. Keeping lists is fun, but ones for single sites actually can have a purpose.

    Cheers and thanks for linking to WBW- Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Thank you Stewart.

      Until this year I've just kept a 'first sightings' record, plus peak numbers for each species. This year I've taken it several steps further, and keep a daily tally including maxima. I then plot peak numbers for each species for the week on an on-line graph. My intention is to do this each year so that I can make comparisons and detect trends in numbers.

      Some may think that this is sheer madness, but I'm getting a great deal of satisfaction out of this - and I'm paying more attention to the garden birds, which is possibly why I'm at the point of (hopefully!) breaking my record.

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  23. Hello Richard :-) I am in awe of your beautiful photos and also the wonderful array of different birds which visit your garden!! I have never seen a Nuthatch, Redpoll or Goldcrest in mine and have only had Siskins visit for a few days, in bad weather, three or four years ago. Regarding one of your replies, I had never made the Starling/Pearly King connection but you are spot on! I shall always think of that when I see a Starling now.

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    1. Thank you, Shy Songbird, for your kind words.

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  24. Whoops! I should have said I've never seen a Reed Bunting in my garden either. I'm guessing your house is in a very rural location.

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    1. Our house is a suburban one (Ashby de la Zouch is a small town), but we are on the edge of the town with a finger of farmland reaching to within about 300 metres from us, and some woodland about 500 metres away. This, and a profusion of feeders in the garden (16 of them!) helps attract the birds. We are currently getting through about 1.5kg (3 lb) of bird food a day!

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  25. I seem to have missed this post, fantastic close ups of the birds. The Siskins are returning to my garden now and I had two Goldfinches today, which is fantastic as they had disappeared for along time hopefully they will continue to come and many more too. I used to get up six Goldies, and a dozen or so of Siskins. The Sparrowhawk is not around so much at the moment.

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    1. We're getting fewer Goldfinches, now that their winter flocks have broken up and they are pairing up for breeding. The Siskins are thinning out now too, and we're only seeing two at a time. I haven't seen the male Sparrowhawk for a while either, although just saying this will probably bring him in!

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