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Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Winter Garden - 27th December, 2014 to 6th February, 2015

It's been a relatively interesting winter in the garden so far, and I've spent more time observing it than I would probably have done in normal circumstances. Only counting birds that actually put a foot down in our garden ('flyovers' don't count) we've already hosted 26 species in 2015, and had a peak count of 23 species in one day. I have, therefore, quite a lot of images to post - which will make up for the recent dearth of images and posts from me over that period! Some of the images will appear because I'm reasonably pleased with them, others are there just to help tell the story, and a few will be record shots of birds that I'm just plain delighted to see, and hope will give me better views for a future post!

All the images were taken through the glass of our house windows on the days nominated.

27th December, 2014 

A bit of snow overnight, and reasonable light in the morning, gave me the opportunity to photograph some of the more common birds in our garden, although Greenfinch is not a daily visitor.

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) (female) - our garden
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) (male) - our garden
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) (male) - our garden
28th December, 2014

Another day with rather good light, and a rather rare visit from a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and an even rarer visit from a Fieldfare. I have managed some quite pleasing images of Fieldfare in our garden in past winters, but they just haven't played ball this winter. I don't suppose I'll get another chance until next winter now! Starlings aren't my favourite birds, by far, but there's no denying that their plumage is spectacular in the right light at this time of year. I think of them as 'the Pearly Kings' of the bird world (please follow this link if you don't know what a pearly king is).

Blackbird (Turdus merula) (female) - our garden


Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) - our garden

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) (female) - our garden
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) - our garden
29th December, 2014 

The snow was still hanging around in patches, and the Grey Wagtail that we first saw on 14th October was also still with us (the first time for this species since 2010, and now visiting us daily). Here's a couple from this day.



Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - our garden
30th December, 2014

This was a dull day, and the snow was still with us - just. I include the Greenfinch because of its upright stance. Reed Bunting is only seen a few times each year in our garden.


Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) (male) - our garden
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) (male) - our garden
5th January, 2015

We usually only have three or four sightings of Blackcap each year. I don't like to publish images of birds on feeders, but this one's just for the record!

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (male) - our Garden
7th January, 2015

Grey wagtails are not easy to photograph in low light as their constantly wagging tail usually ends up as a blur with slow shutter speeds. I did, however, manage to capture our visitor on a very dull wet day outside my study window (which is always in the shade in winter) with a limited level of tail blur!


Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - our garden
10th January, 2015

Bullfinch only make occasional visits to our garden, but we have had more sightings than usual so far this year. It never fails to give me great joy when they show up - a gorgeous bird! Goldfinch have been with us in greater numbers than in previous winters, and are feisty little birds, defending their position on the feeders against much larger birds! The Goldfinch image was again in deep shade outside my study.



Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - our garden
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - our garden
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - our garden
11th January, 2015

The female Greenfinch, whilst a lot less colourful than the male, is still a charming bird. At one time, many years ago, they used to be one of the most common birds in the garden - then they disappeared. They now seem to be making a bit of a come-back, with numbers up in 2014  by more than 100% over 2013 numbers! So you can imagine my delight. 

Please excuse all the Grey Wagtail images. When this bird goes, we might never see one in the garden again!


Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) (male) - our garden

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - our garden
15th January, 2015

There was excitement this day, as we had our first Lesser Redpoll of the year in the garden. It seems that there are less of these around this winter than we've become accustomed to, possibly because of a relatively abundant food supply in Scandinavia, etc. Siskin, Brambling, and Waxwing are also thin on the ground - probably for the same reason.

The Magpie image is there to encourage me to do better with this bird. They're a virtually daily visitor, but extremely timid.


Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea ssp. cabaret) (male) - our garden
Magpie (Pica pica) - our garden
16th January, 2015

More excitement this day as we had our first Goldcrest of the year. With their constant flitting in densely twigged areas they can be quite a challenge to capture with the camera.


Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) - our garden
20th January, 2015

I got a slightly better image of Goldfinch, again in the shade outside my study, but with a very sunny wall as a backdrop - I think that, on this occasion, it helped!

The Redpoll made a welcome return.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - our garden
Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea ssp. cabaret) (male) - our garden
21st January, 2015

The second Blackcap visit of the year, but again only a record shot with a feeder!


Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (male) - our Garden
23rd January, 2015

The previous day (22nd January) my wife, Lindsay, reported that we'd had a Pied Wagtail visit our garden whilst I was out for the afternoon with pal Titus. This was the first sighting in the garden since 2010, and so I was delighted when it returned this day.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba ssp. yarrellii) - our garden
26th January, 2015

The Pied Wagtail has visited us several times a day, ever since its first arrival. Here's a few from my study window, including one of the Grey Wagtail, which now seems to be getting a bit more yellow on the breast.





Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba ssp. yarrellii) - our garden
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - our garden
27th January, 2015

A couple more images from my study window on this day. I wish the Redpoll had been on a twig, as it would have been quite a pleasing shot of this tiny bird!

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - our garden
Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea ssp. cabaret) (male) - our garden
28th January, 2015

Amazingly, with all the birds in our garden, Sparrowhawk has been an infrequent visitor for a while now. This shot was taken early on a wet and cold day.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (male) - our garden
30th January, 2015

The previous day's rain turned to snow overnight. Sadly, it didn't give me the photo opportunities that I hoped for. Here's some from that day.

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - our garden

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - our garden
31st January, 2015

By the following day, the snow had nearly all gone. The excitement came in the form of our first Brambling of the year, the previous sighting being in October, 2014. I'm going to have to break my rule about birds on feeders yet again! I'm showing the Bullfinch because it's possibly one of my best ever portraits of this species - if it hadn't have been for the feeder! The Brambling has to be included 'for the record'. The Long-tailed Tits have visited more frequently than we're used to at this time of year.


Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - our garden
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) (female) - our garden
Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea ssp. cabaret) (female) - our garden
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - our garden
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - our garden
1st February, 2015

I'm sure that Wren is present in our garden far more frequently that we see it. It's shown a few times recently, and on this day it emerged from within a low-growing Hebe (see first image) and then sat on top of a statuette of a Barn Owl (just 3 metres from me) for about three seconds before moving on.




Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - our garden
2nd February, 2015

On Monday, between sessions of preparing our downstairs cloakroom for the fitters coming the next day, and loading files and software onto my new PC, I took a few photos of the garden birds. Redpolls had been visiting regularly, peaking at three birds on this day (1 male, 2 female) but, sadly, not seen since. At least I managed an image of the colourful male on a twig! Goldcrest put in an appearance, and I managed some images of that bird too. The first Goldcrest image, from my study, is taken at about 4 metres range. The subsequent two, from our conservatory, are at about 9 metres range, so I was pleased to get usable results of this tiniest of UK birds.

Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea ssp. cabaret) (male) - our garden
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba ssp. yarrellii) - our garden
Great Tit (Parus major) - our garden


Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) - our garden
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - our garden
3rd February, 2015

The light was far better, and I was better prepared for the Goldcrest when it arrived - same 9 metre distance through the conservatory glass, but improved results.




Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) - our garden
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - our garden
That's all from my garden for now. My next post will be very very much shorter and give an update on the Little Owls!

Thank you for dropping by.

28 comments:

  1. Hi Richard.
    Looks like the powers to be,have sent all the best birds to your garden.
    These captures,are without doubt the very best garden birds,I've seen.
    Brilliant post.
    John.

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    1. Thank you so much for those very kind words, John. There are two downsides to having a good set of garden birds. The first is that it's sometimes too tempting to stay at home and gaze out of the window, and not venture into the outside world. The second is that I spend a small fortune on bird food! I have sixteen feeders in our garden and half of those are currently getting filled twice daily!

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  2. Wow stunning captures of all these lovely birds visiting your garden, I can not say which one I like the most each one is special.

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    1. Thank you, Roos. I do feel that I'm rather lucky!

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  3. Hi Richard You take my breath away by all these stunning portraits of the birds that visit your garden. Yesterday I took part of my bird class to a BTO courses in garden birds and tomorrow I have my own class for the group and we are studying BIrds of Prey. However if we have time, I hope you don't mind ifI show them your birds to see how many they can ID. Many thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Margaret. You're very welcome to use my images to show to your class.

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    2. HI Richard Many thanks. Is there an easy way to tell the different between a common Redpoll and a Lesser Redpoll. We don't get Lesser Redpoll here and I don't see Common Redpoll very often so it is quite difficult.

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    3. I'm not at all expert on Redpolls, Margaret. The birds most commonly seen in UK are Lesser Repoll (ssp. cabaret - i.e. a sub-species of Common Redpoll (if I understand correctly)). Common Redpoll (flammea) are visitors from Fenno-Scandia and are larger (and usually paler) than Lesser. I did wonder whether the male Redpoll in my post above might have been a Common rather than Lesser, but took the most likely for the caption. If anyone can tell me with any certainty, I'd be delighted to know! Sorry I can't be more help than that - - - - - Richard

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  4. OH my, what a post!!
    I am truly impressed with the number of birds you've observed in your garden, I am far from such a count!
    Your Bullfinch and Golcrest would be must for me!
    I know there are Blackcaps around, I managed some pics a couple of years ago but they never come to my feeder. I wonder what they are looking for at yours?!
    I was quite happy to see a male Hawfinch here but no Brambles this year.
    Enjoy what's left of winter, spring is 'round the corner!!!
    Keep well Richard!

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    1. The Blackcaps rarely come, but when they do, they go for the sunflower hearts.

      Most of the food consumed in the garden is sunflower hearts. I'm about to give up completely on Nyger seed as nothing touches it now (they've all switched to sunflower!). I only have 'mixed seed' in one of my 16 feeders (for the House Sparrows). The two peanut feeders are little used - I usually end up throwing half of the peanuts away. I use one particular (German!) make of giant fatballs and these attract mainly starlings and tits. In the harshest of weather I grind up peanuts which I mix with lard, and with this mixture I 'butter' a thick stick in the back of which I've drilled some pockets (the Blackbird, and first two Starling images were taken on this). I'm also currently putting out Hedgehog food daily - which attracts the Magpies!

      I'd love to see a Hawfinch again. I've only ever seen one on three occasions, but did manage some (poor) images on two of those occasions.

      Thank you for your very kind words, Noushka. Have a great week - - - - - Richard

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    2. Hi Richard,
      Many thanks for your reply :)
      I give peanuts in the shell and that attracts nearly every body from nuthatch to woodpecker to Great and Blue tits.
      I also give peanut butter when it is very cold and that goes within one day!
      Many appreciate goose fat too and as for seeds, only sunflower will interest all species, ground corn will please the fringillidae.
      Enjoy the coming week too, keep well :)

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    3. Hey!!!! Guess what???
      I got a Blackcap male too a couple of days after this discussion!!
      Ok, it's not the rarest of birds but as you say, they don't come easily to the feeders!
      I just posted my article and mentioned this post :)
      You must have brought me luck, wish the same could happen with the Goldcrest! LOL!!!
      Keep well, Richard :)

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    4. I've never tried peanuts in the shell - I might do that, Noushka. I understand that it's important not to give peanut butter which contains salt as it's very bad for the health of the birds. So far, the only saltless peanut butter I've found is very expensive and from a specialist bird food supplier. I'm not sure if goose fat is generally available in UK.

      That Blackcap came because of your hard work, and certainly not because I brought you luck - although I might have goaded you into trying harder.!! ;-} Your Blackcap images are amazing!

      Thank you for being an inspiration to me (and I'm sure to many other also) - - - - Richard

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  5. Hi Richard,
    I am quite fascinated by these great photos and impressions of it the result .. in my garden is the diversity not so great you look at those pictures always happy to
    regards frank

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    1. Thank you for yor visit and your kind words, Frank.

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  6. A truly impressive set of images Richard. Great to see you are getting Brambling and Lesser Redpoll visit the garden. The Greywagtail looks a very bold/confident individual. We have had a small flock (20'ish) Pied Wagtails using the college near me as a nighttime roosting site

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    1. Thanks, Doug. The boldness of our Grey Wag has given us some concerns - particularly as we're getting cats visiting the garden. It's a while since I've seen a flock of Pied Wags. I'm a bit worried that ours may have gone - not seen it today!

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  7. When you come back to us, Richard, you come back! What an amazing post with an array of garden birds to make us all drool. I think you could sell tickets and have people sit at your window! I think we all spend a fair amount on bird seed but the satisfaction we get from seeing our feathered friends makes it all worthwhile. Actually the activity at my feeders this winter has ben a bit spotty. There have been periods of great activity followed by short spells when hardly a bird came around. Like you I am about to give up on Nyger seed. The goldfinches feed from it occasionally but most of the other species seem to ignore it, and it goes mouldy fairly quickly. Miriam and I are both looking forward to seeing whatever birds are there in July and it's great to hear that you are still trying to lure back the Hedgehogs. Hope springs eternal in the Bauman breast! See you in five months. Best wishes to you and Lindsay.

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    1. The number of birds/species drops off in the summer, David, with probably only around 13/14 species a day at the time of your visit. Lindsay and I usually take about an hour (sometimes rather more) over breakfast in our conservatory every day, and this is when most of our sightings take place. I suspect that we'll be out in the field rather quicker than that when you're with us!

      I'm not giving up on the Hedgehogs. They'll be hibernating now but there's a chance that, if they get too cold, they'll wake up, look for something to eat, then go off to find a warmer home. However, sadly, there's been absolutely no sign of their presence since mid-September. Come April, I'll check the garden 'hogitat' for signs/corpses, but not before then as I'll not risk disturbing a hibernating hog. I'll possibly put in another hogitat or two also - we're both very keen to get them back.

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  8. Lovely images of your birds Richard! Well done for some great captures of the Goldcrest. I like the picture of the Goldfinch with the yellow background. I had two Siskins today on my feeders, the first I have seen this winter :-)

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I'll keep my eyes open for those Siskin!!!

      Best wishes - - - - Richard

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  9. So much to enjoy here! I savored each picture and accompanying narrative as I leisured over my coffee this morning. Thank you, Richard, for providing such an inspiring start for my day!

    That's an impressive list all from one's window! I'm quite jealous! Just thinking how much petrol I could save ----

    It seems you're new computer is working just fine. Hopefully, some day you will pry yourself from your comfortable conservatory and return to the wilds in search of new images with which to thrill us!

    In the meantime, I shall content myself with another peek at the astounding variety of birds located just outside your window!

    Cheers!

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    1. Thank you Wally. Your kind and cheerfull comments have brightened yet another dull dreary damp day in UK!

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  10. Just wrote a comment and it vanished!!! I thought to begin with that you had the same birds as we do. Well you have but a whole lot more. I have heard the woodpecker but only saw mild glances, We have had no goldfinches this year, very unusual, but I did see one gold-crest of which I did not get a very good picture, but a record at least. Saw my first wren here this year, and the usual sparrows, greenfinches, chaffinches, dunnock, blue tits and great tits. Not forgetting our single robin who has been more photogenic than usual this year. Also last year we had a sparrow hawk in the tree where I feed the little guys! Other than that we had little more and I am very jealous. Have a good day Diane

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    1. I too sometimes have strange things happen when I attempt to post comments on Blogger, Diane. In my case I tend to put it down to finger trouble, but I suspect that Blogger isn't entirely blameless!!!

      Keep up the good work with those garden birds, and enjoy the coming weekend - - - - - Richard

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  11. Oups !! Magnifique pictures !! indeed, These suppose a lot of time and patience ! just thanks for the partage ! (apologize for my bad english)

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    1. Merci beaucoup, 'MrPhilff', pour votre mots bons. - - - - Richard

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I'm pleased to report that the anonymous spam problem seems to be solvable without using word verification. I'm now just using the 'Registered Users - includes OpenID' option in Blogger settings, and I'm not getting any spam - touch wood! I've also not received any contact from people saying that they are no longer able to make comments.