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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Garden Birds - March, 2015

I keep daily records of the birds visiting our garden ('back yard' to those from the other side of the pond), and March is usually an interesting month. Many of our winter visitors are starting to leave, and a few birds are passing through on migration. This has been a bit of a funny old year, however. We've had far less in the way of winter visitors - which seems to be the case countrywide, possibly due to less snow and more food than usual further north. Added to this, migration seems to be happening somewhat later than usual, probably due to cool, wet, and very windy weather. There have, nevertheless, been some highlights, although photography has been difficult, also due to the weather.

We usually only get a couple of brief visits by Treecreeper each year. This year we had Treecreeper visit us continually for a few days making us wonder if we were going to have a breeding pair. This bird was unsure of its own identity and ranged from Wallcreeper to Fencecreeper, to Sundialcreeper, to Patiocreeper, and occasionally Treecreeper. It also seemed to spend a lot more time horizontal than most Treecreepers. Sadly the last sighting was on 29th March.

Treecreeper\PCerthia familiaris) - our garden on 1st March, 2015

Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) - our garden on 2nd March, 2015
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) - our garden on 4th March, 2015
I've already publishes images of the aberrant orange Chaffinch that visited us on 2nd March. Here's a reminder. I kept an eye open for a few days, but didn't see it return.

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) (aberrant female) - our garden on 2nd March
Lesser Redpoll have been very thin on the ground this year, compared to previous years. We peaked at two on 3rd March. Here's a couple of images from that day. No, the second image has not been manipulated to any great degree!

Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis cabaret) (male) - our garden on 3rd March
We used to have regular visits by Grey Wagtail, and occasionally Pied Wagtail, in winter when we had the large pond, but their visits completely stopped when I filled in the pond over five years ago. Suddenly this winter we started getting regular visits by both species, usually in bad weather. The last recorded visit by Grey Wag was on 3rd March, and by Pied Wag on 17th March.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - our garden during its last visit on 3rd March
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba ssp. yarelli) - our garden on 4th March
We do, of course, have plenty of common birds in our garden. The Collared Doves, together with their relatives the Woodpigeons, are responsible for consuming most of the bird food in the garden.

Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) - our garden on 4th March
It's always delightful to see a Wren in the garden. They're probably there most days, but often missed due to their secretive nature.

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - our garden on 6th March
After eight days on holiday in North Yorkshire in the middle of the month, we came back to find some changes had taken place. Blackcap is a rather rare visitor to our garden with a record number of sightings (3!) in 2014. Amazingly, these have always been males. We'd already had 7 sightings in 2015 (Jan/Feb/Mar) before we went away but we came back to find we'd got a male in the garden for almost as much time as when he was away! It became exciting for us when he brought a lady friend on 17th March - the first female we'd ever seen in the garden! Things got silly, however, when on 25th, 26th, and 27th he arrived with two females. Sadly, on 28th, only a solitary female Blackcap showed. She showed again a couple more times and then she too was gone. Here are a few record shots.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) - our garden on 17th March

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (male) - our garden on 22nd March

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (female) - our garden on 25th March
For the past two years we've had a pair of Stock Doves visit our garden at the beginning of June. This year they turned up early (on 17th March) and are still visiting. I really must try and get some decent images which show the fabulous iridescence on their necks.

Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - our garden on 17th March
I'll finish off this post with some images of our more common, but nevertheless cherished, visitors.

Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - our garden on 20th March

Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) - our garden on 20th March

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - our garden on 20th March
Magpie (Pica pica) - our garden on 25th March

Coal Tit (Parus ater) - our garden on 27th March
That's all for the March garden birds. April is already a different month birdwise, with late Brambling and Siskin showing up, and Reed Bunting making welcome visits.

Thank you for dropping by. I'm not currently sure what the next post will be - possibly back to the owls!


  1. What a treat to get a Fencecreeper in the garden I've never seen one on the ground either. The Blackcap images are brilliant as is the silhouette Redpoll it's definately my favourite. I'd be happy with either Blackcap or Redpoll drop in. Great set of images Richard

    1. Yes, Doug, that Treecreeper did seem to behave somewhat out of character!

      The silhouette Redpoll is definitely a case of a mistake turning out to be, in my opinion, interesting. I'm glad you agree, as I nearly didn't include it in the post!

      Thank you for your kind comments. Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. What a brilliant selection of birds in your garden especially the Treecrepper.

    1. Thank you, Margaret. I did enjoy having the Treecreeper visit us. I hope we get a return visit.

      Best wishes - - - - Richardf

  3. What an amazing collection of Garden birds,loved every single one of them,my favourites are Treecreeper followed by Lesser Redpoll,would love to have them in our Garden, or on my patch.
    Outstanding post Richard.

    1. Thank you, John. We do get a lot of enjoyment from our garden birds. Sometimes I think I spend too much time watching them instead of getting out and about!

      BTW - have been getting the odd opportunity to use the Sigma 50-500 for 'macro' images. So far I'm impressed. First lens I've had which has enabled me to see clearly that Comma butterfly has hairy eyeballs! I'm looking forward to trying it on dragons and damsels later in the year.

      Best of luck to you both - - - - Richard

  4. Hello Richard, a real bird party at your garden. Such variety. Yesterday I was out and saw so many black caps and for the first time a female as well. The song of this bird is so beautyful. The photos you took are stunning.
    Have a nice day.

    1. I agree, Roos, the Blackcaps do have a beautiful song, even if the tone is a little harsh. Blackcaps are not rare here, but I don't see many of them. It sounds as if they are a lot more common in your area.

      I look forward to more of your wetland images.

      Enjoy your weekend - - - - - Richard

  5. Beautiful, beautiful and beautiful... I have not so many birds in my garden :-)
    Warm greetings!!!!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. We are very lucky to have a good selection of birds in our small suburban garden.

  6. Some fantastic photos here. Well done Richard. We missed a few birds this year but we did see a few new ones as well. Keep well Diane

    1. Thank you, Diane. It can be sad to see some birds disappear from the garden, but there's always excitement and delight when a new species appears!

      Have a great weekend - - - - Richard

  7. Not sure I ever heard or saw such a wide selection of birds in anyone else's garden Richard, well documented and illustrated. The Treecreeper displayed some very odd behaviour, I've honestly never seen one other than in a tree before and rarely still for one minute.

    1. I do feel rather privieleged to have a good bird count in our small suburban garden, Pete, but I work quite hard at it - i.e. I put out a lot of food, ensure there's plenty of water, and generally try to keep the garden as bird friendly as possible. However, I'm aware that there are plenty of people out there that get far more spectacular results in their garden than I do!

      Wishing you all the best for the weekend - - - - - Richard

  8. I had a Treecreeper in my garden a few weeks ago for the first time, it was only a brief visit. I have seen another picture of an aberrant orange Chaffinch posted by a lady, it was on my FB. The bird was the same colour as yours. It maybe more common than we think.

    1. So pleased to hear you too had a Treecreeper, Linda. They're delightful to watch.

      At this rate, one day all Chaffinches may be orange!! ;-}

      Best wishes for the coming week - - - - Richard

  9. It's a wonderful array of garden birds, Richard, all well-photographed. One of the great things about being a birder, or a nature lover in general to be more precise, is that even when one is confined indoors for whatever reason, a mere glance outside the window brings great joy. Tell all,of these avian gems that in the garden or not, I expect them all to come and see me in July!

    1. Hi David. I hope you're having a wonderful time out west!

      Sorry, but there are some species shown in this post that will definitely not be in my garden at the time of your visit. However, we might well catch up with them when we visit the frozen north!

      Whilst on the subject of garden visitors, I've got a small suspicion that we might be getting occasional visits from Hedgehog again. Lindsay's just today agreed to buy me a trail cam for my birthday which she's said I can have early (yep, she's pretty wonderful!). This will probably get ordered tomorrow and set up in the garden soon after delivery so that we can check on the situation. I'm still putting out Hedgehog food each night, but the Magpies, and now the Blackbirds, have found it when it's still there in the morning!

      My very best wishes to you both - - - - - Richard

  10. Hello Richard,
    I see you are having as much fun with Tree creepers than I with the wrens!! LOL!
    You have a number of brilliant shots and close-ups of it along with Blackcaps, Coal tits and... all of them finally!
    Oh yes, we miss our little Oz family already and we will definitely try our best to sell our place but it's not easy.
    Right now I am battling with OZ birds ID's, the web does not deliver info that easily!!
    Kind regards, enjoy your day :)

    1. Thank you, Noushka. I wish you all the best of luck in your efforts to sell your place in France. I know that you've been hoping, for a long time, to make the move to Oz.

      Do you know of Stewart Monckton - a Brit living in Oz? He's a keen birdwatcher and photographer and he may be able to help you with the IDs. There's a link to his blog on mine - look for Wild Bird Wednesday in the right hand column. I don't have his e-mail address but I'm sure you could contact him through his blog - a really nice guy.

      Sorry not to have replied before now - major software corruption on my PC - had to take it in to have Windows reinstalled!!

      Best wishes - - - - Richard

  11. Jealous! Brilliant photos of amazing birds. I especially love the Black Cap. Very nice bird. And your first one of the TRCR is awesome! I love those birds. Very unique in look and habit. Thank you for sharing your feathered friends. It's always amazing what the bird feeders in our yards will attract. It still surprises me!!! I had a Merlin show up this year which was a first for my patch. And the Wren is a Winter Wren? Have a fun weekend! Chris

    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Chris.

      I'm very jealous of you having a Merlin in your yard. Amazing!!

      In UK Troglodytes troglodytes is just known as 'Wren' - 'cos we have no other. It's a bit of a national symbol and used to appear on our farthing coin when we had one (a farthing was a quarter of an English penny) - small bird, even smaller coin! However, to answer your question, yes, elswhere the bird is known as Winter Wren. Why the 'winter' epithet, I'm not sure. Maybe because it skulks in bushes and is, therefore, easier to see in winter when the leaves are off the bushes?

      Sorry not to have replied before now - major software corruption on my PC - had to take it in to have Windows reinstalled!!

      Best wishes - - - - Richard


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