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Saturday, 10 December 2016

A Good Garden Day - 5th December, 2016

Great Spotted Woodpecker is not a common bird in our garden, and rarely visits outside of the summer months. We'd had just 45 sightings this year up until the beginning of December, with 42 being in the summer and 3 in October. We were, therefore, quite excited when a G S Woody arrived briefly in our garden whilst we were having breakfast on 5th December.

I'd not got my camera, and the light was awful, anyway, so no images were obtained.

After breakfast, whilst sitting in my study, I chanced to look up into the Rowan tree outside my window and spotted a Green Woodpecker. This is a garden 'life bird' for us! I only count birds that put a foot down in the garden. Sadly, it only stayed for a few seconds after I spotted it, and then departed. I only managed some record shots in that short time - my camera is always beside me when I'm at my desk, and usually 'primed' ready for action.


Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) (female) - our garden
Needless to say, from then on, I was keeping one eye on the Rowan. About an hour after the Green Woody, I noticed activity high up in the Rowan - there were three Mistle Thrush going for the berries. These were a first for the year. I've been keeping daily records for the garden since the beginning of 2009, and this is only the third year we've had Mistle Thrush - the others being 2013 and 2015. I rushed upstairs so that I could get a better view, and some shots, and the sun started breaking through just at the right moment. Although this bird was only about 8 metres away, I was shooting through double-glazing at an acute angle of around 30°, so the results are not as good as I'd have wished.

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - our garden
Whilst shooting the thrushes from upstairs, I suddenly noticed a Hedgehog coming away from one of our hedgehog houses (we have three). A hedgehog out in daylight is usually not a good sign so, suddenly, the thrushes became of secondary interest and I went down to investigate.

It seems that the hedgehog had suddenly felt hungry as it was grubbing around under the leaves. I put out some tasty morsels for it, some of which it consumed before heading to one of the drinking bowls that I put out for the hedgehogs. After a drink it headed back to its house. I did manage a few photos - it's not often I get the chance to photograph a hedgehog.


Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) - our garden
The hedgehog briefly stuck his nose out of the house a couple of hours later, but then seemed to settle down again. Since then this 'hog' has been behaving normally.

We have at least three hedgehogs which visit us on a nightly basis. They are not yet hibernating, but two of the three houses are now being occupied each night. I know this, as I have three 'trail cams' which are deployed each night, and checked each morning. I get a great deal of pleasure from watching these delightful creatures on movie footage each morning. I do not, however, go out at night and try to photograph them as I try to keep disturbance to a minimum.

Later on I took more shots of Mistle Thrushes from upstairs, but the light was not as good.

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - our garden
Lindsay and I were sitting having a cup of tea in the conservatory just before 15h00 as the light was starting to fade, when a G S Woody appeared again. Fortunately, because of earlier sightings, I'd got the camera sitting beside me, and I managed a few images. I was sure that the morning GS Woody had been a female, but now I'm not so sure. This second sighting was of a bird that was male, but with only a very narrow stripe of red at the back of the neck. I suspect that the first sighting was also of this bird, but I'd missed the red on the neck because of poor light.


Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) (male) - our garden
What a great day it had been (even if the photography had been mediocre) - not just one species of woodpecker, but two, with one being a garden 'lifer'. The Mistle Thrushes and seeing a Hedgehog in daylight being the icing on the cake.

The Mistle Thrushes are still with us, but probably not for long as the Rowan berries are now severely depleted - so no chance of Waxwings then!

I realised a few days ago that I'd not updated my garden list for the year for many months. That has now been rectified, and the current number of species is standing at 38, which matches exactly the figures for the previous two years - although the mix of species is somewhat different. I only need a Fieldfare or a Redwing (for example) to break my garden record. UPDATE: less than 12 hours after writing this a Redwing visited early on 11th Dec. Our record has been broken, and now stands at 39 species for the year - now where's that Fieldfare? UNBELIEVABLE!: less than 5 minutes after writing that, a Fieldfare arrived - now where's that Dusky Thrush? Come on, guys!!

Thank you for dropping by.

26 comments:

  1. I had just turned on my computer, Richard, when your blog post came through. I am sure it was exciting to see your first Green Woodpecker in the garden. Great series of pictures of the thrushes too, to say nothing of the familiar Great Spotted Woodpecker. Our backyard birds have been sparse of late, but we had snow overnight, and the feeders are full, so I expect activity will pick up. Love to you both, David

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    1. Thank you, David. I don't know if you saw the update at the tail end of the post, which I put on less than twelve hours after the original post. Today was still, and mild, although extremely dull, and we've had silly numbers of birds, including two more 'firsts' for the year.

      Love to you and Miriam (I hope she's better soon) - - Richard

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  2. Hi Richard, what a fabulous post with all the image from the garden, I regular hear Green Woodpeckers in the back but have only ever once got an image. Hedgehogs are a surprise at still being around. All the best and see you soon. John

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    1. Thank you, John. As mentioned to Daid, above, it got even sillier today.

      Hedgehogs, as I understand it, often don't hibernate until the end of December.

      See you Thursday, all thing being equal - - - Richard

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  3. Richard, your birds, Hedgehog, was brilliant. I love them all.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. It was an interesting day.

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  4. Well done Richard,never had Green Woodpecker in our garden,nor Mistle Thrush,what a great surprise,and the Hedgehog is a bonus,only seen one in our Garden,many years ago.
    Love your new Header,superb image.
    Take care.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. Added Fieldfare and Redwing to the garden year list today, so have broken our previous year list record by two species.

      Best wishes to you and Sue - - - Richard

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  5. Hey Richard :-) Wow Green Woodpecker!! My bird from the list are still missing one bird that I could get this full year target. Greetings

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    1. Yes, Anne, that woodpecker was a real surprise!

      My best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. Indeed a joy all of these different kind of birds in your garden Richard. But not only the birds but also the Hedgehog is wonderful. Tree houses you have for them. They are fortunate to stay in your garden.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos. Those Hedgehogs don't stay in our garden. They can easily roam a distance of up to 2km a night! We are just lucky that we have two which choose to come back to our garden each morning to sleep through the day.

      I hope that you are keeping healthy and warm - - - Richard

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  7. Just want to add Miriam's comment...."Sure now you have the hedgehog in daylight!"

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    1. Please tell Miriam that there is no hedgehog experience that beats sitting out in a chair in the Pegler garden after dark, long after the rest of the occupants have gone to bed, and having a Hedgehog trundle past one's feet. She was lucky enough to have that experience on a summer's night! ;-}

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  8. Super set of garden photos Richard. Quality shots.

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    1. Thank you, Marc. They look pretty silly when compared to the quality of images in your current dragonfly post!

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  9. It's a true indication of the sign of the times when we delight in seeing a hedgehog. I remember when you practically tripped over the little beauties. Pretty sad state of affairs.
    Great images of the GSW and Mistle Thrush, I'm seeing a lot of Mistle Thrush at the moment plus we found a Little Owl using the woods at my workplace along with a Tawny too!

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    1. It is a sad state of affairs, Doug. The increase in road traffic over the last half of the last century, and the loss of habitat to housing is largely to blame. However, another main cause of agonising death to Hedgehogs is the use of SLUG PELLETS - THEY SHOULD BE BANNED. Sadly lung worm has now started taking its toll too.

      We're very lucky to have Hedgehogs visiting us, but we have 'adopted' five rescue hogs over the past two years, so it's good to know that some are staying with us.

      That's super news about the Little Owl and the Tawny. Let's hope that the Tawny doesn't take a dislike to the LO!

      My best wishes to you - - - Richard

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  10. Lucky, lucky, lucky you :-) We do get the Great spotted woodpecker visiting our garden. I would love to have hedgehogs in our garden but because of where we live, nr a busy main road between Dorchester and Poole, there is not a hope of ever seeing one. We do have a Woodmouse, he gets onto the bird table each night, climbs into a dish with sunflower hearts and even trys to cover the seed with twigs, claiming the food for himself/herself. I do think it is important, more than ever now, that we make our gardens wildlife friendly.

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    1. It certainly was a lucky day, Lin, and the week ended on a real high too - almost certainly our best week ever for number of different species setting foot down in our garden. This week has got off to a good start too, with Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush already.

      I do try to make our garden as wildlife-friendly as possible, which is actually not too hard as part of that is to not have it too well clipped and polished!

      My best wishes - - - Richard

      I'd love to see that Woodmouse of yours in action. It sounds absolutely charming!

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  11. Hello Richard!:) These are very special sightings in your garden. It's so thrilling to see a new visitor. I regularly see the Great Spotted Woodpecker at our feeders, but have only seen the Green Woodpecker a couple of times, and these days hardly ever see a Hedgehog, but I was lucky enough to see the Mistle Thrush in our garden for the first time this year. Thank you for sharing your beautiful captures,..always such a pleasure to see.:)

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    1. Thank you so much for your very kind comments, Sonjia. I'm very lucky in that the Mistle Thrushes are still visiting, together with Fieldfare and Redwing, but today might have been the last day as our berries have almost all gone!

      Our Hedgehogs are still busy every night, but I expect them to hibernate soon.

      With my best wishes - - - - Richard

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  12. Hi Richard,
    beautiful species of birds come into your garden.
    now you could already 38 different counts.
    The green woodpecker is great to see. I only hear him but not see him. The great spotted woodpecker I see quite often. Mistle Thrush has also been a gift for the garden :-)
    The hedgehog feel welcome in your garden.
    I enjoyed all these wonderful pictures.

    Groejtes, Helma

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    1. Hello, Helma. Thank you for your kind words. I'm sorry that I took so long to reply to your message - I've been rather busy.

      Have a great weekend - - - Richard

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    2. Hi Richard,
      it does not matter because we all have once a busy period in which we have less time for the blog ;-)

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  13. It is always something to see a Green pecker and especially photograph it.
    Having you camera ready on your desk is a great idea!
    Congratulations on the number of visitors to your garden, you really made me laugh with your 'ad-ons'!!
    Lovely photos of the Mistle Thrush!
    Warm regards and enjoy you afternoon!

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