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Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Garden - September, 2017

It was a very strange September in our garden. Bird numbers plummeted mid-month, saving a small fortune in bird food but, overall, a disappointing situation.

Things started OK, with Chiffchaff and Long-tailed Tit showing from time to time. However, a Sparrowhawk was starting to make its presence felt. This, ultimately, resulted in the birds deserting the garden - which, at least, slowed down the predation rate.

Further disruption started on 18th September when heavy machinery moved onto the land behind our garden to start the groundworks for four bungalows being built. This work has now stopped because some clever person designed them so that one of them had a wall and kitchen window just 6 inches  (15 cm) from our next-door neighbour's 2 metre high back fence, and omitted to tell him that they'd need to take his fence down and put up scaffolding a metre inside his fence line. He was also told that when they dug the trench for the foundations, his fence would probably collapse into the trench. Naturally, he wasn't impressed, and the negotiations are ongoing!

The downside of this building work from our point of view is that, up until they started, we had up to five Hedgehogs each night coming into our garden through a hole in the back fence. Since the work started we're now only seeing one or two each night. I fear that some of them may have perished.

Three Siskin (females) and a Willow Warbler showed for a while on 16th September, but I didn't get any photos. Nuthatch put in an appearance the following day. Nuthatch and Willow Warbler visited the following week also. 

I did get some shots of the Sparrowhawk on 4th September.



Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (male) - our garden
Fortunately it didn't catch anything on this occasion as we had young Bullfinches around.

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (juvenile) - our garden
We occasionally see dragonflies flying in our garden but, as we no longer have a pond, they seldom land. However, on 20th September, a female Southern Hawker did land. Unfortunately it was high up in a mature Viburnum. Photography was not great as I had to stand on a stepladder 'no hands' on uneven ground! I shot off a few frames before the wobbles set in.



Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) (female) - our garden
 I went back a little later and it had slewed onto its side.

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) (female) - our garden
The next time I looked, it had gone.

We're hoping the building work recommences soon as when it's finished we can settle down and hope to get the wildlife back. In the meantime, fingers are crossed!

Thank you for dropping by. My current thoughts are that my next post will feature a more recent visit to the Kingfishers - I've waited years for them, and may never get another chance like these!

20 comments:

  1. Wow Richard I am so impressed with the photos of the Goshawk. I have only seen one here a couple of times and I only ever managed one shot. I am not really sorry as I love our little birds, but on the other hand I do love the birds of prey and they have to eat!!

    The photos of the Southern Hawker are also fantastic and even more so having to do a precarious balancing act.

    Hope that you have a great week, best wishes, cheers Diane

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    1. Thank you, Diane. If it had been a Goshawk I'd have been over the moon as I wouldn't be surprised if you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people that have had a Goshawk in their garden. This was just a common Sparrowhawk - but, nevertheless, a magnificent creature!

      I'm not good on ladders at the best of times, but the 'no hands' bit was a bit worrying, more out of concern for the safety of my camera!

      Have a wonderful week ahead - - - Richard

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    2. Lovely Sparrowhawk photos and what dedication to get that Southern Hawker set of shots. I don't think o would have tried that.

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    3. Thank you, Marc. I'm not sure I recommend the use of a step ladder - I'd certainly think twice the next time! However, I think that it's somewhat less hazardous than crawling on my belly through nettles and brambles like someone I know is inclined to do!!!!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  2. Hello Richard,
    a sparrow in the garden is already a great thing then to get still so beautiful photos that was worth it
    Greetings Frank

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    1. Thank you, Frank, for those kind words. Best wishes - - - Richard

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  3. Hi Richard! Great pictures! A few days ago, northern goshawk captured the flight barnacle goose! Dare to see if the goose got away, but it did not. Hawk got food. Best regards.

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    1. That must have been an amazing sight, Anne!

      With my best wishes - - - Richard

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  4. Beautiful Sparrowhawk, we get one in my garden, it is superb. My son put one up on 'GUEST PHOTO' in my other site. Also, you caught the brilliant Southern Hawker, fantastic.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. A Sparrowhawk in the garden always creates mixed feelings. I want to photograph it, but my wife wants to send it away before it catches a bird! They certainly are a very special bird.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  5. Hi Richard, I've had a similar problem of lack of small birds in my garden, perhaps I have got a sparrowhawk sitting in the trees at the end of my garden. Cracking pictures.

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    1. Hi Mike. We find in our garden that, once the Sparrowhawk starts making frequent visits, the other birds soon get wise and start acting with extreme caution or desert us. This usually results in the Sprawk leaving us alone for a few months before it starts all over again.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. To echo what everyone else has said, Richard, great shots of the Sparowhawk. I have seen one here in Slovenia, and I am amazed at the sheer numbers of Common Buzzard we are seeing. Perhaps they are not as persecuted as they used to be. Today we are going on a quest for Wallcreeper.

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    1. Thank you, David. Good to hear you found a Sprawk in Slovenia - I can't remember if we saw one when you visited UK in 2015. Common Buzzard seems to be greatly on the increase in UK and I'm convinced is a significant factor in the decline of the Little Owl.

      I do so hope you find the Wallcreeper today. In my ignorance, I thought that they were confined to the Iberian peninsula. I'd love to see one!

      With my very best wishes to you all - - - - Richard

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  7. Wow,super images of one of my favourire Birds,I would be delighted with these images if they were mine,you must be over the moon Richard,however the noise from the development next door,must have something to do with your Hedgehog and Bird visits.
    Love your Southern Hawker,maybe a new pond is in the air.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. The hedgehogs used to access our garden from the land at the back through carefully maintained holes in our back fence. The land at the back has now been totally ripped up by diggers and we are now only seeing one hedgehog, which seems to be getting into our garden by the hedgehog hole in our front gate. The work, however, has ground to a halt for nearly three weeks now while they sort out the planning cock-up. This has left deep water-filled trenches for the hedgehogs to fall into. It doesn't look good. Because the work has stopped, the birds have started to come back, however, and we are back to getting 14-16 species each day. We had 40+ Goldfinches a few days ago - an amazing sight!

      Best wishes to you both - - Richard

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  8. Love the sparrowhawk and its feet...Phwoarr :-)
    I cannot help but laugh at juvenile Bullfinch they really do transform into a better looking bird when they are adults

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    1. I know what you mean about the feet, Doug, but the legs are a bit skinny for my liking! I always used to sat that adult Bullfinches alway look pristine - except they are messy eaters. However, you should see the male adults that are visiting us at the moment - scruffy doesn't cover it!.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  9. Great photos of the Sparrowhawk, I won't get much of those anymore since I sold my property :(
    So I will enjoy your pics all the more!!

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    1. Thank you, Noushka. I hope that one day you will again have a garden that will attract a Sparrowhawk.

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard

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