Thank you to everyone that gave me kind words of encouragement on my last blog post featuring my first (protracted) steps into the world of leatherwork, which you can find here, if you missed it :-http://peglerbirding.blogspot.com/2021/01/wildlife-inspired-leatherwork.html. I have already started formulating ideas for my next project which will take me away from belt-making - a man can only use so many belts!
It is now time to get this blog back to wildlife, although opportunities are somewhat limited at present due to the highly critical state the UK finds itself in with regard to Covid-19, with the whole of UK in lockdown once more, and the English police dishing out heavy fines to anyone found away from home for leisure purposes. It seems that, although excercise close to home is OK, if you look as if you are enjoying yourself during the process, doing things like looking through binoculars, taking notes, taking photographs or taking a sip from a flask of coffee, it becomes leisure rather than exercise.
Herewith, my account of the first two weeks of 2021 - a year that I hope will turn out to be better than its predecessor for everyone.
Saturday, 2nd January
A light fall of snow, followed by freezing conditions at night, meant that I was constantly having to use hot water to melt the ice on our bird drinking stations. I suspect that it was a shortage of water elsewhere that brought a Pied Wagtail to our garden. You may find it surprising that Grey Wagtail has been far more common than Pied Wagtail in our garden in the past twenty or so years, with Grey Wagtail being an annual visitor but Pied Wagtail not showing most years. We used to have a large koi pond in the garden and this brought the Grey Wagtails, sometimes with their young. The pond was filled in more than 10 years ago now, with just a tiny part left as a bird bath. However, the Grey Wagtails kept coming (I think that there must have been some sort of genetic imprint), although their visits have become far less frequent with just one sighting in 2020, on 11th October.
|Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) - garden on 2nd January, 2021|
|Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (female) - garden on 2nd January, 2021|
A fairly unremarkable day as far as garden birds was concerned had me taking a visit to nearby Hicks Lodge. This can be a useful place for birdwatching, but my other reasons for visiting were to see how busy it might be with people, now that our open spaces are being overrun with visitors, and also to see if the new parking app on my phone worked.
The parking app worked fine, but what they didn't say, until after you booked, was that they load another 18% onto the standard parking fee.
I did see some birds, although nothing of great interest, but I was most put off by all the people who were ignoring social distancing, steaming on along the centre of the path and leaving me to side-step into the muddy land to the side of the path to avoid them - and not so much as a thank you from even one of them. I shan't be returning in any great hurry.
Here, however, are some of the birds that I encountered, photographed mainly to give some exercise to my shutter button finger.
|Greylag Goose (Anser anser) - Hicks Lodge|
I had never noticed the attractive shape a Coot's facial 'shield presents when looked at head-on!
|Coot (Fulica atra) - Hicks Lodge|
|Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) - Hicks Lodge|
|Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - Hicks Lodge|
|Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) (male) - Hicks Lodge|
|Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Hicks Lodge|
|Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) - Hicks Lodge|
|Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (male) - garden on 5th January, 2021|
|Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - Staunton Harold Reservoir|
|Greylag Goose (Anser anser) - Calke|
|Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) - Calke|
|Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) - by Staunton Harold Round Car Park|
|Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) - Staunton Harold Reservoir|
|Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - by Staunton Harold Reservoir|
Other than one female birdwatcher who apeared from a side-path as I passed, and who seemed intent on breaching the social distancing guidelines, it had been a walk that had been useful, and filled me with confidence for future visits. Little did I know that, within a few days, there would be reports of police dishing out £200 fines to people from my home town visiting this very same area - less than 4 miles(6 km) away - as being too far to travel from home for exercise!
|Siskin (Spinus spinus) (male) - garden on 6th January, 2021|
|Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - garden on 6th January, 2021|
|Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) (female) - my 'local patch'|
|Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) (male) - my 'local patch'|
|Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) - my 'local patch'|
|Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (2xmale 1xfemale) - garden on 7th January, 2021|
|Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) - garden on 7th January, 2021|
|Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) (male) - garden on 7th January, 2021|
|Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) - garden on 7th January, 2021|
|Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) -garden on 8th January, 2021|
|Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - garden on 8th January, 2021|
|Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - garden on 8th January, 2021|
The first week of the year had been an exceptionally good one with 25 species of bird putting a foot down in our garden. These are shown on the summary section of my weekly recording sheet for Week 1 (4th to 10th January), as shown on the right. The previous week had resulted in 20 species visiting.
|Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (male) - garden on 11th January, 2021|
|Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) (male) - garden on 15th January, 2021|
|Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (male) - garden on 13th January, 2021|
|Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) (male) - garden on 13th January, 2021|
Many, even most, of the photos in this blog post have been taken in extremely dull, sometimes misty, weather, and some have had to be considerably post-processed to compensate for these conditions. I'm hoping for some brighter days soon, but the immediate future does not look too promising with severe rain and flood warnings in place for the next three days - fingers are crossed!