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autumn bird watching birds garden wildlife wildlife

Late Arrivals

Our winter visiting Redwings arrived the latest ever this year. These migrant thrushes usually arrive late October and into November sweeping in in huge noisy flocks. They are very obvious arrivals but this year they have been more stealthy. They just crept in during December with the first appearing in our garden on December 11th. One or two Redwings at a time dropped in to lunch on the berries we grow for them, the Cotoneasters, Crab Apples and Sorbus. They soon discovered that one problem with arriving at the restaurant late is that some of the items on the menu have all gone. The resident Mistle Thrushes moving in from the woods had already indulged on the Sorbus berries and our Blackbird population had made inroads into the crop of “Butterball” Crab Apples and started dining on the Cotoneaster bushes. You can see from these photos that they were taken during heavy rain! It didn’t stop the birds from feeding though!

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One male Redwing seems to dominate, being larger and sporting much brighter markings. His eye stripes are striking and his speckled chest is covered in the blackest and biggest streaks and spots. He is featured in the final two photos of the set below.

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One thing we noticed as the berries started getting in short supply was that some House Sparrows mixed in with the Blackbirds and Redwings to gorge on the berries.

 

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We still haven’t seen any Fieldfares this winter. These winter migrant thrushes usually arrive with the Redwings. There will certainly be few berries left for them when they do come!

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bird watching birds garden wildlife wildlife

Garden Birds in the Snow

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Today the snow came! We had hoped for a snow-free winter but the weather defied us. We woke at 7:00 expecting a covering but we were gladdened to see not an iota of white stuff. Half an hour later it started and by mid-morning we were under a 3 inch layer.

The birds arrived in force queueing up at each feeding post. A flock of Fieldfare and Redwing dropped in as did the first Siskins of the winter.

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The garden was alive with Titmice, Blue, Great, Coal and Long Tailed and mixed flocks of finches, Green, Gold and Chaffinch. The Great Spotted Woodpeckers made regular forays from the old oak in the paddock onto our peanut feeders.

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The picture below was the best of a bad bunch – I have decided that trying to take a photo of a Blue Tit within the fine filigree of Birch branches is not easy!

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Blackbirds were far more amenable as they sat for longer and seemed to ignore this very amateur cameraman.

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The only time the garden was quiet today was just after the flypast of a Sparrowhawk, but hunger soon overcame fear. Back they all came.

It is essential that we all feed the birds throughout the year but even more so in the winter and provide fresh water. The birds benefit but so do our gardens as we help maintain the balance of nature. Some of the birds who use our feeding stations are also part of our balanced organic pest control.

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garden wildlife gardening

Sharing my coffee break.

Company at coffee time.

During one of my many breaks for coffee whilst gardening I was joined by this little chap. He stayed for a while – long enough in fact for me to fetch my camera and take his portrait. While I enjoyed my coffee he perched on the seat beside me being fed with chewed up Amelanchier berries provided by his mum.