Sunday, 30 January 2011

Big Garden Birdwatch

I filled my feeders and tables with great hopes today ready to do my hour of 'Big Garden Birdwatch'.  Typically I am almost out of Black Sunflower seeds which are the favourite seed in my garden, ooops!  Note to self to get to the pet shop and buy more first thing tomorrow or there will be a lot of fed up birds out there. 

I spent an enjoyable hour with my pad and bins watching out of my back door (better all round views than in my study or kitchen)  typically the birds all buggered off somewhere just as I began but it wasn't a bad list.  There were some notable missing birds, for example where the hell are my Jays?  And only two Dunnock and two Chaffinch?  That's not normal.  I am sure they know it's "The day", it's a bit like when I used to carp fish.  You would go and check out the lake the night before the fishing season and there would be huge carp basking everywhere.  Come the next morning not one to be found.  You could sit there with your flask and sarnies all day and not get a bite.  But you just knew they were over in the reeds laughing at you "Stupid fishermen hahahahha"

I did learn a few things though.  Like its really hard to count Blue Tit and Great Tit in my Laurel tree cos it's evergreen and you just can't see how many there are let alone which species.  There was also a lovely moment where there were three Robins all sitting on one branch and the middle one, presumably a male showing off (don't they always) who threw back his head and sang his little lungs out.  It was enjoyable to do though and I think maybe (I did say maybe so don't hold me to it) I will do my own count once a month just out of interest to see how the numbers fluctuate.  Of course when I am not going to be submitting figures to anyone they will all be out tap dancing on the lawn!

The List, for anyone who wants to compare and gloat ....
  • Blackbird 5
  • Great Tit 5
  • Blue Tit 6
  • Coal Tit 2
  • Chaffinch 2
  • Robin 4
  • Long-tailed Tit 13
  • Dunnock 2
  • Pheasant 1
  • Wood Pigeon 1
  • Jackdaw 3
  • Crow 1
  • White Dove 10 (no I didn't submit that)

Friday, 28 January 2011


Bullyboy had been at it again today.  There were fisticuffs on two occasions, one I am sure was Singleton standing up for himself at last but I suspect that another skirmish was with one of Bullyboy's next-door neighbours.  They locked beaks and wings were flapping madly.  It was quite dramatic.  He really is a trouble maker and I can see him being issued with an ASBO if he keeps this up.  He is still nest building so I imagine Mrs Bullyboy has not laid eggs yet.  Maybe he will calm down when she has and he is bogged down with parental responsibility.

A candid 'through the net' shot of Bullyboy and his wife in their des-res penthouse. Note how he keeps an eye on the vacant plot bottom left making sure no one moves in.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Dovey obsessions

My doves are a very consuming pastime.  Every morning I go down to their little enclosure and have a chat with them.  I pretend its so they get used to my voice but really it's because they are the only one who will listen to my ramblings.  I try not to notice that they are in a net and therefore unable to escape.  They appear to listen very attentively and occasionally join in with some coo-ings of their own.  If all conversations were like that my world would be a nicer place!

They are also fascinating to watch.  Hairy Hubby and I are often to be found gazing out of the kitchen window at their antics.  There are three pairs nest building now.  I had a check today, the female birds looked at me most suspiciously and made me feel like a peeping tom!  I have been collecting nesting materials for them and popping it under the net when I feed them.  Doves make very messy nests from sticks and poop.  In fact the nests I have seen are really a poor excuse for a nest, almost like the male brought in some sticks and the female thought "What the hell does he expect me to do with these?  Oh well I will pile them all up in here to make him happy".  I can't tell if any eggs have been laid yet, not without standing on a stool but the last time I did that I fell of and still have the bruises so I will pass on that one.

They now seem to have a routine at roost time.  Everyone has their own place to roost.  Except one poor singleton that is.  He is always the last to try and roost, he sits on the lower perches around the base of the dovecote while all the pairs settle down.  Then you see him psyching himself up to try for the empty roost hole at the front.  The problem he has is that every time he goes up to it the male from the next door hole chases him off.  I have no idea why this bully boy feels the need to defend two roost holes.  He has a mate in the one he roosts in but he just does not want anyone else to move into the other one.  Their performance goes on right till it is dark.  Singleton flies up to roost, trying to time it when Bullyboy is not looking, only to be chased back down to the perch again.  You can see Mrs Bullyboy rolling her eyes and saying "Come back to bed, dear"  I keep telling Singleton to stand up for himself but he is obviously a pacifist because he backs down every time.  I assume that once darkness falls he sneaks into the empty roost hole because if I look out on a moonlit night he isn't on the perch and there is nowhere else he could go.  Unless he shacks up with another single bird when no one is looking.  Or has a threesome with another couple but let's not go there!  I do feel sorry for him though, I suspect that when the net is removed he will be the first one to vanish. 

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Spring is arriving!

I have neglected my poor blog over the winter.  Now the New Year is here I feel more inspired to write again.  I am hoping to be allowed back in the wood in February which will inspire me even more!

I have some new additions in the garden.  10 white doves living in a dovecote at the bottom of the garden.  At the moment they are netted but after 6 weeks they can fly free and hopefully will not fly free back to Happisburgh where they came from!  Hopefully they will stay because they are starting to pair up and one pair are already building a nest.  Just think ugly little dove babies in the garden.  I adore dove and pidgie babies, they are the cutest ugliest thing you ever saw and so demanding.  When we have them at The Haven they go nuts every time you go near them, asking for food.  If you put your hand into the cage they peck between your fingers looking for food even if they have just been fed.  You have to love them.

There are signs of spring everywhere now.  It's so nice to think that the darkness of Mother Nature's rest time will soon be over.  Some days it has barely seemed to get daylight.  The birds are starting to sing again, all you can hear outside are Great Tit's going 'Teacher, teacher, teacher'.  The bulbs I planted last Autumn with the Grandkids are starting to come up.  I am really pleased because I planted about 200 but was prepared for none to come up because they were only cheapie ones from Wilkinson's.  Plus I suspect the kids planted half of them the wrong way up!  But I can see Crocus shoots under the Laurel tree and along the edge of the back garden so some must be doing OK.  I also managed to get my first nettle sting of the year while clearing soggy fallen leaves from around the shoots so the nettles must be coming up again too!

I noticed a Blue Tit checking out one of the nestboxes my late father made.  If they only nest in one box I hope it's in one of his two.  He used to make them for the local RSPB group to sell at meetings to raise funds.  Actually he used to make them for everyone, he must have made hundreds in his time.  I often wonder how many are still around.  He will have been gone 20 years in June but to think that his beloved birds might still be nesting in some of his boxes is a nice legacy.  I have several boxes out now, including my posh one that my friend Gill gave me last year which became home to the Hornets for a short while last summer and a couple of new ones that Hairy Hubby has made recently...and put up, that's a shock!

I had a new garden tick today.  Typically not spotted initially by me.  I swear that Hairy Hubby is a secret birder, he often spots things out in the garden.  As I was in the study at the time I viewed the bird through my late father's binoculars which I keep on the window ledge for such emergencies.  My own bins live on the kitchen window ledge and seem to smell permanently of sausages because the Hairy one cooks so many for sausage sarnies.  Anyway, I digress.  It was nice to see a new bird through Dad's bins.  Not nice in a visual way because they are crap but nice in a sentimental way.  Maybe he looks down and sees through them with me occasionally.  Anyway it was a fine male bird with a neat black cap and glowing breast.  He had flown off showing me his white rump by the time Hairy Hubby brought my own bins in for me to look through but I didn't really mind, I was just glad to have known he had visited us.