Category Archives: Watching Birds

BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH – MY RESULTS

This morning I took the easy way to birdwatch – through my kitchen window.

It is a really good way to birdwatch as birds just ignore any movement inside the house.

I saw

2 blue tits

 

Blue Tit near my garden
Blue Tit near my garden

1 Rook

Rook at my bird feeder

Rook at my bird feeder

 

8 blackbirdsBlackbird

1 robin

 

Robin in winter
Robin in winter

 

3 chaffinches

4 thrushes

4 doves

1 seagull (walking with a limp)

21 tree sparrows>

1 dunnock

1 wren

5 starlings

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My problem is that I found it hard to make sure theywere all tree sparrows.  Does everyone know the difference.  I haven’t submitted my sightings yet so don’t know if RSPB do distinguish between house and tree sparrows.

I saw a fleeting glimpse of a bird and was not sure if it was a wren or a dunnock.  Later on I saw one wren and then a little later a dunnock.  But it is difficult to distinguish between some birds isn’t it?

 

Fieldfares and Redwings – sightings in gardens

There seem to have been a lot of fieldfares and redwings seen in gardens recently. 

The frozen ground has made it impossible for them to feed in the fields where they usually feed.

As usual, when the going gets hard birds head for the gardens, for urban areas, for places where there is food.  Here are some comments from people.  Thought you may be interested

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Sue on January 7th, 2010 Gosport, Near Plymouth  

I have been amazed today of a flock of birds i have never seen before, they were eating the berries from a tree opposite my house, i couldnt make out there markings at first but later on i was in the front garden and they came back to get the last of the berries and i saw them clearly.

i came in and looked them up in my Hamlyn bird book and found they were Fieldfair.Which is a large Thrush. There must have been about 30-40 birds, in my book it says they come from Europe and that small numbers have colonized britain mind you this book was printed in 1978. 

RAY said, on January 8th, 2010 

LIKE YOU I SAW DIFFERENT TYPE OF BIRD ON MY HOLLY BUSH SO CHECKED MY BIRD BOOK AND FOUND THEY WERE REDWINGS. AMAZING.

Phil said, on January 8th, 2010 

Likewise, 5th Jan flock of 20 birds arrived on tree, rear garden. (Belfast Northern Ireland). Never seen the breed before. However identified on the 7th as ‘Fieldfare’. They stayed for 3 days from first light to dusk. It would seem that the flock have now moved on.

Trish said, on January 9th, 2010

Hi Sue, How lucky you caught sight of these birds. I would imagine that the frosts and snow have ‘locked’ up a lot of their food in the ground so they have to be braver and come nearer to us humans.

Some Fieldfares come from Scandinavia and are winter visitors and migrate to Britain in October / November. They don’t nest here. Other fieldfares are European fieldfares

Fieldfares eat animals and plants – so they eat worms or berries. Pleased your Hamlyn bird book is still useful. Trisha

Hi Ray, These bird books come in useful don’t they. So you saw Redwing. I believe they often join flocks with fieldfares

Hi Phil

It seems the freezing snow and snow covered land is making the search for food harder. At least these birds found some food. Feeding for 3 days that would do them proud. I wish them well in their travels!

Thanks for getting in touch. I’d like to hear more about any birds you’ve seen or how you come on at the RSPB Garden Birdwatch

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If any of you would like to visit my birdtablenewsforum. I have renewed this forum after having a short absence – as a place to get together and discuss anything birdy.

Trisha from birdtablenews

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mike on January 9th, 2010 

i  saw 4 redwings in the garden (well in the tree at the back). i have a number of feeding sites and nesting boxes around the garden which may have enticed them here due to the exteme weather conditions. i know they are a winter migrant and are not normally found in urban areas. is this an unusual situation as they have been here quite a while. 

mike on January 9th, 2010 

got the camera and cam corder set up – now counted 7 redwings – they are feeding off my fire thorn and also off the bushes of my neighbour but they always return to the tree in my garden.

Trish said, on January 9th, 2010 

Hi Mike, You have redwings as well. Your garden seems to be a life saver for them. I think the frosts and snow have locked up and hidden their food. I suppose to survive they have to go in search of food – and have found it in your garden. So the extreme weather conditions have driven them to your garden and to your food. Bird feeding does work and help birds survive the winter. Trisha
I have just restarted a birdtablenews forum where readers can meet and discuss. I have just restarted
http://birdtablenews.com/forums/

Helen said, on January 10th, 2010 

Hi there, I have been housebound for 3 weeks following an operation so with the cold blast we’ve had I’ve been enjoying feeding the birds. I have got a number of feeders in an old tree and have been getting the usual visitors, but I had been getting a solitary fieldfair for the past few days. He seems healthy enough and spends most of the time in my garden, I identified him online and was surprised just to see a solitary one as it seems to be usually sighted in flocks. Interesting to see other people seeing this handsome bird.

jim said, on January 10th, 2010 

HI Iwas looking though my binoculars at my bird feeder and notice the bird on it was a black cap. is this unusualfor this time of year 10/1/2010

Trish said, on January 10th, 2010 

Hi Helen, sorry you’ve been housebound. Hope you are recovering. On the plus side it has meant you have seen this fieldfare.

Yes it is interesting that other people have seen fieldfares. It just shows what a harsh winter we are having and how birds are having to change their habits to get food. The bird food you are putting out must be helping this solitary chappie and it must be helping him survive through to the Spring
I have a newish forum because I thought it would be a good place to gather together info and chat. If you’d like to visit this is the link
http://birdtablenews.com/forums/

Trish said, on January 10th, 2010 

Most blackcaps only visit in the sumer. But some blackcaps from northern and central Europe are staying here during the winter. Maybe this is because of the milder winters we have been having and the fact that there are bushes with berries and that we do actually put bird food out
I don’t think I have ever seen a blackcap. Will have to find out more about them. Wonder if you will see on on the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
I have renewed my forum called
http://birdtablenews.com/forums/
Let us know if you do see one, or just visit and note birds you’ve seen. Trisha

Ciaron said, on January 11th, 2010 – Rostrevor, Co Down

 I was surprised on Saturday 9/1/10 to see a strange bird searching through the undergrowth in my garden and amazed a short time later to see a flock of about thirty feeding on nearby hedges. I identified these as Redwings and then observed some Fieldfairs nearby. I have never seen either of these birds before. Whilst coming off Knockshee Mountain on Sunday afternnoon I came across 4 Lapwings feeding in the Kilfeghan area of Killowen, Co. Down. All in all it was a good weekend for watching birds!

Trish said, on January 11th, 2010 

Hi Ciaron, How exciting to see a strange bird in your garden. So you have seen a flock as well. You will see from the comments that there are a few fieldfares and redwings in gardens.

It’s true that gardens are a haven for many birds. As I’ve said before the frost and snow has locked up their food so they have to find food elsewhere. Hunger must make them brave.

Lapwings as well – you are lucky.

Will put this information on my birdtablenews forum http://birdtablenews.com/forums/

Am wanting to keep all these sightings together. It’s something new I’m doing – feel free to visit.

Molly said, on January 12th, 2010 Devon

Hi
i have been watching the birds in the garden, and getting ready for the 2010 Bird watch campaign. In the last 3 days i have been visited by a family of 3 red-wings and to my surprise 2 Fieldfare, but within hours of the visit from the Fieldfare i looked out of the window to see at least 10 Feildfare or could have been 12, sitting in and old dead tree in the garden, what a shock!. As they are fruit feeding birds same as the Redwing and i don’t have berries or fruit in the garden, does this mean they were just passing or do you think they will pop in again? I was so pleased at seeing them, and did consult my books before i decided to write, but i am definate it was Redwing and a large family of Fieldfare, 

Trish said, on January 13th, 2010 

Hi Molly, I’m so pleased you decided to write.
You say you come from Devon. Is your part of Devon covered in snow because I think the redwings and fieldfares food is locked in under the snow and ice. The soil is covered in snow and so they cannot get to any worms etc. This means they have to search further afield for food and cover.

Looks like one or two have come first and then passed the word on that you have a good garden!

Redwings and fieldfares do flock together. Fieldfares and redwings eat animals and plants – so they eat worms or berries and fruit, If you put out some cut up apple or pears. They eat Pyracantha berries off bushes and hawthorn berries as well.

If you do put out any fruit it’s best to cut it up small first. I’ve also heard that they have been seen eating ground blend bird food.

Trisha

PS I think it’s a good idea to watch birds a while before taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch – gets you used to timing the hour and actually counting birds.

Mike said, on January 14th, 2010 

Trisha

we have a pair of fieldfare disputing rights to my garden. My wife takes an active interest in our bird population, but I have been cool about it until my recent retirement. the fieldfare arrived about a week ago and immediately pounced upon the apples that my wife puts out daily for our resident blackbirds. sadly, our blackbirds are now paranoid about the fieldfare who sees them off at the drop of a hat. They also charge at our smaller birds who are posing no eating threat to them and we are getting concerned about their wellbeing. Not sure what to do.

Mike Bristol

Ps 2 of my daughters, one local and the other in Uxbridge have identical situations so there is clearly a large number of fieldfare in the UK.

Trish said, on January 14th, 2010

Hi,
Fieldfares would usually be out in the countryside but their food is locked under the snow and ice so to survive they are coming to warmer urban places.
Birds are competing for food which is in very short supply. Food is a life and death matter for birds as it is in such short supply – they seem to be competing fiercely – but they want to survive.

This is very unusual, but this is an unusual winter.

One idea is to spread the food around the garden. Perhaps we should buy a lot of English apples, cut them up small and scatter them on the garden so there is enough food for all the birds!

Every bird is fighting for survival this winter. I don’t think the population of fieldfares has increased I just think that they are coming into our gardens to survive.

They do eat seeds as well.

Trisha

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Tips, advice, sightings or just any birdy news welcome.

 

RSPB BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH 2010

The weekend of 30th and 31st January 2010 is the weekend of the  RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.  I’m looking forward to taking part.

It only takes one hour of your time either on Saturday 30th or Sunday 31st January 2010

All you have to do to take part in the RSPB Garden Birdwatch is record the number of birds you have seen in the local park or in your garden.  This is the way you do it –

RECORD

  • The highest number of each species you see at any one time
  • Only record the birds that actually visit the garden or park

DO NOT RECORD

  • Do not record the total number you see during the hour as some birds may visit the area you are watching several times.
  • Do not record the birds that fly over head

See it’s as easy as that.

This survey really helps to find which birds are declining.

This RSPB birdwatch survey  will show which birds are declining and which birds are finding it difficult to survive.  If we have that information we can all find ways to help them

This is our survey. Yours and mine.  Take part and help our birdlife

Click on the link below to pre-register –

RSPB GARDEN BIRDWATCH PRE REGISTER FORM

Swallows Still on the Wing in Anglesey

Swallows still on the wing, 15th November, Caergeiliog, (next door RAF Valley) Anglesey.  About 10 of them.

 Thank you Martin.  This is an interesting observation.  

Ten swallows can’t all be from a late brood can they?

Wonder what is keeping them here.  A warm climate?  Plenty of insects still around?

Please let us know when they disappear from your life! 

 

 

 

Winter – Birds Changing colour

A slow change in colour comes to some birds during winter.

They moult in late summer and gain a new set of feathers.  These feathers are often drab and plain as they are wearing their non-breeding plumage.

At the end of winter the tips of feathers wear away on some male birds and show brighter colours underneath.

For example – male chaffinches become brighter and have pink cheeks and blue heads.

This is why sometimes it is difficult to recognise birds as they ‘change colour’ at different times of the year.

Makes bird watching and feeding a bit more complicated and a bit more interesting.

Robin V Coal Tit

Thanks for sending this lovely description of bird watching and bird feeding. 

Early evening I watched as a coal tit kept trying to grab a sunflower seed from the bird table.

The table was occupied by a robin which kept chasing the tit away but the coal tit did not stop trying until it had got its sunflower seed. It just kept trying from different directions.

You think a robin is a small bird until you see a tiny coal tit next to one. This tit was not going to be bullied out of its supper.

I could have cheered out loud when it succeeded!

I noticed that the number of squabbling starlings has increased here over the past couple of days.

J

Eastern Crowned Warbler

The Eastern Crowned Warbler is normally seen in China and Indonesia but on Friday an Eastern Crowned Warbler was seen in the North East of England

It seems it is possible that strong winds have blown this bird off its normal course and it has ended up in the North East of England.  Hope it survives.  Another possibility is that this bird was born with its ‘navigation’ not working properly

It is very rare to see an Eastern Crowned Warbler in Britain and it has caused a lot of excitement in the Bird World. 

This bird is more than likely to fly when the stars come out – in starlight, so if this Eastern Crowned Warbler is sleeping during the day there may not be much chance of getting a photograph of it, which is a pity

Swallows that are late migrating, Eastern Crowned Warblers that have been blown off course. There is a lot going on amongst migrating birds. 

Some warblers can fly up to 8,000 miles in just a few days.

To have any chance to see such a rare bird you really do need a really good camera.  I would imagine a tripod would be necessary as well – to balance and steady the camera so you could get a good photo.

I find myself wondering what the Eastern Crowned Warbler eats. If it had been found in my neck of the woods I would be out there with bits food that may help it survive. 

I have been trying to get find a photograph of an Eastern Crowned Warbler.  If you click the link below it takes you to a lovely photograph of an Eastern Crowned Warbler

http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?action=searchresult&Bird_ID=1802

Bird Watching – a lovely description

This was sent to me in November, but am putting it on now.

 

I noticed that the number of squabbling starlings has increased here over the past couple of days.

This early evening I watched as a coal tit kept trying to grab a sunflower seed from the bird table.

The bird table was occuped by a robin which kept chasing the tit away, but it did not stop the coal tit from trying  until it had got its sunflower seed.  It just kept trying from different directions.

You think a robin is a small bird until you see a tiny coal tit next to one,  but this coal tit was not going to be bullied out of its supper.  I could have cheered out loud when it succeeded.  John.

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John, thanks for sending this lovely description and bird feeding