The month of December saw the usual visitors to the garden feeders, Blue, Great and Coal Tit were regular sightings feeding on Black Sunflowers as were small numbers of Chaffinch and Greenfinch. Blackbird numbers seem very high this year with at least 8 individuals been seen around the cottage and even more out in the fields, Redwing continue to be seen in one or two small groups of at least 15 birds and although Fieldfare seem to be thin on the ground two Mistle Thrushes are often in the fields and around the garden. Robin, Dunnock, Wren & Great-spotted Woodpecker have also made regular appearances.
The resident Little Owls have been very quiet and only seen on two occasions this month, I'm interested to find out if they are using a nestbox I put up for them but signs don't look too promising. Tawny Owls are still calling on most evenings and during the few days before and after Christmas an individual was calling from the cottage roof in the early hours, probably perched on the chimney warming itself up during the chilly evenings. Another single bird flew through the paddock and straight passed me one early evening as I collected wood from the shed, it always amazes me how quiet these birds are as they fly and I got a fantastic view as it flew through the beam of the outside light. You can't buy moments like that and I guess that's what makes wildlife so special, unscripted is probably the best description.
The eve of Christmas Eve bought an unexpected but very welcome visitor as I was glancing out of the window at the feeders, a flash of Blue darted towards the top of the feeder stand and there sat a Nuthatch. A nice change from the usual visitors and although not a unusual sighting in the garden there have been very few visits from them recently. Later in the day I heard a bird calling from the bushes next to the garden and rushed to the window in the hope that I might get a sight of a sporadic garden visitor, I waited for the bird to call again and suddenly heard "pitchoo", the sneezing call of the Marsh Tit and as I watched a single bird hopped it's way to the top of the bush. This is the first sighting I've had since August and they always liven things up a bit in the garden, I've often noticed that they are heard long before they appear at the feeders. Finally a pair showed throughout Christmas and on to the New Year. They often have a tendency to disappear for months at a time and due to them being in rapid decline it's always a relief to see them back in the garden and still about. I've been lucky enough to have this species as a garden visitor in two gardens I have lived in during the last 5 years.