Monday, 6 October 2008

Birds & Butterflies.

The garden as usual is busy with activity, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit which are all regular visitors are now joined by small numbers of Greenfinch, 2 or 3 Goldfinch, 2 Coal Tits, 2 Robins, 3 Blackbirds and a single Dunnock. The evergreens next to the cottage are still occupied by at least 3 Goldcrests and a small flock of Long-tailed Tits has been seen on a number of occasions.

2 Nuthatches are now daily visitors along with 2 Marsh Tits, it's taken me sometime to see both Marsh Tits together as they rarely sit still for long and after taking food from the feeders disappear over the hedge and out of sight. Within 30 seconds they are back at the feeders making me think that they might be storing food somewhere nearby, quite a common trait but hard to observe.


Chiffchaffs have continued to pass through the garden throughout the month in one's and two's, 2 sat on the phones lines outside our bedroom window on the morning of the 5th Oct. I've certainly not seen this many pass through the garden before and I would estimate well over 25 individuals have been seen since the beginning of September. I've also watched some interesting behaviour with many of the Chiffchaffs that have turned up recently, one in particular that I've never seen before, let me explain. We have hedge 10ft away from the feeders which is also next to the living room window, birds often take there pickings from the feeders in to the hedge to eat them out of harms way. You can watch them closely as they tuck in to a sunflower heart and while their eating another group is visiting the feeders and so on and so on. As I'm watching a Marsh Tit in the hedge I notice a Chiffchaff about 1ft above it, the Marsh Tit flies out of the hedge towards the feeders with the Chiffchaff following swiftly in hot pursuit, the Chiffchaff being much more agile almost cuts the Marsh Tit off at the feeders and diverts him away, almost like a Kestrel harrying a Barn Owl for it's food. This happened continually with Marsh, Great and Blue Tit on numerous occasions. It's not a one off either as I have witnessed this with different Chiffchaffs on different days through September and in to October.

Great-spotted Woodpeckers can be seen and heard most days with 2 often around the garden and on the feeders, a single Green Woodpecker has been making the most of the damp weather and the many dug up lawns caused by the local Badgers, this has also been advantageous to many of the local Corvids with Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Rooks all searching for food in the upturned soil.


For much of the month 6 Mistle Thrushes remained around the garden and surrounding fields, often coming to roost in the trees near to the cottage and very seldom found apart. Early evening on the 30th an incredible 17 were counted on the telegraph wires next to the orchard, although a regular around the cottage I have never seen that many at once and can only assume that some of these birds would be migrants.

Mistle Thrush

A male Sparrowhawk was successful in plucking an unsuspecting Blue Tit from the top of the feeder pole early morning of the 26th, poor fella didn't see it coming and it was all over very quickly, after holding it's prey whilst perched in a tree outside our cottage the Sparrowhawk flew off. This doesn't happen too often here despite the Sparrowhawk making regular attempts. Both Red Kite and Buzzard are still daily sightings with 2 off each often circling the fields. Although I haven't seen a Kestrel in or around the garden for awhile there does seem to be good numbers about nearby with one's and two's being seen perched on telegraph poles throughout the Hambleden valley.

A Tawny Owl perched in the trees outside the cottage was an added bonus last night (5th Oct), catching it out of the corner of my eye it was sat no more than 6ft away from the car as I drove in. A really fantastic view with the outside house light showing it's beautiful markings, it stared at me and I stared back, not knowing who was more shocked me or the Owl, it was all too much for it to take and it flew off. Our Little Owls are vocal but seldom seen at the moment

The few good days of warm sunny weather have brought a number of Butterfly sightings, i have to say that i really know little about Butterflies but have started taking more notice of them over the last couple of years. Seeing both male and female Purple Emperors within a month or so of each other last year was certainly an incredible moment. The Speckled Wood was seen on the 28th September and the Comma and Red Admiral were seen on the 2nd October.

Comma (Polygonia c-album)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

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