The garden has been busy especially in times of very cold weather, Still no sign of Brambling and Siskin in the garden as we have seen in previous years but with temperatures dropping and snow covering the fields and surrounding countryside there's always the possibility of something turning up.
Regular sightings of Blue, Great, Coal, Marsh & Long-tailed Tit. Wood Pigeon, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Chaffinch and the odd Greenfinch,(a large flock of 40+ Greenfinch has been seen on numerous occasions at the top of Shogmoor Lane), a Treecreeper returned to the garden and was seen briefly climbing tree trunks before it flew off towards the trees in the orchard. Both Red Kite and Buzzard are daily sightings as are large flocks of corvids, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw and Magpie all present in large numbers feeding with Black-headed and Common Gulls in the surrounding fields. A Raven was seen and heard in early February flying south-east over Hatchet Wood and perhaps one of the birds that has been seen at nearby Marlow Common. A Collared Dove that stopped in the garden in late January was a first, occasionally seen flying over they are not a common sighting around the garden but just 600 yrds down the road in Skirmett village can be seen sat on the overhead wires. Perhaps they just don't like what we have on offer, anyway the Dove stayed minutes before it flew off, brief visit to say the least!.
We still have a good number of Blackbirds in the area and numbers probably reach the mid twenty's , 3 or 4 visit the garden to see what's on offer with a particularly dominate female keeping the males in order. Both Mistle and Song Thrush are present in and around the surrounding fields and a small number of Redwing remain, only a few small groups of Fieldfare are in the area and are often heard but not seen. Our regular visiting male Pheasant has spent the last couple of nights roosting on the garden wall, i found him sat on the wall with his head tucked under his wing at 6:45am on the 3rd Feb looking rather cold.
The resident Little Owls are staying out of sight at the moment and are only seldom heard unlike the Tawny Owl which seems to have started calling from the top of the cottage chimney again. It obviously favours this spot as it has done for the past couple of years, as we have an open fire which is in use most nights through the winter I'm wondering if it uses the chimney as it knows it's going to be nice and warm.
The most exciting news came on the 1st February when my girlfriend told me she had just flushed a unusual bird from the orchard, she was walking through the orchard when a bird took flight in front of her and zig-zaged its way past the garden. Louise got a good view of the bird and after she told me this I sat her down and the Spanish inquisition began. what did it look like I asked?, to which she replied it was a dumpy wader looking bird with a long bill. I was intrigued and requiring more information I continued the questioning, where exactly did you see it? it was in the overgrown area at the side of the filed and it looked like a Woodcock as the bill was too long for a Snipe, I was taken back by her observations even though she has accompanied me on many of my birding adventures. Every year we go to Padworth, Berks on the TABCG Nightjar walk and often see this species a number of times as they rode overhead, we have also seen this species up close at Titchwell, Norfolk when on a Focus on Birds weekend trip with Tom McJannet we were gifted extremely close views of a single bird sat in the undergrowth next to the car park. I was disappointed at missing this very unusual sighting in the garden but have no doubt that Louise saw was a Woodcock and this would be proved the following day...