Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas at The Willows

Christmas Day, and we're just back from a long walk around Ibsley and Rockford Commons - bitterly cold and still lots of snow (and more ice) on the ground, though a thaw is promised early next week. The birds certainly need it - lots of evidence of struggle against the elements in the last few days, not least in the garden.

Yesterday there was an absolute feeding frenzy - the birds have really hit panic stations with the snow turning to ice in the last couple of days, especially the thrushes. Absolute minima in a concentrated 10 minute garden watch were: Reed Bunting 14, Fieldfare 7, Redwing 5, Song Thrush 9, Mistle Thrush 2, Blackbird 18 (5 thrush species in a binocular view not 10 feet from the window - roll on that Naumann's....!), Chaffinch 35, Brambling 15, Greenfinch 25, Goldfinch 4, Redpoll 2, Robin 6, Blue Tit 10, Great Tit 6, Coal Tit 1, Long-tailed Tit 4, Starling 8, Nuthatch 1, Great Spotted Pecker 1, Wren 2, Dunnock 3 (there's a shock...), Jay 1, Rook 2, Jackdaw 2, Moorhen 2, Pheasant 1, Collared Dove 2, Wood Pigeon 1, plus Buzzard, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Gadwall, Mallard and Goosander as flyovers - blinding birding with hot coffee and a mince pie. And higher counts still at other times for some of those species, notably Brambling (22), Fieldfare (18) and Redwing (11).

By night, we've had Tawny Owl and Fox, plus a surprise visit from a mystery long-haired black cat, which put our lot on panic stations! We've also been able to do some slightly more serious photography in the garden - see below....


Blue Tit



Reed Bunting

Male Chaffinch

Female Chaffinch

Male Brambling

Mistle Thrush, defending his Cotoneaster stockpile


Song Thrush

Male Blackbird

Female Blackbird

Grey Squirrel

Arch-nemesis of all the above.
Actually, Fionnbharr never catches any birds!

The reserve has also been exciting of late - 4 Waxwing, a hunting Goshawk, a Raven near the Mute Swan carcass, but of course far less open water so fewer wildfowl. Goosander now at "only" about 130 at dusk (only!), and rather fewer gulls, although a higher proportion of Common Gulls, as ever in cold weather here. Still lots of Yellow-legged Gulls (mainly adults), and a really good look at an adult Caspian three nights ago - followed by not one but TWO adults the next evening, all from the Lapwing hide. And while looking fruitlessly for the Bittern at Ivy North yesterday, we managed to get great views (and a rubbish photo) of the two Bearded Tits which have been present for a week or two now:

The female Beardie at Ivy Lake

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