Friday, 28 December 2012

Rook and Roll

Got a grip! (c.OOS)
Have managed 27 species in the garden, so far this winter.  Its not a remarkable winter, by any means: relatively mild and wet.  I coaxed a few crow species into the garden by spreading out kitchen scraps on the ground: this always attract crows: got them all on the list now, except Raven which often flies over this area, calling its deep resonant 'bark', on its way to roost in a nearby conifer forest.  Its interesting that Jackdaws and Rooks, whilst abundant in the stubble fields, prefer to remain in an agricultural setting rather than habitually visit a large garden.. quite the opposite of an urban experience I expect, where crows can be a bit of a nuisance around peanut feeders, learning to balance and feed in a small space.  Our Rook, though wet and bedraggled in the photo, showed some dexterity and exercised good 'roll control' to polish off a stale bread roll!

The Jays continue to visit early in the day, what handsome birds they are.  In response to increasing number of reports of jays in gardens from members of BirdWatch Ireland, I decided to contact our Bird Atlas coordinator, Brian Caffrey, for a sneak preview and Atlas update for Jay: the resulting report is quite staggering:

Comparisons between winter 1980 and winter 2010 show a  change that amounts to a net increase of 86% in Jay distribution in Ireland and a +26% change  over Britain and Ireland as a whole.  The change in breeding distribution was even more striking with a change of +94% for Ireland and + 27% for Britain and Ireland, over 20 years, comparing 1990 with 2010.

Jay: all has changed! (c. OOS)

Brian Caffrey will be reporting on the remarkable story in some detail in the next issue of Wings and we can look forward to the Bird Atlas publication appearing in the final quarter of 2013, a must for all the 2000 + volunteer participants who took an active part in the Irish effort.. We will also have very attractive pre-publication offers on the book, details over the next few months.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas past

It looks like we are going to enjoy a mild Christmas, all bets off for snow, so maybe a glance back at birds and weather a few winters ago might be fun:

Bird feeder scene, winter 2009 (c. OOS)

We haven't had Long tailed Tits to the feeders yet this winter, though they are to be heard making their way along the boundary hedgerow.. there are 7 birds in the picture above, I can almost feel the chill from looking back at that picture!

Greenfinch waits its turn (c. OOS)
Crisis? what crisis! (c. OOS)

Looking back, it was a lovely time to be in County Wicklow, as long as you were not expected anywhere soon...

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Berry, berry Christmas

Best wishes to all our bloggers , make sure you keep your feeders full over Christmas, and what about planting a few berry bearing shrubs or trees in the New Year?

Monday, 10 December 2012

Week one: Garden Bird Survey

Great start to the Garden Bird Survey: a cold and mainly dry week, conditions that brought a good selection of birds and in numbers too.

Week one: Best for us was a daily visit from a Jay, even managed a nice side lit pic in the willow tree, before it lodged itself onto the Peanut feeder.

Jay (c. OOS)

We have managed to attract 3 Goldfinches to the same peanut feeder: no Nyjer seed with us, so although that seed is a sure fire attractant for Goldies, you can get them with Peanuts! Incidentally, they have completely ignored the Teasel plants that have self seeded around, which is a bit surprising.

Goldfinch (c. OOS)

The Blackbirds (10 minimum) and Coal Tits (12 ) were the most numerous birds in the garden last week, but no sign of a real exotic such as Waxwing or Woodpecker.. not yet. Mind you, Pied Wagtails and a Bullfinch are a pretty smart looking support cast, the former feeding off the west facing gable end, where insects are still flying on sunny days. Bullfinches continue to reward the ‘lazy’ gardener: lots of weed and seed heads to forage through on our plot. A Sparrowhawk has the garden on its daily routine, it may have got a Blackbird on day one. Others on the margins of the garden are Long tailed Tits and a Treecreeper: once the call of the latter is learnt, they appear to be a regular enough visitor.

Coal Tit (c.OOS)

The only berries left in our garden are Ivy, and they’re not ripe yet, though they will no doubt be a very valuable food source when things get tough, the far side of Christmas: how gaunt and bare the old Elder tree looks now, it was festooned with bracts of shiny black berries just a few months ago ..

Pied Wagtail (c.OOS)

Friday, 30 November 2012

Garden Bird Survey: starts Monday 3rd Dec.

Most of us are well into the feeding routine in the garden at this stage: the cold snap has forced the birds into gardens in search of food, either fruit and berries (declining fast) or nuts and seeds from the feeders.

Robins will forage under feeders and clean up 
the mess after Coal Tits! (John Fox)

We already have an early winter pattern emerging: big numbers of Coal Tits, sometimes 10 or 12 swapping places and turns on the seed and nut feeders.. though the smallest of the tit species they certainly know how to get about and fight their corner.  Also numerous with us are Blackbirds and a Chaffinch flock that builds up as long as the seed feeder is kept topped up:  keeping feeders operational is difficult enough in the winter, I leave the house in darkness and return in the same conditions!  The Coal Tits can empty a standard seed feeder in about 3 or 4 hours, so it is usually the weekend when Chaffinches build up in numbers. 

 I am still hopeful of witnessing a Woodpecker in the garden, they are recorded within a mile or two of me on two or three sides, so come on down!!  I have deployed  a hanging feeder full of fat balls to attract them: it wont go to waste anyway and a drum of 50 fat balls was only €11.00 from the BirdWatch Ireland shop.  We have never stocked such a wide variety of seed mixes in BirdWatch Ireland, all in better value quantities such as 12.5 kg sacks, and we can deliver overnight by Fastway couriers..

Brambling: a winter male (c. Shay Connolly)

A few exotics to look out for this winter are, Waxwings.. the subject of the last post, and being reported by excited observers around Dublin, Wicklow and Meath at the moment.. Another bird more typical in northern and central Europe is the Brambling:  a delightful finch, not unlike a Chaffinch,  a species it often associates with.  Bramblings a bird that winters in often huge numbers in forested areas of Europe where Beech trees and Mast (seed) is a great favourite and staple.  Again a crash in food availability and the flocks move onto fresh pastures, or forests.. Bramblings will come to mixed seed feeders and any food spread about at ground level.. those marauding Coal Tits will do a job for you there, spilling as much as they take!

I am sure you will have an enjoyable experience feeding the birds in your garden, enjoy the brightest things in the winter garden and let us know how you get on and what visits your patch.. The survey forms can be filled out online at the BirdWatch Ireland website.. its a 13 week season and a Schools version is also available for the first time,this winter.

Brambling, showing off russet plumage tones, and there's
 a white rump in flight  (c. John Fox)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Waxwing Winter

One of the most exciting and exotic birds you could hope to see in your garden is the Waxwing..

They are not such a long shot to make an appearance in your garden either: they are quite nomadic in nature, especially so if their food supply dries up on their home ground in Scandinavia.  Although they are insect eaters during the breeding season, the staple diet for the winter months is berries: the redder the better: Rowan, Hawthorn, Rose Hips, Cotoneaster..So if you have planted well, you might be in for a treat.

Rose hips: a feast on a bush (c. Shay Connolly)

They make a mass exodus out of the breeding grounds if there's a food crash, and irrupt in Scotland, England and Ireland after crossing the North Sea.. Once in Ireland they fairly tear around suburban parks and gardens, shopping centre car parks are often visited: they have predictable designs with berry carrying cover around the parking bays.. Waxwings will strip bushes and trees and move to the next feast.. This is likely to continue all through this winter because we have already had our first arrivals, unusually early.  About 130 birds have been reported so far in Ireland, with more recorded off our north and west coasts, again unusual: the arrival point is usually in the east and north east with Belfast and Dublin usually first in line for a flock.

The largest flock so far was of 25 birds on remote Tory Island, off county Donegal, at the end of October with 20 at Mulranny in Co Mayo, 16 on Arranmore, Co Donegal and  11 in Ballysadare in County Sligo.

The largest flock in Dublin, so far, was a report of 12 on the Old Airport Road on 10th November.

With the immaculate plumage and details that a hat designer would trot out for Derby day, they have some great physiological adaptations, designed to handle and process the vast quantities of berries they consume:

They've got the X Factor:  Jedward of the bird world! (c.John Fox)

Though there gut is well adapted to deal with berries, often a touch fermented after frost, typsy Waxwings can collide with windows, as witnessed in Dublin some years back when birds frequently hit the glass windows while negotiating a flight around the Eircom building in St. Stephens Green, which  had some excellent Rowan trees with berries, late in the season.

The toxins that build up during consumption of so many berries are secreted out of the birds system, which leads to a hard red bar developing on the plumage, leading to the name Waxwing, after its close likeness to sealing wax.  This bar is only present on adult birds who consume and secrete huge amounts of berries and toxins,in time.

Waxwing flocks will suddenly leave berry bearing foliage to seek a rest or simply digest their food, perching on telephone wires or leafless trees: Rotund and cuddly looking, they are very similar to Starlings in flight, so check those darting flocks!

Finally, the charm is well finished off with an attractive call: sounds like a high pitched tinkling of small bells, very distinctive as they come and go about their business.
Mascara perfectly applied: lipstick slipped though! (c. Dave Suddaby)

If you see Waxwings this winter, please let us know, we all need brightening up at this time of year!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Coals Cache and Carry

Coal Tits are great competitors: the smallest of the tit family, they have to wait their turn when Great and Blue Tits are about, for food and for nesting space.  Traditionally they are associated with conifer plantations and this is still true, and has enhanced their distribution, though mixed woodland and large gardens are also to their liking.  They are doing well right now, rising through the ranks in the Garden Bird Survey, up three places last winter to 7th position, as Blue and Great Tits remain static at third and fifth position, respectively. ( see the latest results in Wings magazine, delivered to BirdWatch Ireland members over the next week or so.)

Given their small stature, its not surprising that given an opportunity, they will put away or hide a food store for the near future.  Right now they are cashing in and caching, autumn bounty.  This includes the offering on peanut and seed feeders.  I recently deployed a window feeder on the patio door, a great amusement for us all at breakfast time, and a chance to get real close up looks at our common garden bird visitors.  Birds fly to the feeder from 30 or 40 feet away, landing directly on the mesh feeder, thankfully, there's no evidence of any mis-timed flights or landings..

Coal Tit (c. O.O'Sullivan)

There have been some big migratory movements of Coal Tits recorded  in late September and early October this year, at the migration watch points around our south and west coasts: 70 at Cape Clear Island, Co Cork, 29th September; 100 at Dunquin, west Kerry, 5th October and 70 at Inishmore, Aran Islands, Co Galway, 6th October.( see

Coal Tits have a number of relatively distinct races, including an Irish race, hibernicus, a British race and a Continental race, so interest and speculation as to the precise racial identity of these island 'fall' birds is high.. They could reflect an autumn movement or dispersal of relatively local birds, known to be in high numbers, or perhaps an arrival of Continental birds.. Our hibernicus birds have olive tones to the back and an off white or yellowish tinge to the cheeks , and ruddy underparts.  The British race is whiter in the cheeks and plainer on the underparts, though the back has some olive tones.  The continental race is more cold grey on the back and has white cheeks and plain underparts.. All fairly subtle and a bird in the hand is the best way to racially identify birds.  However, the window feeders afford such wonderful, close up views, you may well be able to racially identify your Coal Tits. 

Coal & Great Tit share a feeder (c. OOS)

A bird was observed and photographed at the end of March 2011, on a window feeder in Clane, Co Kildare, by Stephen Lawlor that showed the characteristics of the Continental race.. the pix show a fairly cold, grey backed bird with plain underparts and white cheeks.. he invited bird ringers to come and confirm his identification in the hand by trapping the visitor to his window feeder: (see the pix on  and enter Coal Tit in the search option) 

Keep on checking your Coal Tits, the best way to observe them is by deploying a window feeder adaptor, and hanging a mesh feeder laden with peanuts.. a great incentive to keep the windows clean and polished!

Coal Tit (c. OOS)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

'Fare and 'Wing

October is a great month in the garden: the grass growth is finally slowing down and there's time to admire autumn colour: especially the reds and yellows of autumn leaves, as the lack of chlorophyll production withdraws green pigments from leaves.  The passage of birds in this month is legend: replace warblers with wildfowl and Swallows with Scandinavian thrushes. 

Japenese Anemones and Dogwood (c. OOS)

 It's quite subtle at first, but confirmation, for me, of the change from summer to autumn and winter seasons is the lovely soft call 'tseep - tseep' of migrating Redwings. This occurs typically in mid October, with birds arriving from Scandinavia or Iceland, usually under cover of darkness in misty, still weather, lifted from distant northern parts by high pressure and a following wind. You are as likely to witness this chorus of 'contact calls' from migrating Redwings in urban and suburban locations as in the countryside. Fieldfares are usually in the second round of migrants, their harsh 'chack-chack' calls are first heard a week or two behind the Redwings.

Redwing on Pyracantha ( c. Shay Connolly)

We don't quite celebrate this arrival as we would the first Swallows, Cuckoo or Chiff Chaff: maybe we feel that the glass is half empty as distinct from half full, in spring. Never mind, for the 'winter thrushes' Ireland and western Europe is a safe haven.. Generally unfrozen ground, all the better to chase down insect prey, and the welcome aperitif of a medley of ripe red berries
on arrival, are among the delights on offer for these hardy migrants.  

 Fieldfares and Redwings don't really appear in gardens until conditions get really foul: they prefer to forage our fields and hedgerows as long as conditions allow for successful feeding in farmland.. A mid winter series of extended frosts and snow will see further immigration from mainland Europe and a sudden influx to our gardens: ornamental garden berries may well be available and less than edible class Apples (for humans) are a real treat for a hungry migrating thrush.. but that's all a few months away yet, hopefully!

Fieldfare (c. Shay Connolly)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Small and beautiful

We got a surprise on our door step a few mornings back: no, not some unfortunate field mouse, laid out and displayed for our approval by the hunting cats: it was a Goldcrest, a tiny ball of feathers that had stunned itself  by flying into the kitchen window, in all likelihood.

After recovering in the warmth of the kitchen, subjected to the obligatory i Phone pic, the bird recovered sufficiently to be put back out in a safe place where it did in fact attract the attentions of a territorial Robin.

Goldcrest in care (c. M Wynne)

Goldcrests are our smallest bird: weighing in at just 6 grams: you would need 75 Goldcrests to make up the body mass of a single Woodpigeon, or 4 Goldcrests to make up an ounce ! 

Although they occur in gardens: they prefer the cover of trees and nest in tall conifers, strapping a soft nest over an outer branch, the nest is constructed with fairy like materials: spider's web, moss, feathers and lichen.

Goldcrest wrestles with a spider's web (c. John Fox)

Goldcrests have a fairly unique expression or style that seems to suit their diminutive stature:  This is very well described by Anthony Mc Geehan, writing in the just published, Birds through Irish Eyes ( Collins Press): 

'Tiny and compact with a near invisible short slender bill, the mite is endearing and often indifferent to human observation, especially when examining foliage and flitting from twig to twig....Both sexes have peppercorn eyes on a bland face and a drooping Fu Manchu wispy moustache.'

I see and hear them mostly in October and November: their thin 'si-si-si-si' calls usually lead to a view of one hovering under a sycamore leaf, picking up tiny insects: they need to feed constantly in winter, up to a fifth of that tiny body weight may be burnt overnight, to stave off the cold.

A Goldcrest in the hand  (c. R. Coombes)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Autumn Bounty

Starling ( c. Shay Connolly)

The Elderberry trees are showing off their black clusters of fruit to the sky: an invitation that has been taken up by a selection of birds that rumage in the canopy: Blackcaps alert me to their presence by their repeated alarm call: like two stones chipping off each other: repeated frequently and faster than the similar sound made by Stonechats.  The feeding technique is to lean forward into the fruit from a perch: Starlings are particularly good at this, having noticably strong legs to support the balancing act.. Not surprisingly the birds are nervous when feeding like this, and don't generally give a good enough view to allow a photo ( so far!).

Elder berries (c. C Mac Lochlainn)

At the rate of activity and feeding in the Elders, the berry crop will be exhausted by the end of September, the October arrival of Fieldfares and Redwings will have to look elsewhere for sustenance, most likely the Hawthorns which have yet to ripen.  

Female Blackcap ( c. D Dillon)

The Blackcaps, en route to Africa very soon, are joined in the September sun by berry hunting Robins, Blue Tits, Starling, with Wood Pigeons joining in: 
(berries and juice are a nice complement to the intake of grain: what a feast, for now).

Starling in Blackberry thicket (c. R Martin)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Butterflies in a rush

Talk of winter bird song on this blog, (previous post), is a little melancholy and perhaps premature for some. Indeed, it is said that the Robins song gets more melancholy as winter progresses.. but that's just our mood!

 Well, the butterflies have made up for lost time and are appearing in great numbers right now: I counted 30 Small Tortoiseshells on the ripening Sedums, together with handfuls of Bumble bees.

Bumblebee and Small Tortoiseshell get close up on a Sedum

A Silver Y, shows off its lettering!
We also  noticed a day flying moth: a Silver Y, a common migrant, sometimes in big numbers to migration watch points, but a good enough sighting for this location.

A fine Peacock butterfly joined the party: If you don't already have a few plants like Sedum spectible and Verbena bonariensis, get down to your local Garden Centre, get planting and share in a great autumn show!

Peacock butterfly

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Autumn song

Robin in song (c. John Fox)

Autumn bird song is very unusual amongst our garden birds, with a notable exception.. Most birds sing from late winter / early spring, in order to establish a territory, attract a mate and then nest and raise young in the territory.

Robins sing in autumn, once the moult is completed.   Their sweet, controlled song is all the better to listen to with no competing song from Thrushes and Blackbirds to distract the listener. 

 The function of autumn song is presumably to establish an autumn or feeding territory.  However, the feisty defence of the feeding territory occurs at a time of plenty for food resources.  Ironically, Robins will suspend their aggression in hard weather when other birds will share what food is available before starting up singing in early spring, in advance of the breeding season. 

David Lack, a pioneer of Robin studies, writing in the classic, Life of the Robin,(1943), offered the idea that the occurrence of autumn song was a signal of the birds intention to stay the winter rather than migrate, as many other birds do at this time.  Robins do of course undertake movements: from high to low ground in winter.  The continental race of our Robin does migrate on a more regular basis and influxes of continental Robins have been noted on islands such as Cape Clear in October, leading to much territoriality from the population of indignant residents!

Robin (c. R. Martin)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Butterflies: at last!

You wait a month.. then 3 come together! ( C.OO'S)

A plant such as Verbena bonariensis, is worthy in its own right: nearly 2 meters tall, fine and wispy , so welcome in a mixed border with various lead positions to be shared with Sedums and other performers.

Its fine delicate flowers, soft lilac and borne on the end of the long stems, sometimes in groups of three or four bracts, are further enhanced by their attractiveness to butterflies.

We went through the month of August with little or no butterfly activity, though bees and hoverflies were present in numbers (see earlier August post.) 

With Septembers coming we have at last a week of high pressure and some settled weather to enjoy. Swallows and Martins seem to be flying for fun, feeding up now in advance of the great push south.

Sedum Purple Emperor with Small Tortoiseshell & Bumble Bee (c. OO'S)

 I am delighted to report that Small Tortoiseshells were out in numbers yesterday evening:  I counted  8 in a small area of Verbena and  Sedum telephium (Purple Emperor) in a sunny part of the garden.    The bed is west facing and bathed in sunlight from mid day til late evening; drainage here is excellent and the soil light and stony..  Just as well, other plants doing well here include  Perovskia blue spire, or Russian Sage and Daisies such as Anthemis, EC Buxton.  The Perovskia is native to Afghanistan and suited to dry, arid conditions, available in this location of our garden, despite the record wet summer!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Willows passing through..

It's been noticeable over the past few weeks,  the soft 'wheet'  contact calls of our most abundant summer migrant: the Willow Warbler.  After the breeding season I usually notice a rush of migrants around the garden, from late July into August.  They are restless and move from Willow scrub down to perennial plants and even forage on the lawn: small insect prey is found in all these places at this time of the year. 

Many of the first year birds are beginning the first tentative movements south, culminating in an arrival in West Africa, via Iberia, in late autumn / early winter, all going well.

Willow Warbler  (c. John Fox)

Willow warblers are showing a trend of increase on the Countryside Bird Survey, occurring in 70% of 1km squares surveyed.  However once the pleasant summer song abates in early summer, they are a little more difficult to locate, and indeed separate from their close relation, the Chiffchaff.  

Chiffchaff  (c. David Dillon)
In seeking to separate the two close relatives (both are no bigger than a Blue Tit in size), note the colour of legs and feet: black in Chiffchaff, a bright yellowish in Willow Warblers. Chiffchaffs are generally duller in colour tone, and more 'plain faced'.  The wing length is noticeably longer in Willow Warbler, compared to Chiffchaff.  Both are restless and flick wings and tail as they move through cover, sometimes hovering around large, cracked, autumn leaves of the Sycamore tree: occasionally you can even hear them snap their beaks on insect prey, fuelling up for the long journey south!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Bees, but no Butterflies

Bumblebee on a drumstick Allium (c. OO'S)

Despite the garden showing off some serious, nectar loaded flowering plants, I have noticed a complete absence of butterflies at this time: After the storms and rain, the plants have literally stood up quite well and the Alliums, Crocosmia, Goldenrod and Teasel are in full flower..

Hoverflies and Honeybees are constantly on the Goldenrod (c. OO'S)

There's a great number of bees and hoverflies: a constant movement amongst the flowering stems, but you would really miss the bright and delicate outline of a Red Admiral or Small Tortoiseshell, hopefully they will come yet!

Red Admiral, from this time last year, on Teasel (c.OO'S)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Late Broods

Our Swallows returned about on time, last May, and set about building a new nest on a north facing down pipe under the eaves of the house.

Adult Swallow  (c. J. Coelho)

Given the wet summer,  a brood of four was about right, and this reduced to 3 as the runt of the brood, fell out of (or was pushed from ) the nest and perished on the ground.

Three eventually fledged, though one was very weak in flight and I watched it fly at ground level and just above, and in turn it attracted the attentions of the cats: I found a pile of feathers on the lawn, a day after its first flight.  

The remaining two fledglings seemed to be able to take care of themselves, but like teenagers, they return to the nest to rest and overnight.. this continued for about a week into mid July when they moved off to the local gathering place, a telegraph pole on our boundary.  About 12 or 14 young Swallows gather here, chattering and exchanging information , no doubt, and emitting frequent alarm calls, to alert for real or imaginary predators.  

Two juveniles ready to fledge (c. O. O'Sullivan)
After a quiet week or so, the adult birds have started to return to the nest site and sing from the adjacent telephone cable, holding a territory.  I suspect they are now on a second brood, latish but not too late, especially if we get a good August.

  I suppose just two young raised is not a great return after their migration up from Africa last spring and with a return journey ahead of them in September/October.. Swallows are the Olypians of the avian world!

Adult singing in August.. second brood on the way! (c. O.O'Sullivan)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Swifts in a hurry?

Given the awfully wet June and early July, it's no surprise that summer migrants such as the Swift are literally 'under the weather' in their search for aerial insect prey.

Swift over Tacumshin lake (c.OOS)

I am still noticing small parties of low flying, breeding birds, screaming round the streets of Wicklow, Redcross, Rathnew and Rathdrum, to name four locations.
Swift feeding  (c.OOS)

Swifts can cover relatively long distances in a day, 300km or more, not entirely surprising, given their superb shape,designed for life on the wing: these birds don't touch the ground: they mate on the wing and only land to nest under eaves of old buildings.

Swift at speed  (c.OOS)

We often notice feeding parties of birds, ranging over the Murrough Wetlands, along the Wicklow coast, typically up to a few  hundred birds availing of the rich insect life over the wetland habitats. 

Even more remarkable though are the reports of 1,000 or more birds feeding over Tacumshin Lake, County Wexford.  This shallow freshwater lagoon is extensive, running to about 460 hectares and was formed behind a sandy ridge of dunes along the south Wexford coast.  Swifts have been present in great numbers since early July. They appear to be adult birds; the thinking is they may have cut short their plans for breeding this season and instead are taking the opportunity to exploit the rich feeding over the lakebed.  

Where these birds have come from is open to opinion.. The weather in the west of England and Wales has been very poor, perhaps they have taken the journey across the Irish Sea, or maybe they are birds ranging down from urban areas such as Dublin or Belfast on the Irish east coast?

Whatever the origin of the Wexford flock, make sure to enjoy the sight and sounds of Swifts, and let me know of any more concentrations or indeed absence of birds.. They will begin their journey south to The Congo over the next couple of weeks, our shortest stayer, and no wonder!

A superb flying machine (c.OOS)