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)

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