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)