Friday, 12 April 2013

Migrants and spring displays, at last..

It is surely only a matter of a few days now before we record our first spring migrants?  Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Swallow are all overdue, though already there has been a scattering of records from the coast. Overall I would say we are a good two or three weeks behind 'schedule', and the plants are too..

Male Blackcap on the Apples (c.OOS)

There's still lots of interest around the garden though: Siskins are ever present, characteristically clinging upside down to the peanut feeders.  This is a peak month with us for Siskins. We had passage of Redwings on freshly ploughed stubble fields, just for one day and a male Blackcap made it on to the spiked apple.. heretofore we only recorded Blackbirds and Blue Tits on this food source, Blackcaps only visit this garden in summer, usually well hidden but singing consistently and breeding locally.  My guess is that this particular bird has arrived from southern Europe, starving, judging by its feeding behaviour.  It fed voraciously for most of the day on a large Braeburn Apple and never uttered any note or song on its brief retreats from the food source.  Blackcaps have evolved an intriguing migration strategy whereby the northern European breeding population winter in Ireland and our own breeding population winter in Africa before returning to us in April.

There's more bird song from the members of the Tit family and unruly challenges around the feeders from mobs of Great and Coal Tits.. The former have a habit of forming a loose maul of five or six birds that chase through the hedgerow, actually making group contact with one or more unfortunate individuals.  Robins, Greenfinches and Blackbirds are noticably more vocal now, so every bird appears anxious to move on to the new season!

I think we're compatible! (c. OOS)
Much more controlled and stylish is the courtship display of a pair of Pheasants.  The male is like a matador, stalking along side the female, wing stretched and arched towards her, as well as the tail. (lateral display)  

This is my good side! (c.OOS)
The wattles and ear tufts on the head are fully extended and every shade and colour of the plumage is pitched to have maximum appeal and effect.. and the response is.. quiet disinterest, for the moment anyway! 

Must go! (c.OOS)

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