Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Birds

I've been very remiss about blogging the garden - I shall have to make a new year resolution to do better! But I am led to correct matters now by the amazing sight from the window of my upstairs study which could be a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's movie with Tipi Hedron.

A large mixed flock of Starlings, Jackdaws and Rooks has descended on my neighbour's stubble field - there must be several hundred, even a thousand birds in total. Every now and again something disturbs them and the flock rises up to wheel in the darkening light like clouds of smoke. I wonder what it is that disturbs them - two cars have just gone past without any response. And I wonder what they have found to feed on - worms and leatherjackets no doubt.

Suzanna put up her bird-table and fat balls weeks ago now, and as always it seems as if every tit and finch in the County has come to be fed. We can lie in bed and watch them through the bedroom window, which is a lovely way to start the day. She has started a sketch of them, and bought a bird identification sheet to help her get the colours right. If it comes out well I shall scan it and put it up here.

It is interesting to note the changes in frequency in species year to year. This year Greenfinches and Chaffinches are scarcer than usual - perhaps the immigrants which swell the winter numbers have yet to arrive. We have the usual Blue Tits and Great Tits, but they are outnumbered by an inordinate flock of Coal Tits - perhaps they had a very successful breeding season despite all the rain. We occasionally see a pair of Gold Finches. But the star of the show at the moment is a single male Blackcap - I hope his mate is somewhere. Elsewhere in the garden we have the usual Wrens, Robins, Blackbirds and Thrushes, but no sign yet of the Redwings and Fieldfares.

Back in August we had another visitor, a Sparrowhawk. She hunts along the hedge regularly, but this time she managed to fly into the greenhouse and couldn't find her way out. I managed to trap her in a corner with my hand, and Susanna took this photo (sorry for the poor quality) before I released her outside, apparently unharmed. Rather exciting - I've never had a Sparrowhawk in my hand before, such a beautiful creature!

Ah, suddenly as the light goes, the Starlings and Rooks have risen up for the last time to go to their night roosts, and all is still again!

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