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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!

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Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Arctic backdoor birding

Well; it's not the end of the civilized world but, there is no denying, it is bloody cold! Thanet is usually immune to these weather systems, not this one! We're shivering along with the rest of the East Coast counties. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that I didn't venture far this morning, just down to my aviary to feed my Java Sparrows and provide some, ice free, water. Once done, I then set about re-filling the feeding station feeders, two with mixed seed, one sunflower hearts and the other with fat-balls. I scattered a handful of raisins & currants under the feeders and returned to the warmth of our bungalow, already aware that there were a few Redwing moving south, overhead.
Activity around the feeding station was constant despite the biting wind and frequent snow showers. The light was appalling, requiring ISO 1600 1/500th sec to secure any image worthy of sharing. House Sparrows continue to dominate the scene, I estimated 50 - 60 birds, but really am unable to be accurate with my counts as birds were constantly moving along the gardens in all directions. Five Blackbirds, two Great Tits, a Robin, three Dunnock and a Wren were more confidently recorded as representative totals. A flurry of Linnets, buzzed along the back hedge and a lone Lapwing flapped slowly into the wind. Something was going on out there, time to grab the camera kit?




The local gulls were restless and vocal, not that there was any raptor movement going on, but I did think that there was an unusual number of Black-headed Gulls about so hatched a plan. Back out into the garden, I smashed the ice on the bird bath and refilled it, before scattering a mix of cubed gamon, shredded ham and bread on the grass between the feeding station and the aviary. I realize that this might sound a little flamboyant but, the truth is far more mundane. It is food that's been in the fridge that's simply passed it's sell-by date. I'd rather feed it to the birds (foxes) than throw it in the bin!




It took a while before the gulls plucked up enough courage to land in the garden, a magpie being the first customer before the Black-headed Gulls gained confidence. Shortly after all hell broke loose as the Herring Gulls arrived, en mass - freebies gone in seconds!

8 comments:

  1. Sometimes, as much as you want tp provide for all birds, some of the avian pigs do become a bit frustrating when the devour everything in seconds. Putting fat balls out in my garden, hoping to feed a few tits and robins, will see them reduced to crumbs in very quick time by frenzied starlings.

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    1. Starlings are very erratic visitors to our feeding station during the winter months and the gulls seldom land in the garden unless the weather is very harsh (as it is at present!) Magpies and Carrion Crows are always opportunist feeders and will be first in the queue when food is available on the ground. Apart from rats, the most unwelcome garden visitor are the hoards of feral Rock Doves, some of which have learned to hang onto the seed feeders and can empty them in minutes, mostly onto the floor below - much to the benefit of their mates!

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  2. No House Sparrows at all where I'm at Dyl. I do get quite a variety of other birds on the feeders though, even a female Blackcap at times. Ground feeders are a record 20 Blackbirds along with Stock and Collared Dove. On one occasion a Red Kite grabbed a cooked chicken carcass off the lawn. Also Tawny Owls at night and Hawfinch in numbers a mile away. Very few town pigeons - good!
    But the coast it isn't. Migrating exotics thin on the ground.

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    1. Ric, the number of garden birds that I have amassed, since November 2000, is better than my Herts County List which took over thirty years to compile. Of course you are correct about the relative geography of our gardens and the effect that coastal migration has upon the likelihood of a decent visitor, or two, being encountered. House Sparrows around Thanet are still very numerous, although I'd swap a few for a Tawny Owl - never recorded one on Thanet - anywhere!
      Some of the better garden visitors (not flyovers) have been Dartford Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Waxwing, Reed Warbler, Woodcock, Ring Ouzel, both Common & Black Redstart, Siskin, Whinchat, Wheatear, Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow. Those Black-headed Gulls were the first I'd actually tempted onto the garden, instead of the flat roof of our (existing) extension. I was well pleased!

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  3. Those are fantastic birds anywhere Dyl.
    I did once get a Moorhen on the back lawn though there's a stream not far away. The most unusual garden bird I came across was a Red-Legged-Partridge which poked it's head up in a garden I was working on. It seem unusually confiding which I put down to it being right out of it's normal environment.
    I'll email you some pics. One of them even Jono Lethbridge would be proud of. I took that using a wide angle lens, lying on my stomach, in the street from about 4 feet away.

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    1. Hi Ric,
      Sorry for the delayed response - juggling a lot of balls at present? My local patch, which I have very much neglected lately, has provided me with many spectacular days birding. I'm fortunate that my garden is within my, self defined, patch boundary and thus any records are included on two lists! Strangely, I have neither Moorhen or Red-legged Partridge on either list, although I am aware of a Moorhen "patch sighting" during my tenure - well gripped off! The patch list reads like a "wish list" for most inland birders, my garden list has Fulmar, Sandwich Tern, Honey Buzzard, Red-footed Falcon, Purple Heron, Pink-footed Goose, Montagu's, Hen & Marsh Harrier, Goshawk, Coot, Whimbrel, Wigeon, Teal and even a day total of 200 Ring Ouzel (during a massive fall of winter thrushes). The Isle of Thanet is a very special place, geographically, and I am very glad that it is where I now call home.
      I'd love to take photos like Jono but, as there are so many other things I also want to enjoy, becoming a photographer isn't high on any list of priorities! - Dyl

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  4. 200 Ring Ouzel on the local patch - in one day!I think I'm going to have to go and lie down somewhere.
    I've yet to get Ring Ouzel where I am, but last autumn I heard a call which might have been one in the depths of some thicket. I didn't see the culprit before it became silent. Another one escapes.

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    1. Hi Ric,
      You can read all about that fantastic day in the blog archive - 12th October 2013. Some photos too!

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