The choice of title is a deliberate attempt to garner viewing stats and, most certainly, nothing to do with "Covid", the pandemic fall-out and restricted civil freedoms. Still, if it boosts my visitor stats, I'll happily live with any criticism aimed at my cynical exploitation of the various search engines within the cyber network.
I, like so many others, have become fascinated by the wildlife that can be found within the garden boundaries since the onset of the pandemic. The amount of food placed outside for the various visitors sees our investment in excess of £1k/annum yet, in my opinion, worth every penny. Hedgehogs are obviously the stars of the show, but the birds provide the bulk of interest during any twenty-four hour cycle. I have six feeders in the garden, four of which are filled with sunflower hearts and are topped up daily ensuring at least 10kgs a week is required. House Sparrows, Goldfinches and Collared Doves are the main culprits, however, there are Wood Pigeons, Greenfinches, Blue & Great Tits, even Robins using this supply. Mealworms (soaked for twenty minutes prior to placing in the feeding dish) are a magnet for Starlings, Jackdaws and Magpies, as are the fat-balls. Any spare bread is rapidly consumed by hoards of ravenous Herring Gulls whilst table scraps are "fox food", our recycling bin remains un-used.
Brown Rats and feral Rock Doves are actively discouraged from utilising these food sources yet, the most outrageous alien species is allowed free access. Rose-ringed Parakeets are not to everyone's liking, of that I'm certain, but gaudy plumage, raucous calls and extraordinary agility ensures they are always worth a look whenever they turn up at the feeding station. They have a fascinating social interaction which has led me to spend some time watching them. What I quickly picked up on was the variation in plumage colouration, particularly the tail. Racial variation or just a quirk? How I wish I never started. I grabbed my copy of "Birds of the Indian Subcontinent" (Helm ISBN 0-7136-4004-9) and took a look at the racial features of the birds in this part of their range. The turquoise blue tail colouration was a particularly striking feature and one that is prevalent on the birds visiting our garden. It was my decision to then take a peek at the words of wisdom contained within the mighty tomes of BWP (Vol IV) when I wished I'd never started. The geographical variation of these "bloody parrots" is as complex as anything Redpolls or Yellow Wagtails can throw up. I placed the book back into its' slot on my library shelves and will state, here and now, that I won't be doing any further research. They're wonderful birds, full of character, but I'm not really that worried about specific racial id, if indeed it possible to use field characteristics to assign these individuals to that extent. Being a feral population I sincerely believe mixed racial influences are involved, although the tail colouration does point toward a high degree of Asian genes being present in these Thanet birds.
I keep my camera kit close to hand, whilst sat in my study, and will continue to attempt to capture some more images which might help show the plumage variations to be seen. There are times when ten, or twelve, of these birds are in and around the feeders but, thus far, I've not seen any youngsters in 2021. The only other sightings of interest pertain to decent numbers of Painted Lady butterflies visiting the small patch of Red Valerian which borders our off-road parking area and the presence of a population of Norfolk Hawkers out on the flatlands which have provided a nice distraction from the static rods. The fishing has been tough and there's much to say about the behaviour of certain individuals. Another subject for another day?