Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's that in the wood pile?

Staring bleary-eyed through the bathroom window I noticed a strange shape in the all too regular lines of our large pile of wood (hangover from the recent house renovation). No glasses to hand but knowing it was (a) obviously a bird, (b) a wee bit too big for the usual wood pile Wren and (c) totally wrong for a pheasant (see how attuned by birding senses are just minutes after rising) I reached for a pair of bins from the office and bingo! A smashing young male Sparrowhawk! Showing signs of naive youth, sitting low down (only 2ft above the ground) right by one of the feeding stations isn't the best way to lay in wait of its prey. Or perhaps it chased something in to the wood pile?

It decided to change perspective and moved a few meters to perch on the top of one of the sheds overlooking a shrubby area of the garden before a Carrion Crow chased it off.

Tits and nuts

During the recent snow we had a wee flock of 12 Long-tailed Tits turn up in the garden. They arrived with the snow and they left with the snow. Only my fourth record for the garden/fen.
Interestingly, the granivorous species bumped up when the snow hit, and as soon as it melted, the ship-out was instant with most of the Chaffinches, Greenfinches and half of the Tree Sparrows leaving the garden - or at least not spending every waking minute here. They might all stil be here but just taking it in turn in the garden!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Hanging ice

We had a sleepless night last night. The cause. The gradual slip of the snow on the roof as temperatures fluctuate. The snow on the roof is a solid block of snow ice and during the late evening and all last night this 17m x 6m block began to slip downwards! It judders down the slate roof and off the edge of the roof, hanging before the next judder cuases large chunks to break off and down with a thud on to the kitchen roof and the canopy.

Here's a lump hanging over the kitchen roof (above) and the build up on the canopy roof (below) - itself sliding off on to the ground below. It makes one hell of a thud when a block falls from the main roof on to the canopy 3m below.

Fox and pheasant

We saw this fox from the living room window yesterday. I spotted what I thought was a characteristic 'pounce' through the bushes. Waited and eventually this animal appeared on the edge of the treeline and sat watching over teh snowscape for a few minutes.

Just look at that fantastic tail. This is only the fourth time I've seen fox on the fen. I've rarely come across any sign of them either which indicates that they are genuinely scarce here. Interestingly our walk round the fen yesterday afternoon found fox prints in the snow which looked like from Saturday.

Mr Fox is happy to help himself to any of our plump Pheasants! They do taste very nice!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Winter thrushes

A second day of snow here. A slight thaw overnight (surprisingly) but then heavy snow from 8.00am means it might just be a top up.
Redwing diffing on edge of garden dyke. These winter thrushes know how to cope with snow! The Blackbirds spend most of their time defending the feeding stations, the Song Thrush just looks like its in a sulk. But this Redwing was busy pulling out leaves from under the snow, digging in the leaf-litter it exposed and finding plenty to feed on. A great bit of behaviour from a male Pied Wag then followed and feed in the holes the Redwing abandoned.

This Fieldfare was happy gobbling up what few berries remained on our garden trees.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Snow, birds and hares

7.00am waiting to see how bad it was and whether we could get Liz to the station. The station run was later aborted when the radio told us that Peterborough had copped the best/worst of the overnight snow, the trains were stuffed and central Pboro was either clogged with snow or clogged with car playing dodgems!

7.30am and blanket snow - a nice thick layer of the pucker, crunching-under-foot, snowman-building, snow-balling white stuff.

Grit isn't something we know about in the fens. Mind you, nipping into the village and then to the supermarket, it doesn't seem to be something they use much round here anyway!

Cock-bobbin and a dish-washer picking away below one of the feeders.

Plenty of dickies under one of the three feeder sites. The cage is to keep the colly-doves and pheasants from scoffing all the seed that falls to the ground! Chaffinch numbers bumped up again with some obvious continentals amongst them. Fieldfares also in the garden and a Snipe nearly landed in the garden! It decided on the field edge by the house and looking decidely lost, it departed high to the west!

Treeps and Greenfincks at one of the feeders. Note the adult Treep (completely dark bill) on the right has white millet in its gob. They do like red and white millet. The bird on the left is a first-winter bird with extensive pale to base to the bill (some winter adults do show a little pale at the bill-base but not to this extent). Toadsnatchers and Yellow Bunting also in the garden today.

A close up of one of the 50+ Treeps around the house at the minute. A lovely, nice adult. Just look how varied its plumage is. Definately not just a boring sparrow!

Blobs in the snow! Two of five hares hunkered in the field behind the house throughout the day. Watching these I chanced upon a roaming flock of 135+ Skylarks which are new in. I think they struggled to find any bare ground on which to feed in all this!