Sunday, 3 May 2009

News from the Nests

The garden is the Grand Central Station of Bird City at the moment as I guess most are busy with nesting and raising the first of this years' young. There are four little chicks in the Dunnock nest and the little Blackbirds are growing at a phenomenal rate. If Molly grew as quickly as this I estimate that she would be about five metres tall by now already! The nest is west facing so is a bit cool in the mornings and the three babies stay in the bottom of the mossy comfort zone but the last few days have been warm and by early afternoon they have moved themselves into feeding position and their heads are above the top of the nest and their bodies are panting and their oversized beaks are gaping as they wait for the parents to return with morsels of food. This is such an exciting time and I can’t begin to tell you just how both proud and anxious I am.

I am careful of course because even though the male parent will happily come inside my house looking for food he really doesn’t trust me enough to be near his place and he makes a lot of fuss the moment anyone goes near the nest.

This morning I went to Tesco and drove on the roads across country again and the Oystercatchers were still there and I wonder now if they are lost but probably not because there were also a lot of black headed Little Gulls that were also enjoying inland gourmet dining opportunities off the freshly ploughed field menu. Along the A17 a Heron flew ponderously along the adjacent dyke and on the return journey I had to brake sharply to avoid a collision with a stately male Pheasant that was totally oblivious to the inherent dangers of wandering about on the highway.

The Pheasant is a beautiful bird, all scarlet and gold with bits of British racing car green and navy blue and sunshine yellow. So beautiful you wonder just what enjoyment people can possibly get from shooting them. The only explanation that I can find is that it is not an especially graceful flyer and being slow it is presumably quite easy to bring down with a shotgun full of lead. This is presumably much easier than shooting a two hundred kilometre an hour Sparrowhawk or a Swift for example.

The garden is full of finches at the moment. The Goldfinch are the most reliable of visitors and they are one of my favourites as they drop by in numbers to take the thistle seed that I put out for them. With a buff body, red face, yellow wings and a black and white chessboard rump they are the most exciting bird in the garden and I defy anyone who sees one not to take up bird watching! A collection of Goldfinch is called a ‘Charm’ and that sums them up perfectly. The Greenfinch is here everyday and it is so well named because it is very green. The first time I saw one in the garden I thought it was so exotic that I was convinced that it was an escaped budgerigar. The Chaffinch are much more regular visitors this year but they don’t use the feeders and prefer to wait on the ground for anything that gets spilled from overhead. Earlier this year I saw a pair of Siskin, not in the garden but at the reservoir at Rutland Water and if the Greenfinch can be mistaken for a budgie then these magnificent specimens would surely be a double for a Canary.

Only a few minutes ago I was watching from the kitchen window and something wonderful happened, one of the baby Blackbirds flew from the nest and landed in the branches of last years Christmas tree that is growing in a pot right next to the house. This must have been its first flight and I felt privileged to have seen it. I took some pictures and then it flew back to the nest at the bottom of the garden. This was by far the best moment of my weekend, even better than Leicester Tigers beating the Cardiff Blues in a penalty shoot out in the Heineken Cup semi-final!


Sandra said...

Hi Andrew, We`ve had lots of goldfinches, greenfinches and chaffinches in our garden too. I love the golfinches as they are very tame and will sit on the feeders and eat to their hearts content, or rather their stomachs. They are so greedy I`m suprised they can still fly with all the seed they eat. They tend to ignore the niger seed preferring the sunflower hearts. The pair of Blue Tits that usually nest in our garden are missing this year. :o(

John said...

I am looking forward to seeing all the different birds that coming out for summer. Today I seen a black head humming bird. Swing by and drop me a line. Have a good week

Nigel said...

Andrew, not sure your baby blackbird liked his picture being taken, he looks well grumpy!!