Tuesday 29 January 2013

Winter Thrushes Abound.

Male Adult Blackbird
The recent snow has gone, all remaining traces having disappeared overnight, and the temperature outside has rocketed to 8 degrees.  The snow seemed to trigger an influx of birds into the garden, especially the various thrush species.   We often have 3 or 4 blackbirds and a single song thrush, but with the first snow came about a dozen blackbirds, almost all being males, several fully adult with their bright yellow beaks, and a number of juvenile males.  Blackbirds in close proximity to each other  inevitably brings squabbles, probably, at this time of year, over food and territory, rather than the females. 

Mistle Thrush
Next to arrive was a mistle thrush which was fairly tolerant of the blackbirds, unless they went too near the food, at which point they were seen off, but in a fairly gentle way.  I rated the mistle thrushes as being rather more sophisticated in their actions.   The next day though, there were three mistle thrushes, and two, probably males, threw all that classy behaviour away, to indulge in some spectacular low level aerial dogfights.  Blackbirds were still seen off, and lower down the pecking order yellow bills trumped  younger males.  At the bottom of the deck, a veritable two of clubs, was the song thrush, who was chased off by everyone else. I thought that I saw a fieldfare at the bottom of the garden, and this was to be confirmed the next day when there were about 20 fieldfares, gorgeous birds, along with 4 or 5 redwings.  The redwings avoided trouble, but the fieldfares were able to chase away blackbirds from their apples.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker Photographed Last Year
When added to the usual daily roll call of 2 or 3 woodpigeons, 3 collared doves, 4 bullfinches, half a dozen greenfinches, 3 chaffinches, about 20 goldfinches, a few dunnocks,  several coal tits, blue tits and great tits, a robin and a wren, the garden became very lively.  A greater spotted woodpecker came on a couple of the snowy days too.   The sparrowhawk missed the surfeit of food by being absent this week.   

Fishing has been fairly good too.  I ignored the frozen stillwaters and went after the grayling again.  4 on Wednesday, couple over a pound, but no record breakers.   Out of season trout were busy too.  A little worried about whether I could get the car back up the narrow snow covered road, but by careful use of gears speed and clutch, all went well.    Damned cold day, with light snow the whole time.   The wind was not too bad, but added 5 or 6 degrees of windchill.   Two woolly hats proved inadequate so I fashioned a stylish over-hat from a Tesco plastic bag.

1) Pull bag over head.
2) Tie the handles in a knot under the chin.
3) poke a hole in the front so you can see out.
4) Adjust to suit.

I hasten to add that the third stage of the hat creation process should be accomplished fairly quickly. Failure to do so will result in you seeing very little.  The plastic kept the wind off me very well and I may re-use the process on other cold days. 

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