Monday, 15 December 2008

Autumn has become early winter, the Redwings that began passing through in late September have now been joined by Fieldfares chack-chacking their way overhead. I have been keeping an eye on the rowan berries in the hedgerows in the hope they will attract some Waxwings, many of which have arrived for the winter on the north and east coasts. Unfortuantely, for the Waxwing seeker, rowan berries are also attractive to thrushes, and the Redwings and Fieldfares have taken their toll. Today there were no berries left, apart from on the enormous tree in the grounds of Ripon College. This will be the focus of my attention from now on.

Heavy rain last week caused the River Thame to flood east of the village and the flood waters attracted 2 Mute Swan. These birds were visible from the first floor of my house (with the aid of a powerful telescope!) and were therefore a valid addition to the garden list (birds seen in, from or would have passed over, the house and garden)!

An adult male Pheasant has been feeding in neaby gardens and today appeared in mine, clearing up spilt nyger seed from the Goldfinch feeder:

Ground feeding raptors: Whilst doing the early morning cycle ride to work in Oxford, I have often noticed Red Kites and Common Buzzards in the fields alongside the road towards Wheatley. These birds appear to be actively feeding on what I presume to be invertebrates disturbed by recent ploughing, with Red Kites frequently seen running and taking prey from the bare earth The standard reference, Birds of the Western Palearctic, reveals that whilst invertebrates were found in 21.6% of Red Kite pellets, they were thought to be from the crops of prey they had eaten. Studies in France showed a breakdown of mammals (45%), birds (20%) and fish (19%) in Red Kite pellets, whilst in central Spain reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates feature strongly in the Kite diet, including beetles, grasshoppers and earthworms. This illustrates just how varied the diet of these birds is and must be another reason behind their phemonenal breeding success in these parts. Strangely though, Red Kites have been far fewer in numbers in the last few weeks, were they so abundant in autumn due to post breeding dispersal?

Thusrday 20th November 2008

Reasons why I am birder #1: I am at home awaiting a lift, which is already half an hour late. Feeling introverted I am reflecting on my move to the countryside and the change in my relationship over the last year that has brought it about. My mind is feeling rather dark. I notice 4 woodpigeon fly past my front window... mmm, those were small, long-bodied, long-winged fast flying pigeons... fortunately, it only takes 0.5 seconds for the penny to drop... GOLDEN PLOVER! I race to the back door and into the garden, where 4 disappearing Golden Plover are clearly visible. I physically jump for joy at the unexpected intrusion of these birds in my life, mind and garden list and I realise I feel completely different to the person I was just 15 seconds ago. Birds can do that to you. And you never know when it may happen again. Just let next time involve Waxwings...

Monday 8th December 2008

A cold spell, with heavy night frosts and raw daytime temperatures. Still no Waxwings. Anywhere in Oxfordshire. I've noticed a couple of mammals in the last week though, although the first was sadly roadkill, a badger on the road to Wheatley. The second, alive, was a nice close view of a fox near the Mini plant on Friday night, obvilious to me on a bike. My fiance Summeara, while driving back through Garsington one night last week, had a Tawny Owl flying alongside the car all the way down the hill, apparently hunting using the light from her headlights.

The cold weather has increased Fieldfare numbers with over 200 in fields above Cuddesdon, while despite a local farmer carefully placing rotating coloured balloons on sticks in his freshly sown field, the newly emerging shoots still attracted over 250 Woodpigeon. That'll teach 'em to sow in autumn ;-)

No comments:

Post a Comment