Dec 17, 2009

From the kitchen door

Its chilly cold up here now and I am not getting out that much. I was out west Saturday but failed miserably to connect with tims class on Sunday. That was a bit of a miss but that’s how it go’s. At the moment gallivanting about the isles is a bit of a luxury expense so I am having to console my self by standing at the back door and looking out. Its meagre pickings most of the time as you may imagine.

We look to the east with the heather covered Harray hills and the Lyde valley about two miles distant. Between us and the heather are fields of mostly grass for grazing and silage and a few cereal fields. We have the usual suspects taking advantage of the landscape. There are small flocks of greylags here and there with bigger waders waiting to be picked up by the scope. The parish starling flock is often visible feeding on the ground or balling up and settling on telephone cables in their nervous fashion. When one of the regular raptors crosses the air space it soon becomes evident just how many birds are on the ground as flocks of startled birds take to the air, with lapwings, oyks, curlews, skulking ducks and occasionally golden plover and more often about.

Closer in and the pickings become thinner. The sparrows have been increasing in number with things topping out at around fifty at the moment. One interesting sparrow happening to day was a sparrow on a concrete fence strainer. As I watched it was rolling its gaze upwards. It must have been attracted to the small hatch of flies hovering above it in the watery sunshine. With out warning it started to jump up and catch the flies out of the air. It carried on with this feeding behaviour for a few minutes until distracted by another sparrow crossing her bows carrying an unfeasibly large piece of bread and was off.

Greenfinches seem more abundant at the moment, I suppose its being driven on by the increasingly colder weather. A few resident blackbirds and a complaining wren kinda complete the residents list. These residents often struggle for the kitchen scraps when the larger interlopers arrive for food. Common gull and blackheaded get pushed aside by the herring gulls and greater blackbacks. Hoodie crows work together to claim food before fighting amongst them selves for the lions share. Ravens have been coming down as well. At the moment they are reinforcing the pair bonds with lots of ariel displays and raucous calls. As soon as the solstice is by the will feel the sap rising and be off to claim their ancestral nesting grounds and begin refurbishment….the first breeders of the coming spring.

The best birds of the day have been a pair of Hoodies that gave good views of iridescence in the sunlight whilst waiting to pounce on a couple of slices of loaf, a few redwings that passed over with their thin short calls and a few twite one of which gave a nice view on the fence wire before dropping in to the rank grass beyond to join this companions in foraging for food.

Ahh five minutes at the back door.

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