Friday, 8 March 2013

Bird News

Only a month ago we were worrying about the loss of some species from amongst the birds over-wintering in our garden - greenfinch, siskin and yellowhammer were mentioned.  Well, something has happened over the last week or so which has changed the dynamics of the garden.

The greenfinches were the biggest worry as they've been suffering for some years from a fatal disease, trichomonosis, which has hugely reduced their numbers.  So it was wonderful to see this healthy male at one of the peanut feeders taking no nonsense from his chaffinch cousins.

Early in the winter two pairs of yellowhammers were regular visitors, but they disappeared for a couple of months - but they're back.  Even better, the yellowhammers are in full mating plumage, the males spectacular in their bright yellow hoods.

Not only have the siskins returned but they're doing very un-siskin-like things.  Usually they're to be seen eating from the peanut feeders in a very characteristic upside-down posture, but this one went for the seed, particularly the seed which had been put in a new (made in China) pottery food dispenser designed to keep the seed dry.

We've no real idea why these three species have been absent.  It may be that they were chased off by the hoards of chaffinches (on the seeds) and bluetits (on the peanuts).  Certainly, the numbers of the common species have gone down with the recent fine weather, possibly as they've been away staking out mating territories.  It's possible - though it wounds the Diary to consider this possibility - that other gardens have been offering better fare.

Groups of curlews are still working the croft fields, poking their long, curved bills into the soil for worms and grubs.  They stalk the fields in compact formation, almost in step, and are very wary of human approach: this picture was taken from a car window.  Shortly the curlews will be splitting into pairs and confining their activities to the seashore.

There have been plenty of sightings of eagles across the peninsula in the last few weeks, both sea and golden.  This is a fairly distant shot of one soaring across Ardnamurchan Estate land.  Identification was easy as the Raptor was in our company, and he said it was a young sea eagle.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a ring on the right leg of the curlew in the foreground. Is this likely, and could you tell by zooming in?