Saturday, 16 November 2013

Small Bird News

Warning - some readers may find the last two pictures on this blog entry upsetting.

The Diary, always anxious to ensure that the local small bird population is well fed in winter, is constantly inventing new feeders.  The latest is designed to deliver sunflower seeds, not in such quantities as the bankrupt the household budget, but sufficient to keep the birds fat through the coming cold months.

As always with a new contraption, the blue tits are first on the case. Even if their initial efforts are directed in the wrong direction - the hole is just above the blue bottletop - they get there in the end.

The great tits follow, perhaps by seeing what the blue tits are doing.  The blue tits are abstemious in their consumption, taking one seed and flying off to the nearest safe perch to enjoy it.  The great tits are greedy, sitting on the perch and scoffing seeds until they feel ill and fall off.

The chaffinch mob is never far behind, led by the females.  At this point the seed is going down so fast the feeder would have to be filled a dozen times a day, and which point the Diary goes back to the drawing board.

Another new feeder this winter is this piece of Chinese pottery.  It's unusual: the chaffinches, who tend to spoil everything, aren't too interested, so birds like robins and yellowhammers have a chance.

The range of species in our small bird population remains limited.  We haven't seen either siskins or coal tits in ages, we fear that the local greenfinches are extinct, and the excitement of redpoll, twite and linnet is a distant memory.

Three collared doves have been regular visitors to the bird tables.  They're greedy, so most of the feed is laid out under green mesh to prevent them scoffing the lot.  Two were a very loving couple, though they were quite vicious in dealing with the third, whom they saw as an interloper on their territory.  In the last few days the loving couple have disappeared, leaving a pile of feathers as a memory.

A week ago we spotted this dunnock feeding in the enclosed area in front of the terrace.   He appeared to have a growth above his right eye, though this didn't seem to prevent him from feeding and flying.  For a dunnock, he was unusually aggressive towards other birds, but we put this down to his desperate need to survive.  We didn't expect to see him back.

But he was on the terrace again yesterday.  If anything, his growth was larger, and he seemed to have more difficulty in orientating himself.  We'll continue to follow his brave fight for survival.


  1. Sheila writes to say, "Very sad...looks like Avian Pox.

    Thanks Sheila. I'm busy disinfecting all my feeders with Jeyes fluid. Jon

  2. My apologies to the person who put the following comment on this post, but I inadvertently pressed the wrong button and consigned it to oblivion:

    Jon, I recently came across this excellent Mull website: Treshnish Nature Log. It is very detailed and frequently updated, and may indicate what birds are around your way too. I hope this link works

    The link worked, thank you, and the site is well worth a visit with some superb photographs.


    1. I wondered where it'd got to! These things happen. Yes, an excellent nature blog. His partner has her own blog, with links to yours, Craigard Croft and other fine sites, so I think they're friendly!