Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Small Bird News

This was dawn this morning, with the sun rising over the hills of Morvern at 8.30 and the chaffinch mob at our bird table lining up for breakfast.

For the first time this year we had a ground frost at the end of Ormsaigbeg, though there were frosts in Kilchoan, which is less warmed by the sea, a couple of weeks ago. These starlings live around the Ferry Stores and are seen here working their way across the saltings by the slipway.

A few weeks ago, all our blackbirds disappeared. They hadn't had a good summer, unlike last year when the resident pair produced a large family of cheeky young birds which pillaged our strawberry and raspberry beds under our noses.

For some time we saw no blackbirds. Then they started to reappear, in increasing numbers, but they were quite different, very shy and wary of the bird feeders. Some of the black ones, presumably the males, have black beaks; some, like this one, have the traditional yellow.

We assume that these are blackbirds from the north, possibly from Scandinavia, which have arrived to take the place of our summer residents who have migrated south. The newcomers are just in time to gorge on the mass of berries which are weighing down the trees - rowans, whitebeam (above), hawthorne and dog rose.

We've been anticipating that this berry feast would draw in other foreign species and, sure enough, the redwings and fieldfares are arriving in increasingly large flocks, again from Scandinavia. The redwings tend to bury themselves in the foliage, exploding outwards if they feel you're coming too close.

Our chaffinches have had an excellent breeding year, and are now by far the most common bird at our bird feeders, followed by yellowhammers, robins, goldfinches, house sparrows, blue tits and great tits. The chaffinch dominance seems to have chased away some species: for example, we haven't seen a siskin in ages.

The robins seem to spend most of their time chasing each other around the garden. We've always assumed that, at this time of year, they're establishing their territories for the winter, and our terrace is prime real estate. The fights can become quite vicious, with the victor pursuing the vanquished, which....

....may have caused this robin to forget to look left and right before crossing our very busy road.

This post is specially for JJC, who tells me that 'Small Bird News'
and 'Ships in the Sound' are his favourite blog features.

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