Winter brings rock hard ground and bare trees. The insects are all gone. So we help out a bit with bird seed, peanut nets and fat balls.
We are rewarded by a constant presence of tits of all kinds, though getting a picture of the volatile long-tails is proving elusive. We are not helped by the squirrel who will happily sit for hours munching his way through the seeds. This week he even detached a fat ball, bigger than his head, and struggled up to the top of the birch to eat it in peace.
Of course the mouse also exploits our generosity but doesn’t inhibit the birds. He certainly has to scuttle off for the woodpeckers.
We know the male has a red patch on the back of his head, and the juvenile has a red cap. We’ve only managed to catch the female at the table so far, though the others are hanging around in the woods.
Seemingly very happy and comfortable with the crowds we have a lovely Marsh/Willow tit pair. We don’t know which they are because although the songs are distinctive, they don’t talk with their mouths full.
So today’s winner of a free walk in the woods is …. My only follower 🙂 The answers are:
A. A wren near Dunkeld in Scotland B. A swallow in the Cinques Terres in Italy C. A chaffinch in Geneva D. A greater spotted woodpecker in Geneva E. A green woodpecker in Geneva F. A goldfinch in Geneva G. A curlew near Carnoustie in Scotland H. A shag near Arbroath in Scotland I. A hooded crow in Lucca, Italy J. A tree creeper in Geneva K. A buzzard over Geneva Lake L. A redstart in Geneva M. A white tailed eagle on Lewis, in the outer hebrides N. A grey wagtail in Anstruther, Fife O. A baby stonechat on Ben Vrakie, near Pitlochry P. A firecrest at Scotney Castle in Kent.
Forget the ducks and swans on the lake. Wander downstream and follow the sweep of the river through rocky gorges and by open fields, through bits of woodland and past people’s back fences.
Leaving the pier at the point of Jonction, spot the Black headed gull with just the beauty spot on her white cheek. Further along in the gorge under the Pont Butin you’ll see Heron, tree perching rather than sit mid stream where the current is perhaps too strong, Or gliding to a refuge just that bit further from your lens. Crows are masters of all they survey from perches high atop the trees. Emerging into fields and a Buzzard rests on a fence post before sweeping off towards the nearby copse. Farther out from the town a Kestrel waits patiently on a telephone line. And in between the birds the countryside is glorious too.
Bird spotting is challenging. Those in our environment, suburban Europe, tend to be quite small, very fast moving, shy and fairly unexciting.
My first surprise from the camera was being able to really see them. To have the time to look, once that tiny image is frozen. Not so unexciting after all! The sheer amazement that a sparrow is, in fact, so colourful!
Of course we have to cheat. A bird table, set relatively close to a window. Some choice food chosen for the potential customer. Not click bait, chick bait! That way they come out of their hiding in the trees and hedges and give us the chance to snap away to our hearts content.
Of course, not all will enjoy the feeder, or the bird house. The chaffinch happily comes for the sunflower seeds, but only from the ground.
They do cohabit of course. Swallows and house martins will nest on your house. Though they aren’t going to stand still for a posed shot when there are hungry babies to feed. We have blue tits and coal tits that find our garden wall’s Swiss cheese finish ideal for making homes.
And don’t even dream of enticing the hawks in. You have to go to them. Around here we get kites and buzzards galore. But they are one tough cookie to catch. Both will hold still on a perch occasionally. But usually they are soaring and stooping. In the autumn you can often see flocks of kites circling with the crows behind a tractor stripping the corn and exposing the small mammals. I’ve not yet managed to be at the right place, at the right time, with my camera. Photography 101. If you haven’t got the camera you won’t get the picture! This distant shot is a red kite.