The snow is still thick on the ground, and I’m really seeing a difference in my avian visitors. Some are struggling, they are all still bickering, and many are new.
Last week I recorded twenty two species. This included a pheasant and bullfinch – both occasional visitors. Then a jay landed – a garden first. Late on saturday afternoon (the last day of the week for BTO Garden Birdwatch recording) I saw a pale-headed bird. Could it be a yellowhammer? In all the snowy weather last winter I didn’t see one but I went to grab my binoculars just in case. I came back to see that all the birds had flown off. As I was about to turn away in defeat a magnificent female sparrowhawk flew in and landed on the small ash tree at the edge of the garden. She posed for a few minutes (but no way was I leaving to get my camera) and then leisurely flew away.
The next day I got a confirmed sighting of a male yellowhammer, hanging out with a group of chaffinches. It seems that some of the birds taking advantage of the farmer’s barley have got wind of my seed offerings and have come to check me out.
Now I didn’t think it was going to get better than a yellowhammer. But it did. For the past two days I’ve been visited by a couple of male reed buntings. Unlike the cautious yellowhammers, these buntings are much more relaxed. They’ve been hanging around the front of the house where I can see them from my office, and I’ve been able to get some really good shots.
This week I’m up to seventeen species. I doubt I’ll top twenty two, but we’re only half way through the week so who knows? Conspicuous by their absence so far are the winter thrushes. I’ve seen the odd fieldfare and song thrush in the local hedgerows but nothing in the garden. I’m guessing there’s still so much fruit on the trees they don’t need to come into the gardens – or maybe they’ve all moved South? The blackbirds certainly don’t mind – they get all the sultanas to themselves.
I’ve put more photos on Flickr if you want to take a look: I’m Yazz2