Tag Archives: bird feeder

A tale of two partridges

We had a red-legged partridge at the bird feeding station yesterday. They can tell when the shooting season is over and gradually begin to appear around the yard mooching for spilt grain and chicken food. We’ve not had one by the feeder before so it’s a first for the list.

The grey partridges they reared for the shoot all disappeared by last autumn and everyone thought they had wandered away or fallen prey to predators.

However, since the end of the shooting season we have started seeing them again.

They have a brain the size of a pea. They have no formal education. But they seem quite intelligent to me.

 

More statues

It’s been a good week for birds, though a poor week for photography means I don’t have much to show for it. I do, however, have a decent shot of the kestrel and two jackdaws on The Neighbours. We’re still waiting for the nest box so I fear we’re going to miss out if we don’t get a move on.

Fortunately I borrowed Julia’s camera so I did a bit better than usual.

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The smaller of The Sweepers appeared in the Nottingham Post today as a reader’s photograph, so it seems like the statues are taking on a life of their own.

We had another group out too, for more lamb fondling and such. Julia did a spinning and wool craft workshop to round off the day while I sat down to go through the list of allergens we use in the Saturday Cafe (open 9-1 on Saturday mornings if you are close enough. Don’t stay too long because I have a group of Guides coming down to make nettle soup and soda bread in the afternoon and I don’t want any hold ups. Yes, you’re right, I’m not a natural in the world of hospitality.

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Days of contrasts

I did an internet course on Food Allergies on Friday. It was nothing spectacular – a couple of hours of reading followed by 15 not very searching questions and a button to print out a City and Guilds accredited certificate.

It isn’t so much about Food Allergies as about the legal requirements around food allergies that we need to know about when running the community cafe on Saturday mornings. So after a weekend of domestic servitude I was faced with a day of admin and lists, hence the lack of posting yesterday. I like learning, but to be honest, I really don’t like the grind of putting it down on paper so that people can advise me on how to improve it or how to make it into the subject of a meeting.

Talking of which, we dodged the bullet last night and didn’t have to hold a weekly meeting, though we’ll pay for that today as we’re having a quarterly meeting. Yes, the farm is run on the principle that more meetings make for better management. Shame it’s a misguided principle – more meetings make for more talking and, in my case, more danger of falling asleep.

It wasn’t all admin and lists to be fair – we also had visitors. Beth who used to work in the farm ofice came to see how we were. She’s happy with her new job in catering and hospitality, up for promotion and even seems to have grown, though I suspect that’s due to higher heels. You can wear higher heels in hospitality than you can in farming. The group found her a set of wellingtons (a size too big) and made her go out to see the new piglets, the pregnant goats and the obstinately non-lambing sheep.

Bea the sculptress visited for a working lunch. She’s going to be helping us make a tree sculpture for use with the Woodland Trust project we’re doing and, later, for the Education tent at Flintham Ploughing Match.

This morning (Tuesday) julia has just completed the new flyer for school visits – it features a watermarked picture of a small tortoiseshell butterfly and brought back memories of summer. For a moment I felt quite summery.

That lasted until I looked out of the window and saw a goldfinch hanging on to the nyger seed feeder for dear life. There’s a  20 – 25 mph gusting wind outside and the feeder is at a fair old angle so the bird is really having to work for its seed.

Roll on summer.

Wednesday

A busy day today. Amongst other things, we got a decent bird count under our belts with a buzzard and a picture of long-tailed tits on the fat balls. I’ll write that up tomorrow.

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We also had a birthday party (with cake), wrote a few lines on each of our sausage varieties (I’m well on my way to becoming the Sausage Laureate), wrote a couple of emails relating to the rebuilding of Number Two son’s knee, did the admin and did the cleaning ready for the yoga group and kitchen visitors tomorrow. I’m good at cleaning, a fact that infuriates my wife, who thinks I ought to do it at home too. As if…

Finally I had to look up recipes for guinea fowl. There’s probably no easy way of breaking this to you, but there aren’t as many guinea fowl as there used to be in the barn. I like them, I even admire their indomitable spirit, but when it comes down to it I’ll eat pretty much anything apart from people and beetroot. I never have liked beetroot.

 

More birds

I was feeling pretty downhearted when I returned to the farm this morning – what with an evening of admin balancing a laptop on my knee and the lack of birds yesterday there wasn’t much to enthuse me. And tghere it was!

In the hedge by the entrance we had a mixed tit and finch flock. Chaffinches, great tits, a greenfinch, coal tit…

It’s not easy peering out of the car into a hedge, but it was a good start. By the time I’d found the keys to the centre and put some more food out I’d added jackdaws, a robin and blackbirds to the list. A pair of mallard flew over as I started watching properly, a wood pigeon followed and dunnocks hopped around the base of the feeder.

To be honest I was a bit upset I hadn’t brought the camera, a feeling that increased when a reed bunting took up position in a bare branched apple tree by the vegetables, being joined moments later by a yellowhammer.

As I went back into the main room to use the telescope I noticed movement by the wilow arches – a goldfinch, followed by three more – a veritable charm of goldfinches on a grey day.

When I got to the telescope I couldn’t believe my eyes. A long-tailed tit on the fat balls, then another. In the end we had four at the same time. I’d heard them calling yesterday but hadn’t seen one.

What a turn round, but with no camera and no witnesses who will ever believe me after yesterdays grim showing?

This particularly true as after writing this I spent ten minutes straining to see any avaian movement at all, finally adding a blue tit, a pair of rooks and twenty five jackdaws to the list (the jackdaws were sitting on telephone wires – that’s how I managed to count them). The reed bunting came back and the dunnocks and blackbirds reappeared – with a white shoulder on the male, it’s easy to identify the blackbirds as the same pair. Several female chaffinches lurked in the hawthorn, pretending to be more interesting than they really are.

I’ve decided I like my job again…

 

 

Big Farmland Bird Count – part 1

It’s been a frustrating day today, with our first crack at the Big Farmland Bird Count.

At 9.10 am I had the telescope set up on a buzzard sitting in the big tree across the field. Although we’ve often seen it go there, this was the first time it had given us such a clear view.

Of course, at 9.55 am it decided to move on, never to be seen again. After that people arrived and we were kept busy for a couple of hours before we could settle down for the count.

What had been skies full of birds abruptly emptied and we found ourselves staring out on a birdless prairie. I really don’t know how they do it. One day you can be sitting in the car waiting to go, or just looking idly out of the window and you’ll see a barn owl, a great spotted woodpecker or a charm of goldfinches, but the next (when you are deliberately looking), there’s nothing.

Well, next to nothing. We saw chaffinches, robins, dunnocks, blackbirds, wood pigeons, a blue tit, a wren and a starling. I’d seen most of them yesterday when I spent an hour cleaning up in my back garden in Nottingham. The only bright spot in the half hour was when three yellowhammers turned up. You don’t see them in Nottingham.

We’ve seen some good stuff from here – a kestrel chasing a buzzard (twice), a buzzard chasing a barn owl and a sparrowhawk struggling to gain altitude with a pigeon clutched in its talons. And before you ask, no, I don’t know why they do it, apart from the sparrowhawk. Anyone who has seen me struggling home with a large pie will recognise that behaviour. What we haven’t seen is crows or rooks mobbing a sparrowhawk, which you would expect to see as we have plenty of sparrowhawks and plenty of corvids. However, when it comes down to it, we’ve probably spent less than 24 hours watching interesting birds out of the last three years, so the chances of seeing something notable are about one in a thousand.

We’re counting again on Wednesday with the full group – here’s hoping we’ll see something interesting.

New Arrivals

Arrived at the farm to find that, unlike Nottingham, there was no snow here and no sign that it had snowed overnight. That was a blow as I’d been hoping that more birds would be forced to use our food. As it turned out there was a flock of tits, finches and buntings feeding in the hedge and on the bird feeder. I actually had a long-tailed tit stand on the fence and watch me from no more than six feet away. Of course, my camera was in the car.

There was some sleet as we planned out the jobs for the day and went through a technical session on pigs designed by one of the group. It was mainly on terminology and I now know I should call a group of small pigs a litter rather than “sausages” and that a stag is not just a male deer or male turkey but a male pig that was castrated later in life. Seems a strange word to use in this context but farmers are a strange bunch.

One of the sows farrowed this morning. She’s called Ginger because she has a lot of Tamworth in her, though you can’t tell . The nine piglets are a strange spotted mixture – some ginger with a few spots and some black and white with lots of spots.

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In the other half of the barn the new goats are settling in. A couple of them are pregnant, so with piglets and lambing and goats we’re going to be in for a lively time.