Tag Archives: dunnock

An Odd Dunnock

I’ve never seen a Dunnock on a feeder before, but after several minutes of unsuccessfully trying to catch a picture of this one on the floor and in a willow arch I was lucky to catch it on the feeder. It took several beakfuls of peanut, hiding behind the feeder all the time, before striking this pose and then flying off.

One chance. One shot. Sorry it isn’t more interesting but it’s all I could get.

I’m sure it’s not the only Dunnock to use a feeder, just the only one I’ve seen. Has anyone else seen them on feeders?

Last week, whilst walking to work, Eddie spotted a group of four parakeets near Wollaton Park. They seem to be growing in numbers, having been reported in ones and twos over the years. We saw a single bird on the farm on two occasions a few years back. (If the Hall in the link looks familiar you may know it better as “Wayne Manor” from the latest Batman film.)

These photos are some I took in the Mencap Gardens yesterday. The snowdrops aren’t showing and there don’t seem to be any crocuses, but the daffodils are coming on nicely. This calls for a planting binge at some point in the year.

Finally, a few skies, with some assistance from a camera that is considerably cleverer than I am.

Attenborough Nature Reserve

We decided on Attenborough Nature Reserve for an expedition a few weeks ago. It had come up in conversation with visiting birdwatchers on the farm and it occurred to me that I hadn’t been there for about 10 years.

I started to remember why very soon after arrival. For one thing, the reserve is a series of gravel pits, and gravel pits on a murky December morning can be a bit bleak. For another, there isn’t much else to it. There’s no ruin or old trees.

First stop was the cafe. It’s so long since I’ve been to Attenborough that they hadn’t built it last time I was there. It wasn’t very welcoming. Some people who arrived after us started moving chairs around, including a couple on our table. They seemed to be regulars from the way they spoke to the staff, and clearly felt we were in their way.

After that one of the staff members started telling them that despite her years of experience nobody listens to her, and they had put the Christmas tree in the wrong place.

It’s a decent cafe (with shop, toilets, classrooms and a sand martin nest bank/hide) but after our experience on the farm we just don’t want workplace politics with our scones.

The nature area at the back of the cafe has several things of interest, including three sorts of bug hotel, all pictured below.

Add that to being trapped in the sand martin hide whilst a lecture was delivered, loud conversations, brightly-clad joggers and a man letting his dog chase ducks. It all adds up to  an uncomfortable experience.

It seems, from postings on the website, that the bustle doesn’t upset the wildlife and the habitat is some of the best in Europe. It’s also clearly well-used by many people for a variety of recreational and educational purposes.  You can’t really fault it when you look at it like this.

It could have been so good…

Ah well, we’ll just have to give it another try in the New Year. I’m sure it has lots of good points, but the last thing we needed at this point was cafe politics (read previous posts if you want to see why).

 

 

 

 

Tuppence a bag

If you’re familiar with Mary Poppins, you will probably recognise this quote from the song Feed the Birds. If you aren’t familiar with Mary Poppins then you won’t recognise it. At that point I’m not sure what to say. It’s not really my place to comment on your lack of cultural education, but if you get a chance to watch the film over Christmas, I hope you will do so. Apart from the more traditional aspects of Christmas, it is the season to watch films you wouldn’t normally watch during the rest of the year. It’s a Wonderful Life, Muppet Christmas Carol and The Great Escape – there’s an amnesty on watching films that have no place in the other 11 months of the year.

Anyway – from films to feeding birds.

When we arrived we had fieldfares on the verges. They flew into the hedges, startled by the car, and then flew into the field as I tried to get the camera trained on them. Most of the feeders were empty, as we hadn’t filled them since Wednesday. The large feeder still had food in it – the linseed and sunflower seeds from the mouse-infested bin. They hadn’t left it all, but they had definitely slowed down when they got to it, so I’m guessing that the smell of mouse urine puts birds off. It certainly puts me off.

The other problem food was the feeder with the rapeseed, which came from a sample we’d been given for Open Farm Sunday. It had been in the mouse bin but had been in a closed packet so didn’t smell. I’m wondering if there’s something about rapeseed that mice and birds don’t like.

Actually, there was a third problem – ice, cold and plastic water trays don’t mix. In other words, we broke the water dishes as we tried to get the ice out. Fortunately there are puddles to provide water (which made for an interesting few minutes of ice-breaking as we wondered who would be the first to fall over) and the birds have never used the water trays much anyway.

There wasn’t much action on the feeders, despite them being washed and filled with fresh seed.

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Dunnock and rosehips

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Blackbird at the Ecocentre

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Bullfinch at Screveton

I was particulalrly pleased to get the bullfinch, even though it’s a female blending in with the cover, because I heard the call behind me and was able to spot her in the hedge. It’s my first bullfinch photo, and the first time I’ve seen one so close to the centre – they are normally in the hedges up the lane.

The blackbird is one of our normal family with a few white feathers. I don’t know if the white feathers come back in the same place after moulting – if they do this must be a new generation as last year’s male had white in the wings.

 

 

 

Peacocks, birds and Painted Ladies

I could have added Red Admirals to the title, to make it a tale of Communist Naval Commanders dressing up to attract women of a certain sort. Bit I didn’t, so it’s just about butterflies. And a bit about birds.

A week, they say, is a long time in politics. Five minutes, as I was to discover this morning, is a long time in butterfly counting.

It was a glorious day this morning and I would have taken some photographs but I got caught up with something else, we had chickens to look after, then a visitor called and we didn’t get on with the count until lunch.

As I stepped out onto the decking I knew we had a problem. It was cool, overcast, and the numerous butterflies I’d seen in the morning had all gone. I suppose the totals were more typical of the actual activity of butterflies, as we tend to count on good days, when there are plenty of butterflies about, thus manipulating the figures by accident.

Count 1

12.30 – 12.45 Monday 1st August.

Temperature: 19 degrees C

Wind: 6 kph from the SSE

Red Admiral – 1

Peacock – 2

Small White – 2

No sooner had we finished than the sun started to break through, the temperature rose noticeably and, though the wind remained gusty, the butterflies emerged.

It was like one of the those Old Testament moments in a black and white film. There was no pointing finger and no portentous music, but there was a definite change in the sky and things started to happen.

Count 2

12.45 – 01.00 Monday 1st August.

Temperature: 21 degrees C (may have been more at one point, but that’s what it was by the time I got back to the weather station display.

Wind: 3 – 9 kph from the SSE (that’s a guess, but it was both weaker and stronger than during the original count).

Red Admiral – 3

Peacock – 6

Small White – 2

Large White – 5

Gatekeeper – 1

Small Tortoiseshell – 1

Painted Lady – 1

That’s quite a difference, in numbers and variety. If it had been a more gradual change I’d have missed it by going inside for dinner before the activity started.

Birds have been gradually coming back with goldfinches and blue tits on the feeders and pied wagtails on the grass. There are wrens and Green Woodpeckers in the trees. I have a picture of an immature bird that I thought was a dunnock, then a robin, then…

The immature ones can be tricky.

I’m going to take a chance and say it’s a dunnock.