Tag Archives: fieldfare

Cleaning up

We had a day on the farm cleaning up today, which was rather sad.

It was a cold and blustery day – you can tell it was blustery from the angle of the feeder in the picture, but you’ll have to take my word for the temperature.

We spoke to the lady who is moving in to run a project, agreed a price for the polytunnel and found out that she is now on version 9 of her plan for the site as the farmer and incoming tenants keep changing their minds about what she can have. That’s life on the farm – you pay your rent and you get messed about.

It seems that the architects will be flattening the allotment area – all the herbs, the rhubarb and the keyhole beds are under threat. The plan is to erect a selection of yurts and garden rooms.

According to the internet there were two Waxwings in the neglected orchard in Flintham so we went to look for them as it’s only the next village. We didn’t see any, though there were plenty of Fieldfares about.

Best bird of the day turned out to be a Redpoll perching in a tree by the Ecocentre when we pulled up. That’s now the seconf redpoll we’ve had at the centre and the first for this year. I managed one blurred photo before it flew away.

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Fieldfare

In the afternoon we tried again – no Waxwings, but there were about 60 Fieldfares with a dozen Blackbirds and a single, silent, Long-tailed Tit.

 

In which the day improves

This is the promised Part II, in which the day improves. The morning wasn’t too good but the day improved as it went on. The group has baked mince tarts and iced the cake, so the party food is underway.  Our fully-qualified and licensed Santa Substitute has collected the suit and is going to practice tonight (he has already grown his beard at the sides ready for the Big Day). I can’t post a photo of Santa yet as it will spoil the surprise.

I managed to get a few Fieldfare photos, but with only one skittish individual as a subject it proved difficult. The bird was intent on eating hawthorn berries and when it was in the tree it was either moving or partially obscured by branches. When it was on the ground it spent most of the time in various hunched positions eyeing up berries. I did get a shot of a Yellowhammer, but it was small and blurred. It’s only the second one I’ve seen this winter, which is a bit annoying when you think they were regular visitors to the allotment during the summer.

And finally, after worrying that the guinea fowl had been absent all morning, they finally appeared, waddled across the yard and started to eat all the food under the bird feeders. I suppose it saves waste, but I’m not sure the Chaffinches were happy. A word of warning to the guinea fowl though, if people consider you good to eat it might be a good idea not to eat too much in the run up to Christmas.

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Guinea fowl on the prowl

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.

 

 

 

The sun is shining…

It’s starting to feel like Spring again, with blue sky and sunshine, though the temperature gauge in the car was showing 2 degrees Centigrade outside.

As we passed East Bridgford there was a buzzard in a roadside tree. Later we passed around 200 Lapwings in a field by the side of the A46 (the most we’ve ever seen there) and as we turned into the lane there were a couple of Fieldfares sitting on fence posts. We hadn’t seen any for a couple of weeks and I’d assumed that they had moved on to prepare for the trip back to Scandinavia. The fact that they were perching on the posts is new behaviour (we normally see them in the fields, so they may well be getting ready to go). It seems that  they may stay as late as may, though I don’t recall ever seeing any at that time, and that a couple of pairs a year stay and breed in the UK. That makes sense – I know I’d rather stay here than fly across the North Sea every spring.

Topic of the morning was what runs faster – a hare or an ostrich. No, I don’t know how we narrowed it down to those two. The hare is our fastest land mammal – top speed 50 mph and sustained speed up to 35 mph. The ostrich, which can take strides up to 12 feet long, can manage 60 mph at top speed and can maintain 45 mph. Considering the relative lengths of their legs I would say that the hare is doing well.

Back to boring paperwork for now, will see what the rest of the day brings…

 

Staring at the screen in search of a title

We’ve had a productive day – collected eggs, listed, cleaned and maintained tools,  ditto for gloves (but it involves more complaining as we pair them up and work out how many we’ve lost), admired lambs, written up project folders, sharpened massive numbers of coloured pencils, looked at goats, cut back old herbs and, in my case, been generally cheerful in the face of adversity (working with a bunch of sneezing hypochondriacs can be very wearing). I am very good like that.

Then we looked at the lambs again and checked them against the standard for the Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep. One of them definitely has the black stripe along the belly that is distinctive to the breed. It’s a bit of a mess as stripes go, but it is there. It’s neither good news or bad, but it’s human nature to enjoy finding something new.

There was a buzzard sitting on a fence post by the side of the A46 this morning, looking very spick and span. We followed that up with good sightings of 30-40 Fieldfares and 10 Redwings. There were also about 20 Jackdaws in the same field and a handful of Starlings. The next field had a couple of pairs of red-legged partridges (there’s a shoot this weekend and one in two weeks, after which they will be safe for the spring and summer). Sadly I don’t have photos of the birds, which is something I will try to address this year.

Julia is currently showing a teacher round with a view to us having a visit in February, and I am sitting staring at the screen in search of a title.