Tag Archives: Long-tailed tit

Kingfisher!

OK, you’ll have to take my word for it because, as usual, we didn’t get the photograph.

We went for a look at Budby Flash, because we wanted to see birds but didn’t want to walk. As we parked, Julia pointed at one of the feeders, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding.  The photos are a bit hazy because we took pictures through the windscreen rather than risk scaring it off.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker – Budby Flash

When we did eventually get out of the car it flew off, as expected.

The feeders were full of tits with the odd robin, chaffinch and dunnock having a go. The robins, which normally pose so well, were too busy chasing each other, resulting in a lack of photographs. I got one poor shot of a coal tit but it was mainly a day for blue and great tits, with a visit from some long-tailed tits (who did their best to hide their faces).

While I was taking photos of the feeders Julia stalked round the trees that overhang the water by the bridge. A cry of surprise interrupted my photography and I turned just in time to see the eastern end of a westbound kingfisher. It managed to find a spot just round the corner, where it was still close, but hidden. I did think I’d spotted it later, but it was just a discarded beer can when I zoomed in.

Banty Feather Poke

I always struggle with titles, so this one, chalked on the board in the RSPB shop at Carsington Water, seemed like a gift.

The story is that an 85-year-old customer asked them if they’d ever heard of one. His grandfather had learned the term as a boy and had passed it on to him when he was doing a school project. They worked out that the grandfather was born in the 1870s.

For comparison, my Dad is 88 and his grandfathers were born in 1871 and 1874 so we are about in the right area.

A banty feather poke is a Long-tailed Tit’s nest, and was in use in the Matlock area in the 1870s – 80s. The customer told them this because he didn’t want the name to die out.

Well, I’m doing my bit to keep it going.

They’d done some internet research and found that a poke is a pocket. Sounds fair enough, though I also think of it as a drawstring bag or purse. Either are quite good at describing this sort of nest, as you can see if you follow the link.

The feather is obvious, there are between 1,500 and 2,000 feathers in each nest. Makes you wonder why they bother, but they’ve being doing it for a long time and I suppose it makes evolutionary sense somewhere along the line.

Banty, could be something to do with bantams, but if you check up on a Derbyshire dialect website banty-legged means bow-legged. Not that it helps. I’ll have to check the legs next time I see one.

Finally, if you check this website for old names for Long-tailed Tits, you will find an extensive list including bumbarrel (the only one I’ve heard before) and Feather Poke.

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Lomg Tailed Tit at Rufford Abbey

 

 

Saturday’s list

Mainly, I’m going to see my Dad today, but the morning will be taken up with yawning, displacement activity, moving books into piles mentally marked “Keep”, “Possibly” and “Not Yet” (you can see why the charity donation programme is grinding along slowly), and watching cookery programmes.

Cookery programmes fall under the categories of “Health”, “Nutrition” and “Education”. I have no conscience about watching them while Julia works. I do have a conscience about watching comedies and crime fiction, so I don’t watch them on Saturday and Sunday while she is at work. Quizzes are “Education”. Soaps, Australian soaps, most American comedy and programmes about the emergency services are, if I find myself watching at any time, are a sign that I need to go for a walk.

Since my trip to the doctor in December I have been given another blood pressure tablet, aspirin, and a pill to stop the aspirin eating my stomach away. The Taking of the Tablets is now quite an undertaking. That is now something I need to schedule in my day.

When you are taking pills to nullify the side effects of other pills it is time to start thnking about some serious weight loss. We are still, little by little, getting through the sweets and biscuits we were given for Christmas. Another week should do it. Next year I think we may allow ourselves a week of relaxed diet and then donate the remaining calories to charity. It’s a bit Scrooge-like but I need to get a grip.

I’m off to see my father now. I will spend the journey down looking for Buzzards and Red Kites. The journey back will be occupied by me musing on mortality, and (mainly) by wondering how a man with Alzhemer’s has beaten me at dominoes. Again.

The bird pictures are ones from the day we were attacked by the swan.

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Gadwall drake – Rufford Abbey lake

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Gadwall duck on Rufford Abbey lake

The Marmalade Police and other stories…

My first thought on waking this morning was “The Marmalade Police cars don’t have very impressive sirens.”

No, I’m not sure what it was about either. I think it probably stems from my thoughts on making Epiphany tarts for our Christmas party, and my concerns about not having enough colours of jam to do the job properly. The use of marmalade has crossed my mind, but I have reservations, despite the recipe provided in the link.

There is something wrong, according to my moral conserve compass about mixing jam and marmalade. I’m not sure where this comes from – I’m happy with jam and curd being used together for instance – but I’m conflicted. Where does it end? Bovril? Marmite? Chocolate spread?

Obviously this has resulted in a dream world in which fruit spreads have their own Conserve Constabulary for ensuring that they are used correctly. Or, more tongue-twistingly, its own Jam Gendarmerie.

Yes, I admit it doesn’t sound sane, but dreams are like that.

We were out on the farm today, so things were less exotic for the rest of the day. We saw a Buzzard walking on a ploughed field looking for worms, and a few more Fieldfares in the driveway. Couldn’t get shots of either. Buzzards really don’t measure up to my idea of majestic bird of prey.

Couldn’t get a shot of any bird at all during the morning, but I did manage to answer some emails, have a meeting and test a pork pie.

Finally, just after lunch I snapped a Long-tailed tit. We haven’t seen many this year and I missed some yesterday. It’s not a great shot but it was nice to get one, even if the dirty glass was messing with the autofocus. That was followed by some time with Men in Sheds and a go at emptying the polytunnel.

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Long tailed tit at the Ecocentre feeders

Finally, with the fog growing thicker, and swirling with menace, I had one more go before knocking off early. A Wren kept tormenting me by posing in clear view, only to vanish as I zoomed in. We had Starlings, Blue tits, Great tits and Greenfinches, plus a mob of Goldfinches.

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Mob of Goldfinches

Finally a small brown bird perched to feed. I zoomed in and took the shot, noticing a tiny red patch on the head. My first thought was Linnet, but I’ve been fooled by red-faced Goldfinches and bad light before. I have seen Linnets around, but not on the bird table, so it’s always likely one may drop in.

However, when I checked the photo I had a pleasant surprise: it’s a Redpoll.

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Redpoll on the Ecocentre feeder

It’s not super-rare, but I’ve not seen one on the farm before and I’ve never seen one on a bird table either. All in all it was a good end to the day.