Tag Archives: robin

More from Yesterday

First stop of the day was in the garden with Julia.  A Robin was singing its heart out, Goldfinches were flitting round the treetops, two Cormorants flew over and a Green Woodpecker was yaffling in the trees. (Later, the woodpecker would visit the garden and perch on top of the large polytunnel.)

It was too cool for insects, but we had a window to mend and various other things to do. The glass for the window is going to cost £24. We’d spend that if we had a meal while we were out, but when it has to come from fund-raising, and when you consider it was broken by the worst burglar in the world, it is extremely irksome.

I did manage to get a dragonfly picture.

At the end of the day, when I returned from Men in Sheds with the pieces of 16 nest boxes, there were a few more insects about, including a massive bee and a strange fly. The quality of photography was not good and I didn’t get much worth showing. The newly painted door has a frame now, and the planters have become white. The blue stripes are lengths of fabric from discarded blinds (skip-diving again) – it’s probably not a long-term solution but it saves paint.

Have to get Julia to work now, will add ID notes later.

The dragonfly is a Common Darter.

The fly is some species of the sarcopaga family – flesh flies. You have to examine the genitalia closely to tell what exact species it is and, frankly, I don’t care enough to do that.

The bumblebee was massive. In pre-metric measurements it’s about the size of the end of my thumb. I could see it from 20 yards away. It’s probably a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

A Walk Round the Lake

Life can’t be all nature reserves and rarities, so yesterday saw us back at Rufford Abbey. There was, as usual, nothing rare, but there’s always something worth seeing.

The Robins were in good voice.

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Singing Robin – Rufford Abbey

We spent a while watching two Magpies building a nest in the tree tops (without being able to get a clear shot) and a pair of Nuthatches popped out of the woods to have a look at us. They are always a challenging subject as they tend to flit about without regard to the needs of photography. This was the best photo, despite only showing one of the pair.

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Nuthatch in an Elder tree

We saw two Wrens and managed to get a couple of shots (they are worse than Nuthatches for flitting about), checked out the Great Crested Greebes (now in full breeding plumage) and watched a Grey Heron drop in to fish. Great Tits and Dunnocks also cooperated by posing.

Despite the fact we walk here most weeks, there’s always something new to see and always something new to learn. I never knew, for instance, that magpies build nests using branches that are nearly as long as they are.

Birds in Sherwood Forest

These are the bird photos from the trip to photograph the oaks in Sherwood Forest. It was a bit dull and the birds were quick (unlike the oaks) so they aren’t quite as sharp as I’d like. I missed a couple of Coal Tits that came down to feed, plus Blackbirds, Chaffinches and Dunnocks that lurked in the undergrowth. There were two pigeons too, but I ignored them as I don’t want to encourage them to steal food from small, cute birds.

It’s a lot better than Rufford from that point of virw, as there are more pigeons there, plus a lot of gulls which can polish off a handful of sunflower hearts like magic.

I filled three feeders in the car park and heard a clattering behind me, as birds started feeding before I’d got out of the way.

I need to work out a better way of doing this. Do I just fill one so I can stay focussed on it all the time, or do I fill six so they don’t chase each other away all the time? Even with six there were probably enough Great Tits to chase everything else off.

They were changing places so fast that once I pressed the button to take a Great Tit and ended up with a picture of a Nuthatch!  OK, my frozen fingers were moving quite slowly, which would have helped.

I presume the cold was one of the reasons they were feeding so eagerly.

 

More Birds – Screveton and Sherwood Forest

Here are photographs of more birds from last Wednesday, following up on the previous bird post and the Friday post.

The Goldfinches are acting like a bunch of thugs, quarrelling amongst themselves and driving other birds away. You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but they really can be very aggressive.

We had a flock of Long-tailed tits look in, but they perched in the surrounding trees calling to each other before deciding not to contest the feeders with the Goldfinches. We really need fat balls to tempt them, but after the Jackdaw [roblems earlier in the year I don’t really want to use fat balls again. I may try coconut halves filled with fat as they seemed to work well when we saw them at Sherwood Forest last Friday.

We have moved the second feeder from the back garden to see if we can ease the thuggery by spreading the birds out more. It has never been well used, even though it is situated close to a belt of trees that attracts quite a lot of birds. The ones that use the feeders tend to fly out of the trees and pass it on the way to the other feeder.

Birds can be very strange.

So far, after one day, very few birds have chosen to use the new feeding station, despite it only being five yards from the other.

It’s a tricky situation because we will have to stop feeding the birds at the end of the month when we leave the centre. We haven’t really started feeding properly since we let it tail off in late summer. They have had plenty of food in the fields and some of the food in the feeders had actually gone off because birds had stopped visiting.

I rushed into it last week, cleaning the feeders with a piece of stick and using food that had been stored in a bin for the last few months.  The bin had been chewed by mice and I had to evict several before I could get the food, which smelt very mousy. I’m not sure if this has a bearing on the lack of enthusiasm for some of the feeders.

We will wash the feeders on Monday and refill everything with freshly purchased food. I know I found the smell off-putting and I wouldn’t blame the birds for feeling the same way.

We will feed until we leave and will leave the remains of the food and ask the farm to feed after we have gone. It’s not ideal but it’s the best we can do. Meanwhile the group can continue to watch birds until we finish.

Practical note here – cheap plastic feeders buckle when subjected to boiling water. It may seem hygenic, but it’s annoying to hqve to buy new feeders so be careful. I’m going to use Milton. It works for babies, lambs and apple pressing so it whould work for bird feeders.

The following photographs were some we took in Sherwood Forest on Friday. I’m quite pleased with the shot of the acrobatic Robin eating from the coconut shell and the Nuthatch. I’d hoped we would see a Nuthatch and we did see several in the end, though they are difficult to photograph. Julia managed to get the best shots, much to my frustration. Most of mine looked like blue blurs.

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Coal Tit – Sherwood Forest

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Acrobatic Robin eating from coconut shell

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Great Tit feeding from coconut shell

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Nuthatch – Sherwood Forest

Nature Notes

I say nature notes, but it’s mainly birds and butterflies. I’m trying to learn more about plants and insects but I don’t learn things as quickly as I used to.

We had two Swallows fly by last Thursday and another one yesterday. Working on the basis that one Swallow doesn’t make a summer it looks like we are well on the way. We also saw two House Martins at the weekend.

We have seen more Brimstones in the last week than we saw in the whole of last year. Well, to be accurate, I suppose it is more accurate to say we have had more Brimstone sightings – it could well just be one very active butterfly. The only time I spotted one land…yes, you guessed it…no camera.

The struggle with Jackdaws continues. They have started on the one at the back of the centre now, though it is quite obvious so this isn’t a surprise. The one concealed in the hedge has attracted some good birds, but the Jackdaws have spotted that one too. They don’t bother with it too much, so it might be OK. On the main feeder I’ve replaced the fat balls with peanuts so fat ball consumption is down and the smaller birds are able to eat without disturbance. I’m considering ordering some squirrel-proof fat ball feeders as the next step.

It’s quite strange at the moment. We have a pair of Greenfinches coming to one feeder, and a pair of House Sparrows on another. They used to be so common I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning them, but they have both suffered massive declines since those days and it’s good to think we have a few around.

Meanwhile, we have regular Buzzards over the farm and plenty of Red Kites nearby, as I may have mentioned. In the days of my youth (as I say more and more often these days) I can remember when we had to travel to Wales, Cornwall or the Lake District to see Buzzards, and when there were only 20 pairs of Red Kites in the UK (all in Wales).

The strangest sighting of the week has been a Heron that circled overhead for about ten minutes like a massive bird of prey. I managed to get a few distant shots but as it came closer and gave me a good view my batteries failed and the camera locked. I was not impressed. It perched in a tree for a while (hidden by foliage) before starting to circle and making a raucous cry. I don’t know what it was all about, as we don’t have any significant water about. Later that day it came back for a couple more circuits. It may be some sort of breeding behaviour but who can tell?

Birds can be very strange.

 

 

 

 

Rain, robins and roosters

The Met Office misled me. I was expecting passing showers, but instead we had a prolonged hammering from hail.

Despite this we did manage to get some of the Kew seeds planted.

More lambs today, but no photos in case any of my you start to suffer from cuteness fatigue. I’ll post more on Wednesday. You will have to make do with a picture of a robin singing in the barn. No, I’ve never seen one singing inside either, but as the front is open it’s easy to get in and out.

The final batch of ewes were due to start lambing today, but let’s face it, when do sheep ever do what they are supposed to do? It doesn’t matter, because we’re still knee deep in lambs from the main group, and have plenty more still to come as some of them are showing no urgency about giving birth.

The poultry emerged after the rain, as did the sun, so it ended on a positive note.

PS: Yes, I do realise that the title is both inaccurate (rain) and Americanised (rooster) but Hail, robins and cockerels just didn’t sound so good. Oh, and I just realised there was only one robin…

Christmas gathers momentum

When the Christmas jumpers start you know that the big day can’t be far off.

Today we’ve done more decorations and we’ve been working for Shipshape Arts, a company describing themselves as an “artistic creation company”. They are based in a barn on the farm and do quite a bit for us – including helping us with the Education tent at Flintham Show and making the quoits we will using for the Christmas hoopla. In return we try to help them a bit, though “help” may be be putting it a bit strongly.

Today they gave people hats. You can see them being worn in the main picture. Of course, not everyone got a hat. For some reason I didn’t, despite the fact that my poor bald head needs some warmth. Just saying…

This is one of the statues that they put up for us recently – looked at from this angle it’s a bit more noticeable than it is when you stand on the back of the Ecocentre looking across the field. The stone that looks like it’s on the right comemorates the air crash in 1944 – it’s actually on the left but there’s a curve in the road.

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This is one of “The Sweepers” that were originally shown at the Southbank Centre Festival of Neighbourhood. We also have “The Neighbours”, who were also at the Olympic Park before coming up here. Did you know there was a market in second-hand statues? I didn’t. It was quite a performance putting them up, with low-loaders, forklifts, power tools and lots of helpers.

This is “The Neighbours” taken from a deceptive angle, inreality they are several hundred yards from the kitchen.

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We’re decorating the Christmas tree now. It’s a bit early for me (though I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas, to be fair) but it’s turkey tasting time this weekend and we are aiming for a Christmas Dinner feel to the centre.

Finally – I nearly got a picture of a bird feeding at the table. We’ve had great tits, blue tits, pigeons, chaffinches, robins, house sparrows, greenfinches, starlings and wood pigeons so far. It could be better but we’re hoping it will build up as time goes on. Meanwhile they are all quick to take flight and added to a cheap camera and poor light levels I haven’t much to show for my photographic efforts. Looks like I’m going to have to borrow my wife’s camera or wait until the butterflies come back in summer.

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At least you can tell it’s a robin, most of the others have been unidentifiable blurs.