Friday, February 02, 2007

Bird Watch

We took part in this again this year. We went ahead with it even though it was titled "Big Garden Birdwatch" and we only have a small garden. We haven't got the final numbers yet, Mrs BW is still compiling, or collating or what ever you do with numbers. Nothing outrageous species wise. The usual suspects were about:

Blue Tits
Dunnock - very brave!!!
House Sparrows
Crows and Jackdaws.

Living at 1000 ft on top of a hill ,we don't get a great variety. Occasionally you get a surprise. A couple of years ago during a particularly cold spell, a sparrow hawk tried to take one of the house sparrows from their bush. They weren't very happy about it but the sparrow hawk left empty "handed". During the summer a couple of buzzards drifted across on the thermals. It is interesting to watch the different species feeding on the nuts and balls of fat that we put out for them. The starlings are the bully boys. Nobody gets a look in when they are feeding. Sparrows have a hierarchy. Apart from the occasional squabble they appear to stick to the pecking order queuing in orderly fashion to await their turn. The blue tits are the most intelligent. They will trick the sparrows into fleeing by using false alarm calls. The cats observe all of this with a disdainful calm. They are both in their twilight years and prefer to sit beneath the bushes, watching, or better still to look at all the activity from behind the utility room windows in the warm. Even the Dunnock that feeds on the scraps that fall to the ground rarely gets bothered by them now.

The oddest thing I have seen in our garden, involving animals, concerned a couple of hedgehogs. Again it was during a cold spell. It was just getting light and we noticed two hedgehogs up and about on the lawn. (It was a late cold snap during March, so I guess they had been lulled out of hibernation early) One of them stopped and curled up in the snow. The other one moved off and then came back. It nudged the sleeping one but could not wake it. Rather than leave it however it started to run round it in very tight circles, banging into it and stopping every so often to nudge it. It did this for about five minutes. We assumed that the other one had either died or was in a deep sleep and were wondering what to do about it, when it stirred, got up and a little bit groggily, staggered off with its mate to the pile of wood and sticks where they were presumably hibernating. I don't like ascribing feeings to animals but it looked as if the hedgehog had a genuine concern for its mate and knew that it could not leave it where it was. A happy ending at least.


fiwa said...

You must have some kind of incredible view!

I had to go look up some of your birds to see what they are, I had never heard of Blue Tits or Dunnocks. The Blue Tits are beautiful.

My favorites around here are the chickadees and the golf finches. They are teeny tiny, and fly in gangs of 8 to 10 and they never sit still for more than a second, like they have ADD. I love to watch them take baths in our waterfall.

The Birdwatcher said...

Fiwa - Wow Chickadees are some bird! I had to look them up and apparently they can up the length of their call to indicate how deadly the predator is. They look similar to our "tits". Blue Tits are great little birds but I have to admire Dunnocks. They are ground feeders so take a big risk with the cats.

You have a waterfall? Do you live in a national park?

fiwa said...

lol! No, our backyard slopes up to the back of our property, and we dug a very small pond and put in a waterfall. We didn't do a very good job with it (it leaks), but the birds LOVE it. I love to sit out there with my coffee on the weekends.

The Birdwatcher said...

Sounds idyllic! I like the idea of a waterfall that leaks though!