Monday, 29 December 2008

Monday 29th. December 2008

As the weather forecast is constant for the next few days , I decided to do the monthly bird survey at Down House , home of Charles Darwin , this morning . With the thermometer barely above freezing , I began wondering if it was such a good idea . The house is still close for refurbishment , so I had to park in the village and use the footpath to access the grounds . First job of the morning was shepherd , as one of the Jacob's Sheep had managed to squeeze out of a broken dog paddle next to a stile , and was wandering about on the footpath , fortunately flacked at this point by a hedge on each side . He didn't seemed bothered about my approach until I got within 10 mtrs. , when he raced to the hole he had used to make his escape , and just managed to get his body through . Most remarkable was the fact that he got his head , with one horn straight up and the other out sideways , through the hole without touching the sides . Just the other side of the stile another sheep was stuck fast with Bramble wrapped all around it . It had probably stuck for ages , but as soon as it saw me , it made a supreme effort and tore itself free . The excitement over , I started the survey which takes one and a quarter hours , and covers the fields , orchard and gardens . It was obvious after the large first field that numbers would be low , and so it was .
The full list was ; Blackbird (4) , Carrion Crow (6) , Chaffinch (2) , Dunnock (3) , Fieldfare (2) - settled briefly but flew on almost immediately , Goldcrest (2) - one in Holly on the edge of the cricket field , and this one that I spent minutes photographing , but this was the only half decent shot , Great Tit (1) , Green Woodpecker (2) , Great Spotted Woodpecker (3) - chasing around the cricket ground line abreast , Jackdaw (2) , Jay (1) , Long Tailed Tit (9) - I tried to photograph these in the orchard , but they just didn't stop , Magpie (3) , Rose Ringed Parakeet (7) , Robin (1) , Woodpigeon (6) and Wren (2) .
On my way back to the car , I found a flock of 14 Fieldfares in a field across the lane , and the odd one or two were coming down to ground to feed , at a distance . In the garden of the first house in the village a Nuthatch was calling .
I had to go to the yard up on the Greensand Ridge to drop something off , so I decided to call in at Bough Beech before heading home . If I thought it was cold earlier , standing on the Causeway was even colder . Half of the North Lake was frozen over , and very little was on the open water .
I did not stop there long , but did see a pair of Bullfinches flying along the Causeway and into the adjacent gardens , and also a Kingfisher , it's plumage electric in the sunshine . I made my way up to the Oast House , and looked in at the feeders . All the usual suspects were in attendance , but no sign of any Brambling . Down by the stream , a large lens was pointed towards the scrape , obviously had something interesting . I hovered around in the background , and eventually the female Bearded Tit came into view . She was feeding on the seedheads of Willowherb , occassionally moving off some distance , then returning . I stayed quiet and waited for the photo opportunity , but she always managed to stay within the seed heads , and was always on the move . I got my shots and left her to finish her lunch , whilst I set off home to get mine .
Ken , thanks for your offer of help with the white/black ducks , I will try for a photo in the next few days , it will probably make things easier .


Josh Jenkins Shaw said...

Great photo's of the beardy tit! Did you see anything else of note? GND?

Ken said...

Hi Greenie. Nice selection of birds you got today.It was a lovely day here, hope it was where you were.

Greenie said...

Josh ,
Didn't see GND , but low Winter sun over main reservoir made viewing very difficult .
North lake mainly frozen over , and didn't have much time on site .

Warren Baker said...

Well done with the Bearded tit pics Greenie.
Why did that sheep make such a supreme effort to escape from you!!

Greenie said...

Warren ,
I can assure you that I was wearing walking boots , not wellies !