Our Patch: Homebirds

By on Tuesday, January 21, 2014

our_patch_sj_jarmanIn preparation for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend, the children and I have been looking at the feeders and garden in general to see what is about.

There is something just so endearing watching three little faces peering expectantly through the glass, and listening to them argue over who saw it first, or who saw the most of a particular species.

blue_tit

Most of the birds have been fairly uncooperative, evading all our attempts to take a picture, but we have started to see both Blue Tits and Great Tits appearing, along with the odd Goldfinch and sparrow.

The main visitors have been robins and blackbirds, whose territorial warfare provides hours of entertainment. The robin genuinely seems to believe that he owns our hedgerow, and is suitably unimpressed when the far larger blackbirds barge past him straight into the hedge. The blackbirds seem not to have noticed the robin, although they are careful to avoid the piercing bill when it’s accurately directed at them!

collared_dove

A visiting pair of collared doves have enjoyed the leftover biscuits and crackers from Christmas. These very common doves are not native to the UK, and it is thought they were released from the set of a film which was supposed to be set in India’ as we had no native birds suitable, they were brought over and either escaped or were released into the wild.

They have been incredibly successful and are found commonly throughout our locale. Perhaps it’s their looks or fairly tame nature that seems to make them tolerated far more readily than many of our native pigeon species.

The children love them, as they will stand on one side of the patio doors looking right back at the child who is watching them. Their soft faun plumage and black neck ring make them easily identifiable for novice nature lovers, and distinguishes them from the very rare turtle dove, which is the only other species you could really confuse them with – and which unfortunately does not occur in Prescot.

Whilst out and about this week, we’ve been stalking the partridges. You could walk right past them, and in fact I have done, but the dog has a sixth sense about them.

They lay low in the long grass and are practically invisible, and despite what Christmas songs may have led us to believe, I have never seen one on a tree!

Their plumage is amazing – so many browns buffs and creams, with an orange face, they lie so silently and without a movement. When they are startled, they seem to take flight from nowhere, causing passers-by like me to practically jump out of their skins. jayThey don’t seem to fly very far away, and they disappear again before they can possibly be out of view. I only wish I could open a packet of biscuits so stealthily in our house.

So, after accidentally hunting for partridge, I have still been deliberately looking for Jays again – I’m getting closer to a good shot, but unfortunately every time I get near to something I’d really like to photograph, it is ether frightened by dogs or kids, or the picture is ‘photobombed’… by dogs… or kids.

mistle_thrushWhilst searching for my elusive quarry I came across this glorious Mistle Thrush, right at the very tops of the trees, absolutely singing its heart out.

It was such a beautiful and warm sound, on what was a very chilly day. I love the old English name for this bird – Stormcock – so called because it sings even in the coldest weather. It was a treat for the ears as well as the eyes when I was fed up and my feet were soggy and very cold.

It would be an incredible stroke of luck if this beautiful bird were to appear in our garden for the Birdwatch – fingers crossed.

Find out more about the Big Garden Birdwatch (25-26 January) and how you can participate at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.

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SJ, also known as Sarah and Sarah-Jane, held her dream job as a breastfeeding peer support worker until becoming a full-time mum of three. She still volunteers at Whiston Hospital.

In her spare time, SJ loves to read, and play cello with the Knowsley Youth Orchestra. She confesses to being a secret singer ever since hubby Trev bought her SingStar.

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