Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I have been having some nice close-encounters with sparrowhawks lately. They like to fly at super speed through the feeding areas trying grab what they can and sending the small birds screaming for the dense undergrowth. At home at the weekend, a male whisked past within inches of my face as I was digging out an old shrub; I heard and felt the rush of air! Their speed of operation is several notches above ours. At Scrag, I am actually seeing several individuals and one I saw last week had a slight chestnut tinge to his upper-side indicating a juvenile; he seems to be hunting well and its good to see that young were successfully reared this season. The two bad winters in a row have led to a decrease in small passerine numbers and this will most definitely impact on the population of apex predators that feed on them.
Great spotted woodpeckers were drumming repeatedly today as I was stocking the feeders; there seemed to be a territorial spat between 3 birds chasing each other and giving agitated calls. Great spots are generally solitary birds and can be quite belligerent with each other often chasing from tree to tree.
All niger seed feeders have been destroyed by squirrels again! Grrr! This is a real pain as it means that the goldfinches are not being fed regularly. I have just bought 3 heavy-duty feeders but they have no perches; I have emailed the manufacturers and await their response.
The first Woodland Birds' workshop is tomorrow; I am eager for it to go well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thrashing wind and driving rain has brought down many branches over the last few days; it's the remnants of a hurricane I believe that has caused all the damage. However, there appears to be no major tree falls; always a problem when there's high wind and the trees are still in full leaf. A more extensive search will probably reveal a few birches reaching senescence on the ground but that's no real problem. Birch is an early coloniser and will regenerate in any clearings. Once they get to 70 or so years old they often just fall over which is good as it lets more light in and adds dead wood to the forest equation.
Despite the terrible weather over the past few days it was lovely today; a slight drizzle first thing gave way to weak sunshine and warm temperatures - a lovely Autumn day!
During the ongoing maintenance, I found a full wasp's nest in the goldfinch hide and sadly it will have to be removed as I can't have photographers sitting next to it. Unfortunately, I react badly to wasp stings so I'm not really looking forward to the process of removal!