Friday, 7 January 2011

And then there were three

No; this is not about Genesis (non Genesis fans no doubt switching off already).

Three Bramblings in our garden this afternoon.

I have been off work for the last two days; my hip and back having decided to go on strike. In between modest bouts of work emailing, regular short rests and short walks around the house; I have kept an eye on the garden.

What a funny day this has been. There was sun without much light this morning and sleet and snow with very little light this afternoon.

The garden has been quite busy all day with the usual suspects - Greenfinch, Blackbird and Blue Tit. I gave myself an extended lunch break of about 90 minutes, during which time the following visited the back garden (maximum numbers at any one time):

Blackbirds - 6
Great Tit - one pair (regulars)
Blue Tit - 3
Greenfinch - 6
Chaffinch - 2 male 2 female.
Goldfinch - 4
Brambling - 1 male 2 female.
House Sparrow - 4
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 2
Robin - 1
Collared Dove - 1 (I hardly ever see only one - perhaps they have had a tiff!)
Starling - 6

No Coal Tits all day, which is very unusual.

The Bramblings stayed long enough for me to make a close comparison with the Chaffinches. Their distribution of patterning is almost identical, although the colours in each pattern differ. The only significant difference in distribution is in the upper wing and mantle. The white patterning on the closed wing is identical. I suspect that there are 'lumpers' who consider these to be subspecies or races, rather than distinct species.

It is interesting to watch the behaviour of the different species when approaching the feeders. The Blackbirds just bomb in after the food without a care. The Greenfinches are relatively fearless in flying to the feeders, as are the Tits. The Chaffinches dither for ages; flying from the tree and changing their minds mid flight several times before landing. This is in stark contrast to Chaffinch behaviour in country parks etc, where they fearlessly feed under your feet or on the picnic table. The Bramblings dithered as well. The Goldfinches dither for several minutes, but once they land on the Niger feeder, they often stay put for 5 -10 minutes.

On one occasion everything disappeared in a hurry. I suspect that Mrs. Sprawk, who passes over our garden very regularly, had done so out of my line of sight.

At the height of the activity, there were all of the finches plus Blue Tit and Blackbird present at once. I hoped that some other species may be passing and attracted by the throng, but it was not to be. Still no Siskins this winter, but there seems to be a lot of seed about and there are lots of Birch trees around Crammy.

With any luck I will be more mobile by tomorrow, but I have to wait in for a tumble dryer delivery; sods law will say it comes at 18:00. I would dearly like to have a twitch after some of these Redpolls. A forty year old record of Arctic would be nice to update and Meally would make a great 250 for my life list.

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