Tuesday 7 February 2012

Feathered mafia

The extreme cold contnues to bite here and round the bird feeders it's like rush hour at NY's Grand Central station. It was perishing this morning, about -12C. Our outside thermometer doesn't go below -8C so this morning we checked by starting the car and seeing what its thermometer registered.

snow covered terrace yesterday afternoon looking NE 
We aren't bird watchers by any means and have to consult a book for anything out of the very ordinary; such as the dove grey/white-ish, black wing tipped bird we see regularly sweeping across the field where our little chemin joins the 'main' D road:- it's a hen harrier. Our friends Tim & Pauline have an excellent photo** of one here.

ours! all ours!
We don't have any unusual visitors to the feeders, just the usual suspects: great tits, blue tits, dunnocks, green- and chaffinches, a solitary marsh tit -- who came last year as well, 3 beligerent robins and the odd blackbird or 4. We keep hoping to see something a bit more colourful like a gold crest -- we looked in the birdbook for what might be found in our type of habitat but no...nada.

oh good, our turn! 2 greenfinches and a dunnock
Last year we also had the odd bullfinch--beautiful!, a solitary hawfinch and bramblings, but no sign of them this year. Perhaps this is because we didn't put any feed out until it finally got a bit colder in January and they had already decamped to elsewhere.

robins eye-ing each other up in the maple bush
The blue and great tits run the show. What they say goes! It is quite amusing to see the greenfinches and chaffinches oh so casually slidling up to the tray, which is filled with all purpose seed. Mostly, they wait until the blue or great tits have darted off. Occasionally they all feed together and you can almost imagine the finches and dunnocks have paid 'protection' money to do so! The great and blue tits of course have access to the suetball feeder as they can cling on to it, which the finches can't; nevertheless the tits also rule the tray. The word 'greedy' springs to mind. Though in fairness with this cold they all need every scrap of food they can find to keep themselves going.

a great tit & 2 blue tits on point duty at the tray
The dunnocks, rather like their colouring, just quietly get on with things. The robins, being territorial and pretty violent, fight each other between every mouthful. There is much squaring off and chasing. They may look cute but male robins will fight each other to the death to defend their territory.

looking towards the woodpiles and frozen birdbath on the right

**photo taken by Tim's brother


The Broad said...

Great pictures you have here. Nothing is quite so lovely on a cold winter's day that watching the birds against a snowy garden. I hope you are managing to stay warm and cozy -- our house is reasonable -- but not exactly 'cozy'!

Niall & Antoinette said...

Inbetween doing chores and work we stop for a few minutes at the livingroom window just to watch the show :-).
So far ok...lost water in one loo/shower room [and thus washing machine]
On the upside: old house so walls are thick; excellent woodburner and central heating[gas tank] and shutters.
On the downside: only some double glazed windows; rest are old and single glazed.

GaynorB said...

It's cold here, but nothing like
-12C! Lovely pics, good to see some life out there ...

Niall & Antoinette said...

During the day it is actually quite nice in the sun, a bit like going skiing without the hills :-)

the fly in the web said...

I enjoyed the photographs and your characterisation of the different birds!
We always put food out for the birds in winter - out of range of the chickens who would scoff any and everything despite having their own food.

Here we can put out food just to attract birds rather than just to help them get through a thin time.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@fly - we're surprised that fat Freddy the cock pheasant who struts about on the field boundary hasn't come along to scoff. Last year he frequently paraded up and down the drive [food or no food] not in the least impressed by the cats.

Tim said...

Jeremy hasn't either... seen him down by the river, but no deeper into the meadow... his harem, though, are under the field feeder every day... even saw one today fly up and bash the feeder to spill the seed!! Who says 'peasants' are thick?
Nothing special... I'd love a willow, marsh or coal tit to turn up here... but we have had a Great White Egret around for the last couple of days... no pic as yet! It is meant to be a Summer visitor... but they don't seem to have read the bird guides. They've been around all year here for at least the last five... and a few are now wintering in the UK as well.. I'd love to get a pic against this snow... a huge, magnificent white heron in this snow covered landscape... wow!

Thanks for the blog link... don't forget it is one of my brother's pix.

Perpetua said...

Lovely photos and the birds certainly need all the help you can give them in the weather you're having. At least you have sun. It's been very misty and then grey here, but a positively balmy 5C!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Tim - white egret in white landscape --- a bit like an ivisibility cloak :-) I'll footnote on the post that it's your borther's pic.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - a nice balmy -6C at 11am this morning :-)

Like that the snow gives you much more light [even when it's snowing as it did again for a bit earlier] and when the sun comes out it's lovely. And yes it is COLD but it's dry cold: much nicer!

ladybird said...

Animals always make such great blog and photo material, don't they? Your bird population is certainly giving you a great deal of pleasure. Wish I had some little feathered friends visiting my balcony, but bird feeding isn't allowed because of the droppings that might soil the fa├žade of the building. Sigh!

Diane said...

Our birds were eating so much that I was getting cold topping up so often. I have no started feeding them also on the windowsill which is great for us to see them. As soon as I move near enough with the camera though they are gone! Diane

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - after posting that we don't have any 'interesting' birds a beautiful goldfinch appeared today. Typical!
Pity about the rule but they are messy eaters--you can see it clearly in the snow.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Diane - same here :-) The tits come to the windowsill for seed and ignore Tinka lurking between the orchid plants on the other side of the glass.