Wild Monty

Dec 2008

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31 Dec I've been in a rush to get to work these last two mornings so haven't been able to report much, although this morning the male BLACKBIRD was overshadowed by 5 WOODPIGEONS when competing for the food I put out. Blackbirds find it difficult to survive during lengthy spells of frost as they can't search for worms so I am a little worried.

29 Dec Highlights today were a male BLACKCAP and a GOLDCREST in the park at lunchtime, both feeding in trees behind the concrete games area. Also in the park was a PIED WAGTAIL, a few CHAFFINCHES and a party of LONG-TAILED TITS. There were also 2 Pied Wagtails at the bottom of Richmond Road. At the station were 3 GREENFINCHES, more Long-tailed Tits and 4 MAGPIES. At Narroways, yet more Long-tailed tits and Magpies, a GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT and JAY, plus a GREY WAGTAIL on the brook at Ashley Vale. A ROBIN was singing at the top of St Andrews Road and another was in the garden as usual.

27 Dec Another bitterly cold but sunny day. In St Andrews Park there were 8 or 9 CHAFFINCHES by the toilet block, several males among them, and nearby about a dozen GOLDFINCHES were feeding in the plane trees and around the pond area. Also near the pond was a pair of COAL TITS showing nicely, the male singing loudly. In the garden the female BLACKCAP re-appeared, and a couple of FERAL PIGEONS have now discovered the food I put out, unfortunately.

26 Dec A sunny but cold day. In the park were both a GREY and a PIED WAGTAIL at 10.30am. Both were feeding among fallen leaves. Also in the park was a fine display of what I last year identified rightly or wrongly as VELVET SHANK fungus. It was in exactly the same position as last year, near the dog waste bin. Yesterday the female BLACKCAP re-appeared in the garden. I went to see the Rovers play MK Dons this afternoon but wished I hadn't after a poor second half - final score 2-1 to the Dons.

24 Dec In the park I had fantastic, close views of a GOLDCREST at 9am. I was so close I could hear it touching the dead leaves as it fed and its yellow crown was almost like day-glo in the overcast conditions. Also in the park were about 10 CHAFFINCHES, mostly females but at least one smart male. A GREY SQUIRREL was scuttling around on the ground and up the tree-trunks and a MAGPIE and 4 BLACKBIRDS were also nearby. In the garden earlier, the aggressive female Blackbird was still throwing her weight around.

22 Dec The drop in the wind meant that today was much more bird-friendly. In the garden there was a visit from a GOLDCREST, 5 LONG-TAILED TITS, a pair of BLACKBIRDS, 2 GREAT TITS, a BLUE TIT, 3 WOODPIGEONS, a ROBIN and a MAGPIE. The Blackbirds were acting strangely - the female kept chasing the male off every time he got near the food. I would have thought that at this time of year, when the territorial instinct is not particularly strong, that she might have tolerated another bird even if he had been part of another territory during the breeding season. Elsewhere today, there seemed to be an influx of STARLINGS, with 10 at Brook Hill and another 3 at the station. A DUNNOCK sang very briefly at Albany Green and a pair of PIED WAGTAILS were in Shaftesbury Avenue. A GOLDFINCH flew over Fairlawn Road and a CHAFFINCH over Richmond Road. A GREY WAGTAIL was along the brook at Ashley Vale as I came back from a brief visit to St Werburghs this afternoon..

20 Dec A dull and murky day. In the garden at lunchtime a couple of WOODPIGEONS were feeding on Ivy berries. There were a few parties of LONG-TAILED TITS around today - in the front garden at 9am, at Albany Green at 2pm and at the top of St Andrews Road shortly afterwards. A GOLDFINCH and a BLUE TIT were also at Albany Green, and it was good to see some MALE FERNS in a rather abandoned garden in Fairfield Road.

18 Dec I looked out of my window this morning to see no less than 6 WOODPIGEONS feeding there - they included two immature birds lacking the white collar. In the park, one each of PIED and GREY WAGTAIL were feeding on the (recently tidied up I notice) ground.

17 Dec A beautiful morning. Amazingly, 2 ROBINS (presumably a pair) came to the window for food this morning - I was brought up with David Lack's classic account 'The Life of the Robin' and with the idea that 75% of winter Robins are probably males, their mates having gone south for the winter etc. I must admit I rarely see a pair of Robins in the garden at this time of year. At the station 4 or 5 CARRION CROWS were perched in various trees and a couple of GREY SQUIRRELS were near the feeders.

14 Dec The female BLACKCAP appeared briefly in the garden this morning along with a GREAT TIT, BLUE TIT, ROBIN, BLACKBIRD and WOODPIGEON. There were flocks of LONG-TAILED TITS at the station and also at St Andrews Park, and the latter location also had good numbers of STARLINGS, half a dozen GREENFINCHES and a couple of CHAFFINCHES.

13 Dec The pair of PIED WAGTAILS were on the railway track at the station at 2pm, and the female was doing a kind of 'begging' action, fluttering her wings like a baby bird asking for food! Whether this is an early sign of courtship (something I would expect in spring rather than halfway through December) I don't know. Also at the station were at least a dozen HOUSE SPARROWS, always good to see. Earlier a JAY flew over St Andrews Road.

12 Dec Not much to report at the station this morning at 8.30am, although a pair of CARRION CROWS were sat on a branch and one of them was preening the other which was rather cute - such a powerful bill being used in a tender and delicate way. A single STARLING was the only other notable bird - it flew from the direction of the allotment gardens to the roof of a house in Cromwell Road.

11 Dec At 8.25am in the park I had great views of a GOLDCREST working its way through the foliage looking for tiny insects to eat, and at one stage it crept along a bough like a Nuthatch. Also in the park was a GREY WAGTAIL flying low over the concrete play area, a PIED WAGTAIL feeding among the fallen leaves, a ROBIN, a BLUE TIT and a WREN. In St Pauls, a tree in Bishop Street held a singing GOLDFINCH and a couple of COLLARED DOVES while in the park were three HERRING GULLS and a couple of BLACKBIRDS.

9 Dec I was able to get to the station by 8.15 this morning to catch the earlier train to work. It was noticeable how loud and excited the HOUSE SPARROWS sounded in the brambles as I approached the station, and how they all stopped suddenly when I peered over the wall at them. They are obviously very wary of humans which is a bit surprising when you think about their reputation as cheerful urban birds. There were a few CHAFFINCHES at the station and a PIED WAGTAIL flew from the platform into some scrub on the other side of the line.

7 Dec Another sunny day, with the grass and foliage around the patch whitened by frost for most of the day. The first BLACKCAP of the winter - a female - appeared in the garden this morning. This is a bit earlier than last winter for this visitor from Germany, and I'm sure more will turn up in the coming weeks. Also in the garden an unusual but fleeting visit from a GOLDCREST but a ROBIN, a BLACKBIRD, a BLUE TIT and a couple of WOODPIGEONS were more usual. Two PIED WAGTAILS in St Andrews Road were being stalked (thankfully unsuccessfully) by a local cat, and the first FIELDFARE of the winter called as it flew over near the railway path. The station produced the usual CHAFFINCHES, HOUSE SPARROWS and GREENFINCHES plus a DUNNOCK and a party of LONG-TAILED TITS.

6 Dec The sun was surprisingly warm at 11am and just to prove it, a BUMBLEBEE was zooming around the ivy near the station footbridge. Also at the station were 5 CHAFFINCHES on the feeders. A PIED WAGTAIL and a GOLDFINCH flew over St Andrews Road. Surprisingly, a BLACKBIRD was in song in the park - I usually associate this sound with the spring! This afternoon I took the train to Severn Beach and walked to Aust - the 3 Short Eared Owls which have been around for a few weeks were showing well - they really are magnificent animals.

5 Dec In the park at 8.45am I had cracking views of two GOLDCRESTS, and was able to watch these diminutive birds as they fed among the remaining foliage in the trees near the Old Vicarage. With them was a group of half a dozen LONG-TAILED TITS and a BLUE TIT. Nearby was a female CHAFFINCH, a ROBIN, a WREN and a male BLACKBIRD which was picking through fallen leaves for morsels. Two GREY SQUIRRELS scampered up trunks and along branches.

4 Dec It was quiet at the station while I waited for the train just before 9 o'clock; just the usual CHAFFINCHES, GREENFINCHES, CARRION CROWS and WOODPIGEONS, but that changed when a SPARROWHAWK did a circuit overhead, causing alarm calls and general mayhem.

1 Dec A real old=fashioned winter's day, frosty, bright and crisp. The highlight was a male GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER giving cracking views at the feeding station opposite the rail station platform at around 11.15am. He spent about ten minutes on the feeders and surrounding boughs. Also about half a dozen CHAFFINCHES, similar numbers of HOUSE SPARROWS, a WREN and a ROBIN there. Two PIED WAGTAILS flew onto the platform while I watched the feeders, and the closely related GREY WAGTAIL flew over St Andrews Road. It was nice to see lots of WHITE DEADNETTLE in flower along Fairlawn Road despite the frost. Later I went for a walk across Durdham Down where I had good views of a female Bullfinch among other odds and ends.

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