I have become used to the battle between spring and winter, and not knowing what to expect next from the seasons. I have not been disappointed this year. We have had our usual winter visitors of Siskin and Brambling passing through, but yesterday we had a very special visitor, a Redpoll. Redpoll are small finches streaky brown with a very prominent red on the forehead, hence the name! These birds may be small, but are very mobile, and one ringed in Glen Clova in August was found in Kent in early November. They feed on small seeds, often on Birch or Alder, and just keep moving looking for new feeding sites. The birds breed in the North & West of the UK. Having flown south for the winter, they need to return to the breeding grounds in the early spring. More info and pictures is available on the RSPB web site
At the other end of the bird’s size spectrum, I have had two reports of a Sea Eagle over the Carse in the last few days. Fortunately the second person had a camera with them, and when you see a bird that looks all wing, it can only be one bird. With most birds the tail is about as long as the rest of the bird or with Long-Tailed Tits it is even longer. With the Sea Eagle the wing is long and broad, the head looking small and the tail about half the wing width, a very distinguishing profile. Again the RSPB web site has more information.
I’m not sure if Kirkton Craig has always attracted lots of our feathery friends or if Julie has just gone a bit crazy with the feeding stations but we have had lots of interesting visitors so far this year.
Apart from the usual variety of tits in the garden, some of which are now checking out the official, numbered nest boxes, we have a pair of greater spotted woodpeckers. The male has been ringed but the female doesn’t appear to be so. They have both been busy unzipping the bark on the rowan tree where we’ve hung a cone loaded with peanut butter.
There is also a delicate little tree creeper that hops up a variety of trees in the garden and flies back down to the base of the tree only to repeat the process over and over.
On two occasions I’ve seen a grey wagtail on the roof of the house pecking out bugs from between the tiles. I can’t really work out why he/she is here since there is no running water nearby which the grey wagtail is associated with. The only other place I’ve seen these birds is at the fish ladder in Pitlochry.
Yesterday saw a new visitor to the garden feeding station with the arrival of a single redpoll feeding alongside a gaggle of siskins. I think it was female as my bird book says the female doesn’t have a red blush to the chest.
I wonder if this windy weather today will blow in anything new to our table!
With autumn now upon us I have the usual small birds in the garden all fighting at the feeders. Two new occasional visitors in the past few weeks are,
Magpie - single solitary bird which has been back and forward recently. It is tolerated by the jackdaws for a while and then gets a bit of attention.
Jay - another single solitary bird so far. Has been in the garden a couple of times recently but can be heard clearly with its raucous call.
We have been seeing medium sized flocks of "Winter Thrushes", some fieldfares in our garden this weekend, and another flock was seen along the road at East Newton by Tim Hardie. As soon as the cold weather started in October, we could hear a Mistle Thrush giving its coarse trill - it is usually to be seen defending a Rowan, often a White-berried one, against all comers. Further south they can find the Mistletoe berries that gave them their name. Another of my favourite birds, the gorgeous bulfinch, has been around this weekend feasting on berries in our garden. They like the seeds which are protein rich, and separate them from the fleshy part of the fruit, which they leave lying on the ground. below. Bullfinches nearly always appear in pairs and are one of the species which lovingly stay with their mate for life.
The bird feeders have become more popular this weekend with a lot of tree sparrrows, greenfinches and tits of various kinds. The long-tailed tits are appearing in gardens, going around, apparently cheerily, in family groups.