Great tits are very loud at this time of year. They sit high in the trees and shout. It is a distinctive repetitive call like a creaky gate. Listen out for it.
This is a young buzzard, photographed in the hawthorn trees beside Lambrok Stream. For a couple of weeks he has been hunting in the field on the Church Lane side of the stream, where there are field vole colonies. He roosts in the same oak the barn owls visited last spring.
It would be wonderful if he found a mate and nested in or around the park this year; fingers crossed.
Header photograph by Suzanne Humphries
More about buzzards:
A few bird photos taken early yesterday morning, some proving uncooperative (yet again). Our resident Jackdaws near the picnic area are nest building in their usual hole, in fact this pair remain here or close by throughout the year.Continue reading “Bird watching”
Photographs by DKG
There seem to be lots of robins in the park this year. In fact, there are lots of robins everywhere in Trowbridge. We know that their population in Britain has grown almost 50% since the 1970s but population growth is measured in means and averages, not in sudden seasonal spikes. There could be several reasons for this spike, not all of them necessarily good news for the park.
By Barbara Johnson
We have two nest-boxes, one either side of our garden. One with a smaller hole, just for blue tits, the other with a larger hole to accommodate great tits, sparrows etc.Read on for the rest of Barbara’s story
Winter blue tits
During the winter, in natural woodlands, blue tits spend most of their time in oaks, searching for insect food in the trees’ rich ecosystems. At this time of year they turn their attention to the midges, mites and wasps that come to lay eggs in the new leaf buds.Read more
Has anybody heard or seen the tawny owl that was spotted in the park three weeks ago? We are hoping it is still here, perhaps with a mate, looking for nest sites.
Tawny owl calls are unmistakeable, the classic too-wit-too-woo, but their camouflage is excellent and they are difficult to spot against a background of tree bark. Here is a short video from YouTube to help with identification.
Contact details, if you have anything to report, are here.
More about tawnies:
While checking goldfinch facts to go with DKG’s pictures last week, we discovered, to our delight, that the collective noun for goldfinches is a charm. How charming is that?Continue reading “A charm of goldfinches”
A letter from local ornithologist, David C.
I must say DKG’s Tawny Owl & Kingfisher photos are really good. Tawny Owls seem to be doing okay in Wiltshire and Kingfishers are also widely distributed. They seem very inefficient breeders with only about half the chicks surviving their first Winter from more than one brood each Spring!Continue reading “Notes from the past”
A goldfinch high in an ash tree, photographed by DKG early on Tuesday.Continue reading “Goldfinch”
This is the robin that sang for the Friends of Southwick Country Park as they hacked their way through the thicket of bramble and blackthorn at the rear of the car park on Tuesday morning.
Our chiffchaffs will already have started the long journey back to their breeding sites in the park. They have overwintered in the warmth of southern Europe or northern Africa and are making their way home in a leisurely way with lots of stops for fuel; the males are the frontrunners and they need to arrive fit enough to find and fight for a territory.
They will begin arriving in March; their song (chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff) is one of the first signs of spring.
Pictures by DKG
Kingfishers are highly territorial; they pair up in the winter but keep separate territories until the following spring. It is probable, therefore, that our female has already paired up with a nearby male.
A kingfisher’s territory covers, on average, a kilometre of waterway; our female will be looking for a nesting site either very close to, or in the park. The Lambrok’s steep clay banks may well be perfect.
An excited email from DKG this morning:
” A few photos of our Kingfisher at last. After 5 years of trying to capture photos of the park’s resident kingfisher, yesterday (Sunday 20th) finally produced the photos I had been after. But these came about as usual with no intention of looking for it and if not for Ian, I would have even missed these shots.”
Most birds can’t create pigments, other than melanin, on their own. This bluetit, high in the park’s canopy, can’t produce the pigment, carotene, that makes his tummy yellow; it comes from pigments in the green caterpillars he eats. The more caterpillars he eats and the brighter his tummy, the more likely he is to attract a mate.
Header picture by DKG; others CC0 from pixabay
Our willow warblers are among the park’s smallest birds; at 8.7 grams, they are only half the size of a robin. Their migration route, though, is the longest of any of the park’s birds: over 8,000km all the way to sub-Saharan Africa, an astonishing feat of endurance, and in April they will come all the way back to the park.
by keithwlarson (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Another migrator from the spring of 2018:
The Chiffchaffs are back
Back from our Christmas break with an interesting tidbit of scientific discovery from 2018.Continue reading “Migration”
Many of our little songbirds abandon their territories in the winter and flock, sometimes in large numbers; but not the robin. Robins stick to and defend their territories right through the winter and their winter song is part of that defence.
Singing in winter is a high risk strategy. It uses a lot of energy when food resources are low but hanging on to a good territory right through the winter gives a robin an advantage in the spring when the breeding season begins. His winter song is shorter, quieter and altogther smaller than it will be come the spring.
Header photograph by Suzanne Humphries
Wood pigeons (Columba palumbus) are our largest and most common pigeon. Gregarious, very adaptable and given to flocking in enormous numbers at this time of year, they are an everyday sight in British towns and countryside.
In towns they seem unafraid but in the park they are shy and wary. Often the first indication that they are there at all is the loud clattering and clapping of their wings as they take off and fly away. Their call is the lovely, familiar background noise of spring and summer.
Collared doves (Streptopelia decaocto) bred in Britain for the first time in 1955, in Norfolk. Within 20 years they had colonised every county in the British Isles, and had even reached Shetland and the Outer Hebrides.Continue reading “Eurasian collared dove”
Lisa Burge’s photograph of a jay in flight prompted some research; we wondered how many jays our park could support.
Simon Handley has reported a brown and white magpie in the park, at the top of the Arboretum; this is a rare genetic fault called leucism. Please don’t forget your camera next time you visit; we would love a photograph of it.
Kingfishers come to the park regularly. Many people associate them with rivers and are surprised to see them here, fishing in our little streams.
A tree creeper (Certhia familiaris) photographed in the park on Friday by DKG. Read on:
There are several families of magpies in the park. This year’s crop are, as yet, short-tailed, loud- mouthed and clumsy, hanging out in gangs and still learning to fly properly. But, despite their dramatic black and white beauty, their reputation is poor.
We apologise for wrongly identifying this little bird. We thought it was a blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) but our expert has identified it as a marsh tit (Poecile palustris). This is the first sighting of a marsh tit in the park: a new name for our species lists.
Like ragwort, creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) is classed as an injurious weed by the Weed Act of 1959. Our hedges and edges are full of it: beautiful, pollen-rich, heavily scented flowers, buzzing with invertebrates, followed by seed heads elevated on stems sturdy enough to support seed-eating birds. Gorgeous.
Photographs by DKG
After the breeding season is over, robins moult.