Another interesting morning whilst working in the garden at Coleshill.
Before I started the endless task of raking the leaves up at the property I work and live at I had a quick scout around the grounds and found the following-
A pleasing sight of 23 Starlings perched together in the top of a now leaf bare Horse Chestnut started the morning off, they were chattering and clicking quietly amongst themselves with the odd whistle thrown in for good measure. A good group of Finches that I accidentally flushed from a row of wild Rose bushes contained roughly 18+ Greenfinches and 16+ Goldfinches which circled up and in to some of the nearby trees, this gave me the chance to see what they were feeding on and found that some of the larger hips had softened up and contained some large seeds in, some of seeds in the biggest hips were almost as big as sunflower hearts which must be attracting them, there's about 25 of these large Rose bushes and still plenty of hips on them. 2 Jays were soon the next on the list as they squabbled over Acorns in a nearby Oak followed shortly by 2 Resident Mistle Thrushes which were 'rattling away' at each other. So by 8:30 a mini orchestra of bird song and calls are simmering away soon to be joined by 20 or so Redwing high up in a Horse Chestnut and adding their 'tsseep' calls to the mix. During this time a Blackbird has hopped across the lawn in front of me 'tutting' as it disappears in to the bottom of a bush. It was at this time that I realised I should've started work and before I got a rollicking headed off armed with my rake ready to take on the piles of fallen leaves, tedious to say the least but a good chance to observe nature as it unfolds.
At 9:00 a Green Woodpecker can be heard calling from the garden next door and a quick peer through the hedge finds it sat on the rear lawn with 2 Pied wagtails bobbing across the grass a few metres away from it, the leaf raking is now not such a mundane job, okay it is but I'm getting a few fringe benefits along the way and as long as I don't get caught whipping my bins out from beneath my coat every time I hear or see something I'll be fine.
The resident Robin has now joined me and is sitting on the wheelbarrow handle with it's head tilted towards the ground as I clear the leaves, it's watching for the slightest movement before darting down and grabbing a worm and returning to the wheelbarrow handle. It's very tame but won't come to my hand to feed yet, I'm hoping that by Christmas I will have trained him up and then I can get some good photos for this years Christmas cards.
It was very grey and overcast when I'd started but by 9:30 a few spots of blue sky could now be seen poking through the clouds and the wind had dropped completely, a Grey Heron gave me a shock as it called from overhead, it continued west probably heading for the local village pond. Not long after 5 Siskin then passed over heading North calling as they went and shortly after a Magpie flew over. During this time the Starlings, Finches & Thrushes were still calling but getting louder, I'm not sure if this is to do with ambient sound from traffic and human activity but it seemed to happen just a the roads became busier. It got to a point where they seemed to be trying to outdo each other and I stopped to listen just as a flock of about 150 maybe more Redwings appeared overhead. They started circling round and seemed to pick up some of our Redwings that have been in the garden for a week or so from the nearby trees, Finches then took to the air and the noise was incredible and seemed that each and every one of them was calling. They circled round a couple of times separating into smaller groups with birds going off in different directions, I wondered if a predator was in the area but there wasn't anything in the sky except hundreds of Redwing & Finches. The Redwing circled round 4 or 5 times before forming a loose flock and heading off north leaving 20 or so Redwing to settle back in the tops of the trees, presumably the same birds that have been in the garden for awhile. It's great to see spectacles like that and a real sign of 'visible migration' on a small scale.
Over the next hour or so I'd seen 2 Nuthatch, Bl & Grt Tit, 12 Chaffinch, 1 Black-h Gull heading south, only my 2nd sighting of Ring-necked Parakeet in the area as 2 flew over from the east and headed west, 1 Red Kite, 1 Great spotted Woodpecker and heard 2 Goldcrests. By 10:45 the Robin had acquired a friend and both were watching me from the garden wall, a few worms that were unearthed made a tasty treat and as they weren't fighting I presume that they are a pair.
The skies were now quite clear and mainly blue and whilst gazing in to the distance I noticed a large group of birds heading towards me from the south, a quick scan with the bins showed that they were Wood Pigeons and quite a few of them. Within a minute or so they were approaching overhead but difficult to count as they were widely separated and a best estimate would be somewhere in the region of 200-225 birds which flew over heading north. As there is a lot of Wood Pigeon migration at the moment It seemed a bit strange to see them heading in that direction rather than south, I don't think they are local as I only seem to see handfuls rather than flocks of 25 upwards. An added bonus was finding a Tawny Owl pellet in the garden to add to the 2 I've found recently near local woodland. So it was quite an interesting morning despite the fact the Oak trees still haven't shed their leaves yet and so I've got it all to do again!!!