Friday, July 13, 2007


Just a few notes on a few species of birds I've noted recently:

Blue Tits.
We were visited by a young Blue Tit this morning. That is to say our feeder was visited. It had a yellow face like our fledglings, but as our fledglings left the nest almost 2 months ago, and we probably haven't seen Scargill et. al. for 6 weeks, I'm not convinced it was one of ours.
Young Blue Tits tend to lose their yellow faces after a month or so, but it is just about feasible, I suppose, that this could have been one of our five chicks, coming back to visit on its own.
The bad news regarding this young Blue Tit was that on closer inspection of it, through the telescope (constantly trained on the feeder from the dining room at present - to enable me to identify individual Goldfinches visiting the feeder, by noting their individual tail feather plumages), it was obvious that this young Tit had two large ticks on its face - one by its right eye and one near its throat.
There is nothing unusual in this, lots of birds have ticks - and I hope these two ticks will have their fill of blood and drop off soon, as is normally the case. Not particularly nice to see though.

When I visited my mother the other week, she showed me where a family of Wrens had nested in a 'rustic thatched nestbox', which we out up in her garden some years ago. I wanted some photos of the Wren niblets, but as is VERY often the case with young Wrens - they had fledged the day before, without much warning.
If you have a Wrens nest in your garden, and you feel the fledglings have left the nest too early, dinna fash yersel - this is almost invariably the case with young Wrens. They always seem to fledge almost before they can even fly, or cartainly fly with any confidence anyway. They drop out of the nest usually, and skulk around in low vegetation, begging food from their mother (the male will play no part in this - no comment)!

Anna and I were also treated to a sight of a male Blackbird feeding a very nice speckly brown young Blackbird on my ma's patio. The young bird would flutter its wings to beg food (classic instinctive behaviour) and the male would give it a mealworm that mum had put out for it. When we got home, our garden had the same thing going on, although in our case, the adult female was feeding its young earthworms pulled up from our lawn.
It is tempting to think of ALL young Blackbirds as female - as they all are a chocolate brown colour, and speckled, like their mother. This is not the case though, and it will take a good 8 weeks or so, before the young male Blackbirds develop the yellow-orange bill and jet black plumage of the adult male.

I've heard a lot of Bullfinches recently - mainly in the dense foliage of the Lime Tree at the end of the garden. But I haven't seen any either on the feeder or in the air, for a good 2 weeks it seems. I do hope they retuarn to the feeder soon, so I can get in the hide and get a few phtographs of them, but as it is, the feeder is pretty-well dominated by Goldfinches and House Sparrows at the momant, with the odd visit by a Great Tit, and a couple of Woodpigeons pecking around underneath, picking up the scraps.

Mallard Drakes and Ducks.
Many Mallard drakes are undergoing a change of plumage at this time of year. They are entering their yearly "Eclipse Stage", when they exhibit plumage rather like the female - a mottled brown. Young ducks are also this colour mainly.
The easiest way to tell all Mallard drakes from ducks, whether they are young birds, or a group of mixed females and "eclipsed males" is to look at their bills. All (pure , not hybrid) Mallard drakes will have a yellowy-green bill - much more obvious than the brown bills of the ducks.

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