Winter fieldlife

This post’s a tad unseasonal now, but I’m on a mission to try to catch up with myself,  so this is the first edition of the my race to the present! For the last couple of years the bird species that frequent my garden seem to have been changing. Greenfinch all but disappeared for over a year, even the ubiquitous chaffinch completely vacated for many months. There is always a niger seed feeder for the goldfinch and siskin, and even though siskin seldom visit, goldfinch were there every day. And then they weren’t. if I see one in a week these days that’s as many as it is. The strange thing is that all three of these finch species haven’t disappeared from the village so maybe, hopefully, they’ll return soon.

A goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis, Dansk: stillits) in a field on the edge of the village

During a stroll with the dog across the local fields at the end of December the goldfinches, and lots of other birds, were enjoying a glorious sunny winter morning. A grey heron flapped lazily across the tops of the trees:

Grey heron (Ardea cinerea,Dansk: fiskehejre)

Grey herons aren’t an unusual occurrence in this location, but what was unusual was that it alighted in the top of a tree:

To the general annoyance of the local corvid population. I think this is a carrion crow, it took exception to the presence of the heron and proceeded to dive bomb it and then landed in the same tree and squawked at it. To which the heron voiced its own displeasure:

All this bickering led to the departure of the crow followed shortly by the heron. And while I was trying to unobtrusively find a spot to get closer to the tree, a wren, one of my very favourite little birds, appeared in the hedgerow close by, so I had to spend a minute or two snapping a portrait of it, so I missed the departure of the heron. But it was worth it to get this little chap:

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes, Dansk: gærdsmutte)

The wren is one of our smallest birds and has an incredibly loud and varied song for such a small bird. It’s the most numerous bird in the UK, it weighs around 10g and is resident in the UK throughout the year. It’s a brave little chap and is one of the species that appears reasonably regularly in my garden where it’s always welcome.

Another bird which appears in the fields when the weather gets cold is the black headed gull:

Black headed gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus, Dansk: hættemåge)

It feeds in the fields in sizable flocks, sometimes hundreds strong, alongside other gulls such as the herring gull, common gull and lesser and greater black backed gulls, but they all disappear as soon as the weather warms up. This one was already starting to develop the black head summer plumage even though it was still only December. I guess the mild winter weather made its thoughts turn to mating early in the season…

13 responses to “Winter fieldlife

  1. I love wrens… didn’t realise they were so numerous – thought they’d all but died out with the annual Christmas ‘hunting of the wren’.

    • Hello Valerie, great to hear from you again. What is “the hunting of the wren“, I haven’t heard that before. I thought they’d be too small to be worth hunting! (More wrens to follow in the near future).

      • It was a medieval custom that continued, carried out on 26th December, St Stephen’s day in many European countries.. if you google Wren day, there are lots of different sites there telling about it

      • I’m planning a wren post in the near future so I’ll include something on Wren Day too. We humans do have some loopy traditions, and so many of them seem to involve killing some poor creature. Thanks for the tip, I’ll do a little research on Wren Day.

  2. Lovely shot of the wren, and so difficult to get because they move so quickly. It surprises me the way herons sit on tree branches because they look so heavy and unwieldy.

    • Aren’t those little wrens gorgeous? Now I know what their song sounds like I hear them everywhere too.

      Believe it or not, herons nest in trees in big community groups called a ‘heronry’ and I actually saw one up a tree at the weekend feeding its youngsters.

  3. Welcome back, Finn. Hope you’ve fared well through the winter, as well. Thank you for the images and narrative.

    • Hello Scott, great to hear from you and thanks for swinging by.

      The winter’s been mad, hence my extended posting holiday, but it’s good to be dipping my toe in the blogosphere again! I’ll be doing a grand tour in the near future to see what you’ve all been up to while I’ve been away.

  4. I reckon you have a cat in the vicinity and word has gotten out. A lovely post and your wrens are SO different to ours! We have so many blackbirds that they line up on the deck to wait for me to put some cheese cubes out for them now. It would appear “Chez Serendipity” is open for business in the blackbird world 😉

    • We’ve got plenty of cats, alas, but the birds seem to reasonably adept at avoiding them.

      Hats off to your good self for taking care of your local blackbirds!

      • They are very clever birds and they adapt. We humans would have to take a much closer look at our own place in the scheme of things before we frown at blackbirds

      • I think you’re spot on there Fran, we’ve lost sight of where our real place is in the grand plan, and we fail to refocus at our peril!

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