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Armchair Naturalist - Not the new normal

Friday, 7th August 2020

The new normal is an expression we are used to hearing concerning the pandemic and I began to wonder earlier this week if there was a new normal with the birds in the garden.
I usually have a good number of feral pigeons first thing in the morning who have some food and then go off for several hours, with some returning at lunchtime and then, as there are some distinctive birds, a fresh group arriving late afternoon and into the evening. Two mornings this week there were virtually no feral pigeons in the garden at all first thing and although I saw a few sitting on the roof, they seemed to be reluctant to come down to the dead tree where most of the bird feeders hang and to the bird table. I couldn’t see anything in the garden such as a cat, but the birds were conspicuous by their absence and hadn’t been eating before I was up and about, as all the suet ball and peanut feeders were still full from the previous evening’s refill.
 
not the new normal

Later in the day a few [birds] appeared but were quite reticent about feeding, coming onto the dead tree or the top of the bird table but then not taking any of the food before flying off. Then another group appeared in the evening who were hungry. As I say this happened for a couple of mornings and I began to wonder what had happened. I do have a fox coming through the garden in the evening, around dusk, and one morning the fox was going off through the garden about eight in the morning and as soon as he disappeared, the feral pigeons turned up. So, I can only assume that it’s not the new normal in that they have deserted me but that it was unsafe for them to land. A nearby house has also been having the roof replaced and with the scaffolding and quite a bit of noise, perhaps the flying zone was unsafe. This morning everything was back to normal with a group of ferals coming to the feeders, then going and coming and some of the later ones have just arrived.

As I have mentioned before, there are some distinctive pigeons and the bird I call 'White Wing', who is predominantly white but has one black tail feather and some small black markings on its back and chest, has been joined by two other predominately white pigeons. One is 99 per cent white and the other has a black and white mottled tail and larger splodges of black on its back. I assume they are one family group.

It was a lovely sight the other evening watching two wood pigeons sitting in a tree and pecking and preening one another. This morning I was watching a parent sparrow with a couple of youngsters making a trip to the feeders then feeding the youngsters. They have been quite busy coming to a large rose bush and into some of my other plants, presumably looking for aphids and they’ve also been picking up seeds in the flower beds in the front garden and arriving as a little group, then all left pretty much together.

I have seen the adult and immature blackbirds on the lawn as well as the starlings coming to the feeders en masse when it’s been a colder day. At least two immature robins are hopping about and the adult birds. The surprise visitor of the week was a seagull. I often see them flying over and occasionally one will land on the roof, but I think they find landing in the garden a bit difficult as I’ve got several trees, large bushes and shrubs. This time the seagull landed and I had thrown some meat scraps out which were intended for either the jackdaws, who are still coming but in slightly smaller numbers now, or the crows, but it was a tasty snack for the said seagull. I was lucky enough to be able to grab the picture which is attached to this blog. I usually find with the jackdaws that they do disappear around this time of year, possibly coming briefly early or late in the day and I have seen a few of them sitting up on the chimney ready to hop into their chimney pot home. The jackdaws will reappear in number once the weather starts to get colder heading into the winter. I’ve not seen the large crow this week but at two youngsters have still been coming to the garden and mixing in with the pigeons and occasional jackdaws.

As well as the birds, the two squirrels have been back in the garden this week. The larger squirrel who I’m assuming is an adult, takes no notice of who is at the bird table or on the feeders, leaps up and has some peanuts. The second squirrel is much smaller and a youngster and tends to come near the bird table and if it’s full of birds turns round again, runs off flicking its tail angrily. When all is quiet it will come back and have a peanut feast. The older one knows how to flip the top open on the feeder, which a few of the pigeons do as well including 'White Wing', but the youngster has yet to learn that trick.

Written by Margaret Emerson

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  • Comments

"Our Title? Or Title Of This Comment? Ambiguous!" by
04 Sep 2020

Thank you for this piece. It is a good illustration of the pleasure that so many people get from watching birds (and other animals) in their garden. It is also a reminder that observations of even common birds can be interesting and possibly help in monitoring the abundance and behaviour of our native wildlife. Many thanks! The Coopers.

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Hi John and Margaret
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"Armchair Naturalist" by
20 Aug 2020

Another excellent blog Margaret. Very enjoyable.

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