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The birds in the garden August 2011


We have always had swallows around the house but their numbers have been going down fast. We put it down to the sparrows returning and using their old nests and then fighting with them on their return from Africa. We have not had more than 12 for several years but 2 days ago we were delighted to count 33 swallows flying around. There have been several batches of babies and this heralded the latest brood coming out.The parents and older siblings all help to feed the newly fledged.

We also have a lot of blue, great and coal tits visit the feeders

In the next photo is a female great spotted Woodpecker. She and an adult male along with at least one young female and a young male are regular visitors throughout the day.

The tits do not seem to be bothered by the male adult Woodpecker

While we were have our morning coffee a female pheasant and eight babies suddenly appeared on the wall. Some sat down in my fish boxes for a rest, others copied mum as she preened her feathers while others explored the gardens either side of the wall. Eventually they all flew in to next doors garden and I was able to get the family group as they sat on the next fence down or foraged on the ground.

We also see blackbirds, thrushes, robins, wrens, willow warblers, chaffinches, greenfinches, chiffchaffs, starlings, sparrows are everywhere, pied wagtails, magpies, rooks, ringed doves, pigeons, crows, gulls, occasionally a tree creeper and in the fields around larks sing from morning to night from May. When sparrow hawks, kestrels and buzzards appear the garden goes very quiet. Barn owls sit on the house and keep us awake at night but also keep down the field vermin. Their pellets containing the bones of their supper are found under their perches in the morning. There is a whole array of bird life sharing our garden with us.

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How lucky your are to have such an abundance of bird life.

I think the decline in House Martins, Swifts and Swallows and songbirds is not down to the Sparrow, who in itself is in sharp decline, but due to weather and trapping along their migratory flight path. Also, as nesting sites diminish not many chicks are born and so don't return to their birthplace.

There are many countries who allow trapping of birds for eating, France and Italy to name but two, many songbirds perish in this way

Also, due to many farm buildings being sold for "Barn conversions many of the nesting sites are destroyed.

We had neighbours, who would hosepipe down the nest from under their eves due to the mess.

In the UK, there is a new virus which is threatening our Tit populations. It is a parasite which leaves open wounds and this leads to infection and the bird dies.

My OH and I are keen but not expert bird watchers, whilst we lived in Gran Canaria we would visit the South of Spain and go to the Donana. There are villages there where the Swallows, Swifts and House Martins are positively encouraged.

It is a sight to behold when these beautiful birds are hunting on mass and the noise. Swirling, dipping, diving and skimming the water. Absolutely Amazing. Very similar to when I was a little girl and our skies were graced by these amazing birds.

Like you we have Woodpeckers, Wrens, Tit and Owls along with many migratory songbirds in the woodland behind our house.

The pheasant is a regular visitor to our garden in winter, despite having to cross a very busy road.

Soon the skies will be quiet and empty and I shall be sky watching in April for their return.

11 Aug, 2011


Lovely blog... such a variety of feathered visitors :o)

11 Aug, 2011


Hi Scotsgran lovely blog, one reason we dont see so many House martins etc on our houses is because nowadays when replacing windows we are now increasingly also replacing the guttering, soffits and fascias and they come with built in anti bird strips to stop them building nest under the eaves etc.

11 Aug, 2011


We have both been keen bird watchers since we were children and passed that interest on to our children. They were all members of YOC. We walked in the woodlands regularly so we saw lots of birds and felt it was necessary that we should all know what we were looking at. We are not experts either but enjoy our feathered friends antics. When I was planning my garden it was vital that I could attract wildlife and my choice of plants reflected that. I knew about the bird trapping and my husband said it was wonderful to see hundreds of swallows roosting and resting on ships on which he sailed as a radio officer. There are far fewer of them now so the birds have no way of resting when flying over oceans. I did not realise the replacement guttering etc has built in bird strips. What a shame. I think they can be very messy but I am happy to put up with the occasional present in return for the air show/displays. I have not come across any dead tits so far and I hope it has not come up our way yet. In the autumn we sometimes see hundreds of swallows gathering for the return trip down south and it is a sight to behold. Similar to the huge flocks of starlings seen swirling around as if on a string. They have treated the Forth Road Bridge with something to stop the birds roosting there. Poor birds nobody wants them and yet we all welcome them to our gardens.

11 Aug, 2011


Hello Scotsgran! What a gorgeous blog! I'm envious of all your various visitors, I think I'd love a woodpecker, but maybe I wouldn't like the noise of the pecking! My hubby's absolute favourites are the house martins! He loves to sit outside and listen to them chattering to each other late at night, he maintains it's the parents telling bedtime stories! Awww!
The strangest thing I ever saw was when two buzzards were feeding chicks. I heard a cry overhead, and as it sounded so close, I looked up, and saw two buzzards, one with a mouse or something in it's claws. The one with the mouse, threw it into the air...and the other buzzard, flipped upside down, and caught the mouse in it's claws and flew off to the nest, to feed the chick! How they didn't collide I'll never know. I was with my sis, in the garden at the time, and said to her, "We'll never see that again!" but about 15mins later...we did! Unbelievable! They were just like trapeze artists throwing a person to one another!

11 Aug, 2011


They don't make a lot of noise pecking Libet. You know they are around because they make a sound like a growl. Its nice to know the buzzards work together as well as amusing us. I've never seen anything like that but it is wonderful to know it happened. I love to think of the martins telling their offspring bedtime stories. We don't see them here but the swallows make a real old racket as they fly and call to each other. We live in Central Scotland and I was surprised to find that the swallows leave their nestlings for up to 2 days at a time and go off to Holland on insect collecting trips. Is that not surprising. We are thinking of changing the name of the house to Piccadily Circus. LOL just kidding.

11 Aug, 2011


Lol! I know what you mean! The wood pecker sounds bizarre! The house martins can chatter up a storm! Particularly when they're outside your bedroom window, arguing the bit out at 5:00 in the morning! And when I would be out in the garden, while they fly around, they sound like a troop of chimps at a tea party!
I didn't know that about the swallows leaving the chicks! That's really interesting! We used to have swallows, but we've just got house martins now, the swallows were much more melodic! I think they all went to live on my sisters house! Your blog is lovely, Scotgran, I really enjoyed it, thank you! Right! 12:00 off to bed and at least try to sleep! Night!

11 Aug, 2011


Lovely blog and photo`s Scotsgran, you do get a lot of birds, we have a lot here but no woodpeckers or pheasants so I`m feeling a tad envious. I realised reading about all your birds that we didn`t get any swallows or swifts around here this year, that is a first in all the years I`ve lived here.......

11 Aug, 2011


What a great blog all those lovely bird's I enjoy them in my garden as well I get load's of sparrow's and a mix of Blackbird's,Magpies,Jackdaws, Starlings and the Robin is back.I have just bought some new feeder's with four places for them to get the seed that is very popular :-)

12 Aug, 2011


Since planting the heucheras we are getting lots more goldfinches and willow warblers. We used to see lots of them when we first moved in and the back garden lawn area was just a jungle of weeds and grasses. we had red polls too and I have not seen any of them for several years. I'm sorry the photos are not too great quality because all except the swallows they were all taken through the windows.

12 Aug, 2011


What a lovely mixture of birds you get.

12 Aug, 2011


We are very lucky.

12 Aug, 2011


i've been on GoY sister site "Ispybirding" and interestingly enough, there were several photos asking for identification and they all turned out to be starling & chicks.

This shows I think that even the most common of garden birds are in decline when people can't identify what was almost a pest on our bird tables a few years ago.

We had a pair earlier in the year visit the table, but they have stopped coming.

I know they still have large numbers in the cities, but here in a our rural area hardly any along with the sparrow.

14 Aug, 2011


It is odd how bird numbers fluctuate in different parts of the country. I think we may be seeing the new generation of parents who grew up in the era of home computers and the space travel boom wanting to tell their children about what they see as they walk around and are trying to wean their children away from being desk bound. Starlings were a rare sight in Morayshire where I grew up but very plentiful in Central Scotland where I now live. Lapwings and Curlews were a familiar site up north but we are only starting to see flocks of them down here in the last two years.

16 Aug, 2011


You could be right there Scotsgran. My youngest son takes his little girls to all the farm places with animals that the children can feed and touch and out walking.

When they come to us we spend most of the time in the garden and looking at the birds.

As they get little older, I shall encourage them to have a little bit of my veg plot and plant some seeds.

Many children have no idea how or where their food comes from.

I remember years ago when my sisters children were little they came to stay, and we took them to the farm where I kept my horse.

They were blown away they had never seen a pig or cow, to my sons they were everyday sights. I suppose we lived in a very rural area and my sister in a town that being the difference, even today in our children's knowledge and attitude to the world around them.

It's strange really, I have a brother and sister and neither are interested in wild life. I spent lots of time when little out walking with my late father and he taught me so much about nature.

My OH is just as keen as I, and we have tried to pass our enthusiasm and enjoyment on to our children and grandchildren.

As a guardian of this planet I feel it is our duty to maintain a healthy interest in our children and in their attitude to it.

16 Aug, 2011


I so agree with you Grannyb. We are very lucky to have had parents who also took a great interest in the wild life around us. Our daughter and 2 grandchildren are here for 2 weeks and Daddy will come and then they will go to a seaside holiday house for a week before going back to school. We went to Edinburgh Botanic garden yesterday as it is a favourite place for all of us. It is also free entry which is a great bargain in todays expensive laid on entertainment era. We got a lovely surprise because there is an exhibition of wild animals sculptures which the children loved. They appeared, animals and children, on last nights Reporting Scotland. It poured with rain but we all had a whale of a time. I'll do a blog when I have time. If you live or are on holiday anywhere near Edinburgh, kids or not, it is an exhibition worth viewing.

17 Aug, 2011


Sounds like you had a lovely day in spite of the weather. it just goes to prove if you have the right attitude the weather won't stop you doing and enjoying things.

17 Aug, 2011


You can see a flavour of what we enjoyed in my latest blog Grannyb. I think we even enjoyed getting wet.

17 Aug, 2011


Back to the house martins, if anyone has some and is worried about the mess, they could try what my OH did - put up a little shelf on the wall some distance underneath to catch all the droppings. It worked!

18 Aug, 2011


What a sensible idea Steragram. It is lovely to have the birds around the house.

19 Aug, 2011


Yes, you could hear the little ones "bubbling" in the nest if you opened the bedroom window. I miss them now we have a bungalow and no pond for them to get their mud.

20 Aug, 2011

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