We have been delighted this last week by the arrival of a new garden visitor: meet the Blackcap!
In fact, we have two for the price of one as a female (see below, 3rd and 4th pictures) has joined the male who features in the top two photos. If, like us, you spot these birds in the UK over the winter months, your sightings can be logged here. Since the 1960s more and more Blackcaps have been staying here all year round.
These photos were taken through glass on a dull day, but I think you can easily see that the male has a black cap. Well, no surprises there. The female, on the other hand, has a rich chestnut top to her head, so it is easy to distinguish between the sexes.
Blackcaps are not rare: they have been awarded Green Conservation Status. However, it is always a thrill when a new species of bird is spotted in our home patch. As you can see below, the Blackcap is 'our' 27th bird to date. It is also our 1st new species for 2020. Blackcaps are members of the Warbler family. The RSPB site describes their song as 'fluting'.
The male Blackcap in our garden bides his time in the ivy around the coconut feeder, then when he feels the moment has come, he moves in and asserts his position in the pecking order. The female seems less feisty: she oftens waits to appear until the Great tits and Robin have stepped back.
Avian sightings in our home patch: unlike the rules for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, a bird seen clearly from the house or garden counts for my purposes. We have, for example, yet to see a Grey Heron landing in our home patch, but I have had good sightings of these birds flying over in the direction of the local nature reserve, one road away, and perching on a neighbour's roof. We have often heard the local Tawny Owl, but I am not counting 'birds heard' (unless they are also seen) at present. [R] indicates a regular visitor and [O] an occasional one.
- HPb1 Great Spotted Woodpecker [O] 
- HPb2 Great tit [R]
- HPb3 Long-tailed tit [R]
- HPb4 Blackbird [R]
- HPb5 Song Thrush [27 April 2019 - a pair]
- HPb6 Blue tit [R]
- HPb7 Robin [R]
- HPb8 Magpie [R]
- HPb9 Wood Pigeon [R]
- HPb10 Dunnock [R]
- HPb11 Starling [R]
- HPb12 Carrion Crow [R]
- HPb13 Goldfinch [R]
- HPb14 Jay [O]
- HPb15 Green Woodpecker [O]
- HPb16 Wren [O]
- HPb17 Bullfinch [19 January 2017]
- HPb18 Sparrowhawk
- HPb19 Mallard
- HPb20 House Sparrow [1 June 2019]
- HPb21 Chaffinch
- HPb22 Grey Heron
- HPb23 Collared Dove [R]
- HPb24 Coal tit
- HPb25 Redwing [20 January 2017]
- HPb26 Kestrel [8 June 2017]
- HPb27 Blackcap [30 January 2020 - a pair]