Saturday 29 January 2022

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2022


Long-tailed tits with Blue tit in the wings, 29 January 2022

The results of our 2022 Big Garden Birdwatch are in, and sadly we are a little disappointed at this year's numbers. We are not particularly surprised as (a) we have had a couple of very recent visits from a female Sparrowhawk and (b) conditions were far from ideal with Storm Malik blowing the bushes about. Incidentally, all my photos in this post were taken during the hour of the survey (through double-glazing).


Blue tits and Great tit

We put out four coconut fatballs, one container of peanuts and a small canister of Niger/Nyjer seeds. The Goldfinches (when they visit) are never interested in our Niger seeds, which is a shame. 

We had a total of 10 species:

  1. Blackbird (three at once)
  2. Blue tit (six at once)
  3. Great tit (two at once)
  4. House Sparrow (one)
  5. Long-tailed tit (two at once)
  6. Magpie (one)
  7. Starling (two at once)
  8. Carrion Crow (one)
  9. Feral Pigeon (two)
  10. Blackcap (presumably are 'regular' female) 


Female Blackcap


The 'regulars' who were noticeable by their absence on this occasion were the Robin, the Dunnocks, the Goldfinches, the Woodpigeons, the Great spotted Woodpecker and the Wren. We occasionally spot a Coal tit and rarely see Chaffinches, and Collared Doves. Very occasionally we notice a Song Thrush. There are often various gull species about, but few come in to land.  

I wonder what you have been seeing. Here are some of the visiting Blue tits ...


And finally, here are the RSPB charts pertaining to the data we submitted. It will be interesting to see the nationwide results in due course. 

There is always the Climate Crisis to consider, but I wonder how much the pandemic will be responsible for variations from normal trends. We have a hunch that the many Woodpigeons in our neck of the woods moved to other areas when a local entertainment venue was forced to limit its hours of operation, and there were consequently less pickings to be had.




Tuesday 25 January 2022

Early Snowdrops in Martlesham

We always enjoy an annual visit to the Snowdrops in the churchyard at Martlesham, across the river Deben from NT Sutton Hoo. We knew we were pretty early for spring flowers, but it was a delight to find a good spread, if not quite a carpet, of these beautiful flowers. I expect we will return in a few weeks, once the Crocuses have had a chance to open.

Church of St Mary the Virgin. Most Snowdrops were the far side of the flint-faced tower.

We watched this Buzzard being dive-bombed by a screeching Kestrel.


I love to be near reeds

A very poor record shot, sorry; best my Zoom could manage, but lovely to see these Lapwing

I love Snowdrops, but I also look forward to the riot of colour that comes later ...

... and indeed, we saw our first Daffodil in flower, but don't you love the purity of the Snowdrop?


Monday 24 January 2022

Trailcam Update and RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Reminder

We hope to take part once again in the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, which runs from 28 to 30 January 2022. It is always interesting to see which of the 'regulars' deign to show up during our chosen hour, and if there are any surprises. Do consider taking part yourselves; this must be one of the largest and most popular citizen science projects around.

You might be wondering why I am posting a photograph of a Grey Squirrel. Well, it occurred to me that taking part in the Birdwatch is a bit like taking the photographs off our garden Trailcam ... you never quite know what you will find.  

Our Trailcam has picked up the following creatures to date:

  1. Blackbird
  2. Robin
  3. Blue tit
  4. Pigeon
  5. Magpie
  6. Great tit
  7. Grey Squirrel
  8. Mouse
  9. Other people's domestic cats ... several

We keep hoping it will deliver a surprise, though I have to say that (despite the charm of 'Ray' the rodent on BBC Winterwatch), I am glad we have not ended up with frame upon frame of rats! In fact, rats have not appeared at all to date. Perhaps I should mention Ray's nemesis, the Tawny Owl; as it happens, I have just heard our resident bird calling, but I sense an appearance on the Trailcam is, at the very least, unlikely. 

Here is a small selection of our recent photographs ...

I would love to know the real colour of the fur.

One of our faithful visitors, a female Blackbird

This one was burning the midnight oil ...

This was the early bird Grey Squirrel.



Monday 17 January 2022

NT Sutton Hoo ... or ... If You Go Down To The Woods

Well, it may not have been a teddy bears' picnic, but it was a joy to experience an unexpected encounter with a pair of Muntjac deer as we walked away from the picnic site overlooking the river Deben. The photos were taken with my zoom lens as we had no wish to cause alarm. One of the deer watched us closely, but neither seemed perturbed by our presence.

There were very few small birds about in the wood. We saw crows, gulls and pigeons overhead. I wonder who will gorge on these remaining berries. 

We were looking out over the estuary towards Woodbridge when a Kestrel landed on a bare branch and perched there surveying the scene for a few seconds. 

The Kestrel flying off

Preparing for take-off

Showing its beady eye

Were we friend or foe?

Woodbridge on the far shore

Our sunlit path

Wolf in the woods (for 'wolf' see here ... and for Sutton Hoo wolf purse lid see here)

Wednesday 12 January 2022

An Hour on the Beach

Last weekend we spent an hour or so on the beach at Landguard, in the lee of the port of Felixstowe. There were one of two gulls on the shoreline and cormorants and geese overhead.

Port to the left, bird observatory to right, and protected nature zone (where we see butterflies) in the foreground


I was interested to see the red ring on this gull, and it was a shame I failed to photograph the rest of the label. A lot of bird ringing is done at the bird observatory. There is a blackboard on the fence listing recent sightings, which is always good to see.


Sunset on the boardwalk, looking towards Harwich


Thursday 6 January 2022

Visiting Female Blackcap


Blue tit and female Blackcap

Last year we felt very privileged to have Blackcap visitors in the garden, and once again we have been delighted this week by the presence of a female. I wonder if there is a male waiting in the wings. What beautiful birds these are, and what fine bills they have. We have clocked up February and March sightings in previous years, but this is the earliest by a good few weeks.