Monday, 10 February 2014

Birds In The Garden: Bluetits, LTTs, An Elusive Thrush, And The MarshWillow Returns

Our garden birds are making good use of the feeders. The LTTs are here on and off all day in droves; the GSW boy floats between the oak next door and our coconut halves; the nuthatch pair similarly divide their time between the oak and our garden; the male and female blackbird nibble the bits that drop on the ground; there's a jackdaw who pops in every now and then; a thrush was here until the blackbirds saw him off; we even had a single starling visit for a couple of days (unheard of in 8 years); both pigeons have been around (no sign of the interloper after the trying-it-on-in-the-tree episode-phew); the two collar doves come everyday; the bluetits are numerous; so are the dunnocks; Mr and Mrs Sparrow are often to be seen in the hedgerow and on the feeders; all three robins are always somewhere in the garden; there are also three great tits who squabble with the blues; I caughr a fleeting glimpse of the male blackcap a couple of weeks ago, although I haven't seen him since; I have seen my wren (making a racket on the quince tree, for reasons best known to herself) AND (as of yesterday) the MarshWillow Tit has again taken up residence.

Thanks to everyone who offered an opinion yesterday on which type of tit he is. Without wishing to diminish your significant pooled bird knowledge, I think we'd probably all agree we are no further on in terms of a definitive ID. Jessica Rusty Duck asked whether MWT (as I think we shall refer to him from now on) would oblige with some shots from all sides, and low and behold he did! I've put yesterday's pic up with them for comparison, so if these help get us further on with the ID please shout. All suggestions warmly received (as long as its not something ridiculous like a parrot or dodo...). 
Now that I look at it, that could be a pale stripe on the wing, and the cap looks like it extends further down the neck, which would suggest he was a Willow Tit, but the cap also looks quite shiny to me, which would make him a Marsh! It's by no means clear. I shall concentrate on the wings next time with the camera and see if I can get a closer shot of them.
I am feeling a little better about the confusion, because it seems ornithologists didn't realise they were two separate species until 1897! They are also both Red List species, so I suppose at the end of the day it's just great to have him at all, regardless of which one he is! 
Here's a link to the RSPB web pages if you want to read more: Marsh Tit
Willow Tit  
I can see this being a conundrum that occupies us and divides opinion for most of the summer. Perhaps I should run a competition with a prize at the end for the person who correctly IDs him.





There's been a thrush singing in the trees round about at first and last light for about a fortnight. There are shy birds and not often to be seen in our garden, but last week one popped by (until the blackbirds saw him off). Again. I find it hard to tell between Mistles and Songs, although I believe Songs are more numerous? (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). So, even though this one was keeping his beak firmly shut, I'm assuming this is a Song rather than Mistle......


He was back singing in the trees around the house yesterday as the light was starting to fade, so I took the camera out determined to find him and get some pictures. After much scrabbling about through brambles and under fences (involving scratches and swearing), here's the result...


Excellent. 

That'll win me prizes, eh?

I did manage to get some better pictures of the Silver Birches, which were beautifully lit by the setting sun...


 And catkins by the lake...

The gibbous moon...


I like the circle round the sun in this shot...


Better bird pictures were to be had back at home, where the LTTs and Bluetits were squabbling over the feeders and puffed up against the cold...












Later this week I am planning on doing a post about which flowers/ shrubs/ trees etc to plant in your garden to help look after and attract moths. Now's the time to be thinking about it, and they need our help every bit as much as the bees. 
In the mean time, I'll leave you with a pic of Poppy and her New Favourite Toy. As it is a plastic bag, she hasn't been allowed to play with it since she swiped it out of the cupboard and scampered off to hide beneath the table with it. She has a knack for knowing what she should and shouldn't have, and inevitably scarpers when she's got hold of something that I consider contraband. She's too clever for her own good (and what a ridiculous expression that is)....


Have a good evening all,

CT :-)

17 comments:

  1. I am not going to enter the Name The Tit competition because I know you won't believe me when I say her name is Maureen and we met in 1978 in Weston Super Mare during a Miss Knobbly Knees competition and she drunk me under the table with piña coladas and Pimms cocktails at the after show party and that is how I know who she is because a) you wouldn't believe me b) she made me promise not to reveal she was a lush and c) it would be unfair on your other entrants.

    However...I would like to say that at very first glance I thought Poppy was playing with a Femidom!

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    1. You are EXTREMELY NAUGHTY on all counts.... It won't surprise you to know that I nearly wrote (in brackets) 'and don't tell me her name is Barbara, or some such Denise' because I knew you would, and look- you have :-) xxx

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    2. I am soooo predictable. I really need to update my stand-up material...sigh... Xx

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  2. I hope that you figure out what the bird is, as it is nice to know who you have got visiting your garden isn't it. We have had a lot of starlings this year, attracted by these sort of fat pellet things with mealworms in, kind of like a fat ball, but with more fat and less seed. They love them! Your moon picture is lovely too by the way! xx

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    1. It'll be an 'email the pics to the RSPB or BTO' moment as the only way to categorically find out, I reckon....
      I haven't seen a a starling close up in AGES- their plumage is really very beautiful :-)

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  3. Some absolutely beautiful garden bird photos! I don't think I can help with the marsh/willow conundrum - although I do love my birds, I am no expert!! Great moon and catkin lake image - really captured the detail and the light fantastically! Mistle thrushes are a bit larger than song thrushes - but I'm not sure how you would be able to tell unless you had them next to each other for comparison! Poppy looks very naughty - Bracken does a similar trick! If we leave the porch door even the teensiest bit ajar he will rush in and steal our wellie boot socks and will only give them back if we give him a treat! x

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    1. I'd like to say the light and detail capturing was all me, but in fact it was the clever camera....;-)

      Pops loves socks too and is able to sniff them out over quite a respectable distance x

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  4. Of course it could be that you have a marsh tit and a willow tit, they take it in turns to pop out of the bushes just to confuse?

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    1. D'you know Jess, that very same thought had occurred to me this afternoon :-)

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  5. Great pics of the birds I do love seeing the LLTs. You would easily know the difference in a Mistle Thrush and a Song Thrush if you saw them side by side, and that is definitely a Song Thrush. The MT has a different pattern to it's head and the wings which you get used to.

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    1. Ah, you see? That is why I asked the question, because I knew one of you brilliant birdy peeps would have an answer. I shall remember the tips about mistle ID, thank you :-)

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  6. Lovely bird photos - the thrush is Song - Mistle thrushes are bigger with long wings which can droop and as Suzie says the face markings are different.

    Am having computer problems at the moment - my desktop seems to have died on me so am having to rely on B's clapped out laptop which I won't be able to use when he's around. So if I don't comment on your posts for a while - apologies but you will know why! Can't see me blogging either as haven't a clue how to upload photos onto laptop.

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    1. Thanks Caroline :-) I've just looked them up on the RSPB site and song's are also Red Status for endangered, so I'm very pleased we have one.

      What a pain re the computer. Can you get hold of a USB stick with a memory disc slot? Not expensive on ebay. That's how I put my pics on the laptop- dead easy once you know how. I would miss your posts if there was a long gap :-)

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  7. Lovely photos of all the birds, especially the Marsh/Willow tit. Wonderful to see the Song Thrush, too. Both Song T and Mistle Ts are singing away here as well. Obviously the weather hasn't put them off at all.
    I love the look Poppy is giving while she chews on her forbidden bag. Harry's most forbidden toys have always been plastic plant pots. He used to rush in with them from the garden very pleased with himself, scattering soil everywhere.

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    1. Poppy is a one for stealing plant pots too. I couldn't work out what was going on with all the soil on the patio until I saw her scampering about with one she'd demolished in her mouth!

      I saw an enormous bumble bee over the floodwater at the weekend and thought of you. Hope your bees are all OK in all this wet weather.

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  8. Wow those are amazing pictures of all the, you would certainly win a prize for most of them! Poppy look so grown up, what a rascal! Sarah x

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    1. Thanks Sarah :-) Pops is indeed growing up- a very cheeky monkey, but lovely natured with it. Hope Daisy is feeling better x

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x