Thursday, 20 February 2014

Tit Willow, Tit Willow, Tit Willow

Coming back from walking the dogs down the lane this afternoon (during which a very exuberant Poppy ran through a flood which came over the top of her legs, thereby bearing out my assertion that her run-in with the wave at Keyhaven would have had no affect on her whatsoever. Ted watched her for a minute, raised his eyebrows at me then continued carefully along the path that skirts the flood), I saw a pair of bullfinches and a goldfinch in the hedge. Well, the bullfinches were in flight but that tell-tale white spot on their bottoms was a dead give-away. Anyhoo, neither has been in evidence here so far this year, so I went home, got the camera, and set off back down the lane to see if I could find them again.
I didn't get very far before a bird song I didn't recognise stopped me in my tracks. We're being encouraged at college to learn bird song ID and this is something I'm working on at the moment, with mixed results. I can do Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Blackbird, LTT, Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker and a few others reasonably confidently, but I am in need of practice. Anyway, I looked up into the branches and eventually spotted our marshwillow tit. I listened hard until I was sure I'd remember the call, then hot-footed it home and got the RSPB web page for Willow and Marsh Tits up and guess what? I am going to lay money on it being a Willow Tit, which is doubly exciting because although  both are Red Status birds, Willows are less common than Marshes.
I went back with the video camera and I did get a recording for you all to listen to. It's not perfect- you may have to pin your ears back and listen for the 'cheap cheap cheap' repetitive song in the background, but that's him. I found a BTO recording which was a match, so I'm relatively confident that we're there. I shall award myself the prize for working it out that I was going to give you.







My only reservation is that I think I can see a white beak marking on the top photo which would suggest a Marsh Tit. However, all the sites I've looked at say the call is the real defining factor, so unless anyone knows different, we'll stick with Willow and say Mystery Solved. And even better, we have a pair, so baby Willows here we come (unless, of course, we have one Marsh and one Willow, which would explain the beak-mark, and mean no babies, but I don't think we'll go there, shall we?).

We had some special garden visitors today- two lady Siskins detached themselves from the God-Almighty-Huge flock that's stripping the catkins from the alders here at the mo and popped by for a brief snack on the garden feeders. I really love these birds. I think their markings are soooo striking....


 
Bumble is also still in the garden. I saw a very handsome male Chaffinch at the bottom of the lane, singing his little heart out in a tree. So there is a husband waiting for her there, if she can be bothered to go find him. But perhaps her poor foot weighs her down and makes trips of any length undesirable, even for the purposes of romance. Still, I made sure I told her all about him so now it's really up to her....


The nuthatches are to and fro from the feeders all day long, and less worried about me these days so photographing them is generally not much of a problem. They sit in the oak tree and squeak....


Poppy and I have been busy planting out the Hellebores I got yesterday. One went in fine, the other flatly refused to come out of its pot and in the end I had to cut it out. I think it had been in there way too long poor thing, by the look of the roots. Hopefully, it will be happy in its new home in the earth beside the hedge where it has got room to grow and blossom...



While we were gardening, our lovely Robin came to see what we were doing. After inspecting and presumably approving the planting, he serenaded us with a beautiful song from the hedge, much as my little wren did yesterday while I was treating a patient...

 




We think Mr Pige was hoping to pick up some tips as to how to woo the ladies, as he still has an interloper hanging about his Mrs. This makes him very cross indeed, and she doesn't help matters much. Earlier I caught her showing the interloper their nest! No wonder Mr P is looking a bit miffed...


While out recording the Willow Tit I noticed some other signs of Spring, like these catkins high up on the alders (which is what has brought the Siskins in)....


And these Pussy Willow buds, which I think are actually Goat Willow? They host a HUGE number of moths (Sallow Kitten, Lunar Hornet Clearwing), explaining perhaps why we get so many here during the summer months. I've also just discovered that the larvae of the Purple Emporer butterfly will feed on nothing else, so this summer I shall be checking the trees to see if we have any. VERY exciting! I love the fluffiness of these buds, so soft....


I thought I'd better also add a pic of some of the potting out I've been doing, so here are some daffs by the front gate...


Scouring the garden I discovered a whole load of bulbs I had neglected to do anything with last Autumn other than shove them unceremoniously into some pots, so I retrieved them and planted them properly in some nice compost in colourful fresh pots and I am hoping we'll be getting tulips and daffs out of them. While doing this, I also discovered some very strange bulby tubory type people hiding underneath them, and as I have absolutely no idea what they are I've planted those too (with a 'mystery bulb' label). I'm Quite Excited to see what comes up...

I had a trip to the hygienist this morning and now my teeth (that never give me any trouble at all) feel like they've been surgically extracted one by one and put back in all the wrong places, so I think some home-made anesthesia in the form of a nice glass of chilled Pouilly Fume is called for....

Wishing you all a pleasant evening, free of tooth pain,

CT :-)

20 comments:

  1. I saw my first Siskin of the year today too! No photo so well done. I've never dared make the Marsh/willow decision so well done there too!

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    1. I keep the camera by the kitchen window Em, it's the only way I manage to get a shot of any infrequent visitors!

      The song is the thing with Marsh Willows, not hugely helped by the fact that they, like so many birds, have a range of calls. Usually a mix of BTO, RSPB and private recordings on Youtube do the trick for clinching an ID.

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  2. Our WMTs look just like yours, I shall listen out for the call.

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    1. Hope you could hear it OK behind all the other bird song? If not, I found a good one from the BTO which is on Youtube. Willows are clearer in their tone and don't sneeze in the same way Marshes do :-)

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  3. Your bird photos are always so good! You must have lots of patience waiting to get the shots. Hope that your teeth feel better after their little tipple! xx

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    1. Thanks Amy. I have a reasonably good camera and the feeders are right next to the window, which helps :-)

      Teeth still sore today and gums now puffy too :-( It had better have done some good for all the discomfort it's caused! x

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  4. We have catkins aplenty round here at the moment and I was thinking they seem especially long this year. I do like a catkin - remind me of lamb tails. And I am glad an answer to the tit question has been decided upon - willow sounds more romantic than marsh I think.

    I hope your teeth settle. Why is it that dentist types insist there must be something wrong when there isn't, then 'fix' it and make it a problem? Would it be something to do with money? (Today I am mostly being cynical!) xxx

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    1. It is a long catkin year I reckon, they are everywhere round here. V pretty.

      I incline towards the cynical re money and appointments too. Not being a tooth expert does make it hard to judge how much of yesterday's pain experience was necessary, but on the whole I take the view that if something hurts it probably isn't doing you too much good, pain being the body's way of telling you something is wrong! xx

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  5. HI CT Lovely to spring appearing now. The single bud is marvellous. Love all your bird shots. Have a great weekend.

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  6. A lovely post. How exciting to have Willow Tits so near!

    Last winter we had lots of siskins visiting, but only one or two this year. Plenty of goldfinches on the teasels and the niger seed. I could watch them for hours ( if I had time...).

    I love the pussy willow close up. I think you are right - goat willow.

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    1. Both the willow tits are now in the garden on the feeders most days so plenty of chances to watch them. No goldfinches in the garden yet although I did see the one on the lane. Am v jealous of yours- such beautiful birds.

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  7. Well done on Willow Tit id :) Some great bird photos - we only get Siskin very occasionally these days passing through in early Spring. Lovely to see the signs of Spring appearing.

    Ouch re: the visit to the hygienist. I hate having a scale and polish - they are always painful :(

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    1. It was pure luck to hear him singing and then spot him. Thank goodness for the internet and bird song recordings! Nice to have an ID as it's been bugging me for days! x

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  8. Let's hope I can remember that Willow Tit call for when I am out walking. It's quite distinctive. The one I would LOVE to identify is a bird I heard years ago now, in a scrub of hazel and alder and ash, and it's call was a VERY nasal "bong". The only thing I could think - as in big heavy beak = big nasal cavity - is Hawfinch. But I've only ever seen a stuffed one of those . . .

    Lovely photos. No Siskins here though - we only had them in the bad snow winter (2010) so think they were probably just passing through.

    I hope your teefs is better soon.

    Has the flooding subsided yet? We saw the Army working on the river when we were watching Forces News earlier this week.

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    1. If you stick hawfinch into youtube you should get loads of videos up. The RSPB site is useful too, although I find cross-referencing between the two usually covers all the variations in call. One of my lecturers in college is convinced birds have regional dialects, just to add to the complications!

      Flooding is going down, friends' house is dry ish again - water just under floorboards and some roads have now re-opened. Bless the forces, they've all worked so hard to help.

      Teefs better thanks x

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  9. Mystery solved! I love the little call, I shall listen out for that now.
    Lovely photos of all the birds, especially the Siskens. I still haven't seen any Bullfinches here for a long time - so I envy you the sight of those.

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    1. It had been bugging me for ages so I was very pleased to have a chance to hear the singing! We get Bullfinches in the garden from time to time but it tends to be a blink and you miss it moment. However, they are more prevalent a little further down the lane and sometimes hang round the edges of the lake too. Such fantastic birds.

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  10. Love the Siskin-so pretty and a great shot too.That's a seriously pot bound hellebore! I listened to the recording and just thought how lovely all the bird song was.

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    1. The male Siskins are really striking so am hoping they come back to the garden- we had some last year. I should get some more recordings of the birdsong here- it is really peaceful :-)

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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