Monday, 16 June 2014

All The Small Feathered Things

Every year at about this time I say fretishly to M: where are all the baby birds? I've hardly seen any this year. And every year he replies: you say the same thing every year in June. They will come.

And so they have. The blue tits and great tits have had masses of small children out and about for the past few weeks, bringing them in to the garden to eat everything in sight, and the starlings (new for this year) have also got three kids who come periodically. Mr and Mrs Sparrow are on to their second batch and have enlisted the help of last year's children in finishing off bringing up the first set from this year, and I have so far seen one baby robin and a few blackbird smalls. Now I can at long last add the GSW's Child to this list, as observed yesterday quietly feeding on the coconut halves, a good deal less bothered by my presence than either of his parents...

In order to be in with even a fighting chance of getting their picture I have to perform what can only be described as the kind of soldier-in-training routine that would test the most committed of military aspirants. It involves me frantically waving my arms and hissing at the rest of the family to be ABSOLUTELY SILENT and NOT to come ANYWHERE NEAR the kitchen under any circumstances, while dropping to my knees and crawling across the floor (regardless of its current state of cleanliness or - more usually - not), keeping my head below window-height until I reach the  kitchen cupboards at the far end where the camera usually is, then feeling along the top of the surfaces for it, sliding it off the surface without dropping it, switching it on and setting the zoom and then finally backing out of the kitchen before sliding sideways behind the wall so I can stand up without them noticing. I worked out (to my cost) that trying to stand up and hide behind the central bar between the two windows doesn't work - I'm not fooling anyone that I'm thin enough so as to be invisible standing there, let alone a bird who possesses the kind of inner radar that any stealth-reconnaissance plane would be proud of. I then have to lean surreptitiously sideways round the edge of the wall like someone trying to check the next street for snipers without getting their head shot at, while all the time trying not to over-balance and fall flat on my face and so ruin the whole point of the performance. Only then can I look for the GSW, who is by this time thoroughly suspicious in that sixth-sense way of theirs and is about ready to bolt.

It is, frankly, a miracle I have got any pictures of the adults at all. And now that I've told you what I have to go through to get them (the least of which is my family standing in a silent semi-circle watching this performance with grins a mile wide), I hope you'll fully appreciate the lengths I go to for your entertainment on this blog.....(although it has just occurred to me that you would probably find it more funny if I just got M to video my attempts to get the photo, rather than the photo itself...)

Juvenile GSW


Juvenile GSW

The red cap is a sign of juveniles. I suspect this is a male as the cap is smaller in females. In the adults, only the male has a red bar at the back of his head, as is seen in this pic of dad...



Great Spotted Woodpeckers have one brood between April and June and usually lay 4-7 eggs in a hole they excavate for the purpose in the branches or trunks of trees. They drill for insects beneath the bark of trees and will also predate smaller birds, particularly fledglings of blue tits, using their drilling action to break into nest boxes. So far, this is the first GSW Child I have seen- last year there were three.

Our blue tit babies have avoided the woodpecker's jaws and are thoroughly savvy now about the various feeders we have in the garden. I thought this was a Novel and Inventive way of making absolutely certain there was not even a hint of fat left in the coconut half while pretending not to be there at all from the other side....A Perfect Fit, wouldn't you say?



The Bird Children are not the only Smalls to be seen in the garden this week. Although our rat problem has been largely solved by shifting the girls to ma's (where they are enjoying themselves), I did spot a single Rat Child darting about recently on the lookout for seeds. I espouse a live-and-let-live attitude to rats, as long as there aren't hundreds of them....so I think he is fine where he is.


We do however currently have a mouse problem.

Or, more accurately, a Single Mouse Problem.

One Mouse has Taken Up Residence in the Utility Room where he is also taking the piss  Michael by zipping into the humane trap I've set for him, having a Lovely Time eating all the seeds I've put in there to tempt him into the trap, before turning round and zipping out again, neatly flicking the trap closed behind him with his tail as he goes.

An audible tiny peal of laughter can be heard coming from that room milliseconds after the 'snap!' shut of the trap door occurs.

Right-O, I thought, clearly the food needs to be bigger and heavier, so when he heaves it about, the mechanism that triggers the door is set off and hey-presto! One trapped mouse. 

So I stuck in a lump of cheese.

I've just got back from the school run to find the cheese sitting Quite Some Distance from the trap underneath the washing machine and on top of a pile of treasure (mostly seeds). The mouse is sitting beside his hoard smiling. The trap door remains open.

I think that's called adding insult to injury. 


Never Mind. He hasn't banked on me forking out for a proper Longworth Small Mammal Trap, which is what will be coming his way if he doesn't stop taking the pee very soon....(these are professional ecology traps that don't harm the small folk, just enable you to catch them to study them).  M says he has to be taken a mile away once we've got him or he thinks he'll just come straight back. Having suffered a week of being laughed at and made a fool of by this mouse I am now inclined to agree with him.

There are other none-feathery children in the garden- this is a Vapourer Moth's child in the form of a Very Hairy Caterpillar....


Which is Very Curious because although this is the second time I've seen one of these pillars in our garden, I have never seen the moth....

The Starlings continue to appear, scoff all the food and split...



And yesterday there was a Very Noisy family of wren's squabbling in the trees to one side of the garden. I just about made out mummy (absolutely tiny but with a huge voice) and thought I glimpsed her children bouncing about behind her. They look like small brown balls of cotton wool with sticks poking out of them (their tails, in case you were wondering).

I'll finish on a Bird Theme (for the purposes of Symmetry) and leave you with a short video shot last night of our Song Thrush in action. He/ she has taken to singing every evening as the light starts to fade in the trees beside the house. I did get a video of the actual bird singing, but it wobbled so much (the vid, not the bird) that I felt sick watching it back and didn't want to impose that on you, so you'll have to just enjoy the sight of the trees waving about while you listen to the marvellous song with its various repeating phrases. Beautiful!



Have a Great Week All,

CT x

20 comments:

  1. There is an easier way to the bird photography. Put camera on tripod and get yourself a corded or remote shutter release. Even GSWs get used to the tripod very quickly. Then all you need to do is hide somewhere where you can see the feeder and wait to push the button. Simples.

    And I'm googling Longman Small Mammal Trap as we speak..

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    1. I think my family would be disappointed if I got a tripod and a remote shutter- it would remove their weekly 'have a good laugh at mum' time.
      I muddled my 'man' with my 'worth' earlier- the trap is a Longworth. It'll come up when you google it, but they are not cheap, mind :-)

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  2. There is nothing better than listening to bird song in my view, we did just that on Saturday evening.
    My son had a mouse that he caught in a trap and released on to the allotments next door only to find it returned and had to catch it all over again. lol
    As for rats, I love them. When we had an allotment we had a whole army of them under the shed, its a wonder the floor didn't colapse, we called it colditz. lol. The babies were so beautiful and like you I laid for ages on the grass waiting for them to pop their heads out and got some love pics.
    Super post again, thanks.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Birdsong is a tonic, isn't it? V funny re the mouse- I have taken note! I really don't mind having a rat in the garden, the problem comes when you have forty :-)

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  3. Great post, I can often be found pretending to look like washing out on the line to get a photo...love the photo of the Blue Tit inside the shell..
    Amanda xx

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    1. The other birds are fine with me, it's just the GSWs who seem to have inbuilt panic alarms that go off at the slightest person-related movement :-)

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  4. So impressed with your woodpecker photos! I have nothing to show for my efforts other than a lot of pics of empty feeders!

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    1. I also have lots of empty pictures, I've just edited those out :-)

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  5. I have been listening to the evening song of my Blackbird while reading your post. It's a beautiful song, and a daily highlight.
    Leanne xx

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    1. I love listening to blackbirds- what a treat x

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  6. I don't think that you and I should ever meet, two of us in one place at the same time would be too much for everyone else as we obviously think on the same wavelength. As I was reading your description of the GSW photography, I thought, I wonder if her family has filmed her, that would be fun to watch, I wonder if you would share it with us if they did!!!! Scary huh! It is great to see your pictures though, and I love the little bluetit all curled up in the coconut shell! xx

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  7. Wonderful photos. I was giggling at the antics you perform to Take Photos of Baby Birds (and others)! Excellent photos, as always, and a really enjoyable blog post.

    P.S. I loved the carefully-nibbled biscuit maps in the last post . . . Very creative.

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    1. Glad it made you giggle- I must look utterly ridiculous crawling across the floor, but it's worth it for the photos :-)

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  8. Great photos of the woodpeckers - I've only managed to get a few of the adults and young (after similar contortions across the kitchen floor!). Love the little blue tit in the half coconut shell!!

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    1. I don't know why they are so much more nervy than other birds? The blue tits, sparrows and robins virtually land on me if I'm standing still enough, but you only have to blink and a GSW is off!

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  9. Loved your description of trying to take a photo, I quite often find myself stopping dead in my tracks with one foot in the house & the other on the patio when spotting birds at the feeder! We had a resident mouse at the bottom of the garden, never made it inside the house though thankfully!

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    1. I'm glad to hear it's not just me, Joanne... :-)

      The mouse is still there....smiling....and sitting next to his pile of ever-growing goodies....

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  10. Great post, and very impressed with your determination of getting the shot of the GSW, made me laugh reading it, lol x
    Only seen a GSW in our garden 3 times, lovely looking birds, aren't they.
    We have a tiny mouse who feeds from a feeder, I love that they have such big ears!!

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    1. It's a well-worn routine now, jumping through hoops to get a pic of the GSWs :-)
      I love mice and this one is very sweet, but definitely has the upper hand right now! 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