|male sparrow cleaning his tail|
|blue tit and goldfinch|
|long tailed tit|
|male and female sparrows|
About this time today, M and I should have been nearing the end of a marathon relay we were doing together around Langstone Harbour in Portsmouth (running a half marathon each), but M came down with the lurgy on Wednesday and decided at 4am on Saturday that he wasn't well enough to run, leaving me with the option of a) not doing it either or b) upgrading to run the full marathon. Of course, I chose b), only to find as bedtime yesterday approached that I had a distinctly odd feeling in my throat, and to spend half the night awake feeling yuk. So, no running today.
Instead, I have been watching the garden birds. It's a snowstorm of feathers out there with, I estimate, between 30-40 feathered friends gathered in the garden at any one time.
The goldfinches are the top birds in so far as they dominate the feeders, not allowing anyone else much of a look in, and the dear little coal tit is bottom, and has to dart in, grab a seed and nip away with it, to hide it somewhere in the garden for when he needs it later on.
I am glad to see the Stock Dove, who is a rare garden visitor here. I hear them more often than I see them. Likewise the greenfinch who was here yesterday. Another regular visitor at this time of year who didn't make an appearance while I had the camera out is the moorhen. She hops over the hedge and potters about beneath the feeders clearing up dropped seeds. Despite her size, the other smaller birds don't seem to object to her presence. She is very nervous of me though and is off at the slightest movement.
The Dunnock is for My Orcadian friend who rarely gets dunnocks in his garden. Instead, he regularly sees Marsh Harriers which I almost never do, so we are indulging in an avian cultural exchange. I apologise for the quality of the picture, but dunnocks are hard to photograph well as they are rarely still.
One bird who was in the garden yesterday but who was in and out so fast that all I heard was the whoosh of air as she sped past the window, causing the smaller birds to dive for cover in the hedge, was the sparrowhawk. I was telling a friend about it over a mince pie yesterday and he told me that he was sitting in his garden in Southampton once with his arm stretched out when a sparrowhawk landed on it! I have had this happen with blackbirds before, but never a bird of prey. He said she turned and stared at him with those intense yellow eyes but didn't move away. He didn't know much about hawks so was worried she might go for him, instead she surveyed him and the garden for a bit then took off and flew over the fence.
Incidentally, did you know that the blackbirds currently in your garden are likely to be European birds who have come here for winter? Your blackbirds, in the mean time, have taken themselves off to southern Europe or Africa and won't be back home till March.
I hope everyone is keeping well and has Christmas under control. We're all set here.