Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Tit Family

The weather has not been that good the last couple of days and although we have been out and about Birdwatching, i have not posted much. So here are some members of the Tit family. First we have the Longtailed Tit. (Aegithalos caudatus) With their long tails they are very distinctive and are often seen in small flocks. I often get them in my garden, but they flit about so quickly they are hard to get photos of.
This is the Coal Tit.(Parus ater) He is the smallest and is often bullied by his larger relatives.They are very common in the Forest.
The Marsh Tit (Parus palustris) is distinguished from the coal tit by as he does not have the white nape patch or the flashes on his wings. The Marsh tit is very similar to the willow tit , but they are not as common.
Next we have the Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) he is a very common garden bird With his blue head he is easily distinguished from the bigger Great Tit.
Finally we have the Great Tit, (Parus major) he is the largest of the Tits and is about 14cm in height. Great Tits nested in our bird box last year and I am hoping they will do so again this year They are already inspecting it.

We have one other Tit in the British Isles, the crested Tit but they are mostly found in the Scottish Highlands. The Bearded Tit was once thought to be a member of the same family but it is now thought to be more closely related to the babblers of tropical Africa and Asia.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)

Nuthatches are small birds not much bigger than a Great Tit. You can sometimes here them hammering nuts on trees. They can come and go frequently to bird tables because they often collect nuts to store. They nest in holes in trees and they plaster mud around the entrance to deter larger birds from entering. This bird is one of very few will run down as well as up trees, and is the only British bird that habitually does this.Nuthatches seldom wander far from their place of birth.
I took these photos today and couldn't decide which one to post..hence the post about Nuthatches!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More Birds

Dull and grey today and the wind is back. We took the dogs for a walk at Cadmans Pond and when we got back to the car park we decided to spend half an hour watching the birds. An hour or so later we decided it was time to go home. !t is so easy to just sit and watch. Behind us the ducks and geese were honking and quacking. The birds were all singing and flitting down from the trees grabbing some food and flying away. Time passes quickly when you are having fun!
drops his nut


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Birds and Deer

We walked the dogs at Pigbush this morning, it was cold and frosty. Several birdwatchers were out looking for the grey backed Shrike that has been see around for much of the winter We then drove up to Hatchetts Pond. There are two pairs of Mute swans , so hopefully we will have some cygnets to watch later on . We saw a Crested Grebe, but every time I got him in the view finder he dived! Lots of Black headed gulls as usual and in the distance a cormorant.
At about 3pm we decided to go back to see the Hawfinches. Some one said there were about 15 today . They are so elusive and I was surprised to find I had taken a photo with four in. They seem to love to perch so high in the tallest trees and you have to crane your neck to see them.
We drove home via the deer viewing platform at Bolderwood. They feed the deer here for the tourists to see and we decided to stop off and take a look. Three white bucks were among the deer grazing. The White Bucks are supposed to be lucky. They are not albinos just a very light coloured variation in the coat colour. In parts of the UK they can be almost black. Because they are used to people they just stayed munching away despite the fact that we were so close and not being particularly quiet. Normally they would have quickly dispersed before we had a chance totake photos!
Herring gulls
Feeding time at Hatchetts Pond

Blackheaded gulls
4hawfinches high up in a tree

White buck
Bucks grazing at Bolderwood as the sun goes down

Monday, February 18, 2008

More Birdwatching

Well the sun is still shining, so we went back to Eyeworth . We took some food but there was already lots in the car park..seed and fat balls.. We saw two male Mandarins and a female. Nuthatches, bluetits ,marshtits, great tits, robins and chaffinches. It was really warm sitting in the sun.
But the big thrill of the afternoon was to finally see some Hawfinches high up in the trees.
Hawfinches are our biggest finches, but they are very shy. Apparently there big bills can exert a pressure equivalent to 150pounds/per square inch and they use them to crack open the stones of fruit such as cherries, damsons and sloes.
Three Blue tits
Mr and Mrs Mandarin Duck

A Nuthatch attacks the Fat Ball

A little coal tit waits an opportunity to swoop down to the food

High up in a very tall tree a Hawfinch

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Cold but Sunny Walk

It was a cold sunny morning and we drove across the Forest to the High Corner Inn. We Haven't walked here for a while so it made a change. You walk down the little lane and then after crossing the little bridge at Woodford Bottom , you come out onto the open heathland and climb up the hill to walk along the ridge, before descending back down to Dockens Water by Splash bridge. We then followed the little stream back to the Inn.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The drizzle of this morning finally cleared and the afternoon was sunny. We took a quick trip down to the Lower Test Nature Reserve. An icy wind was blowing in through the windows of the hide. I love how the reflections of the rushes give the water a golden tint. There were a few egrets a very distant snipe, a few sandpipers, some teal and a couple of shelduck around. The warden came into the hut whilst we were there and told us that the Kingfishers will have moved up river now beyond the tidal waters,but in the next month we might see Osprey as they migrate over . He also told us that in May he would be leading a walk to see the rare orchids that grow here and gave us some general information about the site.
A Distant green Sandpiper
Little Egret
View from the Hide

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lymington Nature Reserve

We had a lovely walk here and once we went down on the lower walk we were sheltered from the wind. The sun made photography difficult and the tide was in so the waders were a fair way out. We saw a Kingfisher skimming along the water and every so often a flock of geese would take to the air honking away. Several times a flock of dunlin flew past us so close we felt the rush of wind and heard the wings flapping
Oyster catcher
Godwits (Black tailed I think)
Little Egret

Its valentines Day!

Its valentines Day!
Originally uploaded by Missy2004.

someone must love me;O)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Idling Away an Afternoon in the Sunshine.

Armed with a few supplies of seed and nuts I visited a couple of car parks in the Forest. it was such a beautiful afternoon to sit in the sun and just watch the birds. By scattering some seed and nuts on a couple of old tree stumps, I was soon surrounded and entertained by our feathered friends.
I really like the cute little coal tits. In the Secret lives of garden Birds by Dominic Couzens and PeterPartington ( A lighthearted read if you like to know more about birds) they say that the poor little coal tit is mobbed and bullied by the great and Blue tits on average every 3 minutes of the day so every time they got a seed or nut I cheered them on! All too soon it was time to go home and I had to drag myself away from their antics but there is always tomorrow.

Marsh tit
Blue tit
Pied wagtail
Mandarin Duck. These are not a native species , but many have escaped and they can be seen on many lakes.