Friday, 4 September 2015

Chiffchaffs, Jays and Acorns

The BBC forecast three hours of heavy rain for the morning of 26 August. Naturally, we still turned out for the monthly bird survey. Getting soaked to the skin while unable to see a thing through rain-splattered lenses is all part of the experience (it says here). Luckily the rain was intermittent and we managed to get round the 'course' with only a few raindrops hanging from our stiff upper lips. There were also a couple of highlights. One was hearing a pair of Chiffchaff calling to each other ('huit' 'huit') in the Upper Eastern Rd woodland and getting a brief glimpse of what looked like an adult. These warblers have become regular summer visitors to Hilly Fields and have almost certainly bred there. Could this have been adult and young bird keeping in contact?

Most Chiffchaffs will be preparing for migration back to the Med and Africa which usually takes place later this month. Another bird preparing for winter is the Jay and after hearing its loud screeching, we were lucky enough to see one flying out of an oak tree with something in its beak. It's not difficult to guess what that 'something' was. A new crop of acorns is growing in our oaks and can be seen hanging down on stalks. Jays are famous for storing these (often burying them in the ground), then recovering them later when needed. Occasionally, they'll forget the location and another mighty oak will start to grow...

Image: RSPB
Apart from those two sightings, it was a quiet morning, no doubt partly due to the weather. At one stage, it seemed unlikely that we'd reach double figures, but in the end we recorded 13 species. The other birds seen and/or heard were Wood Pigeons, Robins (now singing again after their moult), Wrens (occasionally singing), Great Tits, Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Goldfinches, Magpies, Crows, House Sparrows and Parakeets.