Thursday, 4 July 2013

Bedraggled Birds of June

It was an overcast but warm day on 26 June when Sue and I carried out our monthly survey. The tree foliage is now quite dense which makes it harder to spot the small birds but what we couldn't see, we heard - at least 8 Blackbirds and 8 Great Tits, at least 5 Blue Tits and 5 Wrens and at least 4 Robins. Sue also heard a quick burst of Chiffchaff song and, earlier in the month (18 June), actually watched it singing for some time in the Eastern Rd area, so it does seem as if the bird has stuck around this year. It was noticeable how bedraggled and frazzled some of the birds looked which is hardly surprising given the demands of the breeding season - the constant daily search for food, the need to defend the nest and distract predators (and bird watchers). An exception was the Great Tit below which left its tree trunk nest at a speed greater than my camera could cope with (I won't try the old 'artistic blurring' excuse)...

We saw three Long-tailed Tits, heard both a Blackcap and a Dunnock singing in the Eastern Rd/wood area, saw a single Swift overheard and also saw or heard Goldfinches, Magpies, Crows, Feral and Wood Pigeons, Ring-necked Parakeets, Starlings, House Sparrows and a single but very vocal Chaffinch - 19 species in all. We haven't paid that much attention to the Chaffinch on this blog partly because, although it's a 'regular', it's not very numerous on Hilly Fields. It's an attractive bird and, nationally, one of our commonest - the RSPB estimates nearly 6 million breeding pairs in the UK. One can usually be found singing around the front of the school building in the trees next to the playground and tennis courts (anyone who came on this year's Dawn Chorus walk will remember the fine view we had of a female Chaffinch singing outside the school) and, like the Chiffchaff, has a song that's very easy to remember - a series of fast descending notes ending in a short trill. This clip gives a fine view of the male Chaffinch (the female is drabber and greener) and a recording of its song:

Meanwhile, in other nature news, the May blossom on the hawthorns has gone along with the white cow parsley and creamy horse chestnut flowers. It's now the turn of the Elder trees and bushes to put on their white floral display along with briar roses in the borders and Pyracantha. All three could be found last week behind the school with the magnificent Pyracantha attracting bees by the busload. Go and see it while it's there!