Sunday, November 30, 2008

A grim end for a Goldfinch

Right now the garden is bare of cover, the leaves are all fallen and we've removed some other tree cover, the Elderberry, the Snowberry bush amongst others - all aimed at giving the natural hedgerow room to grow. At the same time it looks to have been a good year for breeding Sparrowhawks too. We have at least two individuals in the garden and often more than once each per day. We've seen them take at least three Goldfinch alone, in 3 days, and there's lots of time we're not watching the garden...

The latest victim was this afternoon (Sunday), after a spell of rain the garden quickly filled up with hungry birds. The alarm calls of the Blackbirds alerted us, they've only been back in the garden for the last two weeks but they are daily visitors again.

A male Sparrowhawk had grabbed a male Goldfinch and, unusually, had decided to eat it there and then:

Towards the end of the meal, he's made a real mess of Goldfinch and the garden. In Spring the feathers would quickly be snapped up for lining nests, however at this time of year they get justblown away, slowly, there will still be feathers here in a couple of weeks time:

The drama wasn't however finished as before the Sparrowhawk had finished his meal a Magpie moved in and forced him away, with the carcass, so it could browse for any uneaten meat. A grim end indeed for the Goldfinch.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chasing Shadows

It's been aaaages since we managed to get out Birding. We've had to contend with the weather, the garden and in-laws, so even though Saturday was freezing fog with very poor visibility we just had to get out for a bit, so we decided to follow-up the reports of Waxwing and Hawfinch at Fineshade Woods. Of course on arrival neither bird was to be seen anywhere about, even though they'd been in situ for over a week... humbug. We did see Woodpeckers and a Treecreeper in the car park and enjoyed a short walk being dripped on as the trees defrosted, but nothing out of the ordinary, that is until we were in our car heading away from the Lodge when we spotted a single Hawfinch feeding in the hedge on the road-side.

From Fineshade we decided to complete a relatively short detour to Rutland Water, with a view to returning to Fineshade later, just in case.

Rutland was just as foggy. Visibility was poor and it was very cold, but it's always a good spot for birding. Blackbirds, Fieldfares and Song Thrushes abounded, including this one:

I was surprised at how 'whitewashed' the photographs came out but I guess that's a consequence of the fog. Other birds of interest included a single drake Smew, though at tremendous distance, Goosander, a Green Sandpiper and this female Scaup, again at a great distance and in the fog:

This image has had the exposure compensation adjusted by +1.5 and look how white it still is! We caught brief glimpses of what we think were a pair of Little Stints flying around in Lagoon II in front of the hide we were in but they didn't settle long enough to be positively ID'd. We did head back to Fineshade but nothing doing, so headed home, pleased to have at least got out and about at last!

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