Observing All Hours

To know what kind of wildlife uses a reserve you to actually have to watch and observe the area to record the species present. In my new reserve, or garden as some might call it, I have mainly had casual observations whilst looking out of the window often whilst washing up and the other day I thought I ought to start trying to record more species and share them with yourselves and send records in of what I recorded so I could add to the database of recording and monitoring the state of our wildlife. This year I have spent more time in the reserve than ever before and after undertaking the clearance work and all the continuing ground preparation, this has added up to a fair few hours out there. When the first few flowers started to attract insects, I started to make notes of the records from the garden. Then I started to run the Moth trap and have so far recorded over 40 species. All of the Moth species records have been sent in to the recorders. The whole reason for planting this area up was to attract wildlife at looking back over the last six months; so far so good.

The other day I woke up early and the skies were dark at 6.am. I thought this maybe the day to have a look at the reserve at dawn to see what was using the area. As I lay in bed I heard the first Robin song in the darkness and knew there would be some action soon, so I got up and made a coffee and positioned myself to see what would turn up.

Early Bird

There were 3 Robins in song in the area and as the light became stronger the local Carrion Crows began to leave their roosts and call loudly. I had brought a new bird feeder in the week and positioned it where cat attacks would be quickly spotted. So far, I’ve not witnessed any attempts and, in all honesty, it was taking the local bird population a while to get used to the new feeder, with birds that were using the feeders adopting a smash and grab style of feeding. I saw Great Tit and Blue Tit using this method today and noted the one Blue Tit who was braver than the rest and fed on the peanuts for a minute before the local squirrel arrived. Now we all know how ingenuous these animals are at raiding bird feeding stations and this one crawled along the fence at sat a couple of feet away contemplating its’ next move. It seemed unsure of the situation and decided that eating the bird food on the ground was a better option and proceeded to this feeding method. Its’ presence seemed to scare the smaller birds away from using the new feeding station. The local Magpies were also unhappy as they were coming in and feeding on any leftover peanuts that the Badgers had missed from the night before.

The squirrel to and froes for 5 minutes and I noted it burying some of the food it collected in 3 different locations all of which were going to be dug over in the forthcoming weeks in order to prepare the ground for next year’s planting! Tough luck for the squirrel! Eventually it moved off and after a few moments I saw a Jay fly right over the reserve and land in the woods behind. It called and flew on to the fence and then flew to the ground found himself a missed peanut and flew off into the woods with its food. This was about 5 or six seconds in total and I had that “right time, right place feeling”. Up until then, I had never seen any Jay’s on the ground on the reserve before and made it worthwhile being up early to witness this and remember how opportunistic Jay’s and the Corvid family in general, can be. There were other birds feeding on the ground as well in the quietness of the early morning with Robins, Blackbirds and even a Great Tit taking some fallen seeds. I will most definitely repeat a dawn watch at various times of the year in the future as you can then see some behavioural differences. As I’m aware that the birds here are not totally comfortable with the new feeding station yet but am also aware that it has been very mild again in the last week and I’ve seen plenty of seeds and berries as I’ve travelled about the area. There’s still quite a bit of natural food left out there, so the birds will not be so desperate to be find garden feeders yet. I’m waiting for some really cold weather to see how the birds react and if the feeder gets more active. We shall see.
After finishing this piece, I decided on a coffee and as I stood at the sink a winter Tit flock arrived on the reserve and for 10 frenzied minutes I saw 3 Blue tit, 3 Great Tit 1 Coal Tit 2 Nuthatches and 1 Long Tailed Tits all feeding at the new restaurant. It may be mild but they can’t turn down food!

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