The rain streams down and despite reasonably mild conditions thoughts of a morning walk are quickly abandoned. A party of Long-tailed Tits, Aegithalos caudatus, passes though, their contact calls of tsee, tsee, tsee piercing the gloom. They ignore the food we've put out, intent on investigating the hazel and passion flowers for tiny invertebrates. This species is not related to the 'true' tits such as the Blue Tit but belongs to the Aegathalidae whereas the Blue Tits, Great Tits and so on are members of the Paridae (known in North America as chickadees). We have a fairly large cat population in the neighbourhood and these may explain why our bird table receives only a modest number of visits, but the remaining passion fruits beside the garage wall have been hollowed out, presumably by birds although I have not witnessed their visits.
I do little 'birding 'nowadays but an enforced morning in allows my thoughts to dwell on these creatures. A blackbird perches stoically on a nearby fence, ruffling its feathers from time to time, creating a little shower of water droplets. Its bright orange bill shows it is a male and it is keeping an eye on a potential rival a few metres away. It can't be a quarrel over a female as a couple are nearby, watching for a potential spat, so I suspect it is more about territorial boundaries. Food isn't currently a problem (although a predicted harsh spell could change that) since, although the rowan berries have long gone, holly is available where trees have not been stripped for Christmas decorations.
In some places holly is still plentiful. Byfield, Northants.
2 January, 2017
|Yellow 'berries' on cotoneaster. Byfield, Northants. 2 January, 2017|
Four members of the crow family are seen regularly around here: Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw and Magpie. Ravens pass over with some regularity and the occasional Jay is to be heard screeching in the nearby Stefen Leys Pocket Park. That leaves only Choughs, a crow confined to cliffs in south-west Britain.
Mixed gatherings of gulls gather on nearby fields and I'll go through them over the next few days to look for any oddities.