A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hooptedoodle #178 - Juveniles!

Quick wildlife interlude - our garden is full of baby birds at the moment, and the Contesse has been busy with her camera. These pictures show some of the juveniles on our garden feeders, being fed or being shown how to use them by their parents.

For the first time, we have a family of Nuthatches - previously we have only seen odd individuals, but this Summer we have some chicks, and you can hear the distinctive chirping song throughout the day. I've never seen a baby Nuthatch before - this one is watching one of his parents working on the peanut feeder, and he appears to be unconvinced about all this silly hanging-upside-down business - none of the other birds seem to do this, and it must be a bit embarrassing.

And here is a rather chunky young Greater Spotted Woodpecker (left - red cap), who looks a bit large to still be getting nuts fed to him by his mum, but he doesn't seem embarrassed at all.

I realise that garden birds are perhaps not everyone's cup of tea, but we get a lot of pleasure from watching them, and they are quite a big part of our life here - we live in a very rural area, and our garden is next to a wood. Anyway - a baby nuthatch is certainly a first for me.

Just one more - this is a video clip my wife took with her iPhone in the car park at our local hospital - this baby Bluetit insisted on sitting on her car windscreen wiper - wouldn't budge off it, so eventually she had to pick it up and place it on a nearby bush. We like to think that its relatives would find it before too long.


  1. Thank you for these, Tony. Much enjoyed. Hope that little Bluetit made it home.
    Our bird feeders are going non-stop right now. Mostly what we call LBJs (little brown jobs) but the occasional family of cardinals. Haven't seen anything more exotic, at least, as I'd recognize it.

  2. I like to think of ours as a dinosaur feeder. I didn't realize what a variety of birds we had till it went up. Still amazed that they seem pretty good at sharing despite a few that are picky about which species they will share with and which they will just queue up on the power line to wait for more respectable company.

  3. We certainly don't have anything as exotic as cardinals or dinosaurs - more's the pity. Our birds seem to get along, with appropriate striking of attitudes - the groundfeeders happily hoover up the debris from underneath the feeders, so everyone gets a slice. One recent problem has been that a family of country rats moved out of the woods and took up residence under the neighbour's outbuilding, and they like the debris under the feeders as well - that is an annual problem - whenever the farm's ghillie shuts down the feeders for the pheasants, the rats have to go foraging elsewhere. Rats have now disappeared, so I guess the ghillie poisoned them.

    All birds very wary of the woodpecker-style birds, which includes nuthatches and the occasional treecreeper, who are nervous eaters and tend to peck at anyone who gets too close. My favourites of the birds we get here are the GS Woodpeckers (we've always had 1 or 2 families - all year round) and the little goldfinches in their courtiers' uniforms with the brass buttons. My parents used to get Green Woodpeckers in their garden in Liverpool, but that is the Deep South compared to this place.

    We have been worried about the greenfinches - they used to be about the most common visitor here - big numbers - but they have suffered a fungus disease which renders them unable to eat, and the numbers have dropped away. Happily we are getting a few again, after seeing hardly any for a few years.

    Since I live near the sea, I have a constant intention of improving my knowledge of seabirds and waders - it's only a short walk, after all. We have Britain's largest Gannet nesting site about half a mile off the beach here (Bass Rock), there are lots of fulmars' nests on the cliffs here, and we have all sorts of cormorants and similar. I'd also like to brush up on my ability to recognise birds by their call, but my repertoire is a bit limited at present.

    We do get occasional, flashing visits from sparrowhawks, who will take out small birds - we comfort ourselves by believing that it is the weaker ones that fall.

    Sorry - this is going on a bit...

    Increase in numbers of deer, which cause a lot of damage to forests and farms, has led to a suggestion that wolves might be reintroduced into Scotland, after an absence of some centuries. Hmmm. Not sure about that - a reduction in the number of deer might be accompanied by a similar downturn in numbers of domesticated sheep, not to mention children...