Sunday, 17 January 2021

A New Year.... far it's turning out to be just like the last! We are back in lock down possibly until the end of February, maybe into March depending on how things go so we are back to local excercise and patch birding. 

On the 1st January it was dull and damp and there was still a hint of snow from earlier in the week. I headed out for an early walk around the town centre, seeing the usual lack of people and the usual birds - Black-headed Gulls, Redwings, Magpies.....



Long-tailed Tit

Spot the Song Thrush

Blue Tit

In the garden we've had 2 or 3 Squirrels visiting on a regular basis, my daughter saw two of them chasing each other and actually fighting, one even hit the patio door mid fight and ended up with a bloody head! It has a distinctive patch on it's back and we've seen it often since though so it seems to have recovered ok. 


We have an old hanging basket by the patio doors, which we fill with nuts, the Doves, Tits and Squirrels love it but for some reason the Squirrels do try and climb out of it and up the side of the house, not sure where they think they are going!

Long-tailed Tits


Last week we had a day of heavy snow, which caused chaos and meant I ended up having a half day at work so was able to make sure the feeders were filled, the garden was busy with birds all day!


House Sparrows

Now we're left with icy paths, we did try and go out for a walk this morning but ended up cutting it short so we didn't break any limbs! 

On the plus side of this lock down, i'm already powering through some of the non fiction I was hoping to read last year!

Thursday, 31 December 2020

PWC in 2020

This year of course the patchwork challenge was pretty much all we could do a for a large part of the year. The official website put the challenge on hold when we went into lockdown in March as not everyone's patches are local. Mine of course is local so I was able to keep up with it somewhat though I couldn't visit the Woods for some time during lockdown. 

I managed to get 48 birds though, which is down on last year but not bad considering I did a lot of birding from the garden! 

When I did start back at work in June, the deserted streets meant I picked up the sound of Skylarks singing in the farm fields for the first time as I walked to work, i'm not sure if they've always been there and i've just not heard them because of all the traffic before?! It took almost 9 months to see a Nuthatch on the patch, they disappeared from the woods early in the year and I finally saw one in September, but have discovered they are also in Dartmouth Park, i've seen them there a few times now. I've also realised i've not seen a Jay since 2018, usually there was a couple in the woods and the odd one around work but nothing. 

After spotting a Chiffchaff nest near the woods in June I then saw young flying around the woods not long after presumably from the same nest but there may have been another of course, they are usually pretty well hidden. The birds in general seem to have done well during the breeding season, I think the lack of people made a difference and I saw plenty of young birds from our regular species. 

Away from the birds we had the busiest year yet with up to 6 Hedgehogs in the garden, with our first youngsters - 2 of them, I spent a lot of evenings watching them. The bats seemed to disappear for most of the summer, though we did see them over the yard opposite a few times and a couple of late appearances on warm days in November. A Frog was a new garden record i'm hoping that's a sign of more to come? 

There was the first snow of winter on Tuesday morning and I went out for a walk and to see if I could maybe add a Fieldfare to the list before the end of the year - I didn't but did see plenty of Redwing, which until the past week or so had been few and far between. One did briefly land in our Laburnum on Christmas Eve.




Black-headed Gulls


Feral Pigeons

We'll see what happens in the coming weeks as to how things will pan out for birding for 2021! In the meantime a Happy New Year to all. 

Sunday, 20 December 2020

20 in 2020

You might remember I posted about 20 things in 2020 back in April. Well things of course didn't quite go as planned this year and i'm afraid due to not really going anywhere other than local places the Wildflowers went by the wayside but is something i'll keep up with next year. 

On to the books and again this didn't go as well as I hoped, mostly because I packed nearly all my books into boxes whilst we were redorating so didn't have access to them for most of the summer. Still I did manage to add 9 non-fiction books to my list bringing the total up to 13 for the year (I also added many much needed escapes into fiction too!).

5) The Secret Life of the Owl by John Lewis-Stempel. A friend bought me this for Christmas a couple of years ago and it was my next pick off the shelf. It's a fascinating book, full of information about owls including how they feature in folklore

6) A Birders Journey to the Big 300+ by Terry Wells. These are one of my favourite types of bird books, I love reading about peoples birding adventures - The Biggest Twitch, The Big Twitch, Lost Amongst Birds, Birding without Borders etc. This one didn't disappoint and I couldn't put it down.

7) The Natural History of Selborne by Gilbert White. This one I picked up in a charity shop last year and really one I feel I should have read already. I must admit it took some getting in to with the language but I perservered and i'm glad I did. It's fascinating to read of the same things he was seeing that I (we) see now over 200 years later and of course the things we don't. The notings and observations are incredibly detailed.

8) Birds Britannia by Stephen Moss. An interesting book about how the British have grown to love birds.

9) Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty. I've followed Dara on twitter for a while, I love to see younger generations with a passionate interest in wildlife. I bought the book when it came out earlier this year and was so impressed with the writing and the content, I feel Dara is going to go far and make a difference, look out for him! I definitely recommend the book to everyone.

10) Bird Watching Watching by Alex Horne. Another book I picked up in a charity shop though I realised once I started reading that I had read this one when it first came out. It tells of Alex taking on his Dad's hobby of birdwatching for a year to see who could see the most birds, it's a good book, quite funny and one I was pleased to be reading again.

11) To See Every Bird on Earth by Dan Koeppel. I bought this one after seeing it mentioned in Alex's book (above), I can't resist a birders story! This one though tells of his father Richards birding obsession and it's another I barely put down until i'd done. 

12) The Magic of Dolpins by Horace Dobbs. My husband met the author of this book last year through work and he very kindly gave him this copy of one of his books and signed it too after they chatted about local wildlife. He is an expert on dolphins and set up the International Dolphin Watch amongst other things. The book is full of information and his personal experiences, i've been able to look further into some of the things he's mentioned in the book. I have sadly found out he recently passed away but i'm glad I got the chance to find out about his work.

13) Rodley Nature Reserve: The First Twenty Years by Peter Murphy. I saw on Facebook that one of my favourite Nature Reserves had a book available and I got my copy straight away! It details the history of how the reserve came to be and the history year by year since it opened. I was surprised to see how many different bodies have helped in the Reserve over the years alongside the brilliant volunteers. I can't wait to visit again, hopefully soon. 

So not as many books as I hoped but the ones I have managed to read have been well worth it though I feel when I come across some of the big birding names mentioned in these books I realise I still have so much to learn about birding history - not just the actual birds. 

Sunday, 6 December 2020

A Misty Morning

With lockdown restrictions still in place over the past few weeks we haven't been going far at all. The weather hasn't been great on my days off but after days of fog we needed to get out regardless and headed out early one Sunday morning around the local parks. 

I still managed to see a fair few birds including a Nuthatch in Dartmouth Park, the first time i've seen one there in all these years! 

The fog did not make for good photos - not of birds anyway - it did make everywhere look a little eerie. 

Anyone else think this tree stump looks like a dog?!

Black-headed Gull

Mistle Thrush



It was good to get out even if it was local but I am desperately missing going further afield, i've been able to keep myself busy with all the decorating and such over the past few months but now it's all done and I have time on my hands............