Monday, 2 November 2009

...And Counting

Following the example of the BBC's Autumnwatch programme, we decided to have a go at counting all the species of bird which can be seen or heard from our garden today. All was going well and within the first few minutes we had counted Lapwings, House Sparrows, Great Tits and Black-headed Gulls.
Later we added Carrion Crows, a Kestrel, a Woodpigeon, Goldfinches, Magpies, Dunnocks, a Robin and even a Buzzard. But it soon became clear that by lunchtime, I still hadn't seen any Starlings. Not one! Usually, there are hundreds of Starlings flying around the area or squabbling over the fat-balls on the Hawthorn in front of the house. But this morning, nothing! These Starlings were 'snapped' earlier in the year....
A very strange state of affairs. Another odd thing, I didn't see a single Blue Tit until about mid-day. Again, they are usually to be seen flitting in and out of the Sparrows, grabbing a beak full of fat-ball before taking off and plunging into the hedgerows opposite our house. But, this morning, they were conspicuous by their absence. What's going on?
Another bird which seemed to be missing this morning is the Blackbird. Although we don't often see very many of them, there are usually at least a couple of them to be seen, but again, not this morning. This, rather glum-looking, Blackbird, was seen at the Eden Project in Cornwall in April last year....
Maybe, after yesterday's rain, the ground has softened and the starlings and blackbirds are all off, foraging in the fields which surround us rather than 'scavenging' for bits in the gardens. Perhaps the moist, warm atmosphere has brought out the insects of the hedgerows, so keeping the Blue Tits away from the fat-balls too. Who knows? Whatever the cause, it's just typical that, the day you decide to do an 'audit' of species, is the very day that they all decide to shove off.
Oh well, keep counting anyway.
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