The last two months have certainly seen a variety of weather conditions, rain, hail, snow and some very cold days, which made the crisp, bright days all the more welcome. It produced some wonderful light conditions. Who could not be moved when, against a slate grey sky, a shaft of sunlight lit up the trees or a flock of pure white gulls flying in front of it? Despite all that has been thrown at them the spring flowers continue to bloom. Aconites, snowdrops, crocus and iris all managed peep through the snow. Bird populations seem to have come through the winter well, at least if the numbers coming to the bird feeders are anything to go by. Goldfinchescontinue to be prominent along with great tits, blue tits, coal tits, robin and dunnock. Numbers of coal tits are well up this year, there always seem to be several flying to the feeder, taking a morsel of food and flying of, only to return a few seconds later for another mouthful. The goldfinches tend to spend a longer time at the feeder eating their fill before flying off. A welcome return has been of two greenfinches, not seen for some time. Lorna Burger reported four at her feeders. Let's hope the
population is recovering.The only problem I have is with wood pigeons. I bought plastic saucers that fit on the bottom of the feeders to prevent wastage of seed but unfortunately they provide ideal perches for the pigeons which make short work of the food and deter the other birds. I have been putting some over ripe bananas on the bird table and the blackbirds have loved them. Speaking of blackbirds Margaret Carlile reported seeing them having a good scrap. It is getting near nesting time and the males are marking out their territory. I have also seen robins exhibiting the same behaviour and they are equally vicious. The male pheasants are another bird marking out territories, although they prefer a lot of display and running around with only the occasional set to. The fact that they are having to squabble over territory is a good sign that populations are in good health. If populations were low there would be more room and less to argue over.In the last issue I mentioned that I had not seen many redwings or fieldfares. Jenny Stratton reported seeing around 15 to 20 Fieldfares eating the cotoneaster berries in her and her next door neighbour's garden in Ranksborough. She also mentioned that the blackbirds had become very tame and will take sultanas from her hand. A few days after sending in the article I found a dead redwingalong Mickley Lane. Why it had died I don't know as there was no obvious sign of injury. A week later and the field seemed covered in redwings. I counted up to fifty and then gave up. Strangely there were no fieldfares with them. Since then I have seen some fieldfares but not in large numbers. One day there were, at the same time, four members of the thrush family in the field at the back of the house, fieldfare, redwing, mistle thrush and blackbird.Watching birds through the dining room window has been much more exciting during the last couple of months. A buzzardhas taken up residence in the field at the back of the house and I have been able to watch his activities at close range. No matter how many times I see them buzzards always give me a thrill, they are such majestic birds. However I have had to revise my idea of their feeding habits. I was surprised how much time they spend on the ground. He has several favourite perches in the trees around the field or on the fence posts. (I say he but I have no idea if it is a male or a female). From these perches he seems able to see the smallest movement anywhere in the field and glides down to what I presume is some sort of food. He must be feeding on insects, earthworms, small amphibians or mammals. Whatever it is must be very small as even with binoculars I can't identify it. I used to think buzzards sat on posts waiting for an unsuspecting pheasant or rabbit to pounce on. I have been watching for weeks now and although pheasants and rabbits have passed close to him I have never seen him show the slightest interest. One day I was watching a mistle thrush when the buzzard flew straight at it. It could have easily taken the thrush but ignored it and took whatever the thrush was feeding on. I have since seen a similar pattern where the buzzard waits for a smaller bird to find something and then moves in to take it. It seems buzzards don't do much killing and if seen on a carcass that animal was most likely already dead, such as a road kill. The only birds bothered by the buzzard are the pair of resident crows. If he is on the ground they fly in and land either side of him and annoy him. The buzzard totally ignores them but after a while gets fed up with their attentions and flies off. The crows are not afraid of the buzzard and can actually attack him if there is food about. If you want to see just how brave they are I have put a short slide show taken from my trail cam on the website, go to flora and fauna - nature notes - photographs. Writing this at the beginning of March and haven't seen much of him for a few days, apart from once on a post during a blizzardlooking very forlorn. The frozen snow covered ground is useless for finding food.I am always interested in other peoples sightings and comments so don't forget to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.