Dear Readers, in addition to all the Sciencing that’s been going on just lately, there’s been all the usual autumnal increase in activity after the quiet of the late summer. For one thing, a small flock of house sparrows has been hanging out in the garden every day. They take some suet pellets, are completely uninterested in my deluxe red and yellow dough balls, and are such a delight. They seem to me to be picking up small insects in the hawthorn tree – they don’t seem to want the berries, but there’s definitely something going on. I’m just very happy to see them.
The whitebeam has turned a shade of custard yellow that I don’t remember seeing before. I am having a bit of a dilemma here. I normally have it trimmed about every five or six years, along with the hawthorn, but it’s so stressful for both trees, and after the drought this year I wouldn’t want to cause them any more grief. On the other hand, they are both now pretty large and dominant in the garden, and I also worry in case the whitebeam in particular gets blown over in a storm. I wish there was someone that I could ask who didn’t have a financial interest in the outcome – if you have any ideas, do let me know.
On the other hand, the woodpigeons are loving the seed feeder that dangles from one of the branches. Although it’s a large feeder, it appears that only two woodpigeons are allowed on it any one time, otherwise there’s fisticuffs. One of those woodpigeons looks less than pristine, now that I’ve looked at the photographs. Maybe it’s just young.
We did a bit of tidying up today (not too much, we want the invertebrates to have somewhere to hide), and the robin appeared out of nowhere to check out what we were doing, and to investigate any grubs or worms who appeared. The plant supports that I bought for the hemp agrimony seem to provide a very convenient perch.
And finally, a small collared dove popped in to try her luck on the seed feeder. She’s only about two-thirds the size of the woodpigeon and I noticed that when she landed she seemed to try to make herself very small, and had one wing outstretched to protect her head from any pecks – those woodpigeons can be very aggressive. She only lasted for about 30 seconds before she thought better of it, and headed off to a branch to wait her turn. The whitebeam is valuable precisely because it provides so many perching and hiding opportunities – I’m always amazed to see the squirrel dreys, remnants of nests and other ‘artifacts’ amongst the branches once the leaves come down.
And finally, here’s a last house sparrow surveying his kingdom. I’m so glad that they’re visiting the garden again, after an absence of almost a year. Who knows what makes them come, and what made them go? The lives of even our most familiar birds can be such a mystery.
It is pleasing to see, and read about, the goings-on in your garden. The robin is a bonus!
Would the street trees people you have mentioned before be able to advise on your whitebeam and hornbeam?
That’s a good idea, Sarah! I shall also look at something like the Woodland Trust – although this isn’t a wild tree, it is a native species and I’m sure they sometimes need to be managed too.
I found your observations on the collared dove interesting as my experience is entirely opposite. I have wood pigeons and collared doves and the latter are pretty aggressive to all, driving even the jackdaws off. But they reserve their greatest ire for the woodpigeon who has to choose their moments to get food. The smaller birds ignore them.
Hi Christine, you must have some very feisty collared doves (or maybe they outnumber the woodpigeons – the woodpigeons are more numerous in my garden, though I can’t imagine them supporting one another, they’re much too singleminded). This is very interesting though, thank you!
Very interesting observations thank you. I have a ‘widowed’ collared dove – her mate was taken by a sparrowhawk from the bird table; a remarkable thing to see if a little sad. I notice that the remaining dove is far more timid; a second breeding pair who visit are prepared to confront the woodpigeons – strength in numbers?
Interesting, Rosie! What a shame about the collared dove. We had a blackbird who lost her mate for one year, but she seemed to be paired up last year (if it was the same one of course).
We put our bird feeders out the other day and, almost instantaneously, we’ve had chaffinches, great tits, blue tits, several goldfinches, a few long-tailed tits and a greenfinch (as well as our resident robins). 😀
Hah! That’s a fine array of species for a first day…