MORNING WALK INTO YEO VALLEY
WEATHER: dull and overcast, light rain, light breeze, much warmer. Temp 10-12C
It has been over a month now since I ventured into Yeo Valley and walked down as far as the River Yeo, this is because it has become rather samey, most of the trees and bushes have been stripped of their fruit and seeds and so not many birds are hanging out there. Today seemed different, it felt like a spring morning so I thought I would have a peep and I’m really glad that I did.
Spring was in the air and also in my step, the warmer temperature must have triggered a lot birds into singing mode and lifted my endorphin levels into enjoyment mode. Lots of Robin-song came from the gardens and hedgerows as I made my way round to the valley, I also heard Song Thrush, Dunnock, Blue and Great Tits and my very first Wren-song of the year.
It was quiet in the valley as far as bird movement was concerned, I followed the meandering course of the stream northward towards the River Yeo, a Grey Wagtail caught my attention in the scree on the bank of the stream so I quickly got off a few shots of it. I watched a small flock of Siskins (15) and I also saw a mixed flock of Long-tailed Tits with Blue Tits and Great Tits, soon these flocks will disperse and courtship will ensue, with pairing off occurring in earnest in February and March.
Mistle Thrush in full song
Only a very few Redwings can be seen in the valley now that the berries have all gone, I saw six today but my next bird in song was a new spring observation, a Mistle Thrush, it was distant but a took a few record shots through the scope. Two more Song Thrushes burst into song as I made my way along the River Yeo to the slopes of Rook’s Hill.
I then saw a much large flock of Siskins, they would not keep still, something had spooked them, but I never saw what. I estimated that there was about 70-80 birds in the flock. There was no sight nor sound of the Green Woodpecker but I did hear the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the distance and as I walked up the slope of Rook’s Hill I heard distant Ravens too.
three Stock Doves
Once at the top of the hill I set up my scope to scan the two large fields across the stream below me, I picked out good numbers of Red-legged Partridges but only two Pheasants. These birds are released for hunting and it appears that the Partridges are much better at dodging bullets than the Pheasants are.
I tried to get as many Stock Doves as I could in one frame, I managed just nine of them
A very large mixed flock of Jackdaws, Rooks and Crows was feeding along a strip of maize with dozens of Wood Pigeons too and out in the open fields a small number of Stock Doves fed, I counted thirteen of them.
On the way back I bumped into another Wren that was in full song but it was a little camera shy and another small flock of Long-tailed Tits were joined by a single Coal Tit.
garden shot of a European Goldfinch
a beautiful bird eating sunflowere hearts on my fence
one of three Great Spotted Woodpeckers that visit my feeders
here you can the see the arrangement of the woodpecker's toes, two forward, two back as opposed to three forward and one at the back of most passerines (perching birds). This configuration gives the woodpecker a much better grip on the tree trunk.
Back in the garden I sat on our bench and watched the feeders for a while, I had excellent views of two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, many Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Blue and Great Tits, Robins, Blackbirds and Dunnocks all visit my feeders. The absence of Nuthatch was noted once again I haven’t seen them in over a week now, perhaps they have found better sources of food in someone else’s garden?