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Assorted Wildlife, Birds, Blackbirds, Bumblebees, Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Great Tits, Honey Bees, Jackdaws, Magpies, Robins, Squirrels, Starlings, Swarms, Woodpeckers

The Birds

Yes, capitalized on purpose, because it is supposed to call to mind Hitchcock’s The Birds.  Maybe you will understand when you look at this:

This represents only about a tenth of the rapacious crew

This represents only about a tenth of the rapacious crew

I know they don’t look like much in this picture, but there were anywhere from 30-50 starlings repeatedly landing in the garden.  That was bad enough, but if you look closely you will see a few birds more grey in color, not the dark sheen of the starling.  Those are the babies, and they made an almighty racket.  No wonder the parents were manic.  These things wouldn’t shut up.

Fighting over fat-what those screechy babies reduced them to!

Fighting over fat-what those screechy babies reduced them to!

They originally headed for the fat cakes hanging from the feeder and the fat pellets on the ground, just like one of our other pals:

What? This isn't my usual tree, you say?!

What? This isn’t my usual tree, you say?!

However, they were so overrunning the raised beds and scaring off the littler scavengers that we moved the fat cake to the greenhouse on the far side of the garden.  We were still at this point interested in watching the spectacle.  So, we pulled up a few lawn chairs, and watched the games commence.  After a while, though you do get tired of those screechy babies, and we thought the neighbors might start to complain.  So, we confiscated the fat cakes, and they soon drifted off.  But we could hear them in the neighborhood and out in the fields for hours afterwards.

I think I had said in the last post something about only seeing a couple of starlings….

Speaking of The Birds

This hasn’t been our first experience with being taken over by a mob.  This winter the garden was taken over by a gang–a gang of mostly male blackbirds.  They were bold, greedy.  They knew no fear of us, that’s for sure.  And, along with his fuzzy progeny, I think that having to dodge the blackbirds all the time didn’t do Fuzz’s health any favors.

They pretty much disappeared in April.  We thought they would hang around forever, the little mating rejects.  But, they evaporated as if into thin air, once mating season got into full swing.  Now, we really just have a pair, the male being the more timid, the female taking more mouthfuls of food.   I think I even saw one of their little (well not so little) progeny.  We learned from SPringwatch that once the chicks fledge, the male and female each take half of the group to feed.  And once the female is brooding again, the male takes care of all the fledgies, like the robin.  Springwatch had a blackbird nest this season; it was interestingto see the little chicks hatch.

Wall of Blackbirds

Wall of Blackbirds (Photo credit: Larry Meade)

Did someone say Springwatch? The show ends this week, and it has been a pretty good series.  They had lots of webcams on nests, including a few breeds seen in our garden:  jackdaws, dunnocks, great tits, blackbirds, and woodpeckers.  The dunnock and jackdaw cams got a bit distressing to watch, though.  Two jackdaw chicks were repeatedly attacked in their nest box by another pair trying to take over the box.  They didn’t succeed, and the jackdaws eventually fledged.  But the dunnock chicks met a very bad end when a weasel plucked all five of them from the nest, their little wings flapping hopelessly as they were carried off.  All that twirling and poaking went for naught. (They had another nest which a snake tried to decimate.  It only managed to make off with one, half way down its throat.  It did return for the rest, but they had all hopped out of the nest.

They also had a bumblebee cam, bumblebees nesting in one of the bird nest boxes.  This was fascinating to watch, although the buzziness could put you to sleep.  We are hoping that bumblebees nest in our box with the camera.

The presenters weren’t so trying this time, and at least Chris made an attempt at more gender-neutral language.  We didn’t even find ourselves fast-forwarding through most of the talking bits.

Some gangs aren’t all annoying

Our first sparrow ever showed up in the yard in December.  First it was just one, and then when word got out, we soon had a bit of a gang.  But, they are a bit of a mild-mannered one.

And, of course, there are the young’uns now-chaffinch, magpie, blackbird, and maybe a robin.

But we thought it couldn’t happen

They had looked only barely self-sufficient a few months ago.

But we were wrong.

Swarm!   (courtesy of Tony John)

Swarm!
(courtesy of Tony John)

(more of the bees in the next post)

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