Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Winter Wander . . . .

Been cooped up for too long now with the rotten weather of late so on a bright and cheery morning I made my first visit of the year to Far Pasture.
First thing I noted was the amount of birdsong as I took a shortcut through High Horseclose Woods, Great Tits especially in good voice.

A small flock of Siskin chattered noisily as they bounded overhead and a lone Red Kite circled silently over the frosted fields, illuminated by weak rays of sunshine trying to warm up the crisp morning air.

I hate the cold but love being out on mornings like these, watching the wildlife go about its business. Plenty of small birds in the roadside hedges and coming to the food at the flat rock bird café. Nuthatch was star performer here and four Dunnocks was the most I've seen together in a while.

The pond was mostly frozen. A pair of Mallard and half a dozen BH gulls were the only inhabitants, until a couple of Snipe scuttled across in front of me and settled on the near island.

Not much stirring, so I hopped over the back in hope of finding the recently seen Siberian Chiffchaff. Many wagtails on the pans, maybe 8 pied and 4 grey. Then a wait as I scoured the trees and bushes, looking for signs of movement and listening for telltale sounds.

Not much here either at first, but as often happens, everything came at once. Four or five Goldcrests flitting about with a few Blue Tits, and at last not one but two Chiffchaffs. Hard to pin down as they were as flighty as the goldcrests but eventually they both flew up to the big oak, where with better light and less foliage I could see one was pale with really dark legs, the other more green backed and yellow-tinged under, so deduced one nominate and one sibe. Excellent, a successful 'twitch'.

Back on the road a small band of Long-tailed Tits entertained, and at last I laid eyes on a Willow Tit, after hearing many a call from deeper in the thickets.

Next sighting was Ron (Notmanywords) who had found a chauffeur for the day, and a male kestrel was last up, alerted to it by a few raucous pheasants. A quick briefing with Ron and it was time for me to go, no doubt I'll find out everything turned up after I left :-/
On the way home a group of 16 Redwing flew into the trees along the Derwent Walk offering lovely views as they perched up for a while, and a larger group of siskin could be heard flying around but couldn't be located through the trees.

I got to thinking again how unusual it was I haven't had any siskins in the garden yet this winter, in my ten years here they've been present in good numbers without fail from mid-autumn to spring, and in some years have come to the feeders all year round, but I haven't noted any since last April.
So it was a pleasant surprise when this little beauty popped up later in the afternoon.

Female Siskin, all alone but very welcome.
Welcome madam, tell your mates there's free grub and bring them all !


  1. Lol I havn't seen any up at marley hill ever.

    1. That's 'cos they're all in the Derwent Valley ;-) She was back again today and her boyfriend came in later, so hopefully numbers will build up from now. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Alan I would love to be able to tell you everything turned up when you left but alas I can’t. The Snipe you saw on the pond took off as soon as the window was opened and there was nothing else to be seen. Despite looking for what seemed like hours the Sibe Chiff did not show again (and we had a good look), however there were quite a few Goldcrest but could not get a decent picture.

    1. Can't win 'em all Ron, they'd possibly done their morning forage and were resting up before starting again. I'm surprised though, usually if you wait long enough they'll show again. They arrived with the goldcrests when I saw them.