November 2009

The hedgerows have been laden down with berries of so many different plants. I’ve already mentioned sloes in earlier articles, but the holly this year is also covered with great clusters of sealing wax droplets. Honeysuckle is still flowering in places, but elsewhere the berries have formed up beautifully. Elderberries have come and gone, the first to be devoured by the blackbirds and thrushes.

I am hoping that such bounty will attract more winter thrushes such as fieldfares and redwings. Heavy snow has already fallen in parts of Scandinavia and this should help encourage those stragglers wondering whether or not they needed to bother heading out over the north sea for warmer climes (can you imagine how bleak it has to be for the wintry shore of Northumberland to become attractive!

Please keep an eye out for these two winter visitors and let us know if you see any. As many will know, the RSPB have a keen interest in the birdlife of the Roseland peninsular and it will really help their reintroduction work if they know how other bird populations are doing.

With all these berries about we shouldn’t worry too much about the press reports that there will be a shortage of turkeys this Christmas – the blackbirds will probably be oven sized by then!

Back to my list, this year we have spotted (well actually wehave been able to identify them this year) black bryony that magically appears draped through hedges as other plants lose their leaves. The leaves of black bryony are fairly nondescript resembling wild clematis, so they hardly break cover, but as the hedges become bare, the berries of this poisonous plant (a member of the yam family) really come into their full glory.

The other plant we have identified recently is spindle. Only nature could get away with mixing bright pink covers with orange berries.

We don’t feed our garden birds during the summer; to my mind we should feed them when they really need it- life is not a fast food takeaway! But last week I washed out the feeders (again) and set up peanut feeders, nyger seeds and general cereal feeders. It was dusk when I finished but by the time I drew back the curtains the next morning we were back in business.

Goldfinch must be able to smell nyger seed from over a mile away! They descend on the garden 10 at a time spending more time squabbling than eating which is just as well or we would never keep up! Blue tits, great tits and coal tits are all in attendance with long tailed tits paying fleeting visits. They will spend more time here as the days continue to shorten.

The blue tits have moved back into their nest box. After raising two broods during the summer they are now partying in there as an over night roost. I watched 7 go in one evening late last week. Apparently the record is held by wrens that once managed to squeeze 44 of their number into one little nest box on an exceptionally cold night. The other visitor we have seen for the last three days is a sedge warbler.

I guess it is on passage (migrating) but just where it thinks it is going I am not so sure!

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