The holidays have begun (at least for me), so hopefully a fun holiday full of wildlife awaits us.
This year has been a fairly good year for the breeding birds in my garden, with all sorts of different species of bird successfully raising some young. For the past couple of months, the air has been full with the sound of high-pitched tweets from lots of juveniles.
As usual, there has been an influx of baby Blue Tits and Goldfinches. This is partly because there are so many adults of these species in my garden, but also because both have relatively large clutch sizes (Blue Tits in particular, with up to 16 eggs!). Whilst the Goldfinch has a much smaller clutch with around 5, they may have have 2 or 3 broods every year, whereas Blue Tits usually only one. Therefore, the nyjer seed and sunflower heart feeders have been visited the most by far, and have rapidly been eaten. However, there have been nowhere near as many Goldfinches as we had last year – there were around 15 juveniles and 6 adults all trying to land on one feeder at once.
Two very similar birds – the Robin and the Dunnock have also been breeding and raising young, and not surprisingly, fights were soon breaking out – baby Robin against other baby Robin, baby Dunnock against baby Robin, adults against juveniles – there was every combination that you could think of – all because of food and territory. Juvenile Robins of course don’t really look anything like their parents, with a mottled brown breast instead of bright orange. Juvenile Dunnocks look very similar, except they are only a little less grey on their head and body.
One of my favourite birds is the Long-Tailed Tit – a bird that travels in groups and looks just like a lollipop in shape. They can easily be identifiable by sound due to their high-pitched calling to each other as they move. While raising their young, they build an incredibly intricate nest composed of moss, feathers and spiders webs. Unlike most nests, it is a full sphere/oval shape with a hole to enter. I have seen several families of Long-Tailed Tits passing through the garden recently, especially being birds fond of fat balls. The young can be identified by their whiteness instead of pink, and brownness instead of black.
Also, a pair of Jays managed to successfully raise one juvenile – a very similar bird to the adults, just quite a lot scruffier. Although often very timid birds, the ones in our garden are quite brave and not too afraid of humans.
There have also been some baby Blackbirds investigating the garden with their parents, learning how to dig up worms and other grubs.
Last year, a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers raised three juveniles, yet, so far this year, only a couple of sightings of a male have been seen so far. Hopefully, some more young will be raised soon, however, it is starting to get a little late for that.
However, I have noticed a Green Woodpecker becoming a lot more active recently, ‘yaffling’ away lots, while perched on the top of a large tree. It has yet built up the courage to come down and feed on the lawn so far, but this is a fairly unusual sighting for a bird inside a city, although, they are often seen in parks, and Oxford is a fairly green city.