Friday, 24 December 2010

Pipit, Wren and Thrush

As we returned from a last minute shopping trip, I noticed a meadow pipit on our garden wall.

Later, throught the kitchen window, I noticed a tiny wren foraging for food and a big fluffed up song thrush.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Urban Fox

As we looked out the window this morning, 7.10am,  we spotted a beautiful fox warily trotting down the track towards our house. There were already people about, car doors banging and the fox was very alert to these sounds. It trotted past our house and turned right and disappeared up the road.

Friday, 3 December 2010

More birds in the snow

Its still bitterly cold but the snow is beginning to thaw. rain is predicted this evening, so I thought I would take one last walk up the track. The sky was blue and the sun shining, but the weather was still very cold, my ungloved hand (needed to operate my camera) was painful from the cold after just a few minutes.
There were many herring gulls sitting on the snowy roof tops and looked as if their white plumage was specifically to camouflage them against the snow. They certainly did not look out of place.

There was a lot more bird activity today, sparrows flying too and fro and small flocks of starlings flew by. A flash of gold caught my eye.
It was a solitary goldfinch. It flew past and settled on a tree in one of the gardens. We often have small flocks of goldfinch in the area, small feeding flocks which also provide safety in numbers, but it was a bit more unusual to see this one on its own.

I reached the end of the track and turned left to the road where I could get a view of the snow covered South Downs.

I walked back down the track towards our house.
I small flock of noise blue tits passed through foraging for food. I also spotted a dunnock foraging in the foliage lower down.

A male and female blackbird hoped around in the branches
and then flew to another tree.

I kept an eye out for birds from our back garden time to time.
 A small flock of lapwing flew over, followed by two stragglers.
I could also hear the noisy tec-tec alarm call of a robin in our neighbours garden.

It called, then flicked its tail and hopped from left to right

I guess one of the many neighbourhood cats was prowling around.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

A walk in the snow

After the heavy snow during the night, the ground is now covered with a thick layer of snow, about 8 inches, more than we had last year. At 10.00am I went for a walk around the village to see what bird and animal life was about. I walked up the track but only encountered a few birds.
A small flock of sparrows were chattering in a snow covered bush.
Many birds, including crows, pigeons and starlings gathered around chimney pots for an extra bit of warmth.
A few redwing flew over, but too quick for my camera to focus. A solitary blue tit foraged in a tree.

At the end of the tack I turned left and left again taking me down the road to my house. As yesterday, I carried on past the house towards the old village. I saw three pied wagtails at different locations, bobbing their tail as they walked along in the snow.

 A passer by disturbed one and it flew up onto a roof top.

As I walked up towards Easthill Park I noticed movement in the branches. It was a tiny goldcrest, the smallest of our UK song birds.
As I watched I noticed a great tit higher up in the branches and the read breast of a robin. The goldcrest was very active and at one point was close enough for me to touch.

As I watched a squirrel bounded past in the snow and scampered

The snow in Easthill park was very thick, The horses next door in the horse sanctuary did not seem bothered by the snow.
Even thought plenty food had been provided for the horses, this one was eating foliage from a tree. A few birds visible, mainly pigeon, crow and a few starlings. The occasional herring gull also flew past.

I trudged through the thick snow to the wooded end of the park where there is a pathway through the trees. 
As I walked along the odd blackbird and blue tit flashed past. At the far end, another pied wagtail. 
I left the wooded path and was about to walk down the outside of the wooded area when I spotted a blackbird. It was feeding on berries.
It was soon joined by another male blackbird and a squabble broke out.

The squabble was short lived and one of the blackbirds flew away, possibly the intruder but it was as hard to follow as the magicians find the queen or the ball under the cup. The bird that remained started to eat the berries.
As I started to walk alongside the wooded area I spotted a red wing
 I carried on walking and as I passed underneath a particular large evergreen a flash of blue attracted by attention it was a blue tit. Then I spotted a great tit.
Many more appeared to be foraging in the higher branches occasionally sending down a small shower of snow.

I was then attracted by another small bird which I thought was another goldcrest. But looking at the photographs back home on the computer I think it might have been the rarer firecrest. (comments welcome)
As I walked back through the old village I noticed this female blackbird feeding on then berries from a garden.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Foxes in the snow

Following the small amount of snow we had yesterday, the continuous dusting of snow all day has built up to a more substantial amount. I gave my mum a call to check she was okay and she said it had just started to snow heavily.
I looked out the window and saw movement down the dirt track next to our house. At first I thought it was a cat but soon discovered it was a fox. In fact it was two foxes, chasing each other across the track. At one point they reared up onto their hind legs, sparing with their fore paws. If I had not telephoned my mum and looked out the window at that moment I would not have noticed them. Although this seemed to be early courtship, there was no calling which would normally occur. Also, without the snow, I would not have seen them either. The foxes disappeared up the far end of the track.

I kept an eye out and about 30 minutes later I saw one fox in the track. It appeared to be hunting, occasionally pouncing. I took a few pictures (without flash, after dark – only possible because of the snow).

Then the batteries ran out, just as the fox appeared about 5 meters from my window. I changed the batteries and looked out the window, just in time to see the fox running back across the road and disappeared behind the tall flint wall and disappeared up the road.

After a few minutes I decided to follow the tracks (my daughter came with me) and see where they led.
I could see where the fox crossed the road and where the tracks led off up the path.

About 50m further, the tracks crossed the road and disappeared between two houses to a back access alley. The prints led to a low wall, the fox appeared top have negotiated this and entered the back garden of a house on the adjacent road.

We carried on up the road and turned of up a short track that turned right again leading back top the track that leads back to our house.
A few meters along and we disturbed a bird that was sheltering in the shadows on the ground. It flew up and headed away from us. I had the impressing of a largish (small chicken size) bird with a long beak. It looked like a woodcock!

We walked along the track and pass our house in the hope of encountering the bird again, but did not see any sign.
We carried on a short distance to the high street, by now the snow was really heavy and the glow of the lights on the snow made the scene rather eerie.