October Wildlife Report: A 5-minute spa line-up

When we added the bubbling rock fountain to our pebbled ‘beach’ area in the garden a couple of years ago, we had no idea how attractive it would be to the bird population as a bathing and drinking locale. In fact, it now pulls in greater numbers and variety of birds than any of the other water features that we have dotted around (two raised/pedestal bird baths and a water cascade into a small pool). This might be because it is furthest from the house (marginally). It is also furthest from tree cover and is more exposed. On the plus side this means that cats etc. are easy to see, but it also makes it vunerable to raptor predation as well. We do see signs of this type of predation, but not very often.


Bubbling rock fountain in the left hand pebbled area

The rock is popular with both large and small birds. Larger birds seem to enjoy hopping, from rock to rock, to approach the water. At first, it was common garden and social species that visited the fountain (pigeons, robins, doves, blackbirds, tits),


Blackbird making a splash

but now it is also more timid examples (wrens, warblers, woodpeckers).


Green woodpecker stops by for a drink

Over the last year the ‘spa’ has been used by at least three species of birds that I’d not seen in the garden before: garden warbler, chiffchaff and blackcap (see below). This makes me even more excited for our ongoing large pond project for the end of the garden.

Anyway, the other day I went out to photograph some magpies near the rocks. They disappeared pretty quickly and so I sat down on the patio to check the photos. Gradually I registered that there were a lot of small birds tweeting and flying between the central damson trees. Over a 4-minute period they started to visit the fountain and this is what I recorded …

13th October 10:56am          Female Blackcap (the first one I’ve seen in the garden!!!)


Female Blackcap takes the waters

10:57am          Male Blackcap takes over (again a first ‘spot’)


Male Blackcap follows suit

10:58am         Male Blackcap defends his bathing rights against a chaffinch


Outraged at being disturbed

10:58am         Song Thrush jumps up for a drink while the rock is empty


A Song Thrush grabs the chance of some water

10:58am         Blackbird hops into the subsequent gap for a quick one


Blackbird stops for a drink

10:59am         Blackcap returns and just beats the Great Tit to the spa


Don’t even think it!

10:59am         Male and female Blackcaps on fountain (No, he didn’t share)


I am having too much fun. Go away.

10:59am         Male Blackcap totally committed to the wash (lol)


This is the life!

And a few days later, the afternoon 5 minute line-up for baths at the spa started with a Great Tit, followed by a Coal Tit, then a Blackbird and next a Goldcrest. Then two Goldcrests appeared together and since they are so cute, here they are:


Goldcrests on fountain

The final appearance was by a tiny, nervous-looking wren, who didn’t take long to decide that the pool cascade near the fir tree was safer and adjorned there instead.

Still rather nervous though!

Birds have dominated my wildlife observations in the garden this month, but their antics have made me laugh. The numbers of butterflies and bees around has shrunk dramatically throughout October. There is still the odd Red Admiral around, sampling the damson juices or basking on the ivy, but that is about it on the butterfly front. Bumblebees are most likely to be seen on the remaining dahlias and salvias. Quite often they seem to be asleep. Frost burnt a lot of plants here last Sunday night and is likely to finish them off this weekend, if the forecast is correct.

I am linking these birdy, bath-time shenanigans to Tina’s (mygardenersays) monthly garden Wildlife meme. Texas is still enjoying beautiful weather, so she has plenty to share. Do take a look.

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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28 Responses to October Wildlife Report: A 5-minute spa line-up

  1. Amazing that such a small fountain result in so much action!

  2. Tina says:

    What a fun post and isn’t it amazing how water features attract the birds? Your photos were great, all so beautiful! That green woodpecker is stunning! I think I’ve seen photos of most of these birds, either on your blog or others, but the green woodpecker and the male and female black caps were new. Thanks for joining in this month!

  3. curioussteph says:

    What a pleasure, and such lovely photos. I’d never seen a green woodpecker before. Thanks!

  4. Chloris says:

    I love your bird spa and how wonderful that so many different birds enjoy the facilites. Great to have a view of your lovely garden.

  5. What a wonderful spa. You have got a lot of customers. I love the little wren. 🌼

  6. Excellent pictures – what characters! I especially envy you the green woodpecker.
    All the best 🙂

  7. Eliza Waters says:

    Water is a powerful wildlife attractor in the garden. Our natural waterfall and streams bring in lots. My small feature in the front garden brings in mostly frogs.
    Your photos are great, you’ve captured personality and I can imagine these winged friends are fun to watch.

  8. Sue says:

    Very enjoyable post and loved all the pics. It’s amazing just how much a bit of water attracts the wildlife. Imagine all the birds that visited when you weren’t watching!

  9. FlowerAlley says:

    I loved this. I have never seen a green woodpecker. I loved the outraged bird and the shy wren.

  10. How absolutely delightful!

  11. A great post. Was it easy to install? What happens when it freezes?
    Thanks for spreading good ideas for wildlife!🐛🕊

    • Yes very easy. The only headache was rolling the large stone, egyptian style, down the drive and across the patio. The fountain ran all through the last two winters, but we have been v. lucky with cold spells. If extreme cold looks likely to be settling in, then we would roll the stone off the underground tank and remove the pump.

  12. That is fabulous! I have got to have one of those if it kills me! Love the green woodpecker, not something we see here in North America.

    • The green woodpecker is a big bird and one of the most colourful. They are always a treat to see in the garden, usually pecking up the lawn in search of insects. This was the first time I’d seen him make use of the water though.

  13. Brian Skeys says:

    These are some wonderful wildlife photographs, you must have great patience. To manage to photograph such a secretive bird as the green woodpecker is very impressive. You do have a wonderful range of bird visitors, thrushes, we rarely see, Siskin only during very cold weather although the black cap is a regular winter visitor, they are a very aggressive bird, defending the feeders. They usually arrive just before the cold weather. I think watching our bird visitors is one of the greatest pleasures from having a garden, Which is why I have a page devoted to our bird visitors on my blog

    • Mostly I watch the woodpecker from the kitchen window, my logical ‘hide’, but because the patio is wrapped by a beech hedge (with an archway through the middle) I can sometimes sneek out to photograph birds/deer etc on the other side without disturbing them. I have to say that your feeder arrangements are most impressive and I am jealous of your Redpolls!

  14. Alison what a lovely post, beautiful photos and I love your, at times, cheeky commentry, it fits so well with the birds actions and expressions, Frances

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