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.
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),
but now it is also more timid examples (wrens, warblers, woodpeckers).
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!!!)
10:57am Male Blackcap takes over (again a first ‘spot’)
10:58am Male Blackcap defends his bathing rights against a chaffinch
10:58am Song Thrush jumps up for a drink while the rock is empty
10:58am Blackbird hops into the subsequent gap for a quick one
10:59am Blackcap returns and just beats the Great Tit to the spa
10:59am Male and female Blackcaps on fountain (No, he didn’t share)
10:59am Male Blackcap totally committed to the wash (lol)
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:
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.