Wildlife Wednesday – Searching for the last juicy morsels

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Vole (field I think) under the bird feeders

It has got to the time of year when our natural hedgerow larders are nearly running empty and wildlife is looking for alternatives. Over the last month I’ve noticed occasional scurrying around the olive tree pots under our pergola. Mostly it has been corner of the eye spotting, but I finally got a good look at who is creeping around under the feeders and it is a field vole. I am fairly certain this is the same chap who has been running around the back of the greenhouse eating all of the tulips from my pots. If only he had made use of the dropped nuts earlier!

Talking of tulips, when I set out to do a spot of cutting back today, I noticed that all the lovely new growth from the tulips in pots of the patio has been leveled. Someone did their own cutting back. I am heart-broken. All the species tulips in clay pots are gone too. 😦

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I am laying the blame for this devastation on the Muntjac deer. There were two under the walnut the other day consuming every leaf on the ivy covering the bank. They must have wandered closer to the house under cover of dark!

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Pheasant checking out the nut deluge too

Another creature taking advantage of the messy eaters using the feeders on the pergola was this splendid looking pheasant. We don’t see pheasants all that often in the garden, but when we do it is usually at this time of year, before the fields are lush and their edges bursting with green weeds.

On the other hand, squirrels are normally a given, but this is the first I’ve seen on the patio this winter. He made no attempt to reach the nuts either, just rushed round on the ground.

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Grey squirrel hunting for tidbits from the feeders

Elsewhere, along side the driveway, the crab apple tree has sadly run out of apples. The blackbirds have stripped it bare. No more hilarious acrobatics reaching for the remote fruit at the ends of thin branches.

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Blackbird with one of the last of the year’s crab apples

While I was watching the blackbirds contort themselves more and more I happened to spot a tiny wren rooting around at the back of the border. The light was very murky by that point, so I’ve had to stretch contrast in the image considerably, but I rather like the resulting soft tones.

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Jenny* wren, (Troglodytes troglodytes) Jan 2019

*As I was writing that caption I wondered where the Jenny comes from in the bird name.  So I looked it up and discovered that in the middle ages there was a tendency to call birds after people: Robin, Martin, Jay. Some of these personal names became added to existing names, hence there are JACKdaws, MAGpies and JENNY wrens.

I thought that I should let you know how I got on in the Big Garden Bird Watch 2019 at the end of January. Well, it was pretty average in terms of species and numbers. Zero sightings of things like house sparrows and starlings that I grew up seeing in abundance. Those are fairly well established trends though.

It’s hard to know when (in the day) to start the count, i.e. for most activity and interest, but as a rule of thumb, if the long-tailed tits have swirled in, then the tit flock is on tea break and you can guarantee at least some additional blue tits and great tits will turn up, with a few chaffinches and blackbirds on the ground eating crumbs. So when this fellow arrived …

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Long-tailed tits usually herald an influx of hungry birds

my hour started and I began counting.

And the winner of the most numerous species in our garden during the hour was … the blue tit. I counted a reliable seven in the wisteria at one time, but with all their hopping around there might have been more.

Blue tits have taken to bathing together in the little waterfall to the pond on the patio. Again timing is everything, but I managed to snap four of them together:

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Blue tits bathing in the waterfall

They are looking intensely blue just now,

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presumably colouring up in preparation for pairing up.

Had you ever noticed that blue tits have blue feet? They are really quite beautiful.

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Blue tit holding a sunflower seed between its blue talons

I’d like some nail varnish that colour!

I am linking up with Tina@mygardenersays again for her monthly reporting of backyard wildlife. Don’t forget to follow the comments on her post to take a peek into other people’s wildlife roundups.

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in birds, The home garden, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Wildlife Wednesday – Searching for the last juicy morsels

  1. I loved these photos of your friends.

  2. Pazlo says:

    Great photos of the blue tit, and curious blue feet!

    Paz

  3. Tina says:

    I have neither voles, nor pheasants, so those are a real treat to see. I imagine that you’re not fond of the voles? Squirrels I have and am fond of. Usually. The bird shots are all great; I really like the blackbird with berry and the blue tit with blue feet. NIce post of your wild ones!

    • I can’t help liking voles in spite of everything. I feel like I should be able to keep them off my precious things with a bit of thought though. The deer are just something else! I could put up fences everywhere, but my neighbours say they jump theirs, so I am at something of an impasse.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    So sad about your tulips~ such a shame. The torn edges do look like deer damage. Pretty much why I’ve given up on having tulips. Rodents and deer make many plants off limits, sadly.
    I love blue tits – such a beautiful little bird.

    • Yeah, it is hard to know what to do. Normally they are safe, being so close to the house and so far advanced in growth. Ho hum, I’ll have another go at making our boundary with the fields behind less passable.

  5. Sue says:

    Great photos. The squirrel is quite cute and the pheasant looks magnificent. The vole looks rather cute too, but I love the pics of the blue tit. Love the blue feet!

  6. Christina says:

    It could have been the pheasant who are the tulips.

    • It might, ‘cos pheasants can certainly do quite a lot of damage too (they have snapped off all my snake’s head frits before now), but I think they tend to be more scattergun in their approach. This was something like twelve pots (with a lot of green growth) completely leveled in a fairly even manner.

  7. Val says:

    Yes, that’s a field vole, we have them here – or rather, used to, before the new next-door neighbours arrived with a cat. Love the blue tits – even the one that nags us so much we’ve named it ‘pesterbunny’!

  8. Brian Skeys says:

    That is one laidback frog!

  9. inesephoto says:

    So sorry for your tulips… But isn’t it fantastic to have all this wildlife around <3. The wren picture impressed me a lot. They never let me come close in the wild. I have never got a good closeup of a wren.

  10. Very nice…It is a red-backed vole ?

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