Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Summer roundup!

It's fair to say I haven't kept up with the blog this summer, for some reason it has been pushed to the back of the queue, even though I told myself I wanted to keep better records of our sightings at Feathers.

It seems this breeding season was fairly successful for most species locally, although there was certainly a shortage of House Martins and Swallows attempting to breed here. There were no sightings of Spotted Flycatchers in Spring/Summer, which have at least attempted breeding in the past 5 years. None of our Tit/Robin nest boxes were occupied this year, though once again they found other cracks and crevices around the farm to nest. The Kestrels successfully raised another brood in Salehurst Church (which also houses the Swifts), although one juvenile was taken in to care with a broken wing and another was found dead shortly after. We're not sure whether there were more than 2 juveniles, let's hope at least one made it. Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers once again provided great entertainment outside the shop, allowing for close photographs. Mixed flocks fed in the oak trees over the road, with a family of Treecreepers present in late July. The feeders on the whole remained fairly active throughout June and in to July, but the warmer weather which graced us late in to the month and is still going strong now (29° here yesterday!) caused a huge decrease in activity. As lovely as it is, we are looking forward to cooler weather returning and the feeders become busy once more.

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

Juvenile Kestrel

Juvenile Goldfinch

Juvenile Treecreeper

As we entered early Autumn, signs of migration increased. The Swifts were first to go, whereas many others are feeding up in preperation for their long journey ahead. Good numbers of House Martins have been feeding in the blue skies, joined by young Swallows. Our first sighting of a Spotted Flycatcher was on the 6th September, the same day a pair of Wheatears made a surprise visit to Parsonage Farm. This was only our second record here and our first 'from the shop'. Chiffchaffs have been singing and feeding in the sycamore tree, also enjoying the flurry of insects the warmer weather is providing. All, I'm sure, will be heading south as soon as the cold arrives.

Wheatear

Spotted Flycatcher
Chiffchaff

Robins have changed from their summer 'look at me' to their winter 'stay well clear' song. Lots of territory battles taking place outside the shop and in the Nature Area.


 Find our more about Feathers Wild Bird Care on our website www.featherswildbirdcare.co.uk

Our optics website can now be found at www.feathersoptics.co.uk

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Owl Display, Beer & BBQ - 23rd July, Salehurst, East Sussex


On the 23rd July we will once again be hosting a family fun day, including an Owl Display from the wonderful chaps at Owls About Town and a Beer Tent & Barbecue put on by Buster's Farm Produce. Our selection of binoculars will be as always be well stocked and open for anyone to try & buy. Lots to see and do on the day, free entry and ample parking. Come and join us! Visit our website to find out more about us and how to get here.


Bird watching in Kos, Greece

Earlier this month we took a family holiday to Kos, staying near the town of Kardamena at a hotel called Akti Beach Club. By no means was this a 'birding' holiday but I did try to squeeze a bit in, along with just general bird spotting while on the bus/taxi etc. Having stayed on Rhodes (which is also part of the Dodecanese archipelago) 5 years ago, where I found very few birds, I knew roughly what to expect. For the most part we didn't leave the hotel, other than short walks around the local area, where steep rocky hills towered above the flat, dry fields. In this immediate area I found Crested Larks in reasonable numbers, lots of House Sparrows and Jackdaws, Collared Doves, House Martins, Swallows, Common and Alpine Swifts, the occasional Gull (not my speciality!), Hooded Crow and (I think) Lesser Kestrel. There were very few small birds, e.g. Warblers, Finches etc. On a couple of occasions whilst travelling I spotted a European Roller, a nice first for me but a shame I couldn't get a photo. I had researched a bit about the Island before hand but unless you're willing to visit places like Lake Psalidi outside of Kos town, don't expect to find too many birds. 

Here are a few pictures from our week away:

House Martin

Swallows in the nest

Crested Lark and House Sparrow

Crested Lark

Swallow

Kestrel (Lesser?)

House Martin

Alpine Swift

Hooded Crow

Swallow

Friday, 3 June 2016

Fledglings at Feathers

Sparrows, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Siskins, Starlings and Nuthatches all seen with young up to now. The Robins and Great Spotted Woodpeckers have been taking food away in bulk so should be out very soon. The timing seems to be about average this year, having had a fairly mild winter but a chilly April, pushing a potentially early season back to normal.

A few photos of youngsters so far:



Top of the agenda at the minute is suet - our premium fat balls are a hit with all the birds and are a great source of easily digestible protein, especially beneficial to garden birds when this past week has been only 15° with plenty of rain making natural food in short supply.

Binocular sales have been very good, notably in the shop as more people are trying before they buy, always advisable if you ask us. Vortex, the latest addition to our range, has been our best seller in the last month. If you are looking for a new pair of bins or know someone who is, please consider us!

Vortex binoculars in East Sussex
Swarovski binoculars in East Sussex
Opticron binoculars in East Sussex
Hawke binoculars in East Sussex
Vanguard binoculars in East Sussex
Viking binoculars in East Sussex

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

April (snow) Showers

Whereas April is normally one of the quietest months of the year for garden birds, the cold weather meant activity remained seemingly almost as high as any of the winter months. Many parts of the country had decent amounts of snow late on in the month, with a few snow showers here in East Sussex. That's not to say we didn't have a few fine days, but with temperatures generally not reaching much above 10°, with even some frosty nights, the birds remained active throughout April.

Snow at Feathers, 26/04/16
Just over a week after the snow, temperatures soared to above 20°, as much as 26 at times, bringing the expected drop off in feeder activity. None-the-less, there's still much to see and watch with most of the summer migrants back now. Here's a short video of the Cuckoo down by the river on the 14th April:


The Swifts arrived back on the 28th April, 10 days earlier than 2015s first arrival, with around 8 now resident.


House Martin numbers have been very disappointing, with the first seen here on the 4th May but still no sign of them looking to nest on the farm house this year.

One female Lesser Redpoll was in the Nature Area late in April:


The resident Buzzards put on a good show on the 5th May and our first Hobby of the year came over on the 7th:


Binocular Sales have been very good for us since before Christmas, the addition of Swarovski and Vortex in the past 6 months certainly helping. I have recently improved the shopping cart system, allowing for the different postage options and voucher codes. This month we are offering £10 off orders over £200 with voucher code MAY10 and £20 off orders over £400 with MAY20.


Our prices are very competitive, and by shopping with us you are supporting a small business!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Seeing Red

Redpoll, Redwing and Red Kite - three not so common sightings for us, but all three spotted in the past few weeks. The Redpoll (Lesser) arrived on the 26th March amongst the many Siskins and Goldfinches in the Nature Area. The initial rush to get record photographs has proved unnecessary as it is still around now, with two couples spotting it from the hide yesterday morning. Still, an unusual visitor here, though perhaps not too much of a surprise with numerous sightings locally this winter, including a few here one or twice late last year. The Redwing was in fact in the Nature Area at the same time as the initial sighting, and though not as uncommon as the rest (certainly during a cold winter or in the Autumn as they demolish the yew berries) was still a surprise given the time of year.




Last Spring, Red Kites were not an uncommon sighting in East Sussex, with the SOS receiving many reports of most likely migrants arriving back in the UK after spending the winter in warmer climes. Even here we had a period of a week or two (around late March) where we were spotting them regularly, though between then and now we have only noted one sighting on the 10th October, perhaps a bird making its way back south. Yesterday morning (12th April) a single bird graced the glorious blue sky and was soon joined by 2 Buzzards - a delight to watch and made all the more enjoyable by the long time it spent lazily soaring in the thermals, allowing for some nice views through the bins and a few record shots with the camera.



Red Kite (right) with 2 Buzzards

The feeders have quietened down significantly as anticipated; April is always a quiet month as the birds have other things on their mind, along with a more plentiful supply of natural food. Still it's one of my favourite times of the year, with longer (plus hopefully warmer) days and the arrival of the spring migrants. Our first Cuckoo was heard this morning, Chiffchaffs chiffchaffing for perhaps a couple of weeks and a couple of local Swallows, though none here yet. You can see our spring first dates here which will be updated as new arrivals turn up.

Once again, the Kestrels are inspecting the church, and once again they are getting hassle from the local Jackdaws. It never seems to put them off so hopefully we will witness this space being used once again to raise another brood.

Binocular sales have been exceptionally good for us since adding Swarovski to our range late last year, allowing us to expand very recently with the addition of Vortex optics. On Sunday 17th April I will be attending Kent Wildlife Trust's Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve for an Optics Demonstration Day, and another on Sunday 1st May at Bough Beech, so do pop along if you can.

First Spring Arrival Dates 2016

2016 Spring Migrant first arrival dates at Feathers, Salehurst, East Sussex

Swallow: 23rd April (2015: 7th April)
House Martin: 4th May (2015: 16th April)
Swift: 28th April (2015: 8th May)
Chiffchaff: 1st April (2015: 10th April)
Blackcap: N/A (2015: 12th April)
Whitethroat: 14th April (2015: 23rd April)
Cuckoo: 13th April (2015: 23rd April)
Spotted Flycatcher: N/A (2015: 27th May)


Swallow - Poppinghole Lane - 31/03/16


Cuckoo - 14/04/16

Swift - 04/05/16