Friday 11 December 2015

Another warm, wet winter?

Apart from a few cold days in November including a 2 minute flurry of snow (if you can call it that), so far this winter the weather has been mild with plenty of rain, much like the weather for the past 2 winters. Temperatures are still around 11/12° most days and not much cooler at night. Activity on the feeders has increased, yet without the cold weather, it's still mostly the regulars visiting, with no sign yet of any Siskins again. Hopefully the new year will see some proper winter weather and a few more exciting birds will visit.

None-the-less, over the last couple of months we have had a couple of visits from a Black Redstart, in fact even a pair came in October.

Female Black Redstart 20th October 2015

Female Black Redstart 20th October 2015
Spot the Grey Wagtail!
Black Redstart back again on the 26th November

The influx of Goldcrests which arrived in September/October has lead to daily visits from often more than 1 bird, not always easy to photograph as they constantly flit searching for food, even though they aren't all that fussed about getting too close.

We have had a few visiting Redpolls, mostly passers by, only once or twice stopping in the Nature Area. A good few Redwings, Fieldfares and Mistle Thrushes have been eating the yew berries and the Blackbirds have now started on the holly too. Again without the frost there are none visiting the Nature Area.

Our winter sale continues on our range of Hawke, Opticron, Swarovski, Vanguard and Viking binoculars:

Our prices are very competitive, our service is superlative and there's still time until the end of next week to have them arrive before Christmas!

Wednesday 11 November 2015

The best place to buy binoculars in Sussex!

October 2015 was the beginning of a new era at Feathers, as we became a stockist of Swarovski Optik Binoculars. Our selection of CL Pockets, CL Companions and the new EL Swarovision FieldPro binoculars are now available to try and buy in our shop in Salehurst, East Sussex. We are within comfortable driving distance of West Sussex, Surrey, South London, Kent and even Essex.

Alongside Swarovski Optik is our large selection of binoculars from Vanguard, Hawke, Opticron and Viking Optical, all available to look through and purchase in store, or have delivered straight to your door via our online shop. So if you're looking to buy a pair of binoculars for yourself or a loved one this Christmas, then do pop in (we'll even make you a nice cup of tea or coffee), give us a call or feel free to browse online!

Saturday 10 October 2015

Firsts and lasts

Good numbers of House Martins were lingering on, though no sightings today so at the minute the last record is down for the 9th October. Today was our first sighting of a Siskin in the Nature Area this year, however! Adger spent an hour or so in the hide and photographed a female, a nice surprise, shame neither Allan or I have seen one here yet. The day started well with a pair of Ravens cronking overhead and ended even better as a Red Kite passed over the hide :)

Red Kite - Salehurst, East Sussex, 10/10/2015

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Coal Tit Influx

I have to admit to having not known about Coal Tit migration, though in my defence it supposedly goes unnoticed most years. Even now I'm struggling to find much information about it. Numbers of British Coal Tits are bolstered in the Autumn/Winter as Continental birds arrive, apparently a subspecies, though very difficult to tell apart.

We certainly seem to be spotting more Coal Tits recently than usual here at Feathers, with last week's ringing session (the first in nearly two years) adding 5 new Coal Tits to the list, which itself stood at only 9 birds over a period of 3 years. Still we are spotting Coal Tits regularly without rings, suggesting there are a fair few in the vicinity.

Coal Tit 06/10/15 (not ringed)
 The ringing started sometime around 6am (I was of course still in bed at this time!) and by the time I arrived at work the wind had picked up so fewer birds were landing in the mist nets. Still I had the opportunity to photograph a Robin and Great Tit in the hand.

Great Tit (female)


Following on from last week's blog post, the Treecreeper(s) is now regular it seems, along with the Goldcrests.



 The sycamore tree which overhangs the entrance to the car park seems to be the main attraction, with a late influx of Chiffchaffs finding plenty of food, but no sign of any Yellow-browed Warblers which are being spotted all over the place.


The Green Woodpecker, presuming it's the same young male bird, looked a bit tidier this week!

Young male Green Woodpecker

Young male Green Woodpecker

 A pair of Grey Wagtails were back today too, having been missed for a week or so, though the 10 Pied Wagtails are very active at the minute.

Still a dozen or so House Martins being spotted regularly (including today) so I will try to make note of the last sighting date.

No early signs of any Redwings or Fieldfares yet, though I've seen a few more Mistle Thrushes than usual as of late. I still hear Siskins flying over regularly too, and with the news that plenty are on their way south (along with Goldfinches) I expect we may have a few visiting soon. Many of both species will continue their flight from their northern UK breeding grounds through the south of England on to southern Europe, but hopefully we will hang on to a few this winter with the possibility of a Brambling joining in the mix too. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Photos from September

It's fair to say August and September were rather wet months, with warm, sunny spells thrown in on the odd occasion. This has meant the feeders have been relatively busy for what is normally a quiet time of year, but still just the usual visitors. I know there are Siskins around as they often fly over but we're still yet to see them in the Nature Area this year! Outside the shop, the Grey Wagtail has been visiting, the Green Woodpecker is visiting the farmhouse lawn in search of ants and the Treecreeper is flocking with a group of regular Goldcrests.

Our latest 'What's On' advert:

Come and visit our shop!

Macmillan Coffee Morning at Feathers, Salehurst

This year at Feathers we took part in the World's Biggest Coffee Morning, to try and raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. The Insect Houses I had been making were put in to a Silent Auction, where the highest 3 bidders each received one. We also did a 'Cuddle for a quid', 'Spot the Cake', a Card Quiz and of course a lot of coffee and cake consumption, in total raising over £400. Here are a few pictures from the day:

Saturday 12 September 2015

Signs of September

On the 6th September last year we photographed a pair of Grey Wagtails on the barn roof, so I mentioned it would be worth keeping an eye out. Yesterday I saw a Wagtail flying over and going by the call it was definitely not a Pied, so I presumed it was the Grey - and today we confirmed the sighting. Obviously it's the time of the year when the Grey Wagtail appears so we will hopefully have the opportunity to photograph one in the coming weeks.

Another visitor which is not common at other times of year but has been regular in the past week or two is the Coal Tit, both outside the shop and in the Nature Area.

We've seen a Raven on a few occasions recently, including today as one was being pestered by a pair of Buzzards. A Hobby graced the skies above work a couple of times this week too, again at a very similar time to when we saw one last year.

There's still dozens of House Martins here, it will be interesting to see how long they hold on for as the 'Salehurst' Swifts have been gone for over a month now.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Building a Insect House from Pallets

In July last year we undertook a project to build a bug tower/insect hotel out of old pallets. We normally have a couple of pallets of bird food delivered each week to the shop so it seemed a good use for the old pallets. We found a suitable spot in our Nature Area and stacked and stuffed the pallets with fairly well anything we could find; old tiles, logs, pinecones, bamboo canes, hanging baskets and a few old small bug boxes we had. It was good fun building it and hopefully beneficial to many insects, a Leaf-cutter Bee was in fact bringing in leaves while I was putting it together!

This summer, before our Owl Display, I made a couple of planters out of old pallets to brighten up the area outside the shop. With plenty of offcuts left over from those, I thought I'd have another go at building an insect house, but this time to go on the wall above the planters. I made a rough plan, essentially a 50cm square, just the depth of a pallet plank, with a pitched roof on top. I've never been a DIY minded person, so the result is not perfect, but it still looks great on the wall and hopefully, like the tower in the Nature Area, will provide more shelter for bees and bugs. Here it is in situ:

Saturday 22 August 2015

Late July and August Birding

 Our Owl Display, Beer and BBQ event on the 18th July was a huge success once more - with plenty to do and fine weather, the day was enjoyed by all who attended. Owls About Town had a smaller Parliament of Owls this year, owing to a busy schedule and a longer journey since their recent relocation to Selsey, but as always they spent the entire day ensuring no-one was left out, even forgoing lunch! In the garden, the barbecue was more popular than ever and our optics tent looked great and allowed us to demonstrate and advertise just some of the binoculars we sell.

The main event in the farm house garden
'Boris' the Tawny Frogmouth (not an Owl!)

The past month or so has been relatively quiet on the bird front at Feathers, as is typically the case at this time of year. Feeders at Allan's house and even at home seem to be busier than they are at work, with Allan's Siskins in particular feeding regularly.

Juvenile Siskin
On the 30th July we were entertained by a family of Goldcrests, as always, unperturbed by our presence, at one point coming too close to focus with my camera! None-the-less, they're not easy to photograph and despite there being numerous birds and the two of us taking hundreds of photos, we couldn't come up with anything fantastic, though a Wren did sit up nicely while we were there.

Juvenile Goldcrest

Jenny Wren
 Sometime around the end of July/ early August saw the departure of the Salehurst Swifts, though the House Martins are still around.

On the 6th August , a Hummingbird hawk-moth visited the buddleia which is growing out of the wall outside the shop.

On the 4th August and again on the 21st, at least one Raven was calling on its way overhead. When we first added a Raven to our list, we expected it to be a very rare occurrence, but it seems nowadays they are becoming more widespread and though it's not fair to say they are regular, it's certainly no longer a big surprise to see one.

Last but not least, a Treecreeper made a brief appearance this morning to the post outside the shop. It was in and out too quick for photos, but needless to say we'll be keeping a keen eye out today as we haven't photographed one in a few months!

Wednesday 15 July 2015

July Birding and other wildlife

Following on from a quiet June, July hasn't been particularly busy for bird feeding either. Still, the nice weather has been good for photography and many of the birds can be found enjoying the sun too. A family of Wrens fledgled the nest just under the roof at the back of the shop next to the road, the youngsters were regularly over by the log pile near the hide, one evidently finding the sun a bit tiring!

Juvenile Wren
Yellowhammers and Whitethroats can be heard calling from down on the farm, only a short walk to where they are singing but not easy to get close to photograph!

We never had Siskins visit the Nature Area this winter, though I had them visit on a few occassions at home. For some reason, they are now visiting at home much more regularly, though just a male and female still. Allan has a whole family visiting his garden at the minute and has been watching the fledglings being fed by the adults.

Male Siskin
When the birds are quiet, it's quite nice to search for and photograph other wildlife. A dock leaf plant just outside the shop was covered in Blackfly (Black aphids) which are a favourite food of the Ladybird and ladybird larvae, though the Ants provide some protection for the aphids as they former feed off the 'honeydew' the aphids produce.

Seven-spot Ladybird larvae

Seven-spot Ladybird
There are a few more butterflies around now too, though they are still not in abundance. Large and Small Whites, Large and Small Skippers, Red Admirals, Meadow Browns, Small Tortoiseshells and Commas.


Comma Butterfly underwing, showing the 'comma' it gets its name from.
Our resident Pied Wagtails are doing well with their nest in the pallets, the eggs have hatched and the adult(s) are now bringing food in. I question whether there are two adults left as a Sparrowhawk flew off with a bird in its talons and one of the Wagtails in pursuit, and I've only seen one adult bird since...

Pied Wagtail
The Nature Area needed a bit of tending; some light gardening, a few feeders needed cleaning and a few things moving around. Overall, there's now a better view of the feeders from the hide and better opportunities for photography.

Juvenile Great Tit

(Crested) Blue Tit

Great Tit and Goldfinch

We are well prepared for our Owl Display & Barbecue on Saturday, the forecast for 20° and sunny spells promising a fine day. You can find out more about the event on our previous blog post here:

Hawke and Vanguard Optics will both be here on the day displaying their range of binoculars, in the meantime you can browse our entire range of binoculars online here: