Saturday 13 October 2018

Autumn changes

Continuing on from July's heatwave, we had a mostly fine August and September, which are typically two of the quietest months of the year for activity on the feeders. October is often when things pick up, but so far we're still experiencing temperatures in the high teens to low twenties, so only on an 'off' day are we seeing lots of birds using the feeders. From tomorrow onwards the forecast is back to average for the time of year (around 15°) with more rain than we've seen in some time, so I expect the food to start going down more rapidly.

While we expect this downturn on the feeders during Autumn, it normally coincides with an increase in summer migrants passing through on their way south, but this year we've had little more than a few visiting chiffchaffs. We spotted our first redwing on Saturday 6th, yet still this week we have seen a solitary swallow and around 10 house martins passing over. Mistle thrush activity has increased, buzzards (up to 6) have been enjoying the warm weather, sparrowhawks have been dropping by regularly and the kestrels are getting plenty of stick from the local corvid population as always. I've also seen and heard skylarks flying over on a few occassions in the last week. Coal tits are back in higher numbers now, as they often are at this time of year, taking the black sunflowers away to cache for the winter. Long-tailed tits have been passing through, but with plenty of natural food still around, they're not often coming down to the feeders just yet. We had hardly seen pied wagtails in the summer, and then two weeks ago a couple turned up and the number built throughout the week up to a maximum count of over 10. Fleeting glimpses of grey wagtails leave a lot to be desired. Although there doesn't seem to be a bumper crop of acorns, a few jays have been dropping in to the oak tree in the car park for a bite to eat. Finally, our tame pheasant, who looked a right mess at the start, now looks a million dollars.



Pied wagtail