Tuesday 18 August 2020

Species number 100 (and 101)

 Back in May 2018 we added our 99th bird to our species list at Feathers as a pair of mediterranean gulls flew over. It took nearly two years to add the 100th and it wasn't one either of us had anticipated - shelduck. Our species list isn't just seen from the shop, but also includes species seen on the farm, so we've had a few rather unusual additions over the years: greenshank, kingfisher and snipe to name a few. The pair of shelduck were down on one of the farm's flooded fields and I spotted them while delivering to a customer's house down the lane.

Shortly after the shelduck, we started hearing reports of a white stork on the farm, but finding the time to go for a walk wasn't easy as I was running the shop by myself during April and May, taking phone orders and delivering locally. I had thought the opportunity was missed, until a customer reported seeing it in late May, and with another delivery to do in the area, I took a brief walk to find the bird exactly where it had been reported. This bird was originally from the white stork project based at the Knepp Estate in West Sussex, who were already aware of its whereabouts. Unfortunately, 'our' bird met an untimely demise just a few days later as it was found dead with an apparent injury to it's neck, which we believe may have been inflicted by a dog as the location was just off a public footpath. None-the-less, the white stork became our 101st species on our list and leaves us wondering... what's next?


This spring/summer has certainly been different to anything we've ever experienced before with Covid-19 impacting the whole country. For the shop, it meant closing our doors for over 2 months but continuing to run the business with local deliveries. Watching and recording birds was put on hold, and even when we were able to reopen our doors in June, we found it difficult to find the time to take photos as demand for garden bird supplies and binoculars was as high as it had ever been before. Fortunately, with the feeders just a few metres away from the shop, we didn't miss everything that was going on. It seems to have been a good breeding year for many garden birds; our feeders were extremely busy in June and July, yet have slowed down significantly (as expected) in the last couple of weeks. The swifts (which have now departed) seemed to number 4 pairs and we think bred well, while the resident kestrels only managed to raise one chick, but hopefully that bodes well for its survival.

Nuthatch family
Nuthatch family

Juvenile (left) and male great spotted woodpecker


Juv kestrel (11/07/20)

As I write this, a pair of ravens are cronking away outside the shop, and a quick look finds them sitting at the top of one of the redwood trees in the churchyard.