Thursday, 1 January 2015

2015...Starting All Over Again (Patch)

And pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off,
Start all over again.

1st Jan.  The local patch is forever changing and sadly as far as wildlife is concerned it is not usually for the better.  The general rule over the years has been less open space, hedges and trees kept neat and trim (in Council terms that often means hacked to bits) and more bricks and mortar.  Again sadly I believe that as local people get on with their busy lives only the minority notice the changes around them, whilst the majority notice only when it suits their own purposes.  I guess if you don’t know what wildlife there is around you or your not interested in knowing, than you don’t miss it when its gone.  One thing that has remained constant is the colony of House Sparrows in the hedge behind my home of many years.  Even that constancy appears to have now been broken.  Over recent days I’ve noticed that they have disappeared.  Have I not been feeding them well enough?  Is it the damn annoying domestic cats?  It’s a bit of a mystery, but they had never been away all of the years I have lived here since the 1970s and probably long before that, so they are quite a miss.  I shall live in hope that they return.

I wasn’t quite up with the larks this morning, but when I did arise I looked out of the window to find little in the way of birdlife in or near the garden.  As the day went on I found the patch was notably short of passerines.  My first three sightings of 2015 were no more interesting than Wood Pigeon, Herring Gull and Black Headed Gull.  I received a txt from Sam and was soon off down to the lake so saw nothing else in the garden today but Blue Tits.

As the weather was looking a bit dodgy we decided to take a relaxed outlook as to our annual 1st January listing.  We spent our time down by the lake and the general area nearby before have a quick look across the fields and behind the village.  Happily the sun was out for a time before the wind got up and grey cloud began to encroach from the west.

Mute Swan numbers remain down at about the thirty mark.  The lake, now no longer in part frozen was never the less quite alive with birds.  Goosanders were around in some number (double figures), Goldeneye numbers had built up a little and there was at least seven Shoveller.  Yesterday when the lake had been frozen Sam had counted twenty-seven Shoveller on the lake.  I think they must have been flying in and out from frozen areas such as the Rising Sun as on the same day when John and I were down there chatting we didn’t see them.  Pochard numbers have also increased and there must be about one hundred and fifty Tufted Ducks.  I won’t list all of the resident birds on the lake but will say that we found a Scaup.  Common Gull numbers seem quite low but there were plenty of Black-headed and Herring Gulls and one or two Great Black-backed Gulls.

The surround tree lined area that we walked through was as quiet as the hedges beside my garden although we did pick up a male Sparrowhawk and eventually heard a Goldcrest calling near to a flock of Long-tailed Tits.

When we crossed the fields we found the church grounds almost devoid of birds and the area behind the village was little better until we eventually found a flock of Greenfinch along with Goldfinches, Chaffinces and tits, including Coal Tit.  Amongst them was a Goldcrest which this time we actually saw.

Having checked my year list I find it is on thirty –five species only.  I shan’t get perturbed by that however.  As Sam and I are leading a walk in Northumberland on Saturday (for which we have had to close the participants list, such is its popularity.  The mince pies are possibly the attraction!) I’m confident that the list will soon be flying upwards.  Interest in the walk shows that there is interest out there so I as always remain positive despite ending New Years Day for the first time I can remember not having seen a House Sparrow!  I look forward to some great bird watching in 2015 and hope you all enjoy your bird and nature watching in the manner that suits you during the next year.  I'll endevour to get back to some basics on patch this year.


  1. I don't know how i'd manage if we lost our "Spuggies" Between ourselves (the missus and i) and the next door neighbour (a few words in her ear about trimming hedges too much) we've managed to acquire good numbers at the rear of our houses. Positioned close to the Coast Road if we get a Blue or Great Tit in the garden it's a joyous occasion so our Sparrows are precious. Their chatter brightens up any bad day your having.
    Nice bumping into you again Brian.
    Hope 2015 turns out to be a good one for you, on all fronts.

    1. Bit like the Starlings we spoke of the other day John, House Sparrows were once taken for granted. We take the 'common' stuff for granted at our, or rather their peril! Have a good one in 2015. Cheers. Brian.