Bird Table Blizzard

We have had heavy and persistent snowfall here since Friday lunch time – big snow, sticking snow, snow-that-closed-Birmingham-International-airport snow!
Yesterday I went out and replenished the bird feeding station and went further out and bought in extra supplies.

This morning when I got up – no activity, but suddenly at around 9.45 a.m. the kaleidoscope began to turn. So quickly! Birds were appearing as if fired from a machine gun!
Species I have not seen until this morning. A blackcap, a lesser spotted woodpecker (admittedly this one just transited along the bottom of the garden), and a flock of finches. This end of the garden became a whirl, birds fluttering from cover (pieris, rhododendron and teasel) onto the swinging feeders. Greenfinch, very aggressive towards the house sparrows – and each other. Sometimes content to grub the fallen and falling sunflower seeds from the floor (knocked out by their manic flock members), sometimes vying acrobatically for a space on the hanger. A placid chaffinch couple, content to let their hyperactive “cousins” attract all the attention. Then, amazingly a brightly coloured pair of bullfinches. I have seen a number of these in the double hedge on the path to the brook, but here in the garden?
A little worrying; I remember a line from Ted Hughes “What is Truth”:
“Aren’t bullfinch lovely birds?
It depends if you prefer to see apples or birds in your trees …”
This pair balanced for a few minutes in the honeysuckle bound Conference pear tree, then skipped into next door’s garden. But they are big, powerful looking birds.
Blue tits, great tits – completely ignoring the peanuts and fat balls especially there for them.
Starlings – a gang appears like Hell’s Angels, the other birds react quickly, retreat, then start to return. The starlings are just too busy feeding to care.
Black headed gulls fill the skies, swooping ever lower, almost but not quite tempted into landing. A little higher still – herring gulls course the air, below lead grey skies.
A song thrush is suddenly on the edge of the bird house, speckled breast clear and beak quickly busy.
A pair of robins, both very scarlet chested seem to have suspended territorial hostilities during the fierce weather and share the bird house gracefully: one on and feeding, the second in the laurel – or is this an early pairing?
Mice, perhaps driven inside by the bad weather (or just un-noticed until now) have been snacking on the remaining apples harvested from the allotment and stored in boxes in the garage. I sort out the apples: some into the fruit bowl, the rest go onto the garden for the thrushes – if they can find them!
It did my heart a power of good to be here when so many different species visit, I am glad they came, but wonder how, suddenly they knew where to come – do birds keep a check out for such “pit-stops” or pass on information in joint roosts?


Bullfinch photo from Keith Burtonwood
20th January, 2013


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