Wildlife in gardens across the UK

Is this branch taken?

The weather has been hot during the past week and especially so on Friday 31st July and so bird activity has been a little more muted during the last few days.
The feral pigeons come first thing in the morning and then a smaller number will still be around in the hottest part of the day and a smaller group returns for their tea or evening meal later on.

As I have mentioned before, there are distinctive birds so there are different groups coming at different times of the day. I’m just looking out the window and the pigeon I called 'white wing' has just arrived on the feeders, whereas earlier on this morning, it was a different white pigeon there. The activity near the bird feeders can become a little bit hectic when there is a large flock of feral pigeons around, plus other birds, and there can be some squabbling when they’re trying to get to a particular feeder. ‘Is this branch taken? I’m coming on there anyway so move over.’

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One visitor to the garden very briefly this week was a sparrow hawk but the pigeons soon flew off to do a circuit round and as far as I’m aware, the Sparrowhawk went away hungry. I know it’s only part of nature and the way things work, but it’s not very nice to see them take a bird from the garden and then just find a large pile of feathers later on.

Activity with the food may have declined slightly but I always make sure that the pigeons’ bird bath and the bird bath down the garden used by the sparrows, blackbirds and robins are well topped up. The other day the pigeons’ tray had become almost dry where they had been having a good session of ablutions. The other evening only about an hour before dusk a feral pigeon arrived on the bird table which was a little bit late, but it just flew down had a quick drink and then went off, so I guess it was having a much-needed drink before bedtime. On hot days I’ve also noticed that birds, which have not had a bath, lay on the grass with their wings outstretched. I was watching a collared dove a short while ago doing exactly that and I’ve also seen feral pigeons and blackbirds as well as starlings, sitting on the lawn doing a similar thing in the past. I guess they’re spreading their wings to cool down a little bit.

There’s been very little starling activity during this past week as I imagine they’re now off in the countryside eating berries and so forth. The blackbirds have been around early and late skipping about on the lawn and into the flower beds and there have been a couple of robins around and about as well, especially when some work has been done in the garden. I’m not sure whether one of the robins is now changing into adult plumage, as its feathers look a little ruffled and not as bright red as normal, or whether it’s a parent bird who is now becoming a little bit dishevelled from feeding youngsters. I mentioned the other week that the jackdaw visits are certainly fewer in number, but that’s normal for this time of year, and I’m not sure that they are sitting in the chimney pot as a roost at the moment either. I have seen a great tit and a blue tit during the week as well. The sparrows I think have given up finding any aphids on my roses or my sweet peas and I’m guessing they are also now out in the countryside, which is less than half a mile away, and are finding plenty of food there but a few still come on the seed feeder.

It’s nice to see some collared doves in the garden and there is one pair who are now regular visitors again. My picture this week is of the two of them sitting on a branch, one having arrived and the second one coming along and saying, ‘Is this branch taken?’ and sitting there as well. It’s lovely to watch them or indeed any other birds in pairs, preening one another. The other day a wood pigeon was on the tray of the seed feeder, having a meal, and one of the collared doves arrived and did a double-take when they saw the wood pigeon. ‘Is this branch taken? Yes, it is and that’s not my mate!‘. The bird in question quickly flew off.

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Written by Margaret Emerson

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