Some noisy new visitors

Bird activity has increased dramatically again during the past week and just 12 days ago there were two young starlings and I'm now counting as many as 20 at one time. I'm not sure that there won't be others, as literally yesterday the ground under my bird feeder couldn't be seen for the number of starlings, both parents and youngsters. This seems to be a massive group flying round in the area in the evening and if the number of parents and the number of young birds are added together that would come to about 35, but by my reckoning I think there were plenty more. Needless to say, they've been eating the suet squares with gusto and anything else that they fancy such as mealworms. I must admit it's lovely to see. 

There have been some amusing moments when young starlings have gone across to a different type of bird and one the other day was striding towards a pigeon and then another one striding towards a jackdaw on the ground, but then backed off as if to say. ‘Wait a minute that's not mum or dad’. I'm sure the other afternoon one of the parent birds was showing the youngsters how to use the birdbath water saucers, as the young ones had gone over and were looking a little bit confused, but then a parent hopped on the rim of the saucer, ducked its head in as much to say ‘That's how you do it’ and the youngsters duly copied. 

I haven't seen any baby blackbirds yet but the parent birds are busy and I've also still got several jackdaws coming to the garden, a single crow at a time, and as usual a pair of collared doves and a pair of woodpigeons. This week I put out some Platinum Jubilee bunting in my front garden and hoped that it wouldn't disturb the sparrows enroute from my neighbour’s roof space to my fence, bushes and feeders but it doesn't seem to be worrying them. The birds have also been treated to some Jubilee special fat balls. 

I've been very pleased to see several times a day over the last few days, a greater spotted woodpecker on both my feeders and the suet squares. It will land on a square and swing around happily on it as a starling lands on the other side and then takes off again. So far, I haven't been able to grab a decent picture, but hope that I will be able to in the coming days or weeks. 

 My picture this week is one of the more unusual pair of visitors to the garden, large seagulls. Two of them have been around in the area for the last few weeks making a lot of noise up on a roof and I guessed that they probably had got a nest and some youngsters somewhere, as they become very defensive. When I was working in London one of my colleagues said whenever he went up onto the roof of the building, where we were making observations of the weather every hour, that he was sure that the seagulls recognised him and divebombed him, as nobody else seemed to be affected. Anyway, my picture this week is of a young seagull and a parent bird perched on my roof with some feral pigeons keeping well away. 

Insect activity has also been high during the past week and when selecting a picture I could have chosen one of the bees on my hardy geraniums and other flowers, but I thought the seagulls were too good to miss. One squirrel is still taking nuts and the fox is back as well and comes through the garden generally in the evening. 

Written by Margaret Emerson

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