October 2014 Blog - Archived                                                                                                             HOME



October 2014

    I thought October would be a good time to start my ramblings as all the summer visitors have gone and I am now eagerly anticipating the arrival of winter migrants, who knows perhaps the Waxwings may put in a good appearance again this year.   


    October Garden List:
  A very mild autumn so far with hardly any frosts. 22 bird spices seen in the garden, but not a lot of winter visitors about yet although it was nice to see the Goldcrest has started to make regular visits to the garden.
Blackbird Goldcrest Magpie
Blue Tit Goldfinch Nuthatch
Bullfinch Great Spotted Woodpecker Robin
Chaffinch Great Tit Sparrowhawk M&F
Coal Tit Greenfinch Starling
Collared Dove House Sparrow Stock Dove
Dunnock Long-tailed Tit Woodpigeon
    31st Oct
    The warmest Halloween since records began. The end of a very mild month and not as many birds in the garden as usual because of the plentiful supply of natural food and also due to the frequent visits of the Sparrowhawk earlier in the month. As the number of birds visible in the garden reduced so did the frequency of the Sparrowhawk visits, but now things are slowly getting back to normal.
     The Blue Tit with one foot missing is still about and doing well, and coming regularly for its daily feed of live mealworms

   VIDEO - Robins Winter Song 13th January 2012

There are plenty of bird sounds and calls in the garden at this time of year but the only true song is that of the robin establishing its territory for the coming winter and breeding season next spring.

Went to Lyth Hill this morning to listen to the Skylarks singing, another bird that will sing at this time of the year when the weather is mild and bright. As with the robin this activity is usually associated with territory, probably at this time of year more about protecting a good feeding area.  There were a number of Skylarks singing on the wing and sometimes getting so high that they almost vanished from sight.
       28th Oct
   Today's forecast was mild, sunny & dry so planned an early visit to the Long Mynd at Church Stretton as the outlook was wet & windy for next few days. Our departure was delayed by the second appearance of a Goldcrest in the garden this autumn, managed to get a couple of quick photographs before it flew off again. It only visits the garden during the autumn and winter.

Our arrival at Plush Hill at the north end of the Long Mynd was timely because before I parked the car a flock of over 200 Golden Plovers appeared over the hill. They circled the area for about 20 minutes before heading off towards the southern end of the Long Mynd.

Golden Plover over Plush Hill on the Long Mynd

   18th Oct

       Went to Gog Batch this morning to watch the Ravens soaring, gliding, and tumbling on the wind currents produced by the surrounding hills when this one went over with a golf ball in its bill. Someone from Church Stretton Gold Club, on top of the nearby hills, must have wondered where that super long drive had ended up.
    16th Oct

Female Kingfisher  -   Venus Pool

A sunny morning so off to Venus Pool again.

A good number of the usual ducks, geese and gulls. also Great Crested Grebe, Cormorants, Herons, and approx eighty Lapwings.

The star of the morning was a female Kingfisher who we new was in the vicinity by the the shrill calls we could hear, she finally appeared and conveniently perched in front of the main hide.

My first Redwings of the season, fifty five in the trees opposite the house, but still not been able to add them to my list of garden birds photographed.

     15th Oct
    Rained most of the day so took a load of food to Cuan Wildlife Rescue at Much Wenlock for the Squirrels and hedgehogs, then uploaded my latest video of starlings bathing.

   VIDEO    -     Starlings Bathing       1st October 2014

    14th Oct

    This female Sparrowhawk seems to have taken up permanent residence; it regularly comes in and settles on one of its favourite perches in the garden. This time it was only just over 2 meters away from my hide, otherwise known as my garden shed. It does not fly off now when it sees me in the garden and I was able to set up my camera and take this short film from the hide without disturbing her. Today it appeared to be more interested in the mice than the birds

She seems to employ two methods of hunting, the first is a surprise low flying swoop across the garden hoping to take its prey by surprise and the other is to patiently wait for something to come to it. The first method appears to be the most successful as the only thing I have ever seen her catch by the wait and see method was one mouse. . She is sitting there now keeping watch as I am uploading this.

   VIDEO     -   My Resident Female Sparrowhawk      Filmed 14th Oct 2014

    13th Oct
   I saw my first winter migrants of this autumn as I was taking the dogs for their early morning walk. I could hear the distinctive trumpeting sound of Whooper Swans getting closer as they followed the course of the river Seven, finally three very elegant birds passed almost overhead.

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan    9th October 2009 at Venus Pool

   12th Oct                                A busy day in the life of my local Sparrowhawk
   I have got my own small murmuration of starlings, up to about 70 at times, who circle the garden for quite a while before coming in to roost in the ivy growing on the back of the house which they share with about 20 pairs of house sparrows. In the autumn, for the last three years now a Sparrowhawk has noticed this daily event and now makes a habit of coming and perching in one of the trees at sunset and lies in wait, until it is practically dark, in the hope of an easy meal. Most of the time it is unsuccessful as once the starlings get into the ivy they seem to be safe despite the fact that it will sometimes try to follow them into the ivy.

    Today the female made her first appearance at 8.30 this morning, stayed for about 15 minutes them left empty handed.      At midday she was back again and stayed for about 20 minutes, luckily I had got the camera set up and was able to film her this time. Usually the arrival of a Sparrowhawk in greeted with a chorus of alarm calls and then followed with complete silence, but on this occasion all the small birds continued to make what I would call a scolding sound all the tine she was there. Again no catch.   4.00 pm flew over again but was harassed by a carrion crow.  Ten minutes later she was back, only briefly, bur scared the living daylights out of a collard dove I was filming at the time. Final visit of the day was at 6.15 for the usual 'Starling Watch'.

Four visits today that I saw and no catch.     Garden Birds 4 Sparrowhawk 0

   10th Oct
    A beautiful Autumn morning, clear blue sky and only a gentle breeze so decided to pay a visit to our local nature reserve, Venus Pool. It is owned by the Shropshire Ornithological Society and is only six miles south of Shrewsbury.  It was really was looking at it best today.

Venus Pool

    Plenty of the usual birds on show including a pair of Common Sandpipers, a Kingfisher very briefly sitting on a post just in front of the hide so no photos, pintails on the far side of the pool again too far away for photos. The highlight of the visit was an appearance by a Redshank who seemed to be making the most of the calm conditions and Autumn sunshine.
    8th Oct
    It's that time of year again when birds are staring to flock. Today I have seen groups of Starlings, Woodpigeons, Canada Geese and Goldfinches flying over the house. The numbers of Goldfinches are beginning to build up, last year as many as seventy would gather in the tops of tall trees opposite the house and as a group, or charm as they are very aptly called,  make sorties over my garden and return to the trees before finally settling deep in one of the tall evergreens for the night

              Video       CHARMING GOLDFINCHES - flocking prior to roosting

"A charm of Goldfinches"

     4th Oct
    This morning I noticed the first frost, just a touch on the long grass in the field as I took the dogs for their early morning walk. This must have been a signal for the Coal Tit to start caching food for the coming winter as it was busy making trips to and fro with sunflower hearts from the feeder and secreting them in various hiding places all over the garden. It would push then into cracks in tree bark, into the dense growth in the yew tree and even between the moss covered stones in the garden. Just how many of these it would retrieve again in the winter is anybodies guess.

  Video - Coal Tit Caching Food - filmed October 2011

     1st Oct
    Sometimes nature can be quite hard but this Blue Tit is a real survivor, with one foot missing and a fungal infection, similar to that seen on chaffinches, has been in the garden from the beginning of the year and has raised a brood of young in the Spring and is still going strong as Autumn approaches. As it is still looking strong and keeps coming to be fed, on live mealworms, I will keep a close eye on it as winter creeps nearer and intervene if necessary. The local wildlife rescue, Cuan Wildlife, said that if it did start to deteriorate in the winter, and if I could catch it, that it was possible that they could do something to elevate the fungal condition.   Keep watching!




Welcome to my new blog. I live in Shrewsbury and although most of my blog will be a diary and observations about garden birds I will inevitably be drawn out to the beautiful surrounding countryside of Shropshire, from the meres in the north to the rolling South Shropshire Hills.



A selection of some of the 39 species of birds that visit my garden. I have gradually changed my urban back garden into a wildlife friendly area by adding water features, fruit and berry bushes & trees and letting the ivy cover the fence, trees and back of the house. I have introduced a rough grass area and encouraged wild flowers such as trefoil, knapweed, nettles & teasel to grow. By year round feeding & adding nest boxes I have recorded 39 different species of birds including predators, which I suppose is a sign of a well stocked wildlife garden.
 The 39 garden bird species captured on film or photographed: Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Brambling, Bullfinch, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch. Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Collard Dove, Common Redpoll, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Grey Wagtail, House Sparrow, Jay, Lesser Redpoll, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Robin, Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Stock Dove, Willow Warbler, Wood Pigeon, Wren. and a Garden Warbler no photo



My list of Shropshire bird photos:

Arctic Tern,  Bar-headed Goose,  Barnacle Goose,  Bee-eater,  Bewick's Swan,  Blackbird, Blackcap,  Black-headed Gull,  Black-tailed Godwit,  Black Redstart,  Black Swan,  Blue Tit,  Brambling,  Brent Goose,  Bullfinch,   Buzzard,  Canada Goose,   Carrion Crow,  Chaffinch,  Chiffchaff,   Coal Tit,  Collard Dove,   Common Sandpiper,  Common Redpoll,   Coot,   Cormorant,   Curlew,  Dipper,   Dunlin,   Dunnock, Egyptian Goose,   Fieldfare, Gadwall,  Garganey,  Golden Plover,  Goldeneye,  Goldfinch,   Goldcrest,   Goosander,   Great Crested Grebe,  Great Spotted Woodpecker,   Great Tit,  Green Sandpiper,  Green Woodpecker,    Greenfinch,  Greenshank,   Green-winged Teal,  Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail,   Greylag Goose,  Herring Gull,  Hobby,  House Martin,   House Sparrow,  Jackdaw,  Jay,   Kestrel,   Kingfisher,  Lapwing,   Lesser Black-backed Gull,   Lesser Redpoll,   Linnet,  Little Egret,  Little Grebe,   Little Ringed Plover,  Long-tailed Tit, Magpie,  Mallard   Marsh Tit,  Meadow Pipit,  Mistle Thrush,  Moorhen,  Mute Swan,  Nuthatch,  Osprey,  Oystercatcher,  Peregrin Falcon,  Pheasant,  Pied Wagtail,  Pink-footed Goose,  Pintail,  Pochard,   Raven,  Redwing,  Redstart,  Redshank,  Red-legged Partridge,  Red Kite,  Reed Bunting,  Reed Warbler,  Ringed Plover,  Robin,  Rook,  Ruff,  Sand Martin,  Scaup,  Sedge Warbler,  Shelduck,  Shoveler Duck,  Siskin,  Skylark,  Snipe,  Song Thrush, Sparrowhawk,  Spoonbill,  Spotted Flycatcher,  Spotted Redshank,  Starling,  Stock Dove,  Stonechat,  Swallow,  Swift,  Teal,  Whooper Swan Tree Sparrow,   Treecreeper,  Tufted Duck,  Turnstone,  Waxwing,  Wheatear,  Whitethroat,  White-fronted Goose,  Wigeon,  Willow Warbler,  Woodpigeon,  Wren,  Yellow Wagtail,  Yellowhammer

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