Sunday, 3 January 2016

Rain does not stop play in Mum's garden

I spent the rainy weekend at Mum's and to be fair, although I always take my camera there, I didn't expect to see much in the dire weather we had.
But I was wrong.
The weekend viewing started on Saturday afternoon when we were sitting in the conservatory and a flock of Long-tailed Tits came through the garden. Luckily for us some of them were happy to feed on the nearest feeder, which although meant taking my photos through glass also meant we could view them up close.....

and the below birds were on the mid-garden feeders, still in pouring rain but with the conservatory door slowed pushed open for a better view....

The ivy on the next door neighbours garden boundary had a Goldcrest pottering about. Despite me seeing these in both next door's and Mum's garden, Mum has yet still to see one, so these photos are just for her....

The Goldcrest is ringed, but none of my photos are clear enough to yield any numbers.
A few weeks back there were six Lesser Redpolls competing with the Goldfinches for the nyger seed, this weekend I could only find one..

I had a 'eureka' moment this morning. My camera battery was very low, so I had another one charging in the kitchen. I had just swapped batteries and was walking back to the conservatory door to try for a shot of the Coal Tit when the resident Sparrowhawk swooped across the garden and landed in the conifer of next doors boundary. For a few long seconds he had his back to me, then he thankfully turned around for a full frontal view. Eureka ! Right place, right time, and with a newly charged battery in the camera. I took hundreds of photos and had to narrow them down. Only the six on here, but I've saved a lot more than that.....
I couldn't have asked for a better view. It was pouring down with rain, and I had my camera lens stuck out of an open door gap of about seven inches, whilst trying to stop the door from swinging open by somehow wedging my toes under it.

For about ten minutes I was wedged in that position before Mr Sprawk took off again, and for once I was glad I had the 'wrong' lens on. I had left my macro lens on the camera body, and it enabled more light to come through plus I managed better manual focus on the bird than if I had taken photos with my narrower 150-300 zoom lens on an auto focus setting (my usual preference). None of the above photos have been edited in any way except cropping.
I had also had the foresight to bring the trail cam to Mum's. Unfortunately this cam is still trial and error with me. Instead of tying it to a post, I've used it on a tripod. Works great, but it means I cannot always check the view as well as I could if it was tied to a post.
I wanted two shots today. One of the Jays taking nuts from the furthest feeders near the bottom of the garden, and one of the Great Spotted Woodpecker taking a nut from the same feeder and wedging it in the crevice behind the trunk. I achieved both.......eventually, but still didn't get all of the action in the one frame. Lesson learnt though, I now know where to exactly position the trail cam to really get the shots I want.
The Jay soon got used to the trail cam, even using it as a perch before it flew to the nut feeder.....
View from conservatory
And below are what the trail cam captured.

The nut feeder is to the top right but I hadn't positioned the trail cam well enough to get that in the shot too.
The vid clip below (best viewed on laptop or desk pc rather than smart phone) shows the Jay grabbing a nut and flying off.
Then it was the Great Spotted Woodpeckers turn. I've been trying for weeks to get a vid clip of him (and her - both of them do the same thing) of grabbing a nut and wedging in to a crevice in the branch behind the feeder.
Below is the view I got today of the GSW from the conservatory with the nut feeder on the left....
and then this is what the trail cam captured.....

and although badly positioned, the cam finally got the shot I was after (again best viewed on laptop or desk pc rather than smart phone)....

So despite the weekend being a complete weather washout, the garden birds still came out to play and I got the added bonus of a perched Sparrowhawk.
A final tally before I left was 23 species. Not bad considering it rained constantly. Location must play a part in this good rainy day count. Mum's rear garden backs on to a field, which in turn backs on to the Grand Union Canal with a border of many mature trees in between.
 Broadwater Lakes and Denham Quarry are both within short walking distance.
The species list
House Sparrow
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Carrion Crow
Lesser Redpoll
Collared Dove
Ring-necked Parakeet
and that's not including the flyover birds like Cormorant, Heron, various gulls, Buzzard, Red Kite, Little Egret and Kestrel.
A nice wet start to 2016.


  1. Hi,
    Despite the weather looks like you had a great day for the garden.....
    However I don't seem to be able to play the videos - my system is only showing the preview .gif file and doesn't appear to have anyway to view or download the videos - could this be an error in the posting to the blog server or am I missing something really silly on my setup ??


  2. Thanks Kish. Yes there does seem to be an error probably on my part.
    I'm going to have a go at posting the vid clip directly on to the Wino Wendy's Wildlife World Facebook page....