As you will no doubt be aware, the last two weeks have seen temperatures hover around or below zero almost constantly. The only break in the cold since Boxing Day being a day with some snow last week. Whilst this has curtailed all gardening activities it has provided many (mainly weekend) opportunities for birdwatching.
I think that we are one of the few gardens in the neighbourhood to have a pond, so we are always popular when the frosts come. Each morning either James or myself have been out diligently clearing a spot in the ice for them to drink from and bathe in, and have been amply rewarded by the large number of birds that have been coming in every day. (I think the sunflower hearts and peanuts haven’t hurt either.)
It has also been noticeable how territorial some of the birds get even in Winter, and how some are willing to risk a fight to get to the food and water. Of particular note around here is the abundance of blackbirds. We have a resident pair that tend to come in every day and throw as much compost and as many leaves around as possible. There also seems to be a younger bird (possibly one of last year’s brood) that keeps coming into the garden, much to the chagrin of the male blackbird (shown below having a drink out of the pond). He will chase him off as soon as he sees him, whereas the female will raise the alarm call if she spots an interloper, only going to the trouble of shoo-ing them away if the male doesn’t arrive.
We have also counted three robins in the garden. These are highly territorial birds and as soon as the third one is spotted in the garden he is chased away, with fights breaking out in mid air and air-borne battles taking place over several gardens.
My only concern is that warmer weather is predicted in the coming days, and, with the RSPB’s big garden birdwatch less than two weeks away, they will all desert me. Just maybe my count this year will be better than one greenfinch and a sparrow!