2019 April 30th: Unexpected visitors
After seemingly months of the usual (very welcome) avian visitors to our garden, suddenly I'm bamboozled by some new unexpected ones:
- First, as I looked up from my writing, through my studio window, there was a movement near the pond that didn't look quite right. At first, I thought it was a shrike (yes, stupid I know, but it was the black bandit mask that caught my eye) then seeing it more clearly through the leaves and branches, I saw it was a Wheatear. After examining the the vicinity, it bathed, dried itself before spending a good 5 minutes preening before flying off. Never seen a Wheatear in the garden before although they are up on the moor of course in the summer.
- Then at breakfast, where we always put out food for the resident Carrion crows and Jackdaws (they have come to expect it and wait for it and bang on the window if we're too slow), a giant Raven floated down and grabbed some bread, stayed, regally, long enough for me to marvel at its glorious size and bearing, before it lifted up and away to where they nest a hundred yards or so away.
All my life I've had an affinity with Ravens, ever since finding them nesting on an old limestone quarry in North Wales as a child, and getting into an argument with another kid who had an airgun (I won that one). A poem about the Raven is here https://richardmeyer.co.uk/index.php/writing/poetry/164-the-raven-evermore
- This winter, I bought a feeder for Niger seed (sorry, now usually spelt 'Nyjer' for obvious reasons). It took a little while for the Goldfinches to find it but they did and now come every day - a pair of them. I've watched them collecting nesting material so hope they'll stay and breed here.
- Yesterday, I went out to replenish the feeders, and saw a smaller different finch at the nyjer seed. A Siskin. She - it was a female - was extraordinarily tame and didn't fly off as the Blue tits and sparrows do, but stayed feeding just a few metres away. Retreating indoors we watched her for ten minutes.
A colony are resident at the RHS Rosemoor gardens, 5 minutes away, so maybe she was from there. We used to get them in the winter on peanuts (those in the red bags they prefer for some reason) but haven't for a few years now, so it was great to see her. Maybe Siskins will nest close by.
- A fantastic bombastic male Bullfinch was feeding on the ground yesterday too. 'Bombastic'? Only in colour - he has the feeblest song you can imagine. In Wales, a pair nested in a stupid little conifer opposite our kitchen window - you'd think an unlikely choice but they did all right, so I think they do nest in odd places.