Tag Archive | sparrow

Where Have All the Sparrows Gone?

100_6578So, where have all the sparrows gone? There’s plenty in my garden, a flock of at least thirty. There always have been lots here, mainly because I feed them all year round and they know I chase the cats away. However, if you wonder where all there rest are, I think I’ve found them, some of them anyway.

Rui Monica NerjaThey’re all over in Spain, at least the ones with any sense are, well, in Nerja anyway. I recently holidayed there, in a lovely hotel, the Rui Monica, on the beachfront. The hotel is Y shaped and within its form is an enclosed patio, only accessed from the basement, 3 floors down from ground level. The patio is surrounded by high walls. Growing within are several tall trees including palms, there is a constant supply of water from the dripping air-conditioning units hanging on these walls and, because of its location, is impervious to the many cats, mostly feral, that roam the resort. Thus, a perfect, safe haven for these delightful birds.

It was at dusk, on our first evening at the hotel, we noticed from our balcony, four floors up from the basement and just above the treetops in this area, hundreds and hundreds of sparrows flying in to take roost for the night here. Once they were perched on the various trees, you could not see them, such was the dense leaf cover. For a good half-hour flocks and flocks of them flew in. Once they had all settled, silence ruled.

Until dawn. The cacophony of these little birds was tremendous as they came awake, chatted and chirped to each other before, in twos and threes, they took off to spend the day wherever they spent the day (many stayed around the hotel gardens and outdoor snack bar). We didn’t mind the noise; we enjoyed the spectacle and it ensured during our ten days there we were never late for breakfast or missed the coach on the few day trips out we took.

I had hoped to take a small movie of their dusk decent on my tablet, but after that first evening, we were never there at the right time to capture it. Always a good reason to go back there, of course, as Nerja is lovely.

To read more of my adventures in Nerja, click here

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Watch The Birdie

Whilst my husband would say I’ve wasted most of this morning, it’s his fault — he bought me the bird feeding station. This morning especially, it’s brought me and the birds a lot of pleasure. I am a bird watcher (not a twitcher), I just love watching them. They are fascinating.

This is the first winter I’ve had the station and the amount of birds drawn into the garden has been wonderful. I’ve always fed the birds — they need help in all seasons — and I’ve always had a flock of sparrows here along with a dunnock, blackbird, wren and blue tits year round. Winter always brings in a blackcap or two, the familiar robin, and occasional thrush and redwings depending on how cold the weather is. This season hasn’t been particularly cold, certainly no snow here (thankfully), yet the birdlife is booming.100_6322

This morning I’ve spent over an hour watching two wrens ­whereas normally only see one darting in and out of the shrubbery. This morning they are gorging themselves on insects and grubs they find in the various flower troughs of bulbs and pansies around the koi pond. It’s such a pity the zoom on my camera isn’t good enough to capture them. One of them has been singing his heart out most of the morning, a gloriously loud song from such a tiny bird.

The robin sees off the blackcap but ignores all the other birds, while the blackcap will see off the sparrows, who generally ignore everyone else. Meanwhile, the dunnock will mind his own business and quite happy to rummage about the undergrowth in search of his fill. At first glance he is very much like a sparrow to look at, but has different coloured legs and behaviour and is always on his own. I’ve never seen him feed off the station, but always pecking on the ground beneath it.

Four blue tits are frequently flitting to and from the peanut feeder and occasionally feasting on the crumbs and bits on the plate feeder; three great tits are also flying in every so often to feed.

Then there’s Waggy, a pied wagtail that struts his stuff around the garden as if he owns it, ignoring the other birds but he’s very nervous and will fly off at any sudden noise or movement.

Instead of just one blackbird, there are four males in the garden this year, two in particular are always together. Despite this, they maintain a distance from each other where the food is concerned, one chasing off the other from his favourite feeding spot. So far, all the bulbs poking through— the hyacinths and bluebells, have been left alone by the slugs and snails, although I’m finding lots of empty snails shells. Thank you, blackbirds. I hope you stay during the rest of the year and keep these pesky pests in control. The snails decimated my hostas last summer despite an all out attack by me. Believe me, eggs shells, grit, coffee don’t work!

A short while ago, a noisy flock of seven long-tailed tits flew in, pecked and fed on the feeder and in the shrubbery before flying off again.

Other rare visitors today were a pair of goldfinches who munched at the seed feeder for several minutes before moving on. Beautiful birds which rarely come into the garden. Wished they’d call more often.

I’ve observed some interesting behaviour from the magpies too today. I know they like shiny things and will steal and hoard them but one here this morning has been taking large beakfulls of food (crumbs and bacon rind) and burying it elsewhere in the garden. I’ve watched him drop the food into various holes on the bare veg patch, then pick up a large stone and drop it in the hole before placing a large twig across the hole, like some sort of marker. I never knew they did this, and am interested to see if and when he comes back to claim his treasure. I don’t mind the magpies as they see off the pigeons, of which we are plagued with here.

So, maybe to some it was a wasted few hours when I should have been doing other more productive things but I don’t care, for what is life if for several minutes we cannot stand and stare and enjoy the beauty in nature around us.

Right, off to make coffee and wile away another half-hour watching the birds.

Garden Reflections

The Earth has turned another full circle and in a private corner of southern England I sit enjoying the warmth from the sun on the patio whilst I drink my mid morning coffee and reflect on a summer blown too early into autumn. A chill wind has forced the Bishop to lay spreadeagled across the lawn although his scarlet-red flowers are still vivid and bright, many more still to open. The hanging baskets are forlorn and limp, ripped by the wind, the last few flowers holding on in a blaze of orange and purple. The geraniums in pots around the koi pond and patio are still wonderful in fiery splashes of red and white and pink. Yellow, red and orange nasturtiums light up pansies and begonias against background foliage; whilst under the shrubs, wild cyclamen poke out their white heads, a sure herald of the shortening days.

I’ve seen far more creatures in the garden this year but perhaps that is because I have had the time to sit back and look more than in previous summers. Butterflies have visited in profusion. Red admirals, peacocks and commas, holly blues, and for the first time an orange tip danced and fluttered in the sunlight, enjoying the buddleia and erysimums, teasing the frogs that hop in the flowerbeds.

A little field mouse decided to take up residence under the stone sink in which carnivorous pitcher plants dwell. He’s become quite tame. What was once a quick dash to grab a few seeds put down for him is now a carefree amble as he comes close enough for me to stroke, but I refrain, content to just watch and admire him.

My family of sparrows patiently await their turn on the bird feeder. It’s such a pleasure to watch them communally splash in the birdbath; some prefer to sit below on the grass to wash in ensuing shower of water droplets instead. Despite reports that sparrows are in decline, they certainly are not in my garden. Their number has risen from six to twenty during the summer. They’re cheeky little birds and will come and tap on my patio door if the feeder is empty or to tell me the birdbath needs refilling. When the sparrows have finished playing in the water the robin jumps down from his favourite perch on the obelisk to take his bath before flitting to the bird table to breakfast on oats and mealworms.

There have been lots of birds in the garden this summer, blackcaps and dunnocks, blue and great tits, greenfinches, bullfinches and a garden warbler. Most days a sparrow hawk rests on the fence or up in the neighbour’s cherry tree to catch his breath. He’s used to me sitting here, as are the other birds. They don’t seem to mind my company.

Soon the sun will no longer rise above the roof and my garden will be in constant shade until next March. I shall miss not being able to sit in the garden but it will still delight during dark winter days with white and purple hellebores, sweet-scented yellow mahonia and the bright yellows, blues and reds of the primulas until the snowdrops and crocus emerge, heralding a new spring.

“A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”
William Henry Davies