It is that time of year when the cacophony of the garden birds ‘ dawn chorus rouses even the deepest of sleepers rudely from slumber just as the sun begins to creep up over the horizon. Even the city garden birds put on a good song but in the garden here a morning singsong seems to be the bird equivalent of a teenagers all night rave.
And there have been some unusual garden birds visiting lately. This morning the green woodpecker, an occasional visitor, was having a wonderful time grubbing about in the grass. Just a few days earlier I was confused when I glanced out and thought I saw the green woodpecker on the bird table – not the usual hang-out for any self-respecting green woodpecker – only to realise it was actually a green parakeet having a drink and a spot of breakfast! I know they are supposed to have taken to life in London surprisingly well, with recent milder winters helping and concerns rising over how this bold tropical bird may be pushing out more timid native garden birds but I hadn’t realised they have made it into rural Oxfordshire. It didn’t stay long – just enough time to refuel – and hasn’t been back since but I shall definitely be looking twice when I see a flash of green in the tree next time.
There has also been an exceptional amount of jays round and about recently too, with their distinctive flash of blue and clay flitting in and out of local hedgerows frequently and although the ‘flocks’ of goldfinches have given up mobbing the evening primrose plants for seeds as they did all over last winter I am still seeing a steady stream of other avian visitors doing their best to defend the bird table from the squirrels. At least the Red Kites (who I affectionately call the Oxfordshire pigeon given the sheer number of these majestic birds in the local skies) are
keeping to the fields these days. Nothing can beat the heart stopping sight early one summer morning last year of one of the kites swooping down into the garden and making a pass at my cat, only to be foiled in wingspan by the greenhouse on one side and redcurrant bush on the other. Still – it didn’t stop it from circling round and having another go! Nothing had prepared me for how large the wing-spans of these birds are close up as I dashed out to get the confused cat and even though I know that this surprisingly light bird wouldn’t ever have got very far with such a load it still amazes me it even tried. The cat now warily looks skyward before venturing out…
Want to encourage the kids to get birdy and be able to recognise a robin from a raven on your next walk? Why not try the RSPB’s children’s section of the website with some great project ideas and information for young wildlife enthusiasts. It also includes a page of creative ideas on getting under 6 year olds engaged with looking out for feathered friends! Another fun idea is to spend a rainy morning making a scrapbook of common and garden birds, with pictures cut out from old christmas and birthday cards and magazines and help your kids make their own bird spotting guide to take on their next walk. Don’t forget to leave a space to record when and when the bird is spotted.