Tag Archives: birds

wiltshire wildlife june 2011

The local Sparrow and Starling youngsters are going through 5 or 6 fat balls a day at the moment. The Starlings are just starting to show signs of transition from juvenile feathers to the adult plumage and are feeding themselves, but the Sparrow young still, mostly, need to be fed.

Despite reports of a decline in Sparrows in recent years we have a good crop and can often have as many as 20 flitting around with their complex air traffic control stacking them for a turn on the feeder.

Fortunately we’ve had no sightings of the larger birds of prey that turned up towards the end of last year, but the Pigeons, Gulls and Crows still have spats amongst themselves, uniting against the Magpies and the Heron.

Samantha Squirrel was last seen in August and so we think that she has gone to that drey in the sky. She would have been at least 6 and had been through some hard times. A strange thing though; it was four summers ago that she moved herself and her two babies into our loft and we had to evict them in fear that they would chew up wiring with the attendant risks to them and us. Twice in the last few months an adult squirrel has come down our path, run unerringly up the cherry tree to the corner of the house where Samantha made an entry, looked around and then run back down the tree and left, ignoring the adjacent bird feeder. Could this have been one (or  both) of Samantha’s offspring, following some memory of a previous home? Maybe I’m just being wishful, but why would a squirrel just turn up, check that location and leave?

This is the fourth year that we have not had a fox take up temporary residence under our deck. Having been a regular maternity ward for several years we had enjoyed the spectacle of the youngsters play fighting in the afternoon sun, even if we did not like some of their, shall we say, personal habits.



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wiltshire wildlife encounters – the Falcon!

I was standing at the kitchen window admiring our flock of Sparrows. Allegedly in decline, but not for us this year; we have 25 – 30 at a time. Watching them flit around is a genuine pleasure for me and presents a peaceful moment or two to distract me from other tasks.

So there they were, and then they weren’t. Now I’m used to their disappearing act when something alerts them and they fly off en mass, but this time they dived low and into cover. Before I could ponder this too much a grey shape flew in from behind the cherry tree to land atop one of my bean-pole wigwams. Oh, it’s a pigeon that’s spooked them I thought, but…

The arrival was a blue/grey colour, but a little taller and slimmer than our fat pigeons. A barred chest, and white markings on the head framing cold eyes and a hooked beak. Perched there with steely talons was a falcon. I thought first maybe a Sparrowhawk, but the colour was wrong; no it was a Peregrine.

It surveyed the garden for about 90 seconds, sat tall on its perch, then took flight at high speed and roosted briefly in a neighbouring silver birch before flying off out of view.

I’ve not seen a Peregrine since I was about 13, and then only in flight. To have one barely 15 feet away was a rare privilege. I worry for my precious Sparrows with someone like that in the neighbourhood, but nature is nature and, as I’ve written here before, she can’t be controlled by the likes of us.

A special day.

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