The first video shows a male pheasant preening in a burst of sunshine – a post-peanut mellow moment. Two male pheasants arrived today, some time after the females had arrived, eaten, sat for a while with their feathers puffed up, and left. It had finally stopped raining and at mid-day the garden was bathed briefly in a thin silvery sunshine, which lasted for about an hour and a half before the rain resumed. The familiar harsh loud squawk announced their arrival so I threw down some peanuts and went down into the village, leaving them to it. When I returned they were pottering around in the garden, and one of them was enjoying an industrious preen, the bright feathers given a thorough going over.
The second video shows two views of Pen Y Bryn from my garden, one clip from yesterday in the pouring rain and the second in the today’s brief reprieve when the sun came out before the rain returned. Both are shades of grey, but the main difference between the two scenes is the sound. In the first clip, even in the downpour Pen Y Bryn looks atmospheric but the sound of the rain is unrelenting. In the second, with light glinting off the water, peace and quiet has been restored.
I should perhaps apologize for the completely gratuitous scrolling text. I’ve been messing around with new video editing software, as my previous prog was at all not user-friendly and it had the antisocial habit of freezing solid. Many of the features in the new application are very gimmicky, with shades of PowerPoint, but the ability to add text in various different forms is useful. This is the fourth piece of video editing software that I have tried, so I am seriously hoping that this one will be a keeper.
The peanut feeder was busy today with a couple of great tits, a coal tit and a riot of blue tits, all in the pouring rain. And it really did rain! At half four hail, lightning and thunder added to the fun and games. I’ve watched the tits and the pheasants, and they all seem to dispose very fastidiously of the brown outer layer to get to the peanut inside. In spite of taking video through the window, which was dripping with water, the videos came out surprisingly well.
The pheasants vanished from my garden for the summer, but have been slowly returning for the last month. At first there was just one, but now there are up to five – four females and an occasional male. Pheasants are quite mind-numbingly stupid, but of the five that panic and run away every time I open the door to throw down food for them, there’s one that knows that the unlocking of the door is a good sound. She bounces up a couple of steps in confident anticipation of a shower of peanuts. When they haven’t been fed (or when they come back later in the day in hope of more goodies) and she sees movement in the kitchen, she comes all the way up the steps and loiters by the door, sometimes just staring at me in a rather unnerving way. I’m a complete pushover and it works every time, and between the pheasants and the blue tits, my sack of peanuts is emptying rapidly. Here she is yesterday, looking for an evening peanut shower after the morning one had been demolished and they had gone elsewhere to forage or be fed.
I recall that this time last year most of the birds vanished from the garden in October and November, for the reasons explained in an earlier post, returning in force in December. This year more of them remained in the garden over that period, but it is noticeable how busy it is at the moment. The goldfinch feeder is particularly in demand and all day today the feathers were flying as they jockeyed for position and chased each other off, some of which is captured on the video below. A very beautiful display of bright colour on a dull day. There were nine of them at one stage.
It has been remarkable watching the birds in the garden as they rush around to stock up on calories in this cold weather. Even the blackbirds have ventured really close to the house to take advantage of a bowl of mealworms.
In a heavy wind, the goldfinches hold on for dear life to collect nyjer seeds, but are not to be deterred, as this one individual demonstrates.
I have no idea why these two blue tits tried, tried again and failed to collect peanuts from this feeder! Fabulous to watch their quick dashing movements. I love the bit where one of them decides that if the holes won’t work, he’ll drill through the plastic with his beak! I went and had a look at the feeder, and although I could see nothing wrong I gave it a good shake and matters seemed to resolve themselves after that, and the peanuts began to be extracted in good order.
And this little visitor, not seen before or since, was quite a character. I had to move the peanut feeder onto an upturned flower pot because it was quite clear that the mouse was going to carry on taking and collecting peanuts until it had enough to see out the winter! He knew that they were there but couldn’t reach them. He reverted to the tray of seeds had been put down for the robin, sparrows, dunnock and the blackbird.
The pheasants have no difficulty helping themselves to a bit of everything. There were seven of them this morning, two males and five females, which is the greatest number I’ve seen in one go. I feed them twice a day and they are quite happy to help themselves to whatever the other birds are eating, but in spite of their apparent greed, they are big birds and must need quite a lot of food to sustain themselves.
Wednesday last week was one of those rare but gorgeous January days that provides a welcome reminder that spring lies ahead. Almost too good to be true. The tide was on its way out, always a beautiful sight as dips in the sand fill with still water reflecting the blue sky, and the millions of deeply scored fractal patterns in the sand are revealed, with the contrast of the dark shadows and bright surfaces always a sensational feature of the low winter sun. Apart from a few dog walkers the beach was almost empty, sensible people remaining in the warm.
My garden continues to be a source of wildlife activity, all the local species filling up on solid carbohydrates to see them through the bitterly cold nights.
The goldfinches, which turned up in my absence over Christmas, are now a daily presence, between two or seven of them at a time, four on the nyjer feeder with the others bouncing up and down in frustration in the tree. When they first arrived I was very taken by their beautifully minimalist movements and intricate eating habits, but when there are more than four trying to get onto the feeder at a time there can be real jockeying for position in a great thrashing of brightly coloured feathers, with some of the angelic looking little things chasing off others quite ruthlessly. A gaggle of goldfinches is called a “charm.”
Since I moved here in August, all the feeders have been popular, but in the last month the mixed seed feeder has been completely rejected, no matter where I hang it. Instead, most activity is concentrated on the fat ball, mealworm and peanut feeders. Do note that I put a soundtrack on the following video, just to get used to the software that I am using, but it is a really lovely piece of Bach, so hopefully not too intrusive.