Early Spring can seem a quiet time in the garden as many species have moved out to establish breeding territories and our summer migrants are yet to arrive in any sort of volume. Despite this there is always some activity to entertain and interest the garden birdwatcher. Here’s a selection of observations and musings on some of the birds from this week in my own garden.
The Wood Pigeons are nest building again, after a few days of sitting around preening on their favoured branch in the Mallow and occasionally engaging in some courtship at least one of them has begun the construction job. Helpfully it makes repeated journeys to and from the lawn picking up fallen twigs and making the short flight back to an ornamental cypress at the north side of the house. They seem to prefer short birch twigs. One of last year’s nests (there were three) still holds firm wedged in a fork in the sycamore so if this is the same pair they appear to have sound building methods.
The sound of sparrows chirping through an the open window early on a Sunday morning reminds me of childhood though the sparrows in question are Tree Sparrows rather than the urban House Sparrows of my youth. There seems to be a big conversation happening between the four pairs in the garden, all three nest boxes have pairs moving in and out, sitting around on the roof or taking in the view from nearby branches. Occasionally one of a pair will fly up to the hole. Perhaps have a peer inside as if to check dimensions or shuffle in before reappearing as just a head at the entrance hole for a while. A good summer could see us top the 30 young produced last year.
Sunshine draws me outside as the kettle boils and the sound of gulls calling earnestly high above the garden catches my ear and I scan the sky for them. Immediately I see the dark silhouette of a Common Buzzard, high to the south but making a shallow dive to the north on straight wings. Suddenly I’m drawn to movement much lower down just above the big willow at the bottom of the garden and another Common Buzzard appears low over the willow flying up into garden airspace. This second individual loops around the garden and heads off north in pursuit of the first just a few feet above roof height.
Stood positioning some new feeders when the first Chiffchaff of the year here suddenly kicks into song ‘ chiff chaff chiff chaff chiff chiff chaff’ just a few feet above my head. It doesn’t last long before it moves on into scrub nearby. I wonder where it’s bound for as it clearly wasn’t hanging about.
Our Garden Birder’s Diary is written by Northumberland-based birder Alan Tilmouth who has been birdwatching for over 30 years and writing about birds in various guises for the last decade. A keen garden birdwatcher, he also manages to unearth the odd rare bird on his travels. You can find Alan on Twitter and his Facebook blog.