Adventures in the birding paradise that is Co. Offaly, Ireland...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

...and I thought I'd start this off slowly!

I had rather hoped to start this blog off with some gentle garden birds, then go on to introduce some more interesting bits and pieces as the weeks and months progressed, before blasting you with the full and ferocioius might of the wonders of birding in Offaly over the spring and summer. I should have known better. The gentle introduction will just have to wait. The reason? I'm simply having a fantastic week, both in the garden and out and about.

Firstly, the garden. I'm participating in the Garden Bird Survey so am recording as many of the birds using the garden as I can. The idea is to generate weekly maximum counts for each species. However, I find it best to keep an (almost) daily tally of what I see and pick out the high counts at the end of the week. The majority of birds in the garden are made up of Greenfinches (40+) and Chaffinches (60+), but there is usually a good supporting cast of Goldfinches, Blackbirds, Starlings, Rooks, Jackdaws and Magpies, with the occasional Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit or House Sparrow to add some variety. However, last weekend I managed three Reed Buntings and a Siskin, while already this week I've had a couple of Lesser Redpoll, two Siskins and, best of all today, a female Brambling.

"Nice arse"
(as a friend of mine might say)
Female Brambling
(with male Chaffinch tying to get in on the act)

Bramblings are the Scandinavian equivalent of our Chaffinches (whom they are very closely related to). However, due to the very severe winter weather in their breeding grounds, Bramblings tend to sod off to warmer climes in the winter. Although scarce in Ireland generally, they do occur here annually, with the numbers arriving dependent upon the weather conditions. When Bramblings visit our shores, they like to hang out with their cousins, so if you see a large flock of Chaffinches in the winter, its always a good idea to keep an eye out in case a Brambling has joined them. Probably the easiest way to identify Bramblings is their white rump, which is revealed when they fly. The stripey "badger" head markings of the female are also distinctive up close. A nice bird, but still not the most unusual garden visitor...

No comments:

Post a Comment