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January 5th- counting long-tailed tits and roosting blackbirds

Tolly and I had a conversation this morning about counting long-tailed tits; more particularly about how difficult it is! There are often more on and around the feeders than you think. Pink and white balls of fluff with pied pin-tails sticking out can easily fool the eye; one or two retreat to cover, another flies in from elsewhere to join the feeding frenzy, meanwhile there are more even further away, newly arrived or just ready to depart. Essentially though, they all arrive and leave the garden together.

Yesterday we saw them come from a nearby hedge. They gathered in a large cotoneaster before descending in ones and twos to the feeders. This was our chance, counting them as they flew in the same direction across a gap to the feeders. Fifteen we counted, one after the other! Once the flow had stopped and they were all on the feeders it was impossible to recount them accurately, but we had recorded a maximum. They have been visiting the feeders very frequently during this cold week. The temperature has struggled two or three degrees above freezing at best and ice remains thick on the pond we built last summer. Once again facing a new more severe lockdown, birds will help us through. The whole family is home working again and feeders have been moved so we can all see birds.

The year has started cold. Our part of North Yorkshire has been pummeled by frequent wintry showers. They are falling readily as snow on the hills and moors. It is wonderful to see the white hills just above Ampleforth in the morning. I still long for a good covering of snow here in Gilling, but with the air coming off the relatively warm North Sea it is not quite cold enough. Having established that we will all be working at home again we will find a new routine. Exercise in the form of brisk local walks for Tolly and I will start tomorrow and the lockdown blogging will resume in earnest.

 

Blackbirds just before roost on new year’s day.

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