Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The right place at the right time!

How lucky were we when we wandered through the Newton Hotel grounds on a sunny afternoon in May (yes, there was one!), at just the right time to catch a Bullfinch, Blackcap and Thrush all feeding and singing within 10 metres of each other!

Here's the bully sitting in a tree; note its white rump;  this is really distinctive in flight.. 

Then along came a female, and I was luck enough to catch them feeding, in what must have been some kind of mating ritual..

It's been a long time since we saw bullfinches around here.  We only saw one once last year, over at Darnaway.

Feeling really good about ourselves, we were about to head off, when a Blackcap started to sing above our heads - and in the same tree that the bully was in five minutes earlier.

Notice here the black cap that gives it its name.  this bird has a beautiful bubbly song, reminiscent of water trickling down a stream.  You can here it sing every time you walk through the quarry off Old Bar Road / Lochloy Road, or when you walk along the river.  The song starts early May and will fade away in July.

Finally - this thrush burst on the scene to cap off a great ten minutes of bird watching!



  1. Wonderful pictures there. My treat this week was a flock of young long-tailed tits that decided to spend a minute or two in a fuschia bush outside the house. They didn't seem to be bothered by me and I got a good luck at them from around four feet away. There seemed to be around a dozen of them. They all looked fairly young, do they tend to flock together from an early age?

  2. Hi and thanks for your comment. Aren't the Long Tailed Tits a great sight in the garden. As for flocking, it is what they do all year round. They always fly around in family groups, often with other famlies. Whenever you hear the tell-tale call (a high pitched zip), look up and watch them flit between branches and trees. When you catch one, look around for the others - they will be there!


  3. The bull finches come regularly to my back garden,it backs onto the Newton woods. They come to the bird bath but don t take any food that I put out

  4. Over the last few days we have noticed a lack of birds and birdsong in our garden and the neighbouring Newton woods also we have seen a buzzard in the woods lately, I know there are buzzards up the road at sandown ,could this be a young one and what are the chances of it taking up residency here? I am worried for the little birds and also the squirrel that is usually a very regular visitor to our garden but we haven t seen it for over a week. It's nice to see the buzzard but not at the cost of every other bird in he vicinity. Any ideas?

  5. Hi Zimmie.

    I have also noticed a distinct drop in activity with the song birds in the last few weeks. This is a normal event for August. Most of these birds moult around this time of year and are often sitting quietly in the trees, hidden by the foliage, and there is so much food around in the wild at this time of year that they don't need to venture into gardens.

    I have noticed the Robin singing (lamenting really) whilst passing bushes and trees, but all other song birds are usually quite now. They begin again in September, the first one I normally here is the Great Tit, and sometimes the Blackbird. The summer migrants have stopped singing over here for another year, we'll have to wait until the end of March / early April to hear them start again.

    I agree that it's grat to see the Buzzard, but I doubt that it would be taking them - Sparrowhawks would be more of a threat (but not as much as the local cat!). I can't answer for the squirrel though, but it's hard to see how the Buzzard would be able to catch it as it scampers around the trees (unless it was out in the open). I hope it comes back soon as they are lovely to watch.

    I hope this helps put your mind at rest Zimmie, let me know if the song birds return in a couple of weeks or so.

    1. Thanks for that I never knew that was what happened at this time of year ,I just put two and two together and came up with 'blaming the buzzard'. I will let you know when the birds return.