Sunday, 24 January 2021

Winter lockdown

Happy days are here again with another six weeks of lockdown which will bring us to early March and the spring migrants. Last year I despaired of hearing willow warbler and it looks like the same again this year if it is extended over Easter. I am still out exercising - mainly along the coastal path but I have mopped up all the expected ticks except curlew and lapwing and the list is now on 48. The lapwing flock which was there in early December has legged it somewhere else and I haven't managed a curlew yet. I'm afraid you are getting a selection of garden birds and an update on the Birdwatch Ireland garden bird survey which runs for 13 weeks and wants to know the highest numbers of each species seen in the garden a week at a time. To date I have logged 28 species including a maximum of  3 blackcaps, 4 bullfinches, 11 blackbirds, 11 starlings, 1 goldcrest, 1 house sparrow and 5 linnets.  Today I had a pair of siskins, the first since 2018, they are not annual and not easily seen but today's cold spell might have helped. I have added herring gulls by putting out mince pies which were past their sell by date. I'm not supposed to count flyovers but there hasn't been anything which didn't drop in for a quick bite.  My spring lockdown list ended up at 31 but that had swallow, house martin and swift on, so  I have basically the same species all year round.

 A couple of rays of light to cheer you up, it is light till five o' clock and I have snowdrops and crocuses in flower in small numbers. Also my outside Christmas lights are still on to provide some winter cheer. Apparently you can keep decorations up until Candlemas which is February 1st. Mine will stay until the batteries run out. I will also throw in a few pictures of the garden as I haven't featured it for a few years. 

Fat block, sunflower hearts and suet pellets at the back on the apple tree

Fat balls and chopped nuts at the garage, softbill food on the table below the solar panel and sunflower hearts in the silver birch.


I ground feed a softbill mix, raisins and mealworms which pulls in the blackbirds, magpies, woodpigeons and collared doves. The tits, finches and smaller stuff use the feeders and occasionally the ground (dunnock and robin especially). Here is a selection of visitors.

Jackdaw, a pair breed in the neighbour's chimney

Herring gull on the lookout for mince pies

Great tit

Hooded crow



Blue tit


Two blackcaps, there was actually another male below the female but I couldn't get all three in at the same time!

Siskin (M)

Siskin (F)

A quick visit to WOW en route to an essential run to Belfast added 7 to the list which has reached 30 - in two visits. The highlight was 300 shelduck and 60+ wigeon as well as rook and jackdaw.

76: Purple sandpiper
77: Stonechat
78: Lesser black-backed gull
79: Rock pipit
80: Meadow pipit
81: Siskin

32: House sparrow
33: Eider
34: Turnstone
35: Redshank
36: Great black-backed gull
37: Pied wagtail
38: Black guillemot
39: Grey heron
40: Ringed plover
41: Dunlin
42: Brent goose
43: Mistle thrush
44: Sparrowhawk
45: Wren
46: Purple sandpiper
47: Guillemot
48: Siskin

24: Wigeon 
25: Tufted duck
26: Coot
27: Knot
28: Black-tailed godwit
29: Jackdaw
30: Rook

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