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Purple on the rocks

  I have the real pleasure of writing my first blog post of 2022 about a trip to Battery Point, Portishead, Bristol to photograph Purple Sandpipers (Calidris Maritima). As many of my readers will know I love waders probably above all bird species and so when I had the opportunity to get some pictures with my good friend Paul Joy of this rare, specially protected and very confiding wader species that winters in the UK coastland I was really excited. Up until this point I had never seen a Purple Sandpiper. They are small waders, bigger than a Dunlin but slightly smaller and less robust than a Turnstone.  They migrate to the UK in the winter from as far away places as Canada, Greenland, Svalbard, Fennoscandia and Russia. They then spend their time along the coasts roosting and feeding on various rocky outcrops. They have a preference for rocks covered with seaweeds where they forage for insects, molluscs and crustaceans. They get their names because of a Purple sheen that can be seen in t

The Garden Raider

My garden feeding station has been very busy lately. I can not monitor the feeding station all day and just get the odd glimpse every now and then,  but I must say in recent weeks it has been busier than usual. The torrential rain we have been experiencing in South Wales all week has really put the pressure on the garden bird species. The cold and wet nights must be causing them to burn their fat reserves they use to keep themselves warm overnight to nothing by sunrise.

As soon as day breaks the birds start arriving at the feeders. I am feeding them a combination of sunflower hearts and a red coloured fat/berry suet mix.  It seems to go down a hit with the small birds.

I get Blue, Coal, Great and Long Tailed Tits throughout the day. Robins, Blackbirds and Dunnocks are regular visitors and tend to prefer being ground fed. Woodpigeons are like my gardens equivalent of hoovers as they eat up anything on the lawn. I have one feeder that is just for mealworms and this attracts the Starlings and Robins. Fatballs are a favourite of most of the small birds and Starlings. The other week I had a male Blackcap on the fat ball feeder which was quite unusual. Some of these warblers don't migrate and choose to stay close to their summer breeding grounds.

For months now I have had a Grey Squirrel that regularly visits and gorges on the sunflower hearts. I should imagine it should be thinking about hibernating soon as we have reached the Winter equinox today.

All this activity was sooner than later going to attract the Sparrowhawk again. It did the other day. For once it occurred when I was kind of ready for it. There I was waiting for the microwave to ping to let me know my lunch was ready. then suddenly all hell broke loose out in the garden. Out of nowhere came a Sparrowhawk. It was the same bird that visited last month. The bird looks like a juvenile female to me.

The garden birds when into full panic mode scattering in all directions and all I could hear was the battering of wings and high pitched alarm call of a Blackbird.

My gardens raider hurtled around the garden and landed on my pile of bamboo canes. She then propelled herself straight into one of my garden bushes and all I could see was Sparrows fleeing for their lives out of it. After shaking the bush down the hawk came out looking rather miffed. There is a defiance and determination in that Sparrowhawks eyes. She does not give up easily. That Carmelia bush was the focus of her attention and she returned several times to it - trying to flush out anything that dared to hide in it.

She then perched directly on top of my fat ball feeder looking rather wet before finally giving up. The last I saw of the hawk was when she perched up on top of a neighbours roof,. Then she was off - no doubt having found alternative potential prey elsewhere.


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