14 November, 2011

Fun With the Family

Yesterday morning I had a bit of a go at the Patch, but didn't range far as my tendon isn't any better [suppose all this walking on it isn't really helping, is it?]. No birds of note out and about, with the most interest coming from the Garden, where at least 5 Greenfinch [including at least 3 1w] have started up on the sunflower seeds :). We also had an invasion of Starlings! A good 300-strong flock descended repeatedly [though only about 50 could fit in at a time] - giving the palm seeds a severe hammering. They did seem to spill as many as they ate, though, and made quite a mess, the little gits. Seeing them at point-blank range through the back window made up for it; what birds they are! Not at all how they look in most books, you can understand how they can be mistaken for Nutcrackers when they're in their autumn finery.

After all that nonsense, the rare event of a Family Walk called! With the Sisters having decided they want to be involved in more family wandering, an afternoon had been arranged.

Haldon Forest was grey, misty and windy, but the going was reasonable and though a fair pace was set [a mix of keen dog and cold sisters, I feel] I still managed to find some birds. They were all together! A huge band of well over 30; mixed tits, 'crests and finches, plus others. At least 6 and probably 12 or more Redpoll immediately caught the ear and then [when they cold be got on] the eye. Several Chaffinches were accompanied by at least one Brambling [a female]. No sound of Firecrest or warblers among the tits [mostly Blue and Coal] and Goldcrests, but 2 Nuthatches were very vocal, and there was at least one Treeeecreeeeeeper, too. I was very happy. And very left behind... Philistines.

Finishing the loop, it was decided to go somewhere else, as there was still plenty of light left. Mamhead was surprisingly busy for the dingy weather, and the birds were more elusive, with heard-only Siskin and Bullfinches being the best of them. There were a lot of interesting-looking fungi around; having looked them up I think pretty much all of them are poisonous, which is probably why they were still there! Mum's very keen on mushrooms, and always has her eye out for Chanterelles, but no joy this time.

Haldon Forest's a very pretty little bit of woodland, spoilt only by the incessant traffic noise. Oh, and all the dog mines of course.. Both places were rather atmospheric in the reduced visibility, the wet bringing out the colour in the fallen leaves very well, and softening the often stark lines of the plantations. Tilly had her usual whale of a time, including getting tangled up on two saplings overhanging a water-filled ditch - leaving her dangling. Muggins here had to get her loose [which involved straddling said ditch while keeping hold of soggy doggy, taking her extendo-lead off, freeing it and re-attaching it without letting her escape - lots of fun] [[I really hope Sister didn't video it, I haven't dared check youtube...]], though I did nearly have a laugh when a patch of clay-rich mud almost led to Tilly dragging Other Sister off down the track on her backside...

It was a very pleasant afternoon, though I can't help thinking about Red-breasted Mergansers again.. [[Tut tut.]] Oh well, work beckons!

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