Visit from female great-spotted woodpecker

Bramblings, chaffinches and a greenfinch under the feeder

The female great-spotted woodpecker at the peanut feeder

I have three main feeding stations in my garden and the birds seem to go round them in the same rotation. They start at the front of the house until they clear the feeders there, then to the largest black sunflower seed feeder at the back, then to the smaller one. Yesterday was the first day they failed to empty all of the sunflower seed feeders, with the one at their last port of call remaining quarter full. I was away much of yesterday and wonder if one of the sparrowhawks had paid a visit. I’ve not seen one, or evidence of a kill, in the past few weeks so I had a walk through the wood, but no piles of feathers to be seen. Maybe the birds just weren’t so hungry yesterday.

At the front this morning there were dozens of chaffinches, greenfinches, a robin, a male blackbird and four bramblings feeding on the ground, getting the remnants the greedy and careless coat tits, great tits and blue tits were jettisoning overboard in their rush to feed. It’s great that brambling numbers at the feeders are increasing; I’ve only ever had four or more when there is snow on the ground.

I can see the logic in birds rushing to feed (as per the tit family) since there is serious competition at the feeders. What I can never work out is why my khaki Campbell ducks all rush around. I’ve just watched them running in single file from the top of the wood right down to their shed where the food supply is in a basin. Why do they run when they have the whole day at their disposal? It’s not as if they had work to go to or a bus to catch, or anyone was going to take away their food (apart from a robin and a male blackbird that go into the shed from time to time). They are a constant source of entertainment when they are waddling about, unnecessarily, at high speed (for ducks). Another source of amusement for us is when they start to quack in unison, as if one of them had told a good joke and they are all enjoying the punch-line. I really should stop writing such anthropomorphic nonsense!

The male great-spotted woodpecker has visited the peanut feeder several times, but three times this morning I’ve watched the female (without the crimson patch on the back of the head that the male has) filling her belly with peanuts. I even managed a photo of sorts through the office window, since they are shy birds and going outside would have scared it away. I’d hoped for a photo with one of the red squirrels in the background since they were scurrying around in the wood but they failed to co-operate.

In  the time I’ve been typing this (and had a cup of tea) the finch entourage, complete with coal tits as unwitting food suppliers to the lowly chaffinches, greenfinches and at least one brambling, has moved round to feeding station No 2. No doubt they’ve scoffed the offerings at the front of the house.

Since I’m quite enjoying doing this blog I intend to gradually post a chapter or two, or parts of chapters, of my earlier books. Since I mentioned earlier about sparrowhawks and their avian diet I’ll make that the first.

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