January 2015 at Little Marshfoot

The new year started grey, dank and gloomy. Lots of visitors to the garden including a small flock of six goldfinches, and the sparrows and blue tits continue to fight over possession of one of the nest boxes, the sparrows being the winners owing to their larger size.

Starlings flock in the fields opposite, and a few come to eat from the bird table. Sadly, one starling became the casualty of a female Sparrowhawk, who swooped in and caught an unwary bird. Sparrowhawks are beautiful creatures, and their preying on small birds is part of nature’s lifecycle. You know if a Sparrowhawk has taken a bird as they pluck them before eating them, leaving a mass of feathers on the ground. Foxes and cats just eat the lot.

On the 4th two Magpies were seen collecting twigs to create a nest – rather early really.

Continuing very wet, with a few early morning frosts during the month

18th Jan 3 Jays are visiting the garden regularly, these are shy birds and come for the peanuts we put on the ground. They probably roost in the copse about a field away.

January 25th was the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. This was a cold, frosty and grey morning. I did my count at between 9am and 10am, and the results were not as good as I would have liked, nor reflected what we normally see in the garden.

So I submitted the following record: Robins, Blackbirds, Starlings, Carrion Crows, Sparrows, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Jays, Magpies and Collared Doves.

Normally we would expect to add to this list Long Tailed Tits, Goldfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, and 27th Jan Saw a Cetti’s Warbler in the garden. It was eating a black sunflower seed.

These birds are at the northern most limit of their range, in Southern England, and are quite common although generally overlooked as they are just another small brown bird. I have made a resolution to be more aware of little brown birds and unusual song.

January ended with cold, windy days just over freezing temperatures. By the end of the month the Hellebores were in bloom, the snowdrops in full flower, and the Camelias dealing with the frosty nights.