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Post Info TOPIC: Simon Ghilks, Dukinfield (Covid-19 Garden Lockdown)


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RE: Simon Ghilks, Dukinfield (Covid-19 Garden Lockdown)
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13/5/2020 Lockdown day 3425 or is it? Maybe Alertup day 1, "confused? you won't be after the next episode of Soap".

Only additions to sightings since the last post have been Swallow, Swift, possibly House Martin around traditional nesting area and finally after singing from all points of the compass for the last month a Blackcap seen picking along the overgrown area on Monday. Has since been heard a couple of times if not in the garden then just over the fence.

Good as the Blackcap is the best sightings for me have been newly fledged birds. Starlings started to appear last week, this morning there were c17 adults and 10 juveniles on the lawn making a right racket, this will go on for a couple of weeks before silence falls only to resume when the next broods appear. Very pleased to see young Blackbirds, 3 yesterday, one minus a tail and another 3 today, all had tails, so at least 4 young. The House Sparrows were bringing their juveniles into the garden last week with minimum 4 seen together. Collared Doves seem to have done well this year, 4 young seen together, possibly 2 broods as 2 had faint collars whilst 2 didn't show any collar at all. I feel there has been a bounce back of this species, they have been very scarce over the last few years when previously they were almost constant visitors.

Robins fledged at least 3 young, unfortunately one flew into the front room window but didn't survive the collision, it was still warm when I picked it up, so sad to see such a subtly beautiful creature this way and to think of all the work the parents put in to get it to that stage only for it to be lost so soon and to a non natural cause.

The Great Tits are feeding chicks in the nest box and I can hear Long-tailed Tits in the Laylandii, so maybe young being fed.

Otherwise things have settled down, we are getting reduced visits from Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock and Nuthatch. A male Bullfinch was on the sunflower hearts twice a few weeks ago. The Great Spotted Woodpecker hasn't been seen since the middle of April but I am still seeing the Sparrowhawk occasionally with evidence of a successful hunt on Monday.

A bat was seen flying at dusk a day before the cold air moved in over the weekend.


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12/4/20 Another week of Lockdown completed, working on site for part of it, nothing new to add until Friday.

A notable visitor on Friday was a Jay that came down to the ground to pick at spilled fat below the feeders. Jay is fairly scarce here but are seen occasionally flying over, I was once woken by a commotion when 5 were in our tree early one morning but to get one coming down to offered food is really unusual here.
Sitting out for breakfast I could hear a Blackcap singing away across the gardens to the rear, we sometimes have them in the garden singing but this one kept its distance. The disappointment of not seeing it was quickly overcome when I heard a couple of snatches of Willow Warbler song quite close and then a few moments later I saw it in our pear tree fliting about for about 5 minutes although it didn't sing again unfortunately. Willow Warbler have only been seen in the garden in 2 years of the past 11 I have been recording, 2013 we had one in the same week in April and a further 3 sightings after dispersal in late summer, another visited in August 2016 so a special sighting for me this year.
Another new sighting came today with 6 Sand Martin heading north east, 4 together quickly followed by another and then another single about 10 mins later. An unidentified duck flew across just before the Martins appeared but no chance to get binoculars on it, we don't have a lot of sky visible from the back garden and anything flying through is quickly lost to view.
I could however keep my eye on a couple of the local Lesser Black-backed Gulls that stared circling over our garden but were within minutes almost invisible to the naked eye as they ascended using a thermal, couldn't think why they would do this unless picking flying insects out of the air. Interesting to watch how quickly they got up to that height though.
Also today a female Sparrowhawk flew over being followed by a group of Starlings and a couple of small passerines.

Of the regular garden birds the Blackbirds have finished their nest although it isn't well hidden and is actually quite exposed so not too hopeful of success for this pair. The Great Tits have been taking nest material into one of the boxes, Blue Tits and Wren both seen collecting nest materials and also the local Nuthatches which are very vocal at the moment.
Not seen much of the Great Spotted Woodpecker this week but I suspect the increased activity in the neighbouring gardens due to the situation and weather might be a factor in this. I have noticed another down side to the lockdown is that folk are doing a fair bit of garden tidying, which means they have been taking out the "scruffy" areas which is favoured by the wildlife, a lot of thinning has taken place at the side and back of us.

Only Butterflies seen this week have been Peacock in the garden and I think Large White and Orange Tip traveling along the road. The first Speckled Wood of the year appeared on Saturday, they have a liking for our garden and we have them present throughout the summer other than a couple of short periods when they don't seem to be on the wing.


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4/4/20 Not much to add to previous sightings before today

2 Song Thrushes were having a dispute a few days ago, can't recall ever seeing 2 together in the garden before. One has been singing from about 5:30 most mornings, sometimes even earlier. I always leave the window open a bit to let the bird song in, much nicer to be woken up this way.

Today saw a couple of additions and really quite scarce for here. First were a pair of Bullfinch nibbling at the blossom on a pear tree, these were quickly followed by a Grey Heron flying low across the back gardens, it did a U turn over us and into next doors where there is a pond, couldn't see if it landed though.
Later in the afternoon a Peregrine flew quite low over the house heading north towards Ashton, I think only the second one I've seen from here.
There seem to be 2 pairs of Blackbirds around, I've seen one pair nest building today. Long-tailed Tits were mating at the top of next doors tree, a pair had been buzzing around a possible nest site a few days ago but not recently also a pair of Coal Tits have a nest near by, seen taking in nest materials.

Forgot to add Black-headed Gull and Canada Goose to the previous list.
Whilst I type this a Blackbird has started singing, a Song Thrush and Bullfinch just moved through and a Greenfinch is now wheezing away, what a wonderful time of year to be doing basically nothing but noting the comings and goings of these extraordinary creatures.

The Starlings and Sparrows a making a good fist of turning the suet pellet feeder into an egg timer, I can barely keep up. We also have at least 3 Woodpigeons roosting nightly in the tree above the feeders but going off the deposits below in the morning I can't see how they're getting much rest.

And now the sound of spring for me a Blackbird chack chack chacking in the evening, superb! I'll just enjoy the moment and forget about the mess that's coming.


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31/3/20

First week of lockdown, think this is going to get difficult. Personally I'm pinning my hopes on it all being over at noon tomorrow, this all feels unreal to me.
Birds seen this week from or in the garden, maximum counts.
4 Jackdaw
2 Carrion Crow
1 Jay
2 Magpie
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker (male)
2 Nuthatch
10 Starling
3 Blackbird, including a stunning mature male, one was singing beautifully nearby last night.
2 Robin
1 Song Thrush
2 Mistle Thrush
4 Greenfinch
6 Goldfinch
3 Chaffinch
1 Goldcrest
1 Chiffchaff
8 House Sparrow
6 Feral Pigeon
6 Woodpigeon
2 Collared Dove
2 Wren
2 Coal Tit
2 Great Tit
3 Blue Tit
2 Long-tailed Tit
4 Dunnock
1 Sparrowhawk, male (speculates regularly by dashing down the drive and targeting the hanging feeders)
2 Lesser Black-backed Gull

A Peacock butterfly and a probable Brimstone seen disappearing over the hedge were seen when the sun was out before the cold air moved in last .
2 Grey Squirrels are nearly always somewhere in or around the garden.




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Our house was built in 1905 and is opposite Dukinfield Park which is a smallish manicured park with some hard playing surfaces, a swing park, cut lawns, flower beds with mature trees quite a few of which are berry bearing trees. We have houses to each side, the back looks across the gardens of the adjacent streets.
The rear garden is around 20' x 70' has a "lawn" surrounded by mature bushes and trees, there is an old apple tree left in "mothers orchard" with a tall berry bearing holly just over the fence behind a 8' high privet hedge. To one side there is a stand of 40' high leylandii, with an old pear tree, a horse chestnut and various thorny shrubs. The opposite side has a drive with a raised bed which is generally a tangled mass of bramble and ivy. The front is barely 6' to the pavement with a few mature shrubs and a couple of 30' fir trees.
The nearest wild area is probably the river Tame about half a mile away.
I have fed birds regularly since 2008, feeders are always topped up throughout the year whenever work allows. Initially I put out peanuts but this soon expanded to niger and sunflower hearts with fats and fruits and a bird bath. I stopped feeding niger and peanuts a few years ago as I was throwing away more than was being eaten and started feeding a seed mix without wheat.
I Have 2 nest boxes in the back garden, we usually have Great Tits use one of them, we also have 2 Sparrow boxes at the front which are regularly used. Interestingly Blue Tits find a route into the roof space above our porch and have nested there many times (more often than not) since we moved here in 1999, there is no obvious hole so I have often wondered if this location is remembered by the generations that have hatched there previously, almost like cultural learning.
We get visits from all the commoner garden birds with occasional visits from some scarcer finches at the right time of year (non seen this winter however).

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