A few more frosty nights have brought most of the leaves down and driven even more birds to the feeding station: Blue Tit 5, Great Tit 3, Robin 3, Chaffinch 2, Marsh Tit 2, Dunnock 2, Blackbird 2, Coal Tit 1, Nuthatch 1, Magpie 1, Grey Wagtail 1 – all seen during a 15-minute watch this morning. The Green Woodpecker flew past shortly after the count ended!
Autumn Gold. Groves Coppice is looking very beautiful. The leaning Ash has lost all its leaves, the Major Oak has a patchy covering of rich brown leaves and the Hazels are still more green than brown – but the Silver Birch are downright dazzling in today’s bright sunshine. Their graceful silver branches are laden with leaves of pure gold, all shimmering in the breeze. No wonder she was known as The Lady of the Woods.
Work continues in Groves Coppice, removing Blackthorn which had invaded the second Hazel Coup. In the depths of winter each Hazel will be singled, to leave just one good stem. A couple of years to recover and then each tree will be Pollarded (beheaded) about 5 feet off the ground. The end result will be Wood Pasture – a coppicing technique which allows grazing animals (in this case Roe Deer) to graze underneath an active coppice. Anthea and I gave the first Hazel Coup this treatment several years ago and it is working well. Nothing new, of course, for the Domesday Book tells us that more than half the neighbouring parish of Egton was under Wood Pasture 1,000 years ago.
Mild and dry again with the feeding station still quite busy. A leisurely Sunday breakfast in the conservatory, then: ‘MERLIN!’ Small, fast, blue back, pointed wings, dashed low around the feeders, missed, missed again and off over the woodyard. Colin and Grace looked up from their Sunday papers and said ‘Where?’ – but it was long gone.
The first frosty nights of the winter have brought a flurry of activity to the Groves Bank feeding station. A 15-minute watch this morning (calm, raining gently) produced: 5 Chaffinches, 1 Wren, 4 Blue Tits, 3 Great Tits, 1 Dunnock, 2 Blackbirds, 1 Robin, 3 Coal Tits, 2 Marsh Tits, 1 Bullfinch and 1 Wood Pigeon. No sign of the Nuthatch today, but a handsome male Pheasant was seen hanging around earlier.
Still mild, with a Swallow flying over the garden this morning. A Sunday afternoon walk through Whitby gave excellent views of large flocks of Goths, a most unusual species which has become something of a local speciality (every Hallowe’en in Whitby has now become a Goth Weekend convention)! The East Pier produced 4 Purple Sandpiper sheltering in the concrete joints of the pier, 1 Eider drake just off the East Light, 110 Common Scoter flying past the Bell Buoy and 1 Common Seal in the harbour by Tate Hill Sands.
Ted and Cynthia and I spent the morning in the conservatory enjoying close views of the two Nuthatches, the Marsh Tits and the Grey Wagtail. That evening a fine Roebuck ran up the Groves Bank drive, across the woodyard and into Groves Coppice (see ‘Photographs’ for the geography).
Bought the new oak dining room table and chairs at auction in Whitby. They were made by Tom Whittaker in 1954, next to Littlebeck Wood which is now a Local Nature Reserve owned and managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
I have seen so many birds over the last few days that they were uncountable.
I have seen 3 Grey Squirrels and 1 Rabbit. My Uncle Niall tells me that I missed some other beautiful birds. I hope to come back soon and then there will probably be even more birds. Fergus Carson-Williams (nephew).
A flock of about 30 Redwing flew over the wood – the first I have seen this winter (if you can call this ‘winter’ – I am still only wearing a teeshirt and it’s the end of October)!
Another sad trip to our favourite clearing at the top of the wood – this time to say goodbye to Corrie, our faithful Bernese Mountain Dog for over 10 years. We often told her that she was ‘the most beautiful dog in the world’, but only because it was true. Jays called loudly as they collected acorns and stored them away for later, then a sudden chatter of alarm calls. I turned from my labours just in time to see a hapless cloud of feathers drifting slowly to earth and a heavily-laden Sparrowhawk flying away – but its only Death and Life, or Life and Death…
The morning started well with a male Green Woodpecker feeding on the ground next the car park (as seen from the bathroom)! A fox was encountered as the dog and I walked around the wood and later, over coffee, a Sparrowhawk failed to get its breakfast from the ‘fly-thru’ feeding station.
14 & 15/10/01
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A 15-minute count at the feeding station produced: 5 Coal Tits; 3 Blue Tits; 3 Chaffinches; 2 Nuthatches; 2 Great Tits; 1 Blackbird; 1 Dunnock; 1 Robin and 1 Wren. Weather calm, mild and dry.
One of the young Apple trees we planted in Groves bank orchard a few years ago was so heavily laden with fruit that one branch had snapped off completely and another was bent down to the ground. Another mild, dry day with a Frog or Toad (we get them both here) croaking gently from the garden pond as the sun set. The Tawny Owl began to call from the wood – so mild for mid-October. Isn’t global warming wonderful? (Not).
Driving home about 10pm last night the headlights revealed a Roe Deer crossing Groves Dyke lawn. It ambled across the drive and into the orchard, quite unconcerned by the approaching car. As I crossed the yard the Tawny Owls were calling ‘Ke-wick’ from the big Ash tree behind the house.
This morning there seem to be more Coal Tits that usual (no connection with the deer!), with up to 6 at the feeding station together – perhaps just a family party, or maybe some ‘foreign’ individuals just passing through?
The feeding station (there isn’t an actual bird table as such) was busy with the usual assortment of Robins, Dunnocks, Chaffinches, Cole Tits, Marsh Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits when the Nuthatch put in another appearance. It has been heard in the wood throughout the summer, but only in the last few days has it put in an appearance. It seems to like the sunflower hearts.
While standing in the yard a Kestrel dropped onto the back lawn to catch a bank vole or some other small mammal. It stayed on the ground for a few minutes, its wings encircling its prey, then flew off over the workshop.