Monday, November 2, 2015

Good Garden Stuff

The fog didn’t clear until about 1pm. That would leave about three hours birding before the light failed and the return of the evening mist; not ideal. Meanwhile the garden held a few birds by way of mainly Goldfinches, a species which has been unusually scarce here all autumn. 

When I saw a Nuthatch on the feeders and a Mistle Thrush in the apple tree I decided to do a spot of garden ringing. I didn’t catch the thrush or the Nuthatch but 17 new birds was pretty good for a few hours work - 7 Goldfinch, 5 Coal Tit, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Great Tit and 1 Blue Tit. 

Goldcrest

Great Tit

Goldfinch

This autumn has seen good numbers of both Goldcrests and Coal Tits, two species chiefly associated with conifer forest. Although not strictly migratory the Coal Tit is known to experience irregular irruptions caused by food shortages in their preferred woodland habitats. It is during such times that Coal Tits move into gardens and other habitats and when bird ringers catch more Coal Tits than they normally would. The majority of birds are found to be first years and out of an catch of say 15 or 20 Coal Tits it is normal that 99% are birds of the year and that an adult is the exception to the rule. 

“Coal” in the bird’s English name may simply refer to the mainly black and grey colour compared to the more colourful and common British tits, the Great Tit and the Blue Tit. A German name for the Coal Tit is "Tannenmeise" which translates as "fir tit", perhaps a more suitable descriptive name for a species able to exploit an otherwise birdless coniferous forest? 

Coal Tit

The Coal Tit has a huge distribution range occurring from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from boreal forests north of the Arctic Circle to the montane forests of the Himalayas, China and Taiwan. It’s a species to benefit from extensive planting of conifers in Ireland and Scotland by extending its UK range into the Western Isles of Scotland and the Atlantic coast of Ireland and so increase its overall population. 

Range and Distribution of Coal Tit

From Wiki and for my North American readers who will note that the Coal Tit is almost identical to one or more of their chickadees - "Most authorities still treat the Coal Tit Periparus ater in the subgenus Periparus, but the American Ornithologists' Union considers Periparus a distinct genus. This is supported by mtDNA cytochrome b sequence analysis; Periparus seems to be closer to the Poecile tits and chickadees than to the Great Tit and its relatives."

The fog returned for overnight and tomorrow morning but be sure that there are more birds, photos and news soon.

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.

14 comments:

Charlie Bowman said...

Very foggy mid afternoon around Pilling Lane Ends and Cockerham. A few nights of bonfires will surely exacerbate these conditions!

Margaret Adamson said...

Foggy here also but you did OK for birds in the afternoon. It seems to have been a great year for Goldcrests and Lesser Repolls.

Hawkeye BrownDog said...

Hi Y'all!

What wonderful colorful birds y'all have! The colors remind me of tropical birds. Here in the southeastern USA we have beautiful birds but they are almost plain compared to your garden friends. I could have mistaken the coal tit for our chickadee.

BrownDog's Human

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) Lovely photos of all the birds. I envy you seeing the Goldfinch in your garden. It's such a colourful bird, and to see seven in just a few hours must surely be a record. The Coal tit is a regular visiter to my garden and dozens come to the feeders every day, but I have never seen a Goldfinch.:(

Les Fous du Cap said...

Great shots ;-)
Céline & Philippe

Mary Cromer said...

Your Coal Tits always remind me of our little Chickadees. They are really sweet little wee birds. The Yellow Wagtail image for your banner is absolutely brilliant Phil. You have a great eye and are very good at getting sharp images. Have a wonderful Wednesday~

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Sweet little guys! The coal tit is adorable even if it is NOT related to my favorite little bird , the chickadee ( I was probably one of those who mentioned the resemblance in your previous post.) And, as always, I will mention that "your" goldfinch is much more colorful than " ours.

Adam Jones said...

Great to see how small the Goldcrests actually are in the hand.

HOOTIN ANNI said...

You did good. And all in your garden area? Perfect.

Oh we've had lots of fog too. But I really like it. Except when the fog is so thick there is an 18 car pile-up on the interstate!!!

Have a great day birding if your out and about today, Phil.

David Gascoigne said...

I'll tell you how similar the Coal Tit is to the Black-capped Chickadee we have here. On our recent trip to the UK whenever we saw one we would reflexively say Chickadee! We knew, of course, what we were seeing, and often didn't bother to correct each other. It sure sounds different, however.
We can overlook this one episode of banding in the garden, Mr Backslider Slade, but we hope that this does not signal a descent into slothfulness. We will still expect you to struggle out of bed, dark and early, swig down a quick coffee (or maybe tea) and haul yourself out to your charabanc, whence you will gleefully speed off to meet up with your colleagues for a banding bonanza in the wild.

Marie C said...

What a great success of banding in the back yard! A huge variety of birds, including the ones you mention that were not banded. I think it's interesting that the Coal Tit is so much like our Chickadees! Great post!

sandyland said...

educationally beautiful as ever

jandi said...

Beautiful little birds!

Chris Rohrer said...

Another great report from the field. They DO look like our chickadees! Some newbies for me. You've posted a Goldcrest before on your blog and these birds are fascinating to me.....reminding me of our kinglets here in the US.

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