February 2016Now that the leaves have fallen it is much easier to see the birds that were previously hidden in the foliage. The number of species seen on my regular dog walks has surprised me. Munday's Close was popular with bullfinches and on Mickley Lanet h e r e were regular sightings of goldcrests busily picking tiny insects from the ivy. Large numbers of blackbirds were picking the remaining haws and in the tops of the bushes redwings and fieldfares were taking sloes. Other birds regularly seen were great tit, blue tit, long-tailed tit, hedge sparrow, house sparrow, robin, wren, chaffinch, goldfinch and a kestrel perched on the power lines. Reports of other birds seen in local gardens include coal tit, magpie, pied wagtail, yellow wagtail, great spotted woodpecker and green woodpecker. The kingfisher is seen regularly flying along the brook.In the field there are always pied wagtails flicking their long tails and of course many of the other birds already mentioned. Russell, the crow, is still around and so are the second brood chicks. They don't seem to have been driven off as were the first brood. The buzzards and kites are still regularly seen, the buzzards often perching in the trees. Brownie, the female pheasant, has finally returned. I thought she had not come back as a lot of other females have been around for weeks. She immediately went to the top of the pecking order seeing off another female that had become hand tame. She has now developed a new strategy by sitting on a rail of the fence while I feed her leaving the others on the ground to retrieve what she drops. A pair of mallard have joined the pheasants at feeding time. It must be the pair from last year as they are not bothered by my presence. A green woodpecker spends time on the ground going through old horse droppings to collect the masses of dung beetles underneath them. A little egret irregularly makes a guest appearance and a lone swan was seen flying overhead. Only one moorhen seems to have survived from the two adults and ten chicks of last year. Were they all lost to the mink? The high winds have caused some aerial acrobatic displays from flocks of rooks as they battle against it. They come to a standstill and hover for a while before wheeling away all the time cawing loudly. When you get thirty or more at a time it seems the sky is filled with rooks. In the garden I spotted an unusual orange and black bug. I took a quick photograph on my phone and went to fetch my camera for a better shot. When I returned it was nowhere to be seen. However the phone picture was enough to identify it as a cinnamon bugwhich apparently is becoming more common in the area. I put out some over ripe bananas and strawberries on the bird table for the blackbirds. They did not get much chance with the strawberries as a grey squirrel became quite partial to them.