The time for birds to pair up
THE relatively mild winter should ensure that good numbers of small birds have survived to start raising families.
One of the birds which has been regularly visiting my garden feeders over the past few months is the coal tit, which must have benefited immensely from the seeds and peanuts on offer.
This easily overlooked but relatively common member of the tit family resembles a cross between a great tit and a blue tit. However it is the size of the latter and less colourful than both of its cousins.
The easiest way to identify a coal tit is by the obvious white stripe on the back of its neck.
The top of the stripe can be seen in this fine photo by Mark Walpole.
Coal tits feed largely on insects and larvae during the warmer months and are one of those few birds which store food in a winter cache.
They can often be spotted among small flocks of tits as they move around woodland edges and parkland searching for titbits.
They are busy little birds and tend not to dwell too long on the feeders, just long enough to pick up a seed or two.
The coal tits will be pairing up now, along with many other birds.
On a country walk last week I saw lots of familiar birds in pairs including yellowhammers, grey partridges, mistle thrushes and also the notso-common corn buntings.
Some birds, clearly, are still looking for partners. One of the delights of the walk was listening to a song thrush singing his heart out at the very top of a high tree.
It’s the song which regularly used to welcome us to a new day when we awoke from our slumbers in our youth, but sadly it is now heard rarely.
From birds to frogs, and my pond is awash with frogspawn.
I’ve not got as much as last year, certainly at this stage, though there will soon be many thousands of new arrivals in the pond. At the same time, last year I finally found a method of eliminating the annoying duckweed from the surface of the pond, by using a small metal colander as a scoop.
If the duckweed returns I will continue to remove it, which means that there will be fewer hiding places for this year’s tadpoles.
So I must hope that enough tadpoles avoid the beady eyes of the blackbirds in order to develop into frogs and maintain the reproduction cycle.
Eric would like to hear from readers about what they have seen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org