Monday, 20 February 2012

.....and the birds of the air........

There was a hard white frost this morning, and as I stood in the dark garden filling up the wells in the bird-table with seed I heard a cry in the silence.  This single sound was quickly answered by others and finally there was the heavy wing-beat of a huge invisible skein of geese as they flew overhead.

There is something magical about the sound of geese flying, the leader calling and a follower from the ranks replying, as they constantly re-align and reposition themselves in a perfect V.

I assume the leader checks that his 'troops' are in formation by the direction from which the answering cry comes.

For this huge convoy to pass in total darkness is beautiful but quite eerie and the oddness of the sound just goes to heighten the affect.

A bird lover all my life, it is only since I retired  that I have had time to really appreciate what a huge difference these fascinating creatures make to everyday life.  Since becoming involved with the British Trust for Ornithology Garden Birdwatch scheme I have paid ever closer attention to sound, colour, habits and all things birdy.

I posted about a visiting woodpecker a few weeks ago, have since had my usual winter contingent of reed buntings, and today, for the first time for many years a male blackcap.

My garden is small, but i feed the birds all year round, varying what I give them according to the season and prevailing weather conditions.  My reward is a hugely varied stream of feathered visitors and all it takes to gather these riches is a glance through my back door a dozen or so times a day.

Recording these visits takes only a second (I have drawn up a daily record sheet which lives on a kitchen work-surface) and I keep binoculars handy at all times.

This information is recorded weekly, then returned quarterly to BTO headquarters and thus a reliable count is kept by all the countrywide participants.

Since the lovely geese were unseen and merely doing a fly-past, not a pit-stop they will go unrecorded except here.

There are so many lovely creatures in our world, it's a pity they get less attention than the not so lovely ones.


  1. enjoyed your post!

  2. I do enjoy the birds, too, Ray. I am happy that I can see so many more of them where I live now. It is quite rewarding. And the geese take turns being the leader, you know, as it's the hardest work. The one in the middle will be replaced by one of the back ones so that it can draft from the others after the leadership stint.

  3. I didn't know about the 'taking turns' Penny. Thanks for that.