Rural Reading: Birds thriving after a dismal summerBy Adrian Lawson
August 28, 2012
After a pretty dismal summer for breeding birds, things might have had a bit of a turnaround.
The heavy downpours and flooding have forced many birds to abandon their nests. Their eggs have chilled, their fledglings have starved through lack of food, or they have failed to cope with the wet and cold weather.
The swifts long ago packed up and headed south, I spotted a great flock of screaming birds over Broad Street one evening, and the next they were gone.
There are still a few about, and there might be the odd one or two spotted for the next week or so, but mostly migrant birds are heading south after a disappointing summer.
But the resident birds, the blue tits and great tits, the greenfinches and the goldfinches appear to have had another go and managed to raise a brood or two. Certainly based on my garden they have been a lot more successful late in the day.
Suddenly my garden has been busy with loads of drab goldfinches, gorging on niger seed. The black sunflower seed is being eaten by greenfinches as fast as it is in the depths of winter, there are loads of young queuing up in the trees to get a mouthful, and when they have all eaten their fill they start again.
The twittering of visiting long tailed tits is pretty regular, but the number of birds that visit at any one time is enormous. They are impossible to count as they flit among the branches, but there are sometimes as many as 10 or more on a peanut feeder, and there are three peanut feeders.
These birds will all try to raise a second or even a third brood. In fact they were already raising young in early spring, as the weather then was quite benign. Once the deluge started many of these young birds were big enough to survive, and then a late brood has been successful, too.
Meanwhile the sedge warblers and whitethroats that migrated here about the time the rain started have failed.
There are still one or two about, but I have great trouble finding any on my walks. Indeed, the only things of note are other migrants passing through on their way south.
It promises to be a more interesting few weeks ahead, compared to those just past.