As November draws to its end, I am reliably informed that Redpolls have returned to the hanging baskets of nuts in at least one Glenrothes garden though disappointingly not to my own.
Meantime the greyness and autumnal morning mists, as well as the cost of petrol, have persuaded me to remain housebound and my wildlife observations have been largely confined to hearing the lonely call of a lost(?) Pinkfooted goose emanating from the darkness of an evening sky and Mrs Gray’s report of a small skein of unidentified grey geese passing high over the town centre last Friday.
As if to confirm that the real winter is on its way I watched from the comfort of my conservatory as a Robin hopped the length of our garden wall to suddenly and unexpectedly be confronted by another of the same kind which was feeding on the debris which lies on the ground below the nut basket which is exploited by local Blue tits.
The immediate reaction of both Robins was to puff out their red breast feathers and face up to one another as they embarked on a territorial dispute. After a few seconds both flew up to nearby high points, be it clothes pole or fence post, and continued to outstare one another, before the incomer conceded by disappearing into a convenient bush and passed through the fence into the security of nextdoor’s garden.
A Robin is very intolerant of the red breast of any other Robin entering on its home territory, whether male or female which are indistinguishable in appearance and behaviour at this time of year, but we can look forward to the cheery notes of our resident Robin’s song even on the coldest and darkest days of winter, as I hope you can too.
In spring they shall loose their aggression towards one another and change their behaviour patterns to allow cooperation for nesting and the raising of a family with a mmber of the other sex.
There are reports from the far north of the arrival of at least a few Waxwings in Shetland at least. Please get in touch with myself or the Gazette reporters if you come across these exciting crested birds in Glenrothes as they feed on Service tree berries or in Cotoneaster hedgerows.
*Tom Gray’s Natures Notes appear in the Glenrothes Gazette each week