Tom Gray’s Nature Notes: Where have all the birds gone?

Tom Gray
Tom Gray

As the unseasonal spell of mild weather ended this mid-month, I was struck by the general absence of tits, whether Coal, Great, Blue or Long-tailed, in my garden, thus leaving the hanging baskets as full as they have been for the last fortnight.

I presume that these regular visitors have been able to find enough natural food in woodland and hedgerow and have no need of supplementary winter fare.

While we have had no sign of the hoped for influx of Waxwings coming from Scandinavia, and there seems to be some evidence that the mild weather prevailing in eastern Euope has delayed any need for departure of some geese and swans to milder Scottish climes, many of the geese which have already arrived at the Loch of Strathbeg and on the Montrose Basin, where they are present on the latter site in record numbers of 63,000, have stayed put where they arrived without cause to move south over Fife skies. Indeed many wildfowl are reported to be comfortable enough so far to remain on lands bordering the Baltic Sea.

However, I was intrigued by an unusual event on Sunday last when two pigeons settled side by side on my bird table. The Wood Pigeon, or Cushie Doo, a regular visitor, was readily identified by the white ring on its neck, and show of white wingbars when it flew off. I had to look up my bird book to check out the other bird which was a much plainer grey-blue bird and bore no such pattern. It did not stay long on its own, but next time I’ll know to look out for the two small black stripes on each wing which will confirm the identity of a Stock Dove, to be added to my garden bird list.