28 Sept 2022

Wild About Wildlife: Bird song of early spring

Wild About Wildlife: Bird song of early spring

Greenfinches are a rare sight in garden these days Picture: Pixabay

AFTER all the snow and rain nature was just as excited as me to be able to get out and enjoy the spring. A pair of argumentative goldfinches have been hanging around for the last week and bringing a touch of the exotic to the peanut feeders.

I recently met a man in the pet food store and we got chatting about birds while waiting in the queue. He lives up near the woods and sees plenty of birds. He likes to buy Nyger seeds in bulk as this is far cheaper and the goldfinches go through it fairly quickly. He also has lots of greenfinches and these are rare in my garden these days.

My hooded crow pair come most days to feed with the rooks and jackdaws. They are still incredible wary but are becoming a little tamer. With man as their natural enemy - it pays not to drop your guard for too long.

As I walked along colourful male chaffinches were dotted in trees along the roadside and occasional in mature gardens. They were at various stages of singing and perhaps they are a little rusty after a winter of silence. The males look stunning with a slate blue head, milky white wingbars and a pinkish breast. When seen from below students on nature walks often confuse the robin with the chaffinch due to the reddish underparts.

Male blackbird have been very quiet and they have probably been focusing on surviving the cold. The females are far more active. And I saw several on my walks hopping out of suitable nesting spots. I am keeping a close watch to see when they start to carry nesting material.

A pied wagtail was foraging in the yard of my neighbour’s farm. Around a field gate they also leave vegetable peelings and fruit. This is eaten by hungry birds and I have often seen rooks, magpies, chaffinches and blackbirds here. Occasionally late at night as I return home after a bat walk I have seen a fox or badger. Wild creatures do like vegetables in their diet and it balances out the seeds, nuts and meat.

I only heard one wren and this bird does suffer a high mortality rate in very cold and wet weather. Their small size means they use body heat very quickly and there are few insects around to replace the lost calories.

Members of the thrush family were singing. The loud and exuberant song of the song thrush echoed along the valley. Mistle thrushes have a more mournful song, as if they can’t make up their minds, whether to welcome the spring or not.

There was only one pair of jackdaws and the rest were probably at my feeders and taking full advantage of my absence. In a field a small group of 15 rooks were feeding in a confined area. They use their large powerful beak to root up soil invertebrates.

My last stop was by a long hedge leading up to a house perched on a hill. This is the domain of a noisy flock of housesparrows. The males and females were chattering away and enjoying the sunshine.

On my way back I heard the faint song of the reed bunting. It was a few fields down in one of the last remaining wetland areas. Later in the year the males often perch on the electricity wires to sing and defend their nesting locations.

Upcoming events

Living Limerick with Castleconnell Tidy Towns: Reducing food waste and the benefits for climate and wildlife will take place on March 5 from 7.30-8,30pm. Coolbawn bar room at the Castle Oaks Hotel.

An Taisce Living Limerick and the Tree Council of Ireland: Explore the trees of the University of Limerick on March 21 from 11am-1pm. Meet at Stables.

Discover the trees and their wildlife of Curraghchase Forest Park on March 22 from 11am-1pm Meet at the carpark.

For More or 089 4230502. Albert is also available to do walk/talks with schools, tidy towns, youth and community groups

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