Nature Notes For January 2021

I do hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, as far it was allowed, and that you perhaps enjoyed your own Boxing Day walk seeing as the organised event had to be shelved. We probably all view 2021 with some trepidation but let’s stary positive (but tested negative!!)that we will kick Covid into the very long grass.

Talking of long grass, I encountered plenty of that this week (3rd December) on the resumption of the pheasant season where I ‘beat’ for the local shoot. I appreciate that it’s a hobby that might not appeal to everyone especially when conditions were resembling the monsoons of the Far East, as per yesterday, but the ability to walk in areas off the beaten track and see wildlife that might be otherwise missed, is brilliant.

Yesterday’s event whilst a slog in the pouring rain, didn’t prevent two Woodcock, several Snipe and a Barn Owl from being temporarily flushed from whatever cover they were taking
at the time. Certainly, I haven’t personally seen a Woodcock for perhaps 50 years but the quick flight and long downward pointing bill was unmistakable. There would have been a time once when this gamebird would have been a target but not these days as people that participate in the sport are very aware of the frailties of certain species numbers.
So, whilst pursuing their love of country sports they also help to fund the management of the countryside, maintaining and restoring conditions for birds like the Woodcock to

Jan 2021 Blue Tit Asleep - Terry McAnishThe inevitable cold weather means that our feathered friends rely on us to not only keep them fed and watered until the spring but also to provide shelter, especially very small birds. Terry McAnish has a camera box and sent me this photo of a Blue Tit snuggled down for the night (see right), apparently arriving at 4.30pm each afternoon and staying til gone 7am. As Terry said, ‘It gets more sleep than I do’!

Many thanks also to Nick Harris in Milkingpen Lane who sent me this great photo of a literal charm of Goldfinches on his seed feeder (see left) and this looks like the sort of picture that one might see on a publicity advert for a Bird Feeder company, so good is it!

The cold snap has also produced reports of numbers of Redwings now moving in and feasting on plump red berries on Holly, Pyracanthus and Cotaneaster. Unfortunately wood pigeons are also partial to these and although I know I shouldn’t deny them ‘their right’ to feed on these, most of us I’m sure you’ll agree want to see ‘good birds’ like Mistle Thrushes, Redwings and Waxwings. Expect to see lots of Blackbirds too, many of which will also have come over the Channel from colder mainland Europe. And anyway, if they come now they’ll avoid the passport queues from 1st January! Happy New Year to you all.

Don’t forget to send all your nature-related photos to or ring 01256 321108 for news. For all your bird food requirements, order it from me at ‘Bird Drop-ins’ use the former email address or ring me on 07900 648675 to place an order or get a form.

Rick Bourne