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Birds in Winter

Several people have complained to me recently, that there have been fewer small birds visiting their gardens this year. I also have noticed that trend, especially in late summer and through the autumn. In the last few weeks however, this has dramatically changed, both at home in Rowton and from my visits in the Village. At home, as I have mentioned previously, we have up to twenty house sparrows, coming to feed. They hide in the hedgerow and pop out to feed when they think that there is no danger. They devour fat balls, enhanced suet pellets, or sunflower hearts, sharing the spoils with robins, dunnock and several variety of the titmouse family. Coal tits seem to have done remarkably well this year everywhere I’ve been, and this autumn have been regular visitors to Croft Close. Long tailed tits, blue and great tits are also regular visitors, and we were also delighted to see a female great spotted woodpecker this month. These delightful birds are well known for their habit of drumming on trees in spring, but they can just as easily creep up on nut feeders and hang there feeding without a sound. You just have to be fortunate to see them.

Great spotted woodpeckers have the habit of flying to the base of a tree, often conifers as seen in the photograph, and then crawl up the tree using an additional claw at the back of their feet for balance. Unlike the nuthatch photographed, that can climb both up and down the trunk of trees, or on feeders. Nuthatches also have a very loud call, often displaying on the Village Green in Christleton or on trees outside the High School. Their calls are extremely loud, often described as a loud chwit-chwit or more usually, kee- kee- kee. We are still having regular visits from a sparrow hawk in our garden, but I was thrilled to spot a barn owl near Brown Heath recently, on my way from a meeting in the Village late one night. I have also been very aware of buzzard (s) coming into the village and being seen low down on hedgerows. The close up photograph shows you the powerful beak that they use to capture their prey.

We had great excitement in November when several groups of mute swans appeared. One was spotted on the River Dee at The Groves, with a very distinctive facial feature. This was followed by an unringed pair, and then three mature swans at the Pit at Littleheath. Many of you will have heard me talk about the ringing of swans at the Pit or on the canal in Christleton. So much information can ensue from the study of their leg rings. These can be metal, or a plastic coloured darvik rings. In Cheshire we used blue darvic, with white numbers or letters for many years, followed by the current green style rings. Swans ringed at Christleton have appeared in places as far away as Rhyl, Caernarvon, Douglas Harbour on The Isle of Man, Lough Neagh in Ireland, Glasgow International Rowing Lake, Fairbairn Ings in Yorkshire, Gloucester Docks and Slimbridge, and on the River Thames. Image our delight when one of the swans seen at the Pit on Sunday Dec 3rd, metal ring W48699 was found to have been ringed at Caversham on the River Thames in Surrey. This is a distance of 231km. It was being chased away, onto the ice covering most of the Pit, by the other pair. One of these was a Cheshire green ring CPN4, ringed at Bottom Flash Winsford in 2021.

Swans as many of you will know have been the emblem of the Village since at least 1737, and it was so exciting to see them on the Pit even if only for a couple of days. I’ve also illustrated examples of how the swan is featured in other places, eg. Stratford on Avon and Buckingham, and I also show an image of a length of wallpaper with a swan motif design I saw recently at a Museum in Lancashire. My favourite swan image for this year however, was an oil painting of a swan painted by our granddaughter Amelie. I had it made into a letter card to support our village Christian Aid Project for Bangladesh, and the sales of the card raised over £500. This was a great joy to us, after the disappointment of seeing the six cygnets released at the Pit by the RSPCA at Nantwich in November 2022, die from avian flu, a disease which is still having a devastating effect on our wildlife population all over the UK. That incident occurred over the weekend of the 3rd December 2022, exactly a year to the day, when the three mature swans including CNP4 & W48699 called in to The Pit. Seasons greetings to everyone. David PS
Keep your eye on ducks swimming towards the bushes at the back of the Pit. I’ve had a count of over 20 shoveler there this month.

  • Greater Spotted Woodpecker

    Greater Spotted Woodpecker

  • Greater Spotted Woodpecker

    Greater Spotted Woodpecker

  • Coal Tit

    Coal Tit

  • Coal Tit

    Coal Tit

  • Nuthatch


  • Nuthatch


  • Chaffinch


  • Chaffinch


  • Barn Owl at Hockenhull

    Barn Owl at Hockenhull

  • Buzzard at the Platts

    Buzzard at the Platts

  • Buzzard - close up

    Buzzard - close up

  • Mute Swan Cop

    Mute Swan Cop

  • Mute Swan on the ice

    Mute Swan on the ice

  • Swans on Christleton Pit - Ice December

    Swans on Christleton Pit - Ice December

  • Swan chased onto dry land

    Swan chased onto dry land

  • Mute Swan W48699

    Mute Swan W48699

  • Aggressive male CPN4

    Aggressive male CPN4

  •  Swan ringed as W 48699

    Swan ringed as W 48699

  • Swans - Pair CPN4 & mate

    Swans - Pair CPN4 & mate

  • CPN4 Swan ringed at Winsford

    CPN4 Swan ringed at Winsford

  • Feeding station December 2023

    Feeding station December 2023

  • Cob busking Christleton 2008

    Cob busking Christleton 2008

  • Cob busking 2014

    Cob busking 2014

  • Swans captured in steel at Stratford on Avon

    Swans captured in steel at Stratford on Avon

  • Swans on Wallpaper

    Swans on Wallpaper

  • Mute Swan Love Song

    Mute Swan Love Song

  • Swans - symbol of Buckingham

    Swans - symbol of Buckingham

  • Mute Swan Painted by Amelie Mander

    Mute Swan Painted by Amelie Mander

  • Swan Family Christleton

    Swan Family Christleton


Wildlife Watch December 2023

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