Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat, please put some berries in the Mistle Thrush's hat

Apologies for the delay in posting this Blog. As I now can appreciate that instant information is paramount to help spotting and the taking of photographs of birds and wildlife in general and before they move on to greener pastures (no pun intended) which is and can be very annoying, especially when you have just missed the last bus (as it where). Reading reports and seeing photos of these beautiful visitors made me want to be close and photograph them for myself.

During the past weeks I have unfortunately just missed (the last bus) the flocks of birds in many locations around Liverpool even driving out to Jodrell Bank (but to name just a few). So on Sunday I ventured further afield to Rhuddlan North Wales, where I found a flock of 200-plus birds still feeding on the berry trees along the path of the small nature reserve there - which is located on the A424, St. Asaph road and junction / roundabout on Station road (A547) which actually runs over the river into Rhuddlan town itself with the castle in the background. You will find the small reserve car park which only holds about ten vehicles opposite the KFC near the roundabout.

While there I was informed by an avid twitcher that the area was sheer bedlam the previous, sunny day (1 Dec) as the whole reserve path was packed out with twitchers and photographers which tended to keep the birds up in the near-by trees - only briefly swooping down to feed, then quickly away again and not settling on the branches feeding freely without being disturbed. Although the weather and light conditions on the Sunday had deteriorated quite a bit. I was fortunate enough to be able to take some reasonable and clear photos between showers. With only a few photographers and onlookers there the birds were quite bold and we were able to approach within 5 or so meters of them by not making sudden movements and talking quietly.

Some bird information:
They will basically feed on berry bushes until the last berry had been eaten unless spooked, but will flit from tree to tree without warning as their fancy takes them. A bit like shopping trolleys with sticky wheels really. They tend not to feed on laden berry trees if there isn't a high vantage point tree near by. As they use this for safety reasons and also can digest their food in peace - which usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes depending on which type of berry they are feeding/digesting on at the time as some have more sugar and moisture content than others.
It was observed that the birds would test each berry by squeezing them in their beaks and if too hard and not ripe enough, would immediately drop them to the ground and then to try and eat another six. Talk about insatiable appetites wasn't in it!

As you can appreciate, their plumage looks as if it has been sprayed on by a professional, as it is so silky and sheer looking and of course that majestic crest on their heads sets the bird off from all other ones in the UK. Also the brightly coloured flecks on the wing edges, tips and tail feathers says it all. Just a magnificent bird of colour and refinement (which is very pleasing to the human eye and, of course, to the camera lens as well)
but from a Mistle Thrush's perspective to a Waxwing's at this time of year while raiding and eating their winter food larder ...

Bah! Humbug! and a sarcastic Merry Christmas to you all, comes to mind.

Last but not least.

Three Santas came riding by (as they do) while we were taking photographs . They had been on a near by charity run or cycle in this case and were on their way home.

I thought it rather apt to include them, as it is that Panto time of the year.
So does that well known term of phrase ... " They're behind you" .... come to mind here ?  ;-)

PS. I returned there again today 5 Dec and only saw six birds  ;-( but there is always next year.

Neil ....


Liverpool RSPB said...

Thanks Neil
Great report


Anna said...

Excellent report and photos, thanks.