I look out of my patio doors and see 26 Goldfinches squabbling over the feeders, 2 Blackbirds eating berries, 8 Long Tailed Tits fighting the Blue and Great Tits on the fat cakes, 2 Robins chasing each other, 4 fat Pigeons hovering up the dropped seeds, 2 magpies and 5 Dunnocks as well as 2 Pied Wagtails, not to mention the hungry hordes of Starlings. All this in my small garden in Stockmoor, and contemplate how wonderful nature is and how lucky we are.

I am a keen bird watcher and have lived on Stockmoor for 10 years and have been a constant watcher in the area and especially the Country Park. I have spotted 87 species of bird in and around the Country Park, including my garden fly overs, not bad for a local patch. There have been rare birds such as Red Kite, Rough-legged Buzzard, Merlin and Wood Sandpiper. But there are many resident birds that we can all see. Winter may not provide the variety of birds but in this time of Lockdown we can exercise in the Country Park as part of our own mental wellbeing.  With the Country Park having a “hair cut” there are lots of open space and few leaves on the trees and bushes allowing better views. One of our winter visitors is the Redwing, a small Thrush which arrives in flocks to devour our berries. These are usually seen flying away as you approach trees, their red underwing just showing. A slightly bigger cousin is the Fieldfare, grey head and rump. Both these bird are Scandinavian visitors. The tiny Wren flits about in the lower parts of the bushes.

Our rhynes and water areas provide good opportunities for close up views. Many have seen and fed the Mute Swans and Mallards on the lake. Have you noticed a small diving bird there and wondered what it is? Well it’s a Little Grebe, or Dabchick, which did breed there last summer. They raised 2 chicks and it was interesting to see how the parents kept the chicks out of the main area when the gulls were about. Herring, Black Headed and Lesser Black Backed gulls use the lake as a stopover before heading out to Bridgwater Bay.

Around the lake and in the rhynes you will see the Moorhen, several families were raised, their white tail sticking up at the back. No one can miss the majestic Grey Heron as it glides over and occasionally there is the small but delightful white Little Egret. Watching them both fishing is fascinating. And so is our resident Kingfisher, so lucky if you can see it perched. More to follow next time.

For now, consider getting some bird feeders and watching garden birds. Carrots Farm Shop is an excellent source of bird food. On my medium size tree I hang sunflower hearts, peanuts and fat cakes, on the fence a tray with mixed bird seed and from a bush fat balls, and don’t forget water.  No matter where you are the birds will find the food. 

Roger Ballantine

May 2024