Backwell Environment Trust

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Viv 1 Neo crBird Sightings and Other Things !

Early autumn seemed an ideal time to start our new Bird blog (and occasional other sightings). During our regular visits to the woods we are thrilled to spot all sorts of flora and fauna and often stop to gently investigate.  We could write reams about all the different species we discover.  However this blog by bird watcher Viv will concentrate mainly on the birds of Badgers Wood and Jubilee Stone Wood - for those keen to learn more about the noises often found high up in the canopy.

Monday 20th November  8.30 – 9.30 a.m.

Late October and early November have been rather quieter for birds.  The rain, wind and cloud cover have been discouraging and many birds have been quietly sheltering or going about their business – and no doubt taking the time to enjoy the garden bird feeders. 

However the weather has eased at last.  As I approach the cabin I can hear the busy chatter of Great Tits – offering up their wide variety of calls and song.  These along with the Blue Tits, with whom they are often to be found, are in very good numbers in both woods – enjoying both the dense  scrub and bark of the tall trees for foraging and for safety.

Turning left at the Cabin and heading for the Layers (reached by a set of steep steps to the left of the Cabin and taking you up to wonderful views over North Somerset) a Robin is singing out loud and clear from the spindle tree still in ‘bloom’.   Then I catch snippets of a song, sounds of a bird warming up its syrinx (the bird version of our larynx) for the morning and not quite singing in key – most likely a young bird singing its first autumn tunes. 

Song ThrushIt’s a Song Thrush hiding in the bushes at the top of the Layers.  It sings in breaks and doesn’t quite complete its musical phrases but it’s a great start for a chilly morning.  Often shy and timid this bird is especially so and flies off as soon as I appear. 

Reaching the top of the Layers I progress through the Yew trees, hopeful of the sight of a Goldcrest and I’m not disappointed. Goldcrest

I stand quietly still and soon their high pitch seep-seep-seep can be heard approaching.  A family of about 5 or 6 dart across to, hang and then seem to tumble from one Yew Tree branch to another.  These are their favourite trees and they, like other birds, are still enjoying the remainder of the berries.

But I’m not to be allowed to stand for long.  I’m disturbed by an angry squirrel – chuntering and barking behind me.  As I can’t see another squirrel around I can only assume that I’m on his patch.  His tail is flicking madly and his fur is on end.  I move on to allow him some space.

GoldfinchI pass on through the tall trees and reach the Quarry top.  The chip of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker can be heard deep in the woods, Goldfinches twitter as they fly over my head and the Jackdaws and Ravens around the Quarry squawk and honk.

Late autumn has come at last with its wonderful sights, sounds and colours and with the promise of drier sunnier but colder days to come.

Monday 9th October  8.30 – 9.30 a.m.

A beautifully mild start to the week – 19C, sunny with light winds.  The birds are singing loud and clear as I arrive.  There is much bickering today as the autumn song picks up tempo and the new younger birds find their place in the hierarchy.

Three Mistle Thrushes can be seen and heard having a real set to high up but close to the cabin.  Their alarm call is very distinctive and resembles a football rattle or machine gun.  As shy birds this was a rare sighting.


Nuthatches, on the other hand, are plump birds about the size of a Great Tit and resembling a small Woodpecker - with a distinctive blue-grey on top and chestnut on the sides.  Agile with a beautiful call they are very much at home in both of the reserve woods.  This morning their call is ringing out from high up in the trees as they dart from tree to tree digging insects out of the bark.  They have a fondness for nuts (of which there is a plentiful supply this year) so there is every hope they will continue to thrive.

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