Over the years this particular walk has been one of the more variable in terms of the numbers who turn up – spending a few hours watching birds in a biting wind on a cold winter’s day is not always the most inviting prospect. So I was glad to see that the forecast for this year’s walk was for relatively balmy spring-like weather. My optimistic view was reinforced by the amount of noisily busy bird behaviour we had observed on the previous day’s work party.
The morning of Saturday 27 February was cold, dank and a bit dismal – not at all inviting. So naturally 15 people turned out for the 2016 Winter Birds guided walk in Hillhouse Wood, West Bergholt. This was the largest number that I can recall for this walk. It is one of the most variable of the ones I lead, both in terms of what we see and how many attend. One year there was just two of us. I was glad to see that Linda Firmin, Jo’s widow, had turned up, as if there is anything to see she will spot it.
From the viewpoint of a plant that produces berries the birds that eat its berries can be grouped into two – the ‘good’ ones and the ‘bad’ ones. The basis for this grouping lies in the reasons why plants commit all the effort into producing berries – to get their seeds dispersed to new growing sites. This is supposed to work through a bird eating the berries, digesting the ‘pulp’ part, and then either regurgitating or defecating the seed(s) back out. Birds that do this are called ‘Seed dispersers’ and are therefore ‘good’. The various thrushes are in this group. Continue reading →
We all associate the various thrushes (Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush Fieldfare and Redwing) with eating berries. But are these the only ones? A few years ago Barbara and David Snow undertook some detailed fieldwork in the Oxfordshire area to find out. Continue reading →