More about birds

Mon 21st Oct 2011

87) Male Bullfinch (copy 144px x 180px)I was at the South West Digital Camera and Optics show down the road in Barnstaple yesterday and what a lot of people turned up. Far more than was expected but it was a great day. I talked to one man who told me he saw a newborn red deer calf up on Exmoor on 30th September. Now that’s very unusual as you expect to see them in June. He was a bit concerned as there was no mother with it. He’s been back to check on it and has filmed it four times in all.

Last time he saw the calf it was still quite small and covered in the familiar spots of a youngster but he was please to see that it was no longer alone. With it was a pricket, that’s a two year old stag. It’s good to know it’s got company now. I do hope that little calf survives the winter. If we have a mild one it may stand a chance.

With November three parts gone and colder weather surely not far off, it’s a good time to be cleaning out your bird boxes. Just take out any old nesting material as most birds like to make a fresh start in the Spring.

It’s also a good time to be putting up new boxes. I have the best result when I face them south-west-west or north-west. It’s very important that they aren’t in full sun or the babies will die from the heat. If there is shelter over them then it’s ok so long as the sun doesn’t shine on the hole. Also be sure that they are not next to a bush or tree that a cat can climb up.

I’d recommend boxes with a metal rim around the hole, especially if you have great spotted woodpeckers and squirrels in your garden. They cost a bit more but may make the difference between life and death for your little fledgling family, for these two garden visitors are well know for pecking or gnawing at birds box holes so that they can get inside and carry off the helpless babies.

I’m often asked about where to get little cameras to set up in bird boxes. If you live here in North Devon you can get them at Eggesford Garden Centre. Other than that I would ask around locally or look on the internet.

You may be finding that there aren’t many birds on your feeders at the moment. That’s because there are lots of berries about. I’m pleased to say that I’ve recently seen three pairs of bullfinches within three miles of each other. This is a really good sign.

I’ve been hearing that there are lots of house sparrows about which is also good news. It’s not so long ago that there was concern about them becoming scarce. Another bird I’ve seen this week is the beautiful goldfinch. I’ve started putting out shelled sunflower seed again up on our land and there’s been half a dozen goldfinches at a time on the ground under the feeders.

Do you remember the cormorant I told you about on the pond a week or so ago? I got a lovely photo of him that you can see below. Well he’s gone now, with a full belly I’m sure.

However, the heron is back so the fish still aren’t safe. There’s also an otter around. I’ve not seen him but there’s a clear track where he slides into the pond so I know he’s about. He always goes in at the same place.

We’ve still got a few water lilies out, which you wouldn’t expect in November, but the bulrushes have all gone to seed now. They’ll stay quite downy until next Spring when the birds will be pecking at them for the soft lining of their nests.

Last week I mentioned I was working on a new DVD. Well I’ve really cracked on and got it finish. It’s called ‘Johnny Kingdom’s Red Deer Watch’ and I’m really pleased with it. It includes film of an amazing stag fight and some stunning white deer. I also spend time explaining how I film the red deer. I hope you like it. If you’d like to know more, have a look on my DVD’s page.

I’ve lots more to tell you but it will have to wait until next week now. Do keep your photos coming for the ‘Friends of Johnny’ page. I do so love seeing them. Have a great week.