nathalie's blog

Patch tick!

Sorry I have neglected this blog once again, but it's been a tad mad around here. I also, foolishly, decided to have a 'net detox over Christmas, which meant it took me ages to catch up afterwards. I have been out lots however, in part to just escape it all, and from 1st January to kick start my patch list. I started with a 2 hour walk in Margravine Cemetery where I managed to find all residents apart from Wren and Greenfinch. I did see a Greenfinch later that day but it took a few more days before I managed to find a Wren. I also managed to find the Coal Tit which was nice as I had not seen it for a while, and I found it in the exact conifer I'd been hoping to find it. And the Redwings were still there, or at least some were, as on New Year's Eve I saw at least 80 of them advancing on the grass like an army, which was quite impressive as the cemetery is not that big!
An unexpected tick by the cemetery that day was a Common Gull, standing on the Woodpecker's aerial on the estate, i.e. the one the Great Spotted Woodpecker drums on in the Spring becoming the talk of the neighbourhood.
The female Peregrine made an appearance around lunchtime, sunning herself, making it 21 for that day. Until the Greenfinch which made it 22 for the first day, on a par with last year albeit with a few different birds.

The next day, being a Saturday morning, I did my usual Thames Path walk and added a few more birds to make it 35 with most of the usual suspects. The most notable thing was that I saw a third adult Great Black-Backed Gull as well as the usual pair, which are currently very busy courting, or at least I assume that's what all this 'barking' is about. A few days previously I could hear them, but just couldn't locate them, until I looked on top of Harrods Depository: they were on top of the flagpoles!

On Sunday 3rd, I was checking if Redwings were still around in the cemetery, and they were making it the start of their 4th week, when 2 Egyptian Geese flew over, a first for me in Margravine, & making it #36.

An early morning visit to the Thames on Tuesday morning allowed me to add Shelduck with one feeding by Crabtree Wharf, not unusual at this time of year, but not that frequent either. Nothing else out of the ordinary, except maybe a few more Gadwalls than previously this winter. I have unfortunately not been able to go and check again since then, but I'm hoping to early tomorrow. We'll see. I finally added Wren for this year as I was almost home, making it #41.

Then yesterday, we were promised some more snow, so I thought I'd go and get some milk before then, and check Margravine Cemetery at the same time. Got to Barons Court having found a few Redwings. I was trying to check them from a distance so as not to disturb them, I shouldn't have bothered, dog walkers do it anyway. The corner shop didn't have any milk so I backtracked and crossed the cemetery again to go to Fulham Palace Road. As I was about half way through, I heard an unusual sound high above in a tree: a Fieldfare! At long last! A patch tick! Grabbed my camera, tried some record shots, but conditions were appalling, and it was just starting to snow quite heavily. Thankfully, it flew over to another tree closer to me, where I managed some slightly better shots.

I also decided to take a record-video. Pretty crappy quality and I wouldn't have bothered putting it up if it wasn't for the goldfinch behind:

Fieldfare & goldfinch in the snow from Nathalie Mahieu on Vimeo.

I have seen them do it between themselves too, is it threat or courtship? But, in this case, it made me think of these passers by in the background who make faces at the camera when someone is interviewed or talking in the foreground. Might be just me, but I find it funny...

That was #42, and #43 came today in the shape of a Kestrel hovering over the hospital.
A pity the Skylark I saw on the foreshore by the supermarket this afternoon wasn't on my patch, but it was nice nevertheless...

Season's Greetings!

I'm off to France tomorrow, leaving the house in the cat's capable paws, and wish you all a very nice Christmas!


(This little chap posed for me last year in Margravine Cemetery in mid-afternoon winter sunshine, a magical moment)

It's happened again!

2 mornings in a row I was by the Thames early morning to see if the cold weather snap had brought up anything interesting, and to put it bluntly it had been pretty boring. Yesterday there was even a total lack of big gulls, apart from Great Black Backed. Not even the regular Lesser Black-Backed.This morning I didn't go because I was due at 11 by Barnes Bridge for another Thames 21 cleanup. Guess what? 2 Red-breasted Mergansers were reported on the river this morning, seen from the Wetland Centre.  Just like the day they reported the Egret, can't remember where I was that day but it wasn't around.  One day...

Still, when I came back from Barnes Bridge, I had a very quick look in Margravine Cemetery, and spotted the Redwings again, about 35 of them. Most (at least 23) were going through the leaf litter, as thankfully the staff haven't taken all those away, but some were also eating berries on the shrubs. And as a bonus I had a Mistle Thrush, pretty much in the exact same spot as Monday morning :)

Rewdings again

8 days on and the redwings are still in Margravine Cemetery.  I estimated at least 25 of them yesterday afternoon, but I had a definite 19 on the ground in my bins at one point. And having watched them fly around the cemetery for a few days, I am now pretty convinced that I had caught a glimpse of some of them on the Saturday on my way to the shops before they'd disappear behind buildings.A combination of the fact that there are not quite as many berries at the top now, them maybe getting a little bit more used to passers by, some sunshine, and I finally managed some much nicer photos of 1 of them:For more photos of this bird, click on the photo above, or here.I have also tried to take photos of them amongst the graves, as I try with any bird in the cemetery as much as possible, as this makes it more location-specific. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is all I get, if I get anything:I did manage however to get a few with graves in the background.Redwing trying to blend in by doing a robin impersonation...To finish, one of our near-obese squirrels, but even with their extra fat they appear to be feeling the cold too, I spotted one taking bark off branches to add to its nest:


It may not be that big a deal elsewhere, but I've seen Redwings in Margravine Cemetery for 4 days now. Considering I'd never seen more than 1 individual at a time before, and that I'd never found them again the next day, it is a big deal to me.I was busy on Sunday with cooking and baking and didn't intend to go out check the birds. But I needed more baking supplies and a quick trip to Chiswick had to be done. On my way to the tube, I thought I'd check the shrubs I'd been keeping an eye on the past few weeks as it was totally covered with berries. So far all I'd seen there were woodpigeons, blackbirds and chaffinches but this time there were this shapes in the foliage at the top, too big for chaffinch, too small for blackbird, so I got my small bins out: redwings, 2, maybe 3 of them!  And they were still there when I came back an hour or so later, but by then the light was pretty bad and the cemetery was going to close.So, bright and early on Monday morning, I was out in the cemetery. It wasn't too bright yet, hence the photos below are not the best quality, especially as they're flighty little buggers and I couldn't get too close.  I initially spotted 1 or 2 on the shrub and then turned left: there were at least a dozen on the ground by the memorial wall!Yum, juicy earthworm! If there is one thing Margravine Cemetery is rich of, it is earthworms, which is probably why there are always lots of blackbirds around, but also why there is a lot of this pretty much every where:I wish the redwings were a bit less shy, more like this individual, which, even though it wouldn't let me get too close, at least it is in the middle outer reaches, which give much nicer photosthan this, high up in the canopy against a white sky...But beggars can't be choosers I guess...On Tuesday, I didn't have much time, but managed to spot 7 of them around the shrub. Today, however, I took a bit more time at the beginning of the afternoon, in the 'snowstorm'. No sooner had I spotted a few on the ground that they took off, leaf-blowing was starting and the guy was getting close. I followed them from tree to tree and counted up to 19 in 1 and 2 in another at one end of the cemetery. Got my camera out of my bag, but by the time I had it out, a small tractor was entering the cemetery and they took flight, back to where we came. So I followed, spotting 22 Goldfinch in a birch (I think)  on the way.  Relocated a few in the shrub, but then the leaf-blower arrived under there and they took off again... This time, I went back home.

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