Bird Life

  laurie53 20:35 26 Aug 2008

Still plenty of Swallows about, but I haven't seen a Swift for at least two weeks, and this morning I saw a skein of geese.

Do they know something we don't?

  Forum Editor 23:25 26 Aug 2008

but then so do we.

I don't think we should start crediting geese and swifts with too much intelligence - they don't 'know' anything we don't. They react to low temperature and shortening daylight hours, plus the availability or otherwise of food supplies.

  Brumas 23:55 26 Aug 2008

I have seen more wrens, delightful perky little birds, in and around the area at the bottom of my garden.
This is the area where I have the beech hedge growing behind an old shed, on the banks of the burn - an area I tend to let grow wild.

"Do they know something we don't?"
Yes, they know they have found a safe haven where they will be not disturbed. I saw a raggedy cat mooching around there so I catapulted a stone in the general direction and thankfully haven't seen it since!

  gardener 00:00 27 Aug 2008

We have a Buzzard (maybe a pair hopefully) flying around here ( Yorkshire). It's the first one I have seen in my area ever and I'm getting on a bit.

We also have a visit from a Sparrowhawk quite regularly, something else that I hadn't seen for years. Nice to know that birds of prey are becoming more plentiful, but I don't suppose the prey thinks that.

  Forum Editor 00:22 27 Aug 2008

Unfortunately, increased populations of raptors isn't entirely a good thing. Some birds of prey have staged astonishing recoveries over the past couple of decades - the Buzzard population has increased by over 400% - and that's bad news for what they eat.

These birds don't just prey on small rodents, they take songbirds too, and they are quite literally eating into the populations of these birds at an alarming rate. The rapors aren't entirely to blame - fox numbers have increased and magpies (which will also feed on young songbirds and eggs) have been doing well for years - there are now over two million of them in the UK.

  gardener 18:25 27 Aug 2008


Whilst I agree that raptors do take songbirds, the reason for the raptors' increase has been generally agreed to be because of a reduction in pesticide use and more enlightened attitude by gamekeepers. Once the population of a raptor species reaches the point where prey becomes less available then a balance will be struck in terms of predator / prey numbers. It is also believed that the majority of young raptors never live past their first year.

  Forum Editor 18:35 27 Aug 2008

I know why raptor numbers have increased, I was just pointing out that whilst the populations are climbing towards equilibrium they're having a devastating effect on some songbird populations. Red kites, which have returned with a vengeance, aren't to blame, because they don't predate - they're mainly carrion feeders. Other raptors are a problem however.

Sparrowhawks and Buzzards are the main offenders, because they exist in large numbers - there are well over 20,000 pairs of Sparrowhawks in England alone, and probably 7000 pairs of Buzzards. That's a lot of birds taking prey.

  gardener 18:44 27 Aug 2008


Yes that's quite a number. But I love watching them flying, especially Peregrine falcons, which we spent hours watching down in Cornwall earlier this year. Masters of their environment.

  Coffee Adict 20:10 27 Aug 2008

I Have been watching these this year:

click here

Interesting to note that they predated about forty species including that well know sky rat the feral pigeon, so its not all doom and gloom.

  Forum Editor 22:38 27 Aug 2008

Peregrine falcons are certainly masters of the air. They're one of the fastest birds on the planet, and have been clocked at 150mph in a dive.

I've seen them flying around Salisbury cathedral where they're nesting, and although I haven't seen any in London yet I know there are nesting pairs here.

  gardener 22:39 27 Aug 2008

Coffee Adict,

Thanks for the link, I've added to my bookmarks.

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