21 September 2012

Equinox = storms (and hoards of birds)

Tomorrow (Saturday 22) is the Autumn Equinox, twelve hours of daylight and twelve of dark, adjusted for the current tilt of the Earth's axis.  The official start of autumn according to some sources and the most active point in the autumn storm season, Goathland has a Met Office amber warning for gale force winds and heavy rain on Monday (red alert according to metcheck).  The Woodland Trust this week say that their records suggest that autumn will arrive late this year, but elsewhere there are reports of autumn in full swing with some leaves showing colour and brambles and sloes ready for picking, remember your brambles should be picked before Michaelmas (or the devil wees on them!) meaning the end of September so should autumn be really late this year this might cause a problem, unripe or polluted berries? Alternatively you can always pay extortionate amounts to buy a handful in a plastic packet at your nearest supermarket, thereby avoiding the problem entirely...  they don't taste quite as good though do they?, and those scratches from reaching for that really fat, juicy one right on the top of the tangle of canes in the sunshine just add to the experience.
At the beginning of August I took down our main bird feeders after throwing away the umpteenth lot of sodden, rotten seed.  Don't worry, we didn't abandon the birds to their fate, we fed from the bird table and a couple of other sites, just not from the main pole with the multitude of hangers. Recently there have been more young birds in the garden and some newly moulted adults so the winter feeders went out on Sunday, by Monday the birds were queueing along the washing line and by Tuesday a squirrel had found us, we'd not seen a squirrel for nearly two years.  This one was a youngster which didn't linger for long after a quick blast from the hosepipe but it did return the next day so a stronger deterrent was obviously required and so the small, black, rodent-seeking missile known as Hebe was deployed, one swift burst across the garden and small grey rodent disappeared up a tree and over the fence, it's not been seen since! And no the Hebester didn't catch or eat it, much as she'd have liked to.  without the distraction of a squirrel the birds are happily munching their way through a feederful of sunflower seeds every day plus all the extras. We've seen all the tit family except the marshy-willow, greenfinches which are looking healthy no sign of trichomonsis (phew), lots of house sparrows and chaffinches but the most numerous species is the goldfinch with upwards of 20 at any one time. We have a resident thrush, a couple of robins and plenty of blackbirds too. Nuthatches have been regulars as well, I think there are two individuals, one is slightly slimmer and paler than the other and they arrive and depart in different directions but as yet I've not seen the two together so I can't be absolutely sure.
This week's edition of CJS Weekly has now gone to press and is 17 pages long including five pages of information about work days and conservation tasks, there are 66 new paid posts of which 58 came direct to CJS along with five adverts for volunteers.  Digital editions are online and emails will be arriving soon.
Have a good weekend and don't get blown away.