Thursday, 11 February 2016

Feb 11th Catton Park

What a beautiful day! The sun is out and I decided to make the most of it with a walk at Catton Park. Apart from the sound of traffic, sirens of emergency vehicles and dog walkers, it was reasonably peaceful once you learn to shut off all of these unwanted sounds from your mind and focus only on the natural sounds of bird songs and calls. I stand still now and then to take it all in. The longer I stand still, the more I notice. My ears tuned to the slightest of sounds from a rustle in the leaf litter to the distant drumming of woodpeckers. My eyes also become super sensitive to every little movement around me. Using both senses together, I could pinpoint each bird's singing location and with my years of experience, I could identify what is singing almost instantly.

Grey Squirrel
In the woods, I listen to treecreepers, robins, goldcrests, nuthatches, chaffinches, wrens, song thrushes, great tits, blue tits and much more. Once I pick up each song, I use it to direct me to the singer's location and once I found it with my own eyes, I use my new binoculars for a better look. I end up seeing most of the things I have mentioned already, but I am still not swift enough to get my camera up and to focus on them. I feel clumsy when it comes to locating my subject through the lense of my camera than I am with my own eyes. I manage to get a few good shots of some of my subjects that were kind enough to stay still long enough for me, I had only my own shaking left to blame for any dodgy shots.

Song Thrush
I continue to walk around the park. I got to a small wooded area beside a school playground when I started hearing an all too familiar sound that I have been hearing a lot lately this week. It was the sound of twittering and wheezing. 'Sweeee! Sweeee!' A flock of siskins were calling in the trees of this tiny wooded patch. They were hard to see in the trees, so I came out and round to the edge of this wooded patch and I noticed that they were coming down to the muddy path alongside the outer edge of this patch of trees. The mud held footprints of the passers by and this disturbed section of mud held tiny pools of water within some of these footprints. The siskins made quick visits to drink from these puddles, but they were too quick for me. Blackbirds and thrushes were making full use of the footprint-riddled mud to search for worms and other morsels to eat.

Song Thrush
Blackbird keeping an eye out for worms
Catton Park
Great Spotted Woodpecker
While watching the siskins and thrushes, the sound of great spotted woodpeckers drumming caught my attention. They were coming from the ancient oak trees in the centre of the open parkland. Then I saw two of them chasing one another off in these trees from a distance. So I decided to walk over to these trees for a closer look. After a few minutes of silence, they started drumming again. I soon found one high up in the highest branches of one of these oak trees. The sound resonates loud and clear. A second responded close by and a battle of drumming commenced. I think my woodpecker won after a minute of drumming, as the other fell silent. A pair of dog walkers came up to me and I showed them the woodpecker. They seem to be impressed by the sound he is making. Woodpeckers are always exciting to watch at this time of year.
 [Note: Listen carefully for the sound of drumming in the video above. Sorry about the wind.]

Blue Tit having a bath
I left the woodpecker to his drumming and made my way back to the park's pond. I sat on a bench and watched the birds come down for a drink and a bath. They were mostly blue tits, but I did manage to see a goldcrest arriving for a drink. I got a few shots of it, but they are a bit blurry. Oh well. I love the fact that some of these birds had their bath just behind the cover of a leaf as if it was a shower curtain hiding their privacy.

"May I have some privacy please?!"
Woodpigeon having a drink

1 comment:

  1. Nice post Sean. Great to know there is so much life on our doorstep - you only have to take the trouble to look.👌