Long Tailed Tits

Long Tailed Tits are one of my favourite birds. They are gregarious, noisy and so interesting to watch in the garden.

We have lots of Long Tailed Tits around Folly View. We see them most days over the Winter time flitting from tree to tree with their hangers on, the blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits.

The Long Tailed Tit is not closely related to the Tit family but they spend so much time with the aforementioned Tits they have been thought to be part of that genius.

Long Tailed Tits, as the name says, have a long tail which is longer than their small fluffy bodies. They weigh about 7-10grams and have wing span of 16-19 cms and a body length of 14 cms.

At this time of year, winter, Long Tailed Tits are seen flying around chattering noisily in large flocks. They fly from tree to tree feeding on insects and invertebrates. They will in hard winters feed on seeds.

Long Tailed Tits are easily recognised by their long tail but are also easily recognised by their colouring which is a creamy, white background colour, with dark coloured wings of a black brown with a pinky highlighting and punky black stripes on their heads.

At night Long Tailed Tits huddle together for warmth. If they didn’t do this they would not survive . They roost deep in shrubbery such as Hawthorne which also provides protection from predators.

In Spring the large flocks of winter split up and pair off. Long Tailed Tits can start building their intricate nests in February and can take up to three weeks to build. Their nests are made of moss, lichen, feathers and spider silk and are beautifully domed.

Long Tailed Tits have six to eight eggs laid in April, which take three weeks to incubate, with the chicks taking two weeks to fledged.

There is a high rate of predation of nests and Long Tailed Tits will help others if they have lost their nest.

Over the last twenty five years the Long Tailed Tit population has increased by 79%. So if you hear a lot of chittering at this time of year while out walking it is probably a flock of Long Tailed Tits.

The photograph of the Long Tailed Tit and the Blue Tit is from TheOtherKev at Pixabay.

The photograph of a group of Long Tailed Tits enjoying some fatballs was taken by Bill Eccles featured on Unsplash.

Winter Walk

It’s December 1st and for me we are now into Wintertime.

Here it is a bright, sunny, frosty morning, the cheeks are glowing now I am back in the warmth of home.

The colours glowed on Onny Meadows, I could find all the colours I love, browns, pinks, purples, greens, golds and greys.

As children we draw tree trunks as brown but  I am always struck by how little brown is visible. Greys predominate for me, with tones of Brown, green and purples.

The mole hills of Brown rich earth pepper the meadows and Dillie Dot sticks her nose in then digs frantically to try and catch the elusive mole, Long gone.

As we near the  Onny river there is a low misty haze rising from the water, the ducks bright greens look muted in the mist.

I notice catkins are beginning to form on Alder and hazel. The Alder catkins are a purply, brown, while the hazel catkins are presently grey with a tinge of pale green.

From a distance white berries pop brilliantly against grey stems of snow berry. Dulux brilliant white doesn’t do this justice.

The lichens on the rocks and tree trunks are a zingy greygreen.

There are still trees with leaves of green but they are few now and look faded but somehow still have that dark summer green.

The beech trees cling onto their leaves which are rich golden russet. The keys hang still from the ash trees looking golden against the grey of the trunks.

I notice more Alder catkins but this time a reddy purple, glowing in the sun light.

As we finish our walk we walk past spindles with crimson red berries, the next one has bright pink berries. The pinks and red vary from shrub to shrub.

 

Kingfishers on the Onny

I walk every day with the dogs along the Onny River. I have over the years regularly seen Kingfishers when we have been out walking. This year I have not seen them until this recently(first week of September).

I had stopped on the bridge over the River Onny down Corvedale Road and saw a flash of blue. There it was on a branch over the running water before of it flitted up the River again .

A photograph of a Kingfisher

Kingfisher

I have been lucky enough to watch a kingfisher diving several times for fish from a branch over the River Onny just past Kingfisher Corner on the Onny Meadows.

Kingfishers have a bright blue back with a copper orange breast, it is usually a flash of blue that catches the eye.

They have stout bodies, large heads, short stubby tails and long dagger like bills. The males have a black bill and the females have a orangy/red bottom Bill. Their wingspan is 25cm and they are 16cm long.

Kingfisher have no song but make a high pitched peeping sound when flying low over water.

Kingfisher nest in burrows on the river bank, which they both excavate right near the food supply. They can have between 3 and 10 white glossy eggs which they both incubate, over 19 to 21 days.

The chicks take 24 to 25 days to fledge, eating between 12 and 18 fish each per day. In years when food is scarce they can take up to 37 days to fledge.

Kingfishers couples divide their Summer territory between them in Winter. They have a territory of about a kilometre each, this can be as much as 5kilometres. They need to eat 60% of their body weight each day.

Kingfishers are very territorial and will display on branches. If they have to resort to fighting they hold their opponents beak and try to hold it under water.

Around the World there as ninety species of Kingfisher but we in Britain have one of the most beautiful.

The image used in this blog post is from Wikimedia and is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.