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Birds of Marlpit Community Garden November 2015

The autumn migration has now nearly completed, with a fieldfare being spotted flying over the Garden. These northern thrushes, about the size of a large blackbird, visit us for the winter, having migrated here from their breeding grounds in northern Europe. They can be recognised by their characteristic “chack chack chack” call.

4-thrushes

Can you name these four thrush species? Click for the answer.

Robins are now singing from the hedgerow on the southern boundary of the Garden. Unlike most birds, robins sing all the year round, and in the autumn the females sing as well as the males, with the aim of the song being to warn off other robins, as robins are fiercely territorial, with the red breast acting as a warning sign, so much so that they will attack anything of a red colour, even a bunch of feathers. Robins will often come and pick up insects and worms which are disturbed by someone digging. This contrasts with their behaviour in much of continental Europe, where they are a shy woodland bird.
Wrens have also been singing from the hedgerow. They are another bird which also sings all year round, with their songs being surprisingly loud for so small

A Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes

A Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes

a bird. Although they are one of the commonest British birds, they are not seen all that often because they are so secretive. Perhaps you will spot one foraging in bushes close to the ground if you observe carefully.
Jays are busy collecting acorns to bury in the ground to tide them over the winter. The oak trees which produce the acorns are spread by animals such as jays and squirrels which bury them and then forget where they have left them, so the acorn can then grown into a new tree.

Magpies and jackdaws have been feeding in the horses’ field, often probing in the dung for beetles, for which the dung is a good source of food. The horses are a useful source of manure, which provides nutrients for the organic gardening we practice at the Garden as we don’t use any artificial fertilisers.

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Chris Keene