Friday, 27 April 2012

Variations in Yellow - Follow-up

Just over a week ago I published a blog on the group of Yellowhammers that had begun visiting my garden. Those visits continue I’m glad to say, but the numbers and colour of those birds has changed noticeably in that time.

Firstly the group has increased in size to up to ten birds at a time. I haven’t seen that number of birds together in one go other than during the winter, and then in mixed flocks of finches. On recent occasions the Yellowhammers seem to have been in the company of Goldfinches and Chaffinches, so perhaps the congregation is a run-over from winter into spring?

The colour change has been quite dramatic, posing the question of whether this group is the same one I saw 10 days ago. Judging from their colour, the earlier birds I thought were a mix of male and female or juvenile. The colouring of the “new” birds would suggest that they are nearly all male. Now I’m not a greatly experienced birder, but I don’t think that birds can change plumage as much in just over one week; hence my belief that this second group is a different group.

So if there is a second group the next question concerns the total number of birds in the area. In my wanderings around the pathways and lanes around the village I have noticed numerous Yellowhammers atop the hedges singing to establish territories, but I have not noticed any groups of birds – indeed I can’t see those birds leaving territories to join a group to feed in my garden! So with the two groups there are nearly 20 birds above what I suspect is the resident population, and I suspect that I have witnessed a migration. Perhaps these birds came south when the weather turned snowy and cold in January, and they are only now moving back. I think I will have to do some research with the BTO.

Oh, I almost forgot, we also had a nice looking Stock Dove come for a feed.

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