October, 2011

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Notes on nature

We love nature... from every little bug on a blade of grass to birds, butterflies, otters and oaks!
  • Monday's Magic Moment: Squirrels Come Dancing

    If this little chap is anything to go by, Strictly Come Dancing is clearly a hit in the squirrel world!

    I'm no expert, but that hold looks pretty good to me!

    You can find lots more giggle-inducing photos in our image library - guaranteed to brighten up your Monday morning!

  • This weekend... spot the new arrivals

    Migrant birds are on their way to a garden near you! Will you know what they are when they arrive? Here's a handy guide to some wintry visitors and their resident cousins.

    Meet the redwing:

    Redwing by Nigel Blake

    What to look for: It's easy to tell the difference if you get a good look at the redwing's flanks (they're red, not its wings). But if you're looking at a small thrush head-on, see if it has a distinctly pale 'eyebrow'. If it does, that's a redwing, a winter visitor to the UK from Scandinavia.

    If you stand outside on a clear night at the moment, you'll probably hear the high-pitched 'seeep' calls of redwings migrating through the darkness. Magic!

    Say hello to the brambling:

    Brambling by Nigel Blake

    What to look for: Bramblings might look very different in the books, but mixed in with a group of chaffinches, they're harder to spot than you think. Watch out for mostly orange wing stripes (not white) and a paler tummy than a chaffinch. They also migrate here from Scandinavia in search of food and a warmer winter.

    This is a lesser redpoll:

    Lesser redpoll by Steve Round

    What to look for: These are tiny finches, not much bigger than a blue tit. They often feed on tree seeds, dangling upside down to get them.

    At this time of year, birds are leaving their breeding grounds (in the UK and northern Europe) and it's a good time to see them at feeders in your garden. Like goldfinches, they seem to prefer nyjer seed.

    The amount of red feathering varies enormously - some have a tiny bit of red on the forehead, others are glorious raspberry-red all down their front, and others have no red at all! You could confuse a redpoll with a linnet, but they tend not to feed in trees and never use feeders.

    Finally, here are the siskins, male and female:

    Siskin by Steve Round

    Siskin by Steve Round

    What to look for: Siskins are just as small as redpolls and equally acrobatic. They'll eat nyjer seed from a feeder, but also peanuts or sunflower hearts. Keep an eye out for their yellow, black and green colour scheme (duller and streakier in females).

    Siskins breed in coniferous woodland in many parts of the UK, but they tend to move in autumn and can be seen anywhere. UK birds are also joined by migrants from across the North Sea, so bid them a hearty Hej! or Hei! (that's Swedish and Norwegian for Hi!).

    What next?

    Try our interactive bird identifier or post a query on our ID forum

    And don't forget Saturday is Feed the Birds Day! Find out what you can do to encourage birds into your garden here.

    Let us know what you've seen in your garden lately - leave a comment! (you need to have an RSPB Community account; it's free to sign up)

  • Monday's Magic Moment: how do you get into this thing?

    We all know that feeling...

    Our annual Feed the Birds Day takes place on Saturday and we've got loads of tips and advice to help you help your feathered friends.

    You can see more gorgeous photos from Nigel Blake at RSPB Images. Prints or canvases make beautiful Christmas presents!