Is boredom setting in, if like me, you currently have time on your hands and want something engaging to do, here is some bird-related ideas.
Go looking for Goldfinches, they may be tiny but they can lighten any dull day. At this time of year they can be in some impressively large flocks. They are prone to devour much birdseed at our feeders but in the countryside they are currently devouring the thistle heads. However, unlike in recent years, the youngsters are only just developing the adult bird’s red and white head colouring. This is suggestive of a good population as these latest offspring are from a second or maybe even a third brood.
September is a good time to keep your eyes to the skies for impressive flocks of hirundines, particularly House Martins. Swifts and even Sand Martins have on the whole; passed through now so it’s this bird that takes centre stage. My knowledge of the local movements of this species suggest that it’s not impossible to see a flock of a 100 or more on their way south or briefly circling overhead.
If you’re down at your local gravel pit or lakeside you will notice that the Mallards are back to looking like their normal selves. This is because they have moulted from their nondescript eclipse plumage into their autumn/winter coat. The males in particular will stand out as their green, grey and brown tints have returned, gleaming brightly as ever.
Also don’t forget it is still a peak migration period for many thousands and millions of birds so a spot of vis-migging will pay dividends. What is it, I hear you ask. Vis-Migging is short for Visible Migration and it describes the movement of birds overhead seen by eye or even by sound. Some south coast localities are particular hotspots for this activity and given a slight offshore wind, the results can be amazing. As I’m approximately 60 miles from the coast, I tend to visit the hillier points that provide good all round views. Some dedication is required with this sport but it’s real fun and is a good reason for getting up, out of bed, early. The opposite end of the daytime can also be productive but I advise checking the local weather forecasts firstly.
Observe and learn.