Peregrine Falcon


Well, another year has gone and most folk are back at work this week. We have all feasted well and spent far too long in front of fires and television, warm comfortable and well-fed. Of course, through all that, our local birds were struggling to survive and there were a few very cold nights which would have been quite a challenge for them. So do continue to put out food for them and fresh water, especially if we have any more frosts.


Male ChaffinchThere have been reasonable numbers of winter thrushes around the village recently. The delightful Redwing and the larger Fieldfare, which come to us from Scandinavia , have been present in the Long Lane orchards and on some of the Hawthorn hedges in the village. The less common Brambling has also been putting in appearances, with small groups again on Long Lane, and another handful in the small cattle field in Lightlands Lane , in each case associating with parties of Chaffinches. Blackcaps have maintained their now regular visits to UK from Austria and Germany , having discovered they do not need to travel all the way to Africa to survive winter. Two males and a female have been seen regularly in Broomhill and I have little doubt there will have been others around the village. A Peregrine Falcon has been seen again over the Widbrook area.


Red Kites have continued to be seen over Cookham pretty much daily over Christmas and New Year I suspect some folk are actually attracting them by putting meat out for them. A visit to the garden of this magnificent bird with its six foot wing span can be quite exhilarating, but it has been found that Kites which rely too much on garden meat scraps become less fit, as they need the skin, fur and bones of normal carrion in their diets. So if you do happen to try feeding them, please ensure they get all they need.


Of course, some birds treat winter as a lead-in to the breeding season and most species will now be in their breeding plumage. Our local Blue Tits have already been inspecting their nest box, Rooks will soon be reconstructing their nests, and a pair of Collared Doves actually built a nest in Whyteladyes Lane over Christmas! But there have been very few Lapwings with us this winter, perhaps an indication of a poor breeding season during the drought-like conditions of 2003. It seems hard to believe that summer birds will be with us soon but Sand Martins are often back in the UK in February, and March is the main month for several other species to start appearing here.


One of the biggest national bird events happens this month the Great Garden Bird Watch. We are all encouraged to spend one hour on either the 24th or 25th January, in the garden or local park, noting the species and numbers of birds seen. The necessary form and details are on  Its the 25th anniversary of the event so do get involved.