Sunday, 15 February 2009

Birds - There May Be Trouble Ahead...

The garden and orchard are a-flap with all manner of busy bird life. The Blackbirds, Crows, Magpies and Jackdaws have been a constant presence since their return from the fields last Autumn. Robins, Wrens, and Blue Tits are Karen's favourites, I like the noisy Sparrows which have returned from wherever they went to, and are now re-establishing their nests in the barn wall.

Slightly rarer visitors are a pair of Green Woodpeckers, which cling to our old Bramley Apple tree almost invisible against the mossy green of the trunk. Last year we had Green Finches in the garden, pretty little things though common enough. This year it's the slightly rarer sight of a family of Bullfinches, three strikingly coloured males, and a single, much less colourful female.

This photo of Bullfinches has been kindly made available for use by Sergey Yeliseev under a Creative Commons Licence.

The Bullfinch is listed by the RSPB as being at high risk following a recent decline in numbers, so it's with mixed feelings that we welcome this bird into our garden. Actually we didn't welcome it, and I wouldn't have thought the birds themselves could care less whether we had or not. Anyway, they're here now, and whilst they're definitely welcome, I do fear for our young fruit trees this Spring.

Bullfinches are a notorious pest of commercial orchards, they have a fondness for the fruit buds of various trees, orchard fruit trees in particular. A decent sized flock of these beauties can have a serious effect on the fruiting potential of an orchard, I'll be keeping a watchful eye on the emerging buds on our own trees. What was shaping up to be our first decent crop since planting our little orchard of cider apple trees, could yet be 'nipped in the bud' as it were.

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