Antlers in the Heather

I was optimistically hoping to show you some lovely photos of wildlife in the snow this week. Whilst much of the UK did indeed receive some snow, we barely had a flake down here on the South coast. The weather has been cold though and that has meant lots of birds visiting the garden.

As ever, the starlings are the most common visitors and are rowdily pushing each other out of the way to get to the food. Their feathers are looking particularly beautiful at the moment.

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Other regular visitors include house sparrows and collared doves. Whilst the sparrows have plenty of room to feed the much larger doves struggle sometimes.

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This year I’m taking part in the BTO’s garden birdwatch survey which involves keeping weekly records of the birds which visit the garden. As well as giving data to the BTO it will also enable to be to generate my own which should be interesting over time. For more information check out the survey website.

On the fishing lake there were a pair of goosander yesterday and I was able to see them both clearly for once- you can really see the difference between the genders here (the first is male, the second female).

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The grey wagtail was on the Avon again yesterday too, looking vividly yellow. This is a female as it has lots of white between the yellow.

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Whilst near the Avon I saw a kestrel hovering above the floodplain, trying to find prey. They are such incredible fliers that they are really tricky to photograph! At least you can tell what bird this is.

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I headed up into the New Forest today and I’d barely stepped out of the car when I finally spotted a bird I’ve been looking out for all winter- a redwing. Redwings are winter visitors and members of the thrush family. There was a whole flock in this field which is exactly what I’ve been hoping to see for months now.

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Whilst up in the forest I turned a corner and was suddenly greeted with this great sight.

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These are a group of ten fallow deer stags. They are in their darker winter coats which did make me wonder about the ID. When they eventually stood up I could see them more clearly, especially their tails which give them away.

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You can see this group is very mixed in term of age. One of the stags had only the slightest hint of antlers, a few had smaller ones and several had large sets. You can see where the deer have been rutting with the odd broken antler and one deer having a very severe limp on it’s back leg.

It’s always nice to get close to the New Forest deer and I was especially lucky today to get so close to such a large number of them.

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