A recent highlight at Denmark Farm was the sighting of a kingfisher from the lakeside hide. At this time of year, juveniles are looking for territories of their own and can often turn up in gardens and local ponds in the hope of a quick snack. The lakeside hide provides an excellent viewing point, with the entrance to the hide concealed from the lake.
Lakeside Hide, Denmark Farm
(see how the hide was built here)
Winter visitors are also arriving back in Wales, and the first woodcock was seen at Denmark Farm this weekend. Its beautiful plumage provides almost perfect camouflage as it rests on the woodland floor.
Woodcock with earthworm
Fieldfares and redwing have now returned and can be seen moving around in flocks, feeding on berries. They can turn up anywhere, so its worth keeping an eye out. At Denmark Farm, we have a number of hedges with a variety of native plants to provide food for wildlife – and people!- at different times of the year, and these will attract the winter visitors as well as our native thrushes.
Another winter visitor is the brambling. They often hang out with flocks of chaffinches, and can be seen feeding on the ground among beechmast. Look out for the flash of a white rump as the birds take off.
Most birds are very quiet at this time of year, with the exception of the robin, although the recent mild weather seems to have prompted short bursts of song from blue tit and great tit. The robin is one of the few birds which can be heard singing throughout the winter as it is holding a territory. It’s winter song is different to its breeding song – much more wistful. Some species such as the blackbird and thrush will often start singing in late December or early January. It’s worth trying to learn the songs of some of our resident species as soon as they begin singing; once the migrants arrive back and join in the chorus, it can be difficult to pick-out individual songs.
A number of courses are held at Denmark Farm which will provide help if you want to learn more about bird ecology and identification: 11-13th April is ‘Bird Identification’ (book now to qualify for the early bird discount!). We also have a ‘BirdSong Brunch’ on Sunday April 20th, from 9 am to 11.30 am, an opportunity to learn how to identify birds from their sound, topped-off with an organic bacon or veggie roll and unlimited tea or coffee.
Early morning bird walk at Denmark Farm
Don’t forget that our trails are open every day over the holidays except for Christmas Eve. We always enjoy hearing about visitors’ sightings, so if you spot the kingfisher by the lake, or a woodcock along the edge of a shelterbelt, do let us know!