Nature Notes Extra - 2016


Welcome to the companion to the Basinga Nature Notes section.  This section will be updated from time to time with additional information referred to from articles in the magazine.  You can contact me at

We are now creating a new page for each year.  To see last years page click on "2015" in the main menu.

Pied Blackbird

George Kirk writes:

"There has been talk of robins which have white markings (we have one in our garden in Bexmoor Way) but I thought you might be interested in the white markings on the blackbird which has frequented our garden for quite some time.  The white markings appear to have increased over the last few months. Perhaps it is going grey with old age or like the mountain hare, anticipating a cold snowy winter ahead!

Other blackbirds treat it as another species when feeding on our patio despite the territorial nature of blackbirds in winter."

Autumn Colour

Phil Males writes:
"The stand of beech trees in Great Binfields Woodland Park near the main Tesco store are splendid just now. Well worth a visit before the promised colder weather and gales take over."

Rick replies:
"I agree Phil, its been a very colourful autumn for sure. I drove cross country to Sussex on Friday afternoon, which was sunny, and some of the lanes near Petersfield and Lavant were stunning."

Blue at nest box in October?

Terry McAnnish writes:
Had two Blue Tits fighting over my nest box today, strange in October"

Rick replies:
"Not so unusual this actually as one or two have been looking at our boxes too but its because birds are like us, they don’t like getting cold at night so are all looking for roosting sites!   During the winter months my camera box reveals that virtually every night it is occupied from dusk til first light. (I just looked at it tonight actually but its empty ).    I suspect a blue tit all fluffed up can raise the temperature by several degrees which of course in harsh conditions could save its life. So that’s all it, they are squabbling for the b&b!"

Stumpy the Slow Worm

Phil Males writes:

"I have often seen dead mutilated slow worms on the Millfield which have looked like they had been attacked by cats or birds. However, last week I was lucky enough to encounter a live one crossing one of the footpaths in the early evening. Unfortunately, I only had my mobile phone with me so the photos are not great but they do reveal this one had previously had a lucky escape by shedding its tail. He/she was very much alive and quickly made a fast wriggly beeline for the longer grass which made it difficult to get any better shots."

Name That Bird

The following pictures were sent in by Steve Western, who wasn't quite sure what sort of bird he was photographing.

Rick replies that the bird is a female juvenile cockoo.

Bat in need of a lift

Roger Rummey writes:

"This bat attached itself to my leg whilst walking in long parish today is it a natterers ? Strange thing to do at 3 in the afternoon !"

Goldfinches and Woodpecker

Terry McAnish writes:

"Been a busy day today with Goldfinches and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, a juvenile from both."


The "white robin" referred to in Leucistic fledgling below is actually a white dunnock.  See the August Basinga Nature Notes article for more details.  This picture is by Tony Hall.

Who's a Pretty Boy?

Phil Males writes:

"This fine chap and his missus have been frequenting the feeders this week. I am still waiting to catch them both together at the feeder."

Leucistic fledgling

Tony Hall writes:

"These photos appear to be of a rare visitor from the high Arctic, in which case we would be inundated with twitchers. Thankfully, I think this is a leucistic robin fledgling. If it survives, it will become a smart-suited little fellow."

Rick replies:

"Wow, great photos and yes that is RARE!  I think you're right about it being a robin the only problem being that the usual checks such as beak and leg colour has also been affected on this chap but the size and stance of it certainly leads me to believe you're correct."

Dutiful Blue Tit

Terry McAnish writes:

"This one of my adult Blue Tits and a little wary. Started out with four eggs, ended up with two young and might be down to one. Not such a successful year. The Goldfinches and Long Tailed Tits are here every day."

Rick replies:

"Thanks as always for pics Terry.   Only one of several nest boxes occupied here and they are feeding frantically.  Don’t know what the food supply is but this warm spell must be helping with caterpillar populations etc.   Lots of young starlings around so they’ve done well but seen very few robins, blackbirds or else yet."

Juvenile Blackbird and Rat

Terry McAnish writes:

"The first juvenile Blackbird arrived yesterday and today I attempted to feed it as last year they would wait on the fence till I showed them bread and would feed by my feet. Unfortunately a rat appeared and the Blackbird flew off whilst I dealt with the rat. I have lost two Blue Tits probably to a Sparrow Hawk. I still have one in the nest box and one egg so far."

Siskin, Goldfinch and Nuthatch

Terry McAnish writes:

"I have never seen so many Goldfinches although they may the same individuals or couples. The Nuthatch was quite happy to share the space with a Goldfinch."


Terry McAnish writes:

"I believe these are Redpolls in their winter colouring"

Yet More Deer

Phil Males writes:

"I spotted this youngster holed up in the thicket alongside Great
Binfields Road near the Lychpit early this evening. I guess it is
waiting for its Mum to return. Sorry it is a bit grainy but the light
was going.


Terry McAnish writes:
We have a pair of Siskins coming each day on the feeders and altogether it is getting very busy bird wise."

Battered Buzzard

Terry McAnish writes:

"Four or five Buzzards flew very low around Cavalier Close/Fraser Close area obviously disagreeing with each other and this one clearly had a mauling as a number of its main feathers are missing. It wasn't very happy."

Rick replies:

"You're right there Terry. Could be moult though that’s doubtful given the primaries don’t usually come out like that, he was shot at (hopefully not) or has been in a scrap or flying accident.   Could have caught a tree branch while going for a squirrel or something. Still, he seemed to be balanced in the air and that’s the main thing!"

While Tail Deer

Susan McKenna writes:
3 young deer came prancing up Paddock Fields last week.  I dashed out with my camera and for once the road stayed quiet for about 10 minutes.  They pottered in and around River House, before leaping over the Waite Roberts fence down to the river.  They appeared wet so I wondered if they had swam over when the river was high last week. Very lucky to see them and being at home in the day with a bout of flu brought  bonus!"



Irene Allaway writes:
I got home from church this morning and surprise surprise I looked out the kitchen windows and saw a pair of largish birds down the garden pecking in the grass and wondered what they were.  I then realised they were partridge (pictures attatched).  The photos which I took on my BlackBerry PlayBook are not great.  I had to take them through my kitchen window and I didn't want to frighten them as they made their way up the garden."

Male Blackcap

Terry McAnish writes:

"This male Blackcap arrived today on my bird table which is great to see. I have a female Greater Spotted Woodpecker every day and Blue Tits in my home made bird box. Two Nuthatches have appeared together."

The Redpolls are back

Phil Males writes:

"For the last week or so a small flock of Redpolls have been visiting the bird feeders as they did last year. They are quite skittish and twitchy but I managed to get these shots before the grey squirrel in the fourth photo chased them away by perching on the top of the feeder post."

Early Egret

Tony Vines writes:

"Spotted today in the stream next to the viaduct"


Christine Warwick writes:

"Earlier today there were 3 deer in the recreation ground - picture below"

Rick replies:

"Many thanks for sending us the pic.  I don't know whether they are regular visitors but nobody has ever mentioned it before so I'll give you a mention in next column ( March). Getting tamer aren't they ?"


John Watson writes:

"I just thought I’d share this picture of a couple of partridges that briefly visited our garden (78 Cavalier Road) yesterday.  They were somewhat late for Christmas of course, and we haven’t got any pear trees anyway…"