Archive for the ‘wild birds’ Tag

Week ending February 5th   Leave a comment

I was out in Denburn Wood on Thursday to help out with the newly formed Crail Primary School Wildlife Watch Club. The plan was to show the thirty children who had signed up for the club some wild birds, so Denburn has been baited since last weekend with suet and seeds and dried mealworms. There is a lot of bird feeding that goes on in Denburn from several keen Crailers anyway, so there is a very receptive audience of tits, finches and thrushes that are ready to come out to any food you put down. Some of the robins and blackbirds will even feed from your hand, particularly if you use live mealworms. I also put a single mist net up in the more wooded east side to see if I could get some birds to show the children very close up. So far so good. Except the logistics of getting 30 children all in one piece from the school to Denburn, trying to get them to be a little bit calm and quiet on arrival and the vagaries of the birds themselves appearing either at the bait or the net made it all a bit stressful. But in the end it worked out. The cold weather this week made the birds even tamer than usual and at the last minute I had a couple of blue and great tits and a single robin fly into the net.

blue tit

Tits are perfect to show small children. They are tough little birds while being instantly recognisable and beautiful to see when close up. They demonstrate their toughness by having a really good peck at you when you hold them. Great tits in particular can give you a really hard nip as they bite you with their sharp bills. If you ever get a tit pecking you under your nail it can be excruciating. This is all fair enough of course. Although we know mist-netting and proper handling by an experienced bird ringer for a few minutes makes very little long (or even short) term difference to a small bird, it must be a shock to them and far from comfortable. So it is poetic justice to have a small measure of this┬árevisited on the ringer. But it is all worth it to enthuse children and give them an opportunity to see birds really close up. Many will have never been a few centimetres from a wild bird, able to look at it right in the eye and see a glimpse of the detail and intensity of its life.It’s hard not to care about things that you feel a connection for and so many of us lack that connection with the natural world. And this is despite birds being really easy to connect to. They are beautiful, around us everywhere and with lives we can observe and understand as they visit our bird tables in cold weather, come and go with the season or as they struggle to keep their chicks safe.

great tit

I hope seeing the birds in Denburn last Thursday will make a small bit of difference for many of the children and maybe even a big difference to a few of them. I don’t quite remember what started me off on birds and wildlife but it was early close contact with it of some sort and most of all meeting enthusiastic adults to explain it all, or perhaps more importantly to share their wonder. There were a lot of smiling children afterwards in any case. And the tits and the robin flew off safely after being waylaid for just a few minutes. I hope the food we put out in the woods over the last week was a consolation for the birds’ time and discomfort. The best consolation will be, of course, if the next generation cares enough to look after Denburn for them.


There has been a short-eared owl around the club house out at Balcomie for the last couple of days. It’s well worth looking out for. Sparrowhawks are getting more obvious at the moment with males displaying and pairs soaring together above Crail. As always use the panicking starlings below them as prompts to search for the hawks.



Posted February 6, 2012 by wildcrail in Sightings

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