Something quizical..

22 Oct
We are now into the full flow of autumn with long queues at Westonbirt. The deciduous trees drop their leaves as a response to shortened day lengths and less sun so the ‘cost’ to the tree of maintaining it’s leaves is greater than the benefit it receives. The tree forms a layer of dead cells (called an Abscission layer) at the base of each leaf so it drops off. The leaves fall to the ground and start to make compost for following years while the tree shuts down for the winter ready for the spring.
The birds are also changing their behavior now that they have finished their post breeding moult. Many of the birds that stay here over the winter go into a full moult once the last chicks have fledged so during September they tend to skulk amongst the bushes keeping out of the way of predators as they can’t fly as well. They grow a new set of wing and body feathers ready for the winter. Birds which are very territorial during the summer such as Great Tits, become very social during the winter.
Some recent research on winter flocks of Great Tits has shown that individual behaviours affect their social lives. A project in Oxfordshire found they could identify Great Tits that were bold and those that were shy. The birds were electronically tagged and introduced into a new environment with sunflower feeders (which could read the tags). They found the bold birds tended to associate with other bold birds while the shy birds also formed flocks. If you see a flock of Great Tits (which can be up to 40 individuals) have a guess if they are a bold group or a shy one. Also bear in mind we do have 5 different species of Tit around the village – The Great and Blue Tits which you will regularly see on the bird feeders, Coal Tits which may occasionally appear, Long Tail Tits which tend to stay out in the countryside in flocks of 10 – 20 and the scarce March Tit (which I have seen in Grove Wood – see picture).
The plans for Wild Sherston are in hand set for 17th/18th May 2014 with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the Wiltshire Ornithological Society, amongst others, participating.
Finally the second contribution to the Sherston Museum of Slightly Odd Things has arrived (following the rabbit skull a couple of months ago) the identification of which forms the first ever quiz in the column. In September, Pat Smith who lives in Wood Close found her curly garden hose had been chewed through. As you can see from the picture (with a lens cover to give a sense of scale) something has gone to some effort to chew it to bits. Any insights as to what may have caused this please let me know – the prize is a mention is next months edition!. If the cause can’t be identified maybe I should send it to Chris Packham..Marsh Tit Nov 2012 2

Any idea what chewed this?

Any idea what chewed this?


2 Responses to “Something quizical..”


  1. Great tit on my balcony | Dear Kitty. Some blog - November 17, 2013

    […] Something quizical.. ( […]

  2. Great tits’ different alarm calls for different predators | Dear Kitty. Some blog - November 23, 2013

    […] Something quizical.. ( […]

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