Autumn and winter residents – our feathered friends

Our garden here at Waverley is home for a wide range of birds, many of whom stay with us throughout the winter weather.  Some, like the fieldfares and redwings, are migratory and visit to feast on the berries.

Over the last few months we have been trying to catch as many of these on camera as we can. Not an easy task as some of them move so very quickly and many are very shy creatures.

Here is a selection of the residents for 2017/18.

Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)

Blue Tit

Food: Small insects, larvae and other invertebrates plus seeds, fruit and buds

Wood pigeon (Columba palumbus)

Wood Pigeon

Food: Seeds, grain, fruits, vegetables, berries and some insects and worms

Ketrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Sparrow Hawk

Food: Small mammals and birds, worms and insects

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Song Thrush

Food:  Worms, snails and fruit

Blackbird (Turdus merula)


Food: Worms, insects, berries and seeds

Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Fieldfare 4

Food: Berries, fruits, worms and insects

Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)


Food:  Insects and seeds

Great Tit (Parus major)

Great Tit

Food: Mainly insects, spider and small invertebrates but also fond of nuts

Coal Tit (Periparus ater)

Coal Tit

Food:  Insects, seeds and nuts

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Goldfinch 1

Food: Some insects but mainly weed seeds

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)


Food: Seeds and insects

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)


Food: Insects, seeds, nuts and other fruits

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)

Food:  Mainly insects and larvae but will also rob nests for young birds.  Will visit feeders for nuts in winter.

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

Food:  Mainly insects and spiders but also seeds.

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Food: Mainly insects and spiders plus some fruit, seeds and berries

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)

Food: Berries, fruits, insects and worms

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)

Food: Seeds, berries and fruit

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

Food:  Insects and small invertebrates with seeds in winter

In addition there are some I have not managed to catch on camera yet. These include wrens, collared doves, sparrow hawks, magpies, buzzards, jackdaws, jays, carrion crows, sparrows and more.

By trying to provide garden habitats that offer seeds and attract insects our aim is to encourage as many of these beautiful birds as possible. They all add interest to the garden and keep us occupied with the binoculars for hours!


All photographs and videos are the property and copyright of Dr Stephen Lucey, 2018


Garden Ecology: Great Spotted Woodpecker

One of the most flamboyant visitors to our garden in the winter months has to be the Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major).  Its striking black and white plumage with vivid splashes of red are always a pleasure to see.

We often see these woodpeckers skipping around the trunks of the silver birches and they are also frequent visitors to the bird nuts for an easy meal on colder days.  They don’t stay long but we were lucky enough to have the camera ready to capture the following video footage.  The red markings on the back of the neck indicate that this is a male woodpecker.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker stays in the locality all year and you often glimpse its characteristic bouncing or undulating flight and hear its call as its travels across the garden.  They have a remarkably wide distribution throughout Europe and Asia and also into North Africa.

Great Spotted Woodpeckers are omnivores, feeding on both insects and grubs as well as nuts from the feeders.  It is also reported to take the eggs and chicks of small birds.

We have not yet found out where the nest hole is located but it is reported that they maintain a territory of up to 12 acres.  We will keep our eyes peeled over the coming months.  It is always wonderful to see the baby woodpeckers with the parents later in the year but unfortunately we do find that these young woodpeckers do have a tendency to fly into the window panes and injure themselves.

References and further reading

“Birds of Britain and Europe” by Nicholas Hammond and Michael Everett (ISBN 0 7063 6040 0)

Wikipedia – Great Spotted Woodpecker ( )

RSPB – Great Spotted Woodpecker ( )