From a Handful of Coal Tits to Thousands of Jackdaws

I didn’t start the day with the intention of seeing any wildlife but it just kind of happened. One of those lucky days I guess when the wildlife appears and puts on a show right in front of you.

A massive flock of jackdaws

Jackdaws gather as the light fades

I had a slumpy day today. We had rushed around yesterday having lunch with Andrew’s family and seeing my sister and her partner in the morning, and by the time we got home at 6pm it was a bit late for a walk. I was determined to get out for some fresh-air today.

I spent this morning working out how my new Christmas camera attachments worked. The birds around the bird feeder became my guinea-pigs. With a new ultra-zoom lens I was able to get in pretty close – great to see their individual feathers and markings.

I’ve uploaded the video. It only runs for just over a minute and for the first (and maybe the last) time ever I’ve added a narration. Let me know what you think. The focus isn’t perfect but hey practise makes perfect and the birds got some extra sunflower hearts as a thank you!

The daylight was already fading this afternoon as I set out for my promised walk. I thought I’d take a look round the old Dragon Quarry (that I’d last visited in October). The quarry was bleak and grey, no dragonflies now. In fact nothing moved and the wind was vicious, so I changed tack and went to have a look in a nearby wood for badger setts. Drew a blank there as well. Oh, well…

Jumping a fence and making my way down the hill away from Mountain Clump (that’s a wood not an infliction!) I stopped to listen to the birds squabbling in the hedge. They were making such a din I thought something was attacking them… but no, it was just bad tempers and jostling for space!

The first Jackdaws appear

The first flocks appear and join up

The sun was setting quickly now and small flocks of what I think must have been Jackdaws were joining up with other flocks above me. As I watched the flock got bigger and bigger and louder and louder. I keep promising myself to go and watch the flocks of Starlings on the Somerset Levels but here I was with my very own aerial display.

The Flock gets bigger

Jackdaws fill the sky

Literally thousands of Jackdaws filled the now orange sky. Swooping, squawking and spiralling before landing in the trees on the other side of the little hidden valley. It was a stunning display. Not something I’m going to forget in a hurry.

A noise behind me made me jump (I was concentrating so hard on the birds above). Looking around three Roe Deer had appeared out of the woods no more than 20 ft away from me. They hadn’t seen me but now they smelt me and within a couple of seconds they were bounding off over the field stamping and grunting their displeasure.

Time to go home. Not a bad day really.

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16 thoughts on “From a Handful of Coal Tits to Thousands of Jackdaws

  1. Pingback: From a Handful of Coal Tits to Thousands of Jackdaws Video

  2. Lovely close-up stuff of your little feathered friends. Don’t get jacdaws venturing up here very often though lots in the woods close to Dewlands Common and ib the old trees by the crossroads (as was) in Verwood. I was about about 50 yards away from my little doe when I took my pic.- not quite the same as filming from your house! It was the first time I had realised how hairy the insides of their ears are. BBC Xmas video great fun. What time is your Radio broadcast – tomorrow?

  3. Hi Hilly. I did venture into the garden to take the bird feeder shots…The birds were quite surprised to see me.

    I think I’m on the Radio at about 12.30 but not totally sure, as they’ve asked me to get to the studio for 11.45am. Alina Jenkins who used to be on South Today and is now on Solent) is going to be the guest presenter on the programme (The Good Life/BBC Radio Solent). Jane

  4. Hi Jane,
    I hope you had a good Christmas. Your narrative, process of telling a story

    There was nothing wrong with your narration; it was the surrounding sound,

    Not sure if you were using earphones, you will hear all the harsh sound being picked up by the Mic.
    Just a few tips when adding sound to you video.

    Have drive out to some-where like Sturminster Marshall a wooded area near the river, put the cans on, and I bet you will still hear some unwanted sound,
    get ten minutes of good bird sound on the video-cam. Keep the volume on the XL2 down do 3 ten minutes at each quarter vol and find the best setting; you can bring the sound up in a new edit.

    Anywhere close to home and you will pick up much the same bad background sound I know I use to live in West Parley.
    Love the photos of the Roe.

    Happy New Year.

  5. Hi Ron. Thanks for the tips. Must admit I wasn’t too bothered about the sound on this one. I unfortunately don’t have any earphones (will have to try and get some second hand if necessary). We are near the Wareham Road, but I think the main noise was actually wind that day going through the tall Scots Pines in front of me (it was howling through). I will try out the “10 min” sound bites on my next project. Thanks again and Happy New Year to you as well! Jane

  6. Hi there Jane and a Merry Christmas to you! Very interested to hear about your Jackdaw encounter – funnily enough I had an unusual sighting yesterday too. Caught something on video that I hope will post at some point.

    Ah… the narration 😀 I know how you feel on that one. I’ve tried it a few times too. It is scary when you post it first wondering how people will respond. I loved the quiet tone of your voice which I thought was perfect for your piece of film.

    All the best for lots of wildlife moments and filming in 2009 😀

  7. Hi Jane, this is v impressive, can you drop me a line off the website where this is please. I don’t think I’ve come across a Jackdaw Roost this big before, and I’d like to see this myself. It may just be that some nordic jackdaws [Corvus monedula monedula] are in there as with this cold easterly wind, continental birds are coming over now. Easy to spot they have a white collar.

    Mind you I hope you are not hoping to win my Christmas bird challenge with this number of birds? I tried that once with 500k starlings at Shapwick. Needless to say I was disqualified !!!!

  8. Neil. You are absolutely right. I went out looking for jackdaws feeding yesterday and ended up seeing loads of lapwings and two buzzards feeding on the ground… Jane

  9. Shirl. Hope you had a great Christmas and that your daughter is getting better now. Happy New Year to you and all your family and I just know you will have loads for me to read about in 2009! Thanks for your comments on the narration. Glad it didn’t sound too “mad”. Might even do it again! Take care. Jane

  10. BR. I hadn’t heard of the nordic jackdaws before your comment. I will look out for them now. I’ve emailed you the info you needed. What you mean my flock of jackdaws don’t count in the challenge! Oh well, back to the drawing board… Jane

  11. Pingback: From a Handful of Coal Tits to Thousands of Jackdaws Video

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