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Old 22nd November 2011, 11:00 AM   #11
Rowena
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yes it is quite a mystery!! and 8 strikes does seem to put sick birds out of the picture. good idea to move the suet away as magpies and starlings to tend to gorge on them so this might give the smaller birds a bit more space and time to get out of danger.
keep us posted!

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Old 22nd November 2011, 11:22 AM   #12
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Will do. Just out of interest we've just taken delivery of two trees and two holly bushes which we're planning on planting up the back of the garden.
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Old 22nd November 2011, 04:00 PM   #13
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Another goldfinch bit the dust this afternoon. Unusually though there were still a few goldfinches around the feeder despite the evidence on the lawn so I stood to observe for a while.

It wasn't long before a couple of magpies turned up and this time I actually witnessed one trying to catch the birds around the feeder. It would walk up until it was under the feeder and then fly upwards scattering the birds and trying to catch one who was a little bit slow off the mark. This time it didn't succeed.

The thing is, the other birds just don't seem at all wary of the magpies until they get within striking distance. I'm pretty sure if a hawk came along they would all scatter at first sight of it but not with the magpies. For the magpies it has obviously become like shooting fish in a barrel and is becoming just too easy. Now that they've learnt how easy it is I suspect moving any suet out of the garden isn't going to stop them turning up and continuing to hoover up the smaller birds.

I'm wondering whether to stop putting food out for a while but it's only likely to start happening again once I resume. Other than gathering all the goldfinches together for a classroom session on why a magpie isn't your friend, I've run out of ideas.
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Old 22nd November 2011, 04:38 PM   #14
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well, that is unusual! martin has never heard of this kind of behaviour in magpies. so i'm afraid we cant really give you any further words of wisdom :O( but apparently there is a
fascinating programme on bird intelligence & behaviour, particularly in crows. BBC R4 tonight - might be worth a listen??
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Old 22nd November 2011, 04:57 PM   #15
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Thanks Rowena. I might try and listen to the programme if I remember. I'll keep the thread updated with any developments. I suspect a battle of wits is in order. I thought outwitting the squirrels would be hardest thing I had to do but this is likely to be a bit more difficult.
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Old 23rd November 2011, 10:20 AM   #16
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yes i should imagine blood thirsty magpies are much harder to deal with! well, hopefully the local goldfinch will learn to keep their wits about them before long.
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Old 25th November 2011, 11:11 AM   #17
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Well, well, it turns out we do have a sparrowhawk after all. I was about to post this morning that since I took away the suet a couple of days ago we'd had less magpies and no fatalities. I sat in the kitchen with my camera on the tripod trying to get a picture of a feeder full of goldfinches when something large swooped across the garden with a detour towards a hawthorn at the back. As it did this I caught a sight of what could only be a bird of prey from the back with it's wings spread. To be honest at first I thought it was an owl although I'm not sure why.

About ten minutes later I was looking out from an upstairs window when I saw it coming back over the gardens further down the street and this time it perched on a post in a neighbours garden whence I could see it was a male sparrowhawk. I dashed downstairs to get my camera but couldn't see it from the kitchen. I got back upstairs just to see it drop off the post into the neighbours garden at the back. There are too many trees to see what it did next and obviously I missed my picture. But I guess the agenda is set for the day now... try and get a picture of said bird. It's easy to see why they are so successful. The first attack was over in a second. So fast in fact that I didn't even see whether it caught anything. The second time it came back there were no birds on the feeder which is why I suspect it touched down on a nearby post.

I still think the magpies have been taking their share though.

Exciting stuff.
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Old 25th November 2011, 03:12 PM   #18
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Hi peggo, they are quite expert in what they do. I know we dont like it in our own back yard but where there are lots of birds it has more of a chance.

Pine Marten.
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Old 25th November 2011, 04:28 PM   #19
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It was a magnificent sight. I've spent a lot of the day looking out for it again but I haven't seen it. I'm still certain the magpies have been at it too seeing as I caught one in the act. Hopefully at some point I can get a picture of the sparrowhawk and post it on here. I was literally 3 seconds away from getting one this morning.

I may have to go and get another feeder pole tomorrow. The recent wind has practically broken ours in half!!!
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Old 8th December 2011, 10:14 AM   #20
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Finally managed to get a pic. It might be the worst picture in the world and it might look like a wood pigeon in the blackness but it's a picture nonetheless.

I was waiting for my toast to pop up and watching a feeder full of goldies when they all took off. A split second later it was obvious why as the hawk zoomed in. It didn't managed to get anything and stopped off in the trees at the back. I did try to get closer but as soon as I stepped on the back step it was off.

I haven't actually seen any evidence of any kills for a few weeks now. That's since I took all the suet out. I've also thinned the feeders out by putting the peanuts and niger feeders in the trees. Maybe the two things are not connected. However, we aren't getting any magpies in the garden now and that's alright by me.
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