Saturday, 28 November 2015
Managed to get to Fairlop Water this morning, and fortunately the Great Northern Diver was still present. Almost a week after it was found by Steve Bacon & Neil Twyford, it continues to delight all comers and at times can come quite close.
They are inquisitive little birds that endear themselves to many people. Originally a woodland species they have found their way into our gardens and our hearts, so much so they have been Britain’s national bird for over fifty years.
In mainland Europe they are more likely to be seen in a forest environment. As wild boar search for food on the forest floor, they will take advantage and grab a tasty meal as it is uncovered. There are no wild boar in the UK.....or are there! Hmm possibly a future story there! As the forests diminished and the wild boar disappeared here, our robins adapted. The next best thing for turning the soil, is us and so they became a common bird of our towns and gardens!
Their festive image belies a rather more boisterous character. Males and females separate during non-breeding months and are highly territorial, singing the same winter song to warn off competition. Other robins invading their territory will be met with aggressive action and some will even fight to the death!
Robins can begin their courtship from late December. The male will sit in a tree and sing to attract a mate, but interested females have to be careful and determined as both sexes look so similar she could be mistaken for a rival. Once she has won him over the male will bring her gifts of food to cement their union.
Their nests are often located on or near the ground in hollows, nooks and crannies, climbing plants, hedgebanks, tree roots, piles of logs and any other situations that provide a fully concealed cavity. They do use bird boxes, but tend to favour those with open fronts rather than the standard small holes. Robins work hard to raise as many broods of chicks as they can in a year, some will manage three and others as many as five. The young do not have a red breast but are spotted golden brown until they moult in autumn.