Posted by: Ross Gardner | October 1, 2012

Books and Bird-feeders

My book signing day at Lackford Lakes was a most pleasant one.  It was a successful one in terms of books, but made all the more memorable thanks to the entertainment of the bird-feeders outside the centre window.  I managed to bag a few opportunistic snaps of the near constant comings and goings throughout the day.  Bearing this opportunism in mind and the fact that I do not possess anything like the appropriate lenses for bird photography, I was quite pleased with one of the pictures in particular.

The subject of this shot was one of two Marsh Tit that frequented the feeders, along with the more expected Blue and Great, and a Goldfinch that sat for some minutes gorging on niger seed.  The Marsh Tit by means a scarce bird, occurring throughout England and Wales (and a fair chunk of Europe), but only in the extreme south of Scotland and not at all across the Irish Sea.  Nor is it confined in any way to marshes, but for most it is seen a good deal less than those other two named above.

Marsh Tit (Poecile (formerly Parus) palustris). Ross Gardner 2012

It also poses something of an ID challenge in separating it from the very similar (and increasingly scarce) Willow Tit.  Many books will draw attention to the subtle differences between their black caps (Willows have a more extensive and less glossy one) and the size of the black bib beneath the bill (again, the Willow’s is a bit larger).  For me, I find the lack of paler feathers on the wing of the Marsh Tit to be quite useful, giving it a uniformly grey-brown plumage.

Restricted as I was to the visitor centre, I still had the opportunity to observe something of the rich wildlife of this excellent nature reserve (visitors to the centre showed us pictures of Grass Snake and Ruddy Darter) and which I have been able to view in a somewhat less sedentary fashion on my visits here before.  A young Stoat dashing across the track in the morning as we drove in.  A Migrant Hawker patrolling the pond behind the feeders.  Small White and Red Admiral, and the distant Grey Heron and House Martin that hinted at the assorted ornithological riches on and over the lakes across the way.  It’s a great place.  Visit it.


  1. I am not a birder by any means and this is a new bird to me. I might have misidentified it as a coal tit if I had seen it here in Surrey. Glad the book signing went well.

  2. Thank you very much. Shame the image wasn’t sharper, but hey, I’ll leave the photography to proper photographers like yourself. Thanks for looking in.

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