We are starting to see some of the woodland birds forming winter feeding flocks. In the summer the birds are spread out through the woodland, engaged in nest building and the busy duties of feeding and rearing their young.
Through autumn into winter, some species start to form winter flocks, often a mixture of two or more species. They move around busily feeding and chattering and this is often what alerts us to their presence. You can suddenly find yourself surrounded by a chattering flock of hungry birds but within a few minutes they have moved on.
The other day I came across a noisy flock of long tailed tits and blue tits near the woodland pond. Some of the birds where in the higher branches while others were feeding nearer the ground. The calls help the birds to know where other members of the flock are located and help them to move around without leaving anyone behind.
Long tailed tits are quite different in colour to other tit species, at first they appear black and white birds. However a closer look reveals more subtle tones of pink and grey. However their rounded bodies and long tail are the main identification features while feeding in a tree or when in flight.
Winter flocks improve the chances of finding a meal and more eyes to spot a predator.
Other woodland birds, such as robin and blackbird still appear to be in there usual spot in the woodland but it seems much easier to set off their warning calls.
As the winter weather becomes harsh birds will move into gardens and the reserve from the surrounding Downland.