Tuesday, 12 May 2009

In My May Garden

Like much of the country it has been lovely sunshine here for the last week or so and the birds have been enjoying it as much as we humans.

Collared Dove

'The greenfinch on the apple bough
Could make my enemies tremble.'
(George Orwell)


The Starlings have been using their usual bully boy tactics and coming to the garden in gangs, they seem to gobble all the food in moments, squabbling among themselves all the time. I do think though, that when they come in singly, it is possible to appreciate that they are really very attractive birds and their lovely colours glisten like jewels in the sunlight.

'The starling in the ivy now,
For to amuse his dear,
Mimics the dog, the cat, the cow,
Blackbird and Chanticleer.'
(Katharine Tynan)


The colours of the Goldfinch always brighten the garden and in the sunlight look even more vivid.

I have been very pleased to see a pair of House Sparrows on the feeders this last week or two, they really have become very rare visitors to my garden in the last few years. I managed to photograph both male and female but unfortunately the male one came out very blurred, so I have only been able to use two photos of the female.

'But 'mong thy creatures that do sing
Perhaps of all I likest am to the housetop-haunting sparrow,
That flies brief, sudden flights upon a dumpy, fluttering wing,
And chirps thy praises from a throat that's very short and narrow.'
(George MacDonald)

House Sparrow

The Dunnock is still busy scurrying around, I hope there may be a nest in the garden and that I will see youngsters eventually.


I purposely use the smallest hanging seed feeders I can find so that the bigger birds are prevented from using them, as there is plenty of provision for them elsewhere in the garden. Generally this works well and the smaller birds are left to feed in peace although there have been some memorable exceptions, for instance on this occasion. But what I saw one day last week took the biscuit, or in this case the seed! I had wondered why this particular feeder kept emptying so quickly, and here is the reason, caught in the act on camera! You have to admire its ingenuity!

Wood Pigeon

There are always plenty of Blackbirds in my garden. Last year there were several successful broods raised, so I suspect there will be more this time although I was talking to someone today who said the pair of Blackbird's nesting in his garden have had two clutches of eggs taken by Magpies already this season.

Of course even during nesting time there is always time for a spot of sunbathing.

Talking of nests, when we took the shed down last week I was dismayed to find a nest wedged amongst the Holly and Ivy at the side of the shed, there was no sign of inhabitants or eggs and it may be an old nest but I think it could be one which had just been constructed and abandoned when the shed was demolished. It was such a clever and safe place to build it and would normally have been undisturbed. I do hope if it was an abandoned one that the occupants have built somewhere else nearby.

Of course the sunshine has also brought the flowers out as well.

Clematis Pink Perfection



Every year I am thrilled to see the wild Cowslip growing in my lawn, we think it came in the turf when it was originally laid some years ago, either that or it was seeded by a bird. We are careful to mow round it until it has gone over and it seems quite happy to come back year after year.

'In the cowslip pips I lie,

Hidden from the buzzing fly,
While green grass beneath me lies,
Pearled with dew like fishes' eyes,
Here I lie, a clock-o'-clay,
Waiting for the time o' day.'
(John Clare)

My very old Paeony which originated from my mother and father-in-law's garden is in full bud.


While my miniature Rhododendron is now in full flower.


Icelandic Poppy

This London Pride, or Pretty Betty as I have always known it, is a favourite which I remember was always in my mother's garden, it is quite an unassuming little plant but is easy to grow and provides good ground cover.

'London Pride has been handed down to us.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be.
London Pride is a flower that's free.'
(Noel Coward)

London Pride

Finally these Aquilegia or Columbine seed themselves readily round the garden and produce some interesting colours and shapes when they cross pollinate.

'Bring cornflag, tulip and Adonis flower,
Fair Oxeye, goldylocks and columbine.'
'Ben Johnson'


All photographs taken by me in the garden.


  1. What a lovely read with beautiful photos, and then to cap it all some nice pieces of poetry. Must have taken quite a while to put it all together.
    As for the Wood Pigeons, it's not just the amount they can tuck into but the extra they scatter when they knock the feeders about.

  2. I totally agree about the starlings; some have found out about the mealworms on offer and will go away with 10 if they can, the 'poor' tits can't compete with that... But I still like them, and they do need a bit of help too, so I let them occasionnally.

    And I find the ingenuity the woodpigeons and pigeons show at times to get to food quite remaarkable, even if I don't always welcome it...

  3. You've had a busy time by the looks of things Songbird! Lovely assortment of photo's today. keep up your enthusiasm!

  4. What a delightful blog to pop onto this afternoon, I really enjoyed your pictures as well as the accompanying words - lovely stuff shysongbird

  5. can only repeat what the others have said.Fabulous photos,words and poems.Put together what a lovely little book that would make

  6. Wonderful stroll round your garden, in pictures and words.
    Clever of the Wood Pigeon to get at the feeder like that. I noticed my Magpie visitor sat on top of the feeder arm, reaching down to the fat balls the other day.
    I think birds are much smarter than we think at times. lol
    Love that shot of the sunbathing Blackbird.

  7. Hi Shysongbird,

    Great posting here, I enjoyed reading it. Your garden is certainly busy at the moment. I loved the Woodpigeon shot. They are similar in our garden and I reckon it won't be long until they break one of the feeders :-)

    I liked your flowers at the moment too.

  8. is it me or do greenfinches always look angry

  9. Boy do those Greenfinch look mean!!! Hahaha, they always have this scowl, perhaps why they argue so much! :)

    Lovely photos, it's been so lovely recently, have you noticed there are loads of aphids around?? I'm having problems with them this year!

  10. A very lovely post Jan. I particularly liked all the flower pics. I've spent so much time catching up on other blogs that I even forgot to check if the pots need watering - another task for after work tomorrow maybe.

  11. Awesome shots of your backyard birds! Love the long stretch of the wood pigeon! And the face of your Goldfinch wow!

  12. What a lively garden you have, Shy Songbird! So lovely! We have a huge colony of house sparrows that live in our Lady Banks Rose Bush. I had to chuckle over your description of those naughty Starlings. They really do travel in gangs, don't they? I call them the thugs of the garden. Hee, hee!

  13. Hi shysongbird! What a wonderful post! i dont know where to start! The birds look amazing, and i agree with the others in that the greenfinches look scary!! Love the goldies, and the pigeon tackling the feeder is just fab! Lovely poems and flowers too. karen x

  14. What a great post Jan - thank you for the journey around your garden with the birds, flowers and poetry.

    You're right about the starlings - they have amazing colours! They're also very clever at mimicking sounds as your poem suggests!

  15. Oh how lovely! I have been wanting to take some update piccies in my garden, but it's been so windy these last few days. It isn't today, but it is raining instead! Bah!

    I used to go into a right old rage with the starlings are they swooped in a gang of about 20 and decimated the bird cafe - hooligans! But they are indeed very beautiful birds.


  16. John, thank you so much. Yes it did take a while to get it how I wanted but it was fun.

    The Wood Pigeons certainly are very determined where food is concerned, I think I may have to buy a cheaper mix to put on the tables as they eat such vast quantities.

  17. Nathalie, thank you so much for visiting again.

    The Starlings, Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves really do consume an awful lot of food between them. It does seem a shame that it sometimes prevents the smaller birds from getting their fair share. Which is why I try to put food in different places around the garden and in positions more awkward for the bigger birds to get at.

  18. Warren, thank you for the very kind comments. I really do appreciate your encouragement.

  19. Jayne, thank you very much. I did enjoy putting it all together, it took a while though.

  20. Sheila, thanks so much. You are very generous and have me blushing now! ;~)

  21. Keith, thank you very much. The WP was very determined and I have been mean now and adjusted the feeder slightly so it can't reach ;~) At least that is the theory, but as you say they are much more clever than we give them credit for!

    One day last year I saw a whole row of Blackbirds sunbathing along there, it does worry me when they do that in case a cat creeps up on them.

  22. A great post, I love your photos and what a sneaky Woodpigeon!

  23. Joe, thank you for the kind comments.
    I suspect on the odd occasion I have found the feeders on the ground it may well have been the WPs were responsible!

    It is lovely to see all the different flowers blooming now although the very strong winds we have had this last few days hasn't done them any favours.

  24. Pete, it's definitely not you, they do have THE most grumpy faces, which of course was why I thought the Orwell quote was so apt, their faces could indeed make anyone tremble! :~D

  25. Liz, thank you. The Grenfinches live up to their grumpy looks I think as they always seem to dominate the feeders, the Goldfinches and Tits seem quite wary of them.

    Hopefully the Hoverflies, Wasps etc will make inroads into the aphids. I have noticed the Blue Tits hunting for insects in the apple tree a lot lately, hopefully to feed their little ones.

  26. Frank, thank you for your kind comments. It is the catching up with other blogs which I find time consuming along with answering comments, but it is very enjoyable and so nice to be part of 'blogland'. I do have an awful lot of gardening to catch up with though, and as for ironing etc...... :~(

  27. Dixxe, thanks for the lovely comments, who would have thought that Wood Pigeons could stretch so far?!!

    I have noticed how the different birds seem to have 'expressions' on their faces when you see them in close up, and some not too happy looking!

  28. Morning Glories, thank you so much for your lovely comments. The garden does seem busy at the moment with lots of new shoots coming through and much bird activity.

    We used to have enormous numbers of Sparrows until the last few years and they are officially in decline in the UK which is such a shame, so I am always glad to see the odd one or two visiting.

    As for the Starlings!!! They apparently are also in decline here but I can't say I have noticed! They are amusing to watch though. :~D

  29. Karen, thank you so much for all your very kind comments :~D

    The birds can all be very comical in their own way and I think their own individual behaviour varies as much as ours!

  30. A delightful visit to your garden!
    Starlings are so beautiful in their details...sometimes we tend to over look something that is plentiful but when we take a moment, we find everything is quite unique.
    Love to see the different birds and flowers you have across the ocean.
    Beautiful post!

  31. Tricia, thank you, you are always very welcome.

    I used to hear Starlings mimicking telephones and I'm sure recently I have heard them mimicking car alarms and even camera shutters!

  32. Mara, welcome and thank you so much for visiting and commenting.

    It has been terribly windy here too this last few days with lots of newly emerged leaves being ripped from the trees, and today it is dull and rainy :~(
    It is indeed when the Starlings visit in gangs that they are so annoying, the odd one or two can be appreciated!

  33. Pam, thank you very much for the lovely comments. The WP was indeed sneaky, I had to laugh when I spotted it and it stayed there for ages!

  34. Nan, thank you for your lovely and very generous comments.

    You are so right about us not always noticing the detail in things which are plentiful and familiar, it is good sometimes to just take time and look more carefully.

  35. Hi Jan .....a lovely post......I do like some of the poetry and prose....it adds another dimension that is so charming....

    Starlings and sparrows are lively birds and I love them both. They are, of course, both in decline, so love them or hate we should all perhaps try and tolerate them..

    Two years agoduring the winter we had around 800 starlings, roosting in our old hedge at night. It became very noisy and smelly....after four months they left......after heavy rain, you would never have known they had been there. I have learnt to be more tolerant with age.....it is beneficial to me and to the wildlife I love.......

    The photographs of your blooms are delightful....thank you for showing the wonders of your space.......especially woody, gave me a smile.....

  36. Every post you do always brings a smile too my face, so many lovely pictures of so many different birds.
    I would love to see all of them in my garden!
    I’m off too have another read all over again…love Lou xxx

  37. Cheryl, thank you so much for your very lovely and generous comments, I do look forward to your visits.

    800 Starlings in your hedge!! Oh my goodness! You must have thought you were in the midst of an Alfred Hitchcock film!!
    But actually what a privilege, and what a very large hedge that must be!

    I do agree about being tolerant, I've come to the conclusion over the years that it is best to try and work with, and around, Nature rather than against her as so many do with chemicals etc.

  38. Dear Lou, thank you so much for your lovely comments, as always your visit brought a smile to MY face.

    I do hope your Granddad is improving
    Lots of love and XXXX to you and Poppy.

  39. Oh, your May garden is absolutely beaming with birds and blooms! Every one of your photos captures the season beautifully...yet, the first capture of the dove is magical!

  40. Wow! A beautiful and detailed post. When I saw the photo of the Greenfinch and read the quote by Orwell I laughed out loud...a perfect fit. All of your flowers are gorgeous. The Wood Pigeon photo made me laugh as well... :-)

  41. spookydragonfly, thank you so much for visiting again and for your very kind comments.

    I'm afraid all that lovely sunshine has deserted us this last two days, it is dull and miserable at the moment!

    I'm so glad you liked the photo of the Collared Dove, my husband said I was to be sure to include that one as he liked it too.

  42. Kelly, welcome and thanks so much for visiting and for your lovely comments. I was very pleased to be able to match the Orwell quote with the photo, especially as the Greenfinch really was sat on an apple bough and they do have scary faces! The Wood Pigeon was definitely being cheeky!

  43. Hi Jan.
    What a great variety of photo's you have taken. I agree with you, the Starling is a very under rated looking bird. In the right light it is very attractive. I like the one of the Blackbird taking in the suns rays.

  44. Ken, thanks for the kind comments. I do worry when the Blackbirds sunbathe as they are sitting targets for the neighbours cat which is a constant nuisance despite two pricey electronic cat deterrents!

  45. Dear Shy Songbird,
    I have enjoyed your birds and blooms so very much this morning!
    Thank you for the poetry and the garden tour. I just love your gardens.

  46. Sherry, thank you so much for your lovely and generous comments. It has been miserable here the last few days with very heavy rain last night, so I am hoping for more sunshine soon! :-)

  47. Thank you so much for stopping by this morning - I'm so glad you did so I could find your wonderful blog :-) I've enjoyed looking through some of your past posts and see you also have a lovely black dog. How old is Louis?
    Have a lovely weekend!

  48. Deb, thank you for your very kind comments. Louis is ten years old but I can hardly believe I am saying that as he still behaves like a puppy in many ways. He is very much a gentle giant and thinks everyone is his friend and greets them as if they are!

    I hope you have a lovely weekend too.

  49. jan,

    wonderful words and images to go with them...i love flowers and poetry together...it just makes sense to me. i loved seeing what is going on in your garden...very lovely. the cow slips are so tiny and pretty.
    may garden blessings to you.

  50. Marmee, thank you so much for your very lovely comments. I do enjoy linking flowers with poetry and there are so many lovely poems to choose from.

    The Cowslips are a joy to look forward to each year and all the more special being self set.

    Have a wonderful time in your May garden.

  51. Hi there ShySongbird :-)

    Sorry, not been by sooner. What wonderful garden images with accompanying text. I do love the May garden and yours is a pretty and busy place by the looks of it. I love to see the Blackbirds sunbathe too but yes cats at this time of year can give cause for concern especially with all the young birds fledging too.

    Your pigeon is way brighter that mine but I’ve changed the feeders about so I wonder if they’ll be back to try again. The Jackdaws were pretty persistent too… it would be much easier for them to get to the peanuts now too… not a deliberate move. Trying to stop the Starlings taking all the sunflower hearts!

    I love what’s blooming in your garden now too. My London Pride is only starting to open flowers now. I love to see a sea of these tiny flowers. Hope you are getting drier weather with you. Although the rain is making the greens in the garden look quite tropical don’t you think? Have a great week :-D

  52. Shirl, thank you very much and it's lovely to see you any time.

    There is one persistent cat who just doesn't get the message that it is not welcome here! I have two electronic cat deterrents but it still persists, if I spot it I race down the garden with a bottle and sprinkle it with a few drops of water which gets rid of it for a while!

    The Starlings, Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves are a greedy lot, we don't have Jackdaws in the garden but I imagine they can be the same!

    My London Pride has formed quite a clump now and has excelled itself this year, such a delicate looking, but sturdy little plant I think.

    The torrential downpours are getting boring here now, perhaps we will have a change of fortune when June comes in, how can it be nearly June again!!

    Have a lovely weekend in or out of the garden!


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