Friday, 18 September 2009

A Peek from My Perch and Beyond

The birds in the garden are as active as ever and eating me out of house and home. The Goldfinches visit the Sunflower seed feeders in large numbers throughout the day bringing their young with them.

I always think the juveniles look like they have forgotten to put their clothes on! They look so naked without the vivid plumage of their parents.

'The beauty of Nature the joys of the Spring
In that scrubby place where the Goldfinches sing
Their twittering low notes like fairy bells ring
The wonders of Nature a magical thing.'

(Francis Duggan)

Mum and dad forgot to tell this juvenile that they don't eat peanuts!

But of course these do

Blue Tit

Moving away from the garden, we had a walk around the local reservoir recently, I should mention that trying to get photographs of anything within its perimeter is quite frustrating as observers are unable to get within a decent distance of it. There is a steep, overgrown and impenetrable slope down to the very tall wire fence which surrounds the reservoir. Consequently the following photos are very heavily cropped.

There is often a lone Heron to be seen standing quietly watching and waiting on one of the buoys and on this occasion I was not disappointed. Of course, as is usually the case, it appeared on the opposite side of where we were walking so, wanting to get as near as possible, we hurried round to the other side as quickly as we could where I managed to get this photo.

Needless to say, although I was some distance away it was aware of me and soon decided to move further away to continue its solitary pursuit.

'The grey winds, the cold winds are blowing
Where I go.
I hear the noise of many waters
Far below.
All day, all night, I hear them flowing
To and fro.'

(James Joyce)

As we walked on I spotted some small birds pecking at the water's edge. Being so far away I thought they were Pied Wagtails but on reviewing the photos later I was very pleased to find they were in fact

Grey Wagtail

It has been a long time since I saw a Grey Wagtail and I would love to have been able to get nearer to take better photos but they were still a very nice surprise.

'There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks.
Most of the time we are not patient enough, quiet enough,
to pay attention to the story'

(Linda Hogan)

Of course there are always plenty of gulls around.

It was a reasonably nice day and I was pleased to see other creatures enjoying the sunshine including this

Common Darter

and this lovely

Comma Butterfly

which was on the rather thorny hedgerow on the other side of the reservoir, beyond which is the river. In the trees on the same side I heard the familiar sound of the

Long-tailed Tit

They are such gregarious and energetic little birds and it was lovely to watch them flitting in and out of the branches, chattering to each other all the time.

'There are few birds so quick as we,
When searching for good fare:
We peck the crevice of a tree,
And dart at insects there.

Sometimes we hear them talk within
The hollow where we sit:
"Beware," they say, "draw in, draw in!
Outside there is a Tit." '

(Attributed to Thomas Hardy)

The plant in the photograph below was growing on the river bank.

Orange Balsam

As we walked alongside the canal which runs a short way beyond the other side of the reservoir

we found more of it.

It is a non-native plant which is thought to have been originally introduced into this country as an ornamental plant from North America. It is less aggressively invasive than the Himalayan Balsam.

The next two photos were taken on another walk a few weeks ago on a gloriously warm and sunny day, which, given the rapid onset of autumnal weather this last week, is already starting to feel like a lovely but sadly distant memory.

Willow Warbler

What a graceful and delicately coloured bird this is!

'I feel the grass beneath me swell,
I breathe the rapture of the air,
I hear the chimes of June that tell
Of birth and bridal everywhere.
And in their music floats along
The Willow Warbler's sunbeam song.'

(I. Henry Wallis)

Yes, the sky really was that blue! How I wish our Summers lasted longer or that at the very least they could be consistently good, not heat-waves or thunder storms and definitely not whole days of relentless rain but just pleasantly warm and sunny with some rain at night to keep our lovely countryside green and beautiful.


  1. I loved your photos.Such pretty birds.

  2. What beautiful photos and verses Jan! Your Goldfinches are much different than ours. All the birds are so pretty. Even the little ones with hardly any clothes..Ha!

  3. Such a delightful series of our feathered friends. I have thoroughly enjoyed them, thank you :)

  4. Lovely selection.
    First time I've seen a Goldfinch on a nut feeder lol
    Great capture of the Heron and outstretched wings, and the Willow Warbler, a beauty.

  5. Your photos are always so wonderful. I do think that Heron was showing off for you! He must have seen the camera.

  6. Hi Jan
    Lovely photos as usual the Comma Butterfly and Willow Warbler are great. It Really is a pity that the Res is fenced as it makes things so much harder. We are lucky here three of our reservoir,s can be walked around and have hides on them.

  7. excellent post (as always) shysongbird, beautiful vivid photos, love the ones of the long tailed tits and the shot of the dragonfly.


  8. What a beautiful set of photos Jan. Even at a distance you got some great shots of the Heron.

    I have only seen a Grey Wagtail once and have never seen any warblers as yet. I am patiently waiting for the LTTs to come back to the feeders.

    I was going to revisit my local reservoir in the good weather but unfortunately the pain in my toe made walking very difficult so it will have to wait a while longer.

  9. Great photos, I love the Willowwarbler especially :)

    You also had nice weather! It's been grey and miserable here mostly for the past few days or so with some sunshine, still no rain though...

  10. A beautiful collection of birds. The Willow Warblers are really cute in their pastel colours and you have captured them extremely well.As Monty pointed out we are very lucky in Cornwall with reservoirs and other waters with easy access.
    Very appropriate verse as well.

  11. Another great little post Jan. That reservoir sounds good for a rare duck or two this winter.

  12. Hi Jan,

    Lovely post and super photos of the Goldfinch's and the Grey Heron with it's outstretched wings. The Willow Warbler is a timely reminder of a Summer now gone. But the Chiffchaffs are still in song here.


  13. As always, such beautiful photos, ShySongbird! I always enjoying seeing the birds here, some of which are quite different than anything we have. Our goldfinches, for example, have much more yellow and don't have the red on their heads. The blue tits remind me of our bluejays, but I don't think they're quite the same bird. The willow warbler is completely new to me, though--what a lovely bird!

    Ah, yes, if only summer would last a little longer. In the meantime, we could all take heed from the Linda Hogan quote--being a little more patient to hear "nature's story." Lovely post!

  14. Beautiful photos as always! Thank you for sharing them with us!
    Take Care,

  15. ShySongbird ,
    Your Common Darter is truly what you said it was . As they become over mature , they become a worn beige/brown colour . The Brown Hawker is much larger , with blue (male) or yellow (female) spots on the sides of the abdomen , and both have suffused amber wings .
    You did much better than I did with the Grey Wagtail shots .
    Another enjoyable read .

  16. More of your fabulous photos and words.I love the heron on the buoy and as for the willow warbler...just so sweet and delicate.

  17. Lovely Images,your Grey Wagtail is my favourite shot.
    Well done.

  18. Yolanda and Ginny: Thank you.


    Welcome and thank you for visiting, and for your very kind comments, I do hope you visit again :)


    Thank you so much. I have noticed how different Your Goldfinches are, yours are so yellow and of course have no red. Our juveniles really do look naked don't they ;)

  19. Denise and holdingmoments: Yhank you.


    Thank you for your kind comments, I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit, it is so nice to share my posts :)


    Thanks so much for the very kind comments. That juvenile Goldfinch wasn't just looking at the peanuts, it actually had a taste and then tried some more! Very unusual :)

    I didn't realise I had the Willow Warbler until the other day!! I took the photos a few weeks ago (just a small bird high in a tree) and put them on the computer but didn't get round to actually looking at them properly until a few days ago, when I cropped them I was extremely pleased (to say the least!) to see what I had captured!

  20. RainGardener and Monts: Thank you.


    Thank you so much, the heron did look like it was posing for the camera but it certainly gave me the run-around!


    Thank you very much for your kind comments. Yes, I really think our local reservoir could be improved, I think they started off with good intentions and lost interest somewhere along the line, even the information boards are unreadable now, it is a shame.

  21. denzil and Midmarsh John: Thank you.


    Thank you for your very kind comments. I was really pleased to get the Long-tailed Tits, they were flitting about so much it was a job to get them in focus. I hope we may get some in the garden again before too long, they haven't visited since the early Spring.

    Midmarsh John,

    Thank you for your very kind comments. I hadn't seen a Grey Wagtail for years either, possibly not since a child! I know I saw them then as they are ticked in my childhood copy of The Observers Book of Birds!
    I hope you manage to get to your local reservoir eventually, it is always fun to see what there is.

  22. Liz and The Abbot: Thank you.


    Thank you so much, I was thrilled to get the Willow Warbler photos. I took them a few weeks ago and only looked at them properly a few days ago and was thrilled to see what I had got when I cropped them!
    This weekend was supposed to be dull but has in fact been really pleasant with some good sunshine so far, hope your weekend is enjoyable too.

    The Abbot,

    Thank you for your very kind comments. I was very pleased with the Willow Warbler photos, they posed very prettily for me!
    You are very lucky with your reservoirs, some of ours are better managed but this one could do with a lot of improvement. We went to a nearby lake yesterday which is owned by the National Trust and that has been beautifully managed, a real contrast!

  23. Beautiful photos as always! The Heron and LTT are my favourites. I've never seen a Willow Warbler very good shots of it.

  24. Warren Baker and John: Thank you.


    Thanks very much. I shall remember that in the Winter and see if I can hunt down a rarity and report back!


    Thanks for your kind comments. Summer seemed to be so short this year although we have just had a nice few days and this weekend has been far better than promised but Autumn seems to be fast approaching now. I wonder if the
    Winter will go as quickly as the Summer!

  25. Rose and Cherrie: Thank you.


    Thank you for your very nice comments. I have noticed how much some of our birds differ from yours even the ones with the same name such as the Goldfinch, as you said. I have also noticed the similarity between our Blue Tit and your Blue Jay. I think your Blue Jay is quite a bit larger though, the Blue Tit is quite tiny.


    Thank you very much, it is a pleasure to share them with you.

  26. Greenie,

    Thank you very much for your nice comments and for being kind enough to confirm my ID. Your information about the Common Darter's colour changes explains my confusion. Thanks also for explaining the differences between the Common Darter and the Brown Hawker, your expertise is much appreciated as always.

  27. swatson and JRandSue: Thank you.


    Thank you for your very kind comments. I was so pleased to get a photo of the Willow Warbler and I agree it does look a delicate little bird, it posed very prettily by that blossom too ;)


    Thank you very much John, it was such a surprise when I put the photos on to the computer and found they were Grey Wagtails rather than Pied, I was 'well chuffed' :)

  28. your photos are beautiful and the wonderful words that accompany them are always a treasure.
    i love seeing the differences in birds that you have compared to what we have.
    happy september.

  29. ...lovely photos of the heron. I especially like the one with his wings spread perching on the orange ball (if I squint, I can pretend it's a floating pumpkin....). I always love seeing photos of the Long-tailed Tits, they have such sweet faces. We do have the Orange Balsam here. It's common name is Jewelweed, and I see all along the Little Miami River. It is an anti-inflammatory. The Native Americans used to use it to help with poison ivy!

  30. An interesting visit to your garden Jan and your local reservoir looks promising.

    I love the shots of the Heron in the sunlight and congrats on your Warbler...a lovely bird.

  31. You've done it again, Jan! A wonderful series of photos! Loved seeing birds that are so different from the ones we see here. They have so much colour! I also liked the canal shot and the Comma butterfly. So pretty! I hope you get to enjoy some more of the kind of summer days that you've written about.

  32. Pam,

    Thank you very much. I always get a thrill when I see the Long-tailed Tits, such busy little birds and, I always think unusual, with the pink. I think it is easy to miss Willow Warblers and others with similar colouring, they blend so well with the trees!

  33. The orange balsam looks like the plant we call Jewel Weed. It is the bloom hummingbirds depend on for nectar during migration.

    The beaks on your blue tits look so tiny. What a charming, dainty little bird.

  34. Lovely bird AND butterfly photos ShySongbird!

  35. Hi again Jan, loved catching up on your garden and its wildlife… LOL almost everyone visits my peanut feeders :-D

    Great photos of the Heron…. I know what you mean about it moving when you get near. Recently we had a single one fly right over the house… I couldn’t believe it was so quiet!

    Ah… you’ve just reminded me I’ve got some grey wagtail pics somewhere too. Like you I couldn’t get close. Lovely to see the LTT’s again… I wonder when we will see them up here.

    So many lovely shots here but my fav has to be the Willow warbler… what wonderful colours in these shots :-D

    Enjoy the rest of your week :-D

  36. Hi Jan, breathtaking pictures! Me and my brother were talking tonight about how we would love to get a huge lens for are cameras. He was trying too gat some pictures of some red deer at the weekend but could of done with an even bigger lens. I have put one on my Christmas list! ;0)

    I must show my brother your beautiful pictures! :0) my mum can’t seem too keep up with feeding all the birds at the moment.

    Take care love Lou and Poppy xxx

  37. Marmee and Kelly: Thank you.


    Thank you for your very kind comments. Since entering the wonderful world of blogland :) I have been fascinated to see so many birds and butterflies in different parts of the world which are so different from the ones we have here, some of them are so much more exotic looking than ours!
    Have a wonderful week.


    Thank you so much, how nice of you to find the time to visit while you are at the symposium!
    You are right, the LTTs do have pretty little faces.
    That is very interesting about the Orange Balsam (I like the name Jewelweed)) I had no idea it was an anti-inflammatory. I had a feeling some of my friends (such as yourself) in your part of the world would recognise it :)

  38. Tricia and Kanak Hagjer: Thank you.


    Thank you for your kind comments. It isn't a very big reservoir but is always a nice place to walk, it is just a shame it is not more user friendly, I'm sure it would benefit from some improvements, a couple of hides enabling the observer to get nearer would be welcome.
    I was very pleased to get the Willow Warbler photos :)


    Thank you for your very kind comments :)
    The Goldfinches in particular are very colourful and always guaranteed to brighten a dull day.
    Although Autumn is moving on apace now we have had some lovely sunshine in the last few days and are promised more for a few days to come, I hope they have the forecast right, sunshine makes such a difference to one's spirit I think.

  39. Roses and Lilacs and Gilly,


    Thank you very much. I have just found out from Kelly that the Orange Balsam or Jewel Weed (what a lovely name) is an anti-inflammatory but I had no idea that it is also relied upon for nectar by the Humming Bird during migration, that is so interesting, thank you for telling it has started to become established here wouldn't it be wonderful if the Humming Bird followed?!! Sadly, not likely I'm afraid but I can always dream ;)


    Thank you very much for your kind comments. Keep up the wonderful work you are doing!

  40. Your photos are exquisite!
    I have been seeing many herons here, some Great Blue and the Night Heron.
    Your photos amaze me and how you were able to capture the beauty of their flight!

  41. Wonderful pictures. Really enjoyed them.

  42. Dear Jan,
    Thank you for a lovely post. Each time I see your birds I am awed...
    I also love seeing the Comma...I feel connected since I also have them in my backyard.
    The Willow Warbler is beautiful....
    does it sing sweetly?
    Thank you again...lovely.

  43. Fantastic collection,loved your Longtail Tit and Grey wagtail.

  44. Hi Songbird...OMG what awesome photos you have given us this post!! Im loving the ones of the longtailed tit...such a cute bird and so candid are the shots!..heavy crop or not that action shot of the heron is wonderful. Thanks for the nice comments you left for me!!

  45. Our Summer was short and wet, so seeing your lovely photos, and all the birds and butterflies and blossoms have really cheered me!

  46. Shirl and Lou: Thank you.


    Thanks for your very kind comments. That must have been a very impressive sight to see the Heron flying over your house, I wonder if you managed a photo?
    I really thought I had Pied Wagtails, probably because I often see them in that spot so I was very pleased to find they were Greys, of course I am hoping for Yellows next ;)
    I haven't seen LTTs in the garden since early Spring but hope they will return soon as they did last year. I hope yours do too.
    I'm glad you like the Willow Warbler photos, I must admit I was pleased with them, they are such delicately coloured birds.
    Have a geat weekend Shirl :)


    Thank you for the lovely comments. I do have a longer lens but don't take it out with me as it is heavy to lug around. I find my medium one along with some judicious cropping is generally adequate.
    Like your Mum I am finding it difficult to keep up with the demands of the birds and having to refill the feeders daily.
    I hope you are feeling a bit better now and that you will have fun on your new college course.
    Lots of love and XXXX to you and Poppy.

  47. Nan and =^..^= and oldcrow61: Thank you.


    Thank you so much for your very kind comments. Herons always look so lonely to me just watching and waiting in one place for so long, I do love to see them.


    Thank you very much :)

  48. Q and JRandSue: Thank you:


    Thank you very much for your lovely comments. It is nice to know we have the Comma in feel that connection :)
    The Willow Warbler does indeed have a sweet song and I was so pleased to get the photos.
    Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy your safari ;)


    Thank you for your kind comments John, much appreciated :)

  49. The orange balsam you show is very similar to, perhaps the same as, what we call jewelweed in the US. The local lore is that it will be found growing near poison ivy and that you can crush its leaves to use topically to sooth the rash you get from poison ivy.

    Enjoyed all your lovely photos.

  50. Absolutely stunning set of pictures shysongbird. your posts are amazing x

  51. Dixxe's Doodles and Sheila: Thank you.


    Thank you very much and it is nice to have you back after your travels! The Long-tailed Tits are lovely little birds, almost fairy-like I always think, always flitting around. The Heron gave me a bit of a run around but did provide me with some decent photos.


    Thank you for your kind comments. Our Summer was pretty short but a lot better than the previous two and we were able to make the most of the good days. The last few days have been lovely here too, quite autumnal but lovely sunshine and warm in the daytime.

  52. Some lovely pictures and a very nice post.

  53. What a pretty little bird the Grey Wagtail is! I love the soft coloring, as well as the Willow Warbler. Lovely!

    It seems we gardeners want Heaven on earth with no heatwaves or drought, but I do love a good thunderstorm. I love to hear the thunder roll across the sky, sounding so much like a grumbling old man. And I love to snuggle under a blanket at night with the sound of rain hitting the window and dripping off the eaves of the house.

  54. Many thanks for the squirrel sound ID. I'd have never got that despite 45 years 'in the business'.
    You learn something new everyday!
    Reading your other commenters what a shame we don't get any Humming birds to go with your Orange Balsam/Jewel Weed.



  55. I found you through Midmarsh John's site, and just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the walk to the reservoir and along the canal with's so interesting to see the birds in your vicinity. A lovely variety ~ the little ones are really sweet, aren't they? I live on the west coast of Canada, so a long way off!

  56. Wilma and Karen: Thank you.


    Thank you so much for your kind comments. It has been interesting to hear all about the Orange Balsam/Jewelweed from all my lovely friends across the 'pond'. Your comment about it growing by Poison Ivy immediately reminded me that we have Dock over here which is a plant reputed to always grow close to Stinging Nettles and, in my experience, that is the case. As a child whenever I got stung by a nettle my mother would look for a Dock leaf growing nearby to put on the sting and ease the pain.


    Thank you so much for your lovely comments, you are very kind :)

  57. Pete and Angie: Thank you.


    Thanks, it certainly is!


    Welcome and thank you very much for visiting. Thank you also for your very kind comments :)

  58. Dear Morning Glories,

    Thank you so much for your kind comments. I had been hoping to see a Grey Wagtail for some time and just the other day saw some more which will go on a future post! As for the Willow Warbler, I didn't even realise what I had got until I reviewed the photos some time later, I must admit I was very pleased with those photos, it really posed beautifully for me!

    I too love to be snug and comfortable and listen to the sound of the rain outside but I don't like thunder storms at all! If I knew it wouldn't do any damage it would not worry me but we hear such awful stories of lightning strikes that it does unnerve me somewhat. Also our dog, Louis, hates it and takes a long time to relax afterwards.

    We have beautiful sunshine today, I hope your weather is good too so that you can enjoy your garden.

  59. Beautiful and lovely shots !! The Birds are so beautiful !!Unseen Rajasthan

  60. You have so many wonderful captures here! The Herring photos are outstanding, too. Needless to say, I enjoyed your dragonfly capture! We have the Orange Balsam, I believe that's what you called it, growing freely in my woods. I always wondered what it was. I enjoyed my visit of seeing nature through your eyes!

  61. Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris,

    Thank you Dave and welcome. I'm glad I was able to help, I too thought it was a bird when I first heard it a few years ago, a natural assumption I think!

    Yes, when I was told about the link between Orange Balsam/Jewelweed and Hummingbirds my first thought was if only....;)

  62. Glo,

    Welcome and thank you so much for visiting and for your very kind comments. I have seen your comments on John's site, if I recall you are the talented lady who wrote a lovely poem for him (I hope I have that right).

    I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit and you will be most welcome any time, it is lovely to see wildlife in different parts of the world.

    Yes you are a long way away but I shall visit you very soon that is the beauty of blogland ;)

  63. Hi,

    Great photos here, I thought they were beautiful. We, too are seeing plenty of bird life at the moment in our garden.

    One of the Blue Tits in this posting looked very scruffy, like some of the ones we are seeing around here at the moment. Great shot of the Willow Warbler. It can sometimes be very hard to spot them, let alone take a photo like that!

  64. Unseen Rajasthan and spookydragonfly: Thank you.

    Unseen Rajasthan,

    Thank you for your very kind comments :)


    How very nice to have you back and thank you very much for your kind comments! I'm so glad I had a Dragonfly to welcome you back ;)
    My other friends across the pond tell me that the Orange Balsam is commonly called Jewelweed over there and has anti-inflammatory properties and is also relied upon by the Hummingbird during its migration.

  65. Joe,

    Thank you for your very kind comments.

    I'm glad you have lots of bird activity in your garen, they have been eating huge amounts of seed here but in the last few days the Sparrowhawk has been around so they are keeping a lower profile.

    I was very pleased with the Willow Warbler photos and didn't realise how nicely it had posed for me until I looked at them on the computer :)


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