Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Wee Tim'rous Beastie!

First of all belated Christmas greetings to all of you and very best wishes for the New Year. This post has taken much longer than I would have liked due to various problems. Obviously this is not the best time of year for anything to do with Nature photography and I have not been in the best of health recently, there are so many nasty viruses around at the moment and unfortunately I have succumbed to some of them as I usually do at this time of year. The biggest drawback regarding blogging and indeed photography at the moment though, is that I am waiting for laser surgery on my eyes due to difficulties caused by the side effects of long term medication for respiratory problems, therefore I find it a strain to use the computer at the moment and increasingly difficult to take photos :(

I have been very touched by all of you lovely blogland friends who sensed something was awry and have sent messages and emails with Christmas Greetings and enquiries as to my welfare recently. It is very, very kind of you all and much appreciated and I do hope to get round to thanking everyone personally eventually. I will try to post and comment as often as I can but hope you will bear with me until things hopefully return to some semblance of normality before too long.

Thankfully, so far, we have escaped the worst of the snow here although the sprinkling we did have in the week before Christmas quickly froze solid and turned the roads and paths into treacherous ice rinks! The garden has, of course, been very busy during the freezing weather with all the poor birds frantically trying to keep themselves fuelled against the bitter cold. I have had a large amount of Blackbirds visiting and they have been very aggressive with each other and also towards other species. There was a huge commotion a few days ago when one had another spreadeagled on the ground and was on top attacking and fiercely pecking it. The poor thing was screeching loudly, I banged on the window and all the other birds flew away apart from the two Blackbirds and I am convinced that, had I not run into the garden and shooed them away, the victim would have been killed! As I wasn't able to get a photograph I am including one I took some time ago.

Recently, just before the snow, your intrepid blogger risked life and limb in order to go on safari in the depths of the dark, damp and cold garden to hunt down the tiny mouse which has been observed feeding in the small mesh feeder within the Clematis ;) Night after night armed only with a torch and a camera and at considerable risk of being thought completely batty by any observers!! she stood in the pitch black dark with only the sound of the neighbour's washing machine humming on the night air for company!!!

It was very difficult to capture the little mouse in the dark but with a torch in one hand and camera in the other the following photos were the best that could be managed.

'Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.'

'I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!'

'But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!'

'Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!'
(Robert Burns)

What a pretty little creature it is! I think it is either a Yellow Necked Mouse or a Wood Mouse, probably the former but it is difficult to be sure. I was worried about damaging its eyes with the torchlight and it also became wary of me so after a few nights I decided to leave it in peace. I say it but in fact one night I saw two mice feeding which I suppose shouldn't be a great surprise! Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of them both together. I am happy to feed them in the garden but I have read that both species can enter houses in the Winter! I do hope that feeding them outside will keep them content and prevent any desire to enter the house where I confess they won't be quite so welcome!

The following photos of birds in the garden were taken in the last week or so, I am aware they are not very sharp but sometimes the light conditions weren't good and also I had to take all of them through glass.


I wonder if anyone else has noticed that the birds aren't eating the fat ball snacks. I found the ones I put out were not being eaten at all so I threw them away along with some I had bought at the same time but not used. I thought perhaps they were last years stock and had gone stale. I then bought some more and put them out and also some coconut halves filled with fat and seed. All of these have remained untouched despite the birds obviously being desperate for food in the icy weather. I have also noticed that one of the seed mixtures which I buy regularly looks different and is being totally ignored. I am wondering if the manufacturer is using inferior food in an attempt to cut costs. Personally I would rather pay a little extra and give the birds food which they like and which benefits them nutritionally.

This Starling briefly examined the fat balls but since then they have been ignored and in my experience Starlings usually eat just about anything!

Of course I couldn't do a post at this time of year without a photo of a Robin, this poor little thing was trying to find some water which wasn't frozen, as fast as we broke the ice in the bird bath it froze over again!

The only time I have ever seen a Pied Wagtail in my garden was back in February in the snow and in the last week, again in the snow. This time, as last, it was treated with great hostility by the Blackbirds but persisted and has visited for some days now, quite often just as it is getting dark. I wonder if it may be the same one which came last Winter.

'You have to believe in happiness,
Or happiness never comes ...
Ah, that's the reason a bird can sing -
On his darkest day he believes in Spring.'
(Douglas Malloch)

I was absolutely thrilled to be visited by a Redwing last week! I have never, ever seen one in the garden before.

It visited two days running and the following photos although still taken through glass and from a fair distance at least benefited from better light, a blue sky and my Winter flowering Cherry tree blossom!

Isn't it a beautiful bird?

'Flowers peep, trees bud, boughs tremble, rivers run !
The redwing saith, it is a glorious morn.'
(Ebenezer Elliott)

Well that is all for now and I will try to visit your lovely blogs when I can but hope you will understand if I am not as regular as usual. Enjoy the rest of your Christmas celebrations and have a wonderful, happy and healthy New Year.


  1. lovely pictures of the mouse. Nothing is touching the fatballs in my garden either.

  2. ...my goodness, you poor thing. You sound like you've been through the ringer! Your little Hunca Munca mouse is so cute. She's so dainty looking. At first I though the mesh feeder was a snake all coiled up! I thought that was really strange and after a closer look realized it was mesh...not scales! The redwings are very pretty... Hope you have a Happy New Year!

  3. Lovely post today; the mouse (mice?) shots are just grand, as are all the bird photos. Hope you weather through your ailments and have a wonderful new year.


  4. lovely post of birds, words, and thoughts....i have missed you and hope you will be able to see better soon. i haven't done a whole lot of blogging due to the holidays. this week has been slightly quieter though so i am trying to read a few each day.
    happy new year and with it a blessing to be in full health.
    happy december.

  5. Hi Jan,

    Sorry to hear your not in the best of health, I hope that the New Year brings Health and Happiness to you and that you can get back out and enjoy the Wildlife.

    The Mouse is a lovely shot, and getting Redwings in your Garden is a big bonus during bad weather. You are very lucky.

    Enjoy the rest of the Christmas and New Year Holidays.


  6. I like the mouse Jan,
    and all the bird shots in the garden!

    Get yourself better quickly!! Sending you a big warm hug.

  7. Happy New Year to you Jan,
    I'm sorry to hear you've not been the best lately, I hope you feel better soon & enjoy a healthy new year! Love the photos of the Redwing and the mouse - isn't it exciting when you see a bird in the garden for the first time? :-) We're having the same problem with our fat balls, occasionally the Robin & the Long Tailed Tits are having a go at them but thats about it, yet the seed & nuts are going down at tremendous speed.
    Take care of yourself.

  8. hi jan, sorry to hear that you've not been well, hope the new year brings you good health, the photos of the mouse are a credit to your perseverance, ( you could have been an intrepid explorer )congratulations on the redwing,i had the same problem with the fat cakes last year, so i decided this year that i would make my own, the birds love them, so i think like you say the shop bought ones must be full of inferior stuff, wishing you and your family all the very best for 2010.


  9. Hi Jan, I have enjoyed your blog. I like the pictures of your little mouse, well done for getting the pictures of him. Congratulations on you Redwing. Get well soon and I wish you a happy and healthy new year:)

  10. ShySongbird ,
    Sorry to hear that you have not been well , I assumed that when you 'went off the radar' from the Blogs .
    Good to see you back , and hope you make a swift , full , recovery .
    Really like the mouse and garden birds too .

  11. Dear Jan....first I do hope that you are able to have laser surgery soonest. My father has just had it done and found a great improvement to his vision.
    I hope the nasty virus has left you for good and that your health improves somewhat....

    Great post.....the woodmouse is just so delightful and one of my favourite little creatures. Mine usually stay in bird boxes....and I keep their feeding in that area....until now they have not entered the house. I have probably said it now!!

    Tku for showing the Redwing...wonderful. Again I have them in the garden but have not been able to capture them with my camera. They are beautiful birds....

    I also have many blackbirds....they are extremely aggressive although I have never seen them 'out for the kill' Well done you....hope the little chap appreciated it!!

    I do hope 2010 is a healthier year for you Jan and that it brings you much happiness.......

  12. So sorry to hear of your troubles. I do hope things get better soon. You have a lovely selection of photos here. That little mouse is just too cute.

  13. Very sorry to read of you health problems, Jan. I do hope that 2010 is a better year for you.

    Fabulous photos of your wee tim'rous beastie, beautiful captures. Great pictures of the Redwing also. A bird I have never seen.

    As always a lovely collection of photos, prose and poetry.

    Very best wishes for 2010.

  14. Hi Jan
    Welcome back and hope the New Year brings better things for you, your posts have been sadly missed. Now I can say this one is a real joy, the mouse photo's are brilliant as are all the rest,and Redwings in the garden as well they have to be one of my favourite winter Thrushes.So take care and a very Happy New Year to you and yours and look forward to many more posts in 2010.

  15. Those shots of the mouse are excellent; and by torchlight too. Amazing!

    I hope those viruses leave you alone, and you quickly get back to full health.

    I wish you all the best for the New Year.

  16. Hi Jan.
    I won't go on about the wildlife. The main thing is for you to take good care of yourself and get better.
    I hope you had a lovely Christmas and I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year. Hurry back to us in 2010. I have missed your blogging

  17. Hi shysongbird, im sorry to hear that you have not been well, and i hope that you feel better very soon xxx beautiful set of pictures, love the wagtail, such a beautiful little bird,and the redwing, ive never been fortunate enough to see one!!! And i just LOVE the little mouse, so sweet! xxx HOPE THAT YOU HAVE A VERY HEALTHY AND HAPPY NEW YEAR XXX

  18. Hi Jan,

    I’m lost for words, such a beautiful post as always! I hope you’re feeling a bit better now? You make sure you keep nice and warm and look after yourself.

    Happy New Year to you all...love from all of us xxx

  19. Songbird, I do hope this finds you feeling better. So glad you were able to post--I always enjoy seeing all your lovely creatures! I'm not very fond of mice, but this little creature is quite adorable--as long as he stays outdoors. I wonder why the birds are not touching the feed or suet. I noticed that the birds in my yard weren't very interested in the feeders until snow covered the ground. Before that time, they apparently had plenty of natural food available, but now I can't keep the feeders full enough for them.

    I hope that your surgery is successful and soon, and best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

  20. S Taylor

    Welcome, thank you for visiting and for your kind comments

  21. Kelly

    Thank you very much, a snake! that would have been something! Happy New Year to you too :)

  22. Wilma

    Thank you very much and a Very Happy New Year to you too.

  23. Marmee

    Thank you so much for your kind words and sorry to put a shorter reply than usual. Happy New Year to you too.

  24. John

    Thank you very much for your kind comments. I was thrilled to see the Redwing. Happy New Year to you.

  25. Warren

    Thank you very much and Happy New Year to you and a big warm hug back :)

  26. Hi Jan.
    Happy and healthy New Year. I hope you leave all your trouble far behind. A lovely set of photographs.
    The Redwing in the garden is indeed special...we have them in close proximity to our garden but I have never seen one in it.
    Have a wonderful birding year in 2010.

  27. sharon

    Thank you very much and a Happy New Year to you too. I completely agree, seeing a new bird in the garden is such a thrill and I suppose this is the most likely time of the year to do so in the bad weather.
    I am trying a different manufacturer for the fat snacks to see if that makes any difference

  28. denzil

    Thank you very much Denis and I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy New Year too!
    Yes, I only needed the pith helmet to complete my exploration activities ;)
    I have spoken to others who are having the same trouble with the fat snacks, I think your homemade ones are the best idea.

  29. Lynmiranda

    Thank you very much and a very Happy New Year to you.
    I was pleased to get the mouse photos and glad to say the food is still being taken. The Redwing has been in the garden again today :)

  30. Sorry to hear you haven't been too well and I hope things pick up soon and you get the date for the op asap too.

    Lovely to get the Pied Wagtail in the garden, we have them on the street outside the house but they haven't ventured into our garden yet!

  31. Wow the mouse shots are fantastic but the whole post is fantastic... You got a lot of very nice pictures there! Congrats!

  32. Greenie

    Thank you for your kind words, it is nice to be back in blogland but it will be even better when things return to 'normal'

  33. Cheryl

    Thank you very much for your very kind comments and I wish you and your family a very happy and healthy New Year :)
    It is heartening to read that your Father's surgery was successful.
    I was thrilled to see the Redwing and it was back again yesterday, eating berries, poor birds, they are so desperate for food in this icy weather!

  34. oldcrow61

    Thank you very much OC, yes the little mouse is lovely and still eating the food I leave. Have a great 2010!

  35. Midmarsh John

    Thank you John and I hope 2010 is a happy and healthy year for you too and for Bobby of course :)
    I have definitely never seen a Redwing in my garden until this Winter but I see that I have them ticked off in my childhood copy of The Observer's Book of Birds...I'm so glad I kept that book!

  36. Monts

    Thank you so much for your very kind words Monty and I wish you and yours a very Happy and Healthy New Year :)
    I'm hoping the Redwing stays around for a while although there won't be any berries left for it soon!

  37. holdingmoments

    Thank you very much Keith and I hope you have a wonderful 2010!
    It was quite a challenge with a torch! But surprisingly the results weren't too bad.

  38. Ken Browne

    Thank you very much for your good wishes Ken, yes thank you, we had a quiet but very nice Christmas and I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy New Year.

  39. Karen

    Thank you very much and I hope you have a very happy and healthy New Year too :)
    The wagtail only ever visits when there is snow on the ground so, if the forecast is right, it may well be back later this week!

  40. Hello! I was wondering where you'd gotten to! I'd just discovered your blog and then you disappeared. I hope that all goes well for you in 2010, and I look forward to seeing more of your wonderful photos! The mouse is just lovely (as long as he stays in the garden!).
    Best wishes

  41. so sorry to hear you are having health problems and I hope 2010 is much better for you.My oh is also going through problems so I can empathise........as for your latest blog.....what more is there to say.fabulous photos and words.The redwing is a beautiful bird and I just love the markings around his eyes.Take care

  42. Oh my..I thought snakes ate mice. Tis a cute lil mouse..

    I love your bird pictures..It's been way too cold for me to try to get ANY pics.

    I pray your eyes are fixed soon..I love
    to see your pictures.

  43. lou

    Happy New Year to all of you too Lou and thank you very much for your comments. I am better than I was thank you. I think keeping warm is a priority for all of us at the moment, my goodness it is cold here today and it was -7C last night!!
    Lots of love and XXXX to you and Poppy.

  44. Rose

    Thank you very much for your kind comments and good wishes. I agree, mice are far more attractive outside the house rather than inside :)
    I do have a suspicion that some of the bird food manufacturers are using inferior ingredients in the food and I am sure the birds know instinctively what is nutritious. The poor things have been squabbling over the feeders today, it is so icy here and they are desperate to keep well fed.
    I wish you and your family a very happy and healthy New Year!

  45. The Abbot

    Thank you and a very happy and healthy New Year to you and Angie too.
    I had never seen a Redwing in the garden before but it has been visiting quite regularly for berries and was back again today.

  46. Pam

    Thank you very much and a happy and healthy New Year to you and the family.
    I have only seen a Pied Wagtail in the garden when there is snow on the ground, one visited last February and not again until the recent snowfall.

  47. Chris

    Happy New Year to you and yours Chris and thank you for your very nice comments.

  48. You have some great bird photos. I loved those holly photos too.

    It is bitter cold here with 2-feet of snow on the ground. Poor birds.

  49. Dan

    Thank you very much and a happy and healthy New Year to you. The food in the mesh feeder is still being eaten so, as far as I know, the mouse is still outside and not in ;)


    Thank you so much Sheila and very best wishes to you and your husband for 2010, I do hope the problems improve soon!
    The Redwing visited again yesterday, it really is a beautiful bird :)

  50. Hi,

    All the best for you and your family in 2010! I hope you are able to avoid any more illnesses into the new year. Get well soon :). I loved your photos on this posting, it has been great to catch up with your blog. I realise I have been a bit infrequent leaving comments on other blogs just recently.

    Great to see that you too saw a Redwing in your garden. I noticed that the amount of red colouring under the wings of the birds really does vary from bird to bird. We saw a Brambling again yesterday, and I am guessing our woodpecker is still visiting too. I really hope to see a Bullfinch again. One visited our garden just before christmas. We have still never seen a pied wagtail though. Very well done for capturing that!

    Great mouse photos too, I have been unable to get any photos of the one which is currently living in our shed, although I did see it in the shed yesterday. I suspect our mouse likes to feed on any spilled bird seed in the shed (although we do our best to keep it tidy)!

    Anyway, happy birdwatching into January, and I look forward to more winter bird photos from your garden :)

  51. Sorry to hear you've been poorly, I hope you're better soon. Love the mouse photos. My fatballs also remain mostly untouched. last year I couldn't keep up with the Starlings eating them but this year no Starlings and apart from a few glimpses of a furtive Blackcap nothing else around that's likely to eat them.

  52. Hi Songbird---Well I am sorry to know you are not feeling well, really hope this new year brings renewed vigor to you!! Your photos have not suffered they are lovely as always and your accompaning quotes and poems are so fitting!! The mouse is really a cute one---you went the extra mile to get that photo..bravo for your effort and the result!!
    Happy New Yr!!

  53. Needless to say I'm yet again apologising for playing catch up in visiting my favourite blogs!! Sorry to hear you've been under the weather but even with your vision not being as you would want - your pictures are lovely as usual.

    Now that little mouse certainly is my favourite peeping out from under the bush.

    Hope you have a good 2010 Jan, and things improve for you very quickly.

  54. I love the little mouse shots. Fabulous. Happy New Year to you.

  55. SweetAnnee

    Thank you very much for your kind words Deena. I'm happy to say that what you thought was a snake was in fact a mesh feeding dish which I had hidden within the Clematis, you weren't the only one to think it was a snake though!

    Roses and Lilacs

    Thank you Marnie. Our weather has been very bad here too although I don't think we can quite compete with 2-feet of snow!

  56. Joe

    Thank you for your very kind comments and I wish you and your family all the very best for 2010 too!

    I keep hoping to see some Bramblings again as I did two years ago but so far I haven't been lucky. I had the briefest of glimpses of a Bullfinch in the garden back in the Spring but that was the first time since I was a child! And unlike you I have never seen a Woodpecker in the garden, now that would be wonderful :)

    You mention the spilled seed in your shed, I keep mine in bins not far from my back door and it is all too easily spilt, it does worry me that it could attract mice into the house even though I try to sweep it up, I really do prefer them to stay outside :)

    Thank you Joe, I always enjoy your visits.

  57. St Ives Birds & Photo Journal

    Thank you very much for your kind words and a happy New Year to you.
    I have Blackcaps in the garden and they are not touching the fatballs or other fat snacks at all whereas last year they were on them all the time as were the Starlings who show no interest in them this year

    Dixxe's Doodles

    Happy New Year to you too and thank you, you are very kind.
    I did enjoy going on safari to capture the mouse ;)


    Thank you.


    Thank you very much for your very kind comments and a very happy New Year to you. It is lovely to see you here whenever you can manage it :)


    Thank you, I enjoyed 'capturing' the mouse and Happy New Year to you and Trevor too.

  58. Hi there Jan, sorry, I see I’ve missed commenting on this :-(

    I had a feeling I wasn’t the only one wondering how you were. I hope you managed to enjoy Christmas despite your ill health and, like everyone, I’d like to wish you good health for 2010 :-D

    What a wonderful collection of photos. I can picture you out with your torch - something I might do too ;-)

    It was great to see the mouse that you have mentioned in previous postings, the return of the wagtail and the new visitor the fieldfare! I can imagine your delight at all three :-D

    Funnily enough, I too noticed a slow-down on birds eating the fatcakes (although I never removed them) I also noticed the same with the sunflower hearts. The later backed fire on them (and me) though.

    With the snow arriving on Dec 17th the roads weren't too good - especially car parks. I only managed one trip to my local RSPB to pick up a large back of seed. I chose peanuts for a change instead of sunflower hearts. In seed feeders they were the most popular food over the cold spell.

    The tit family came in larger numbers and house sparrows, chaffinches robins and blackbirds would try them too. The weather didn’t improve, the birds interest in sunflower hearts came back… oops, it was make do time with homemade mixes and using what I could pick up on foot!

  59. Like going back into the archives of Casey Casem's American Top 40, today I go back in time to the year 2009:) It looks rather cold here.....I believe the Pied Wagtail to be extremely beautiful. Mistetoe makes me smile and glad that Christmas is far away from summer right now......and that that poor little mouse may have seen better days:) Hopefully it's warming up and you're not having as much rain....because with all that water comes....mosquitos! Yuck! Hope you are having a good day. Cheers from Tucson!


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