Friday, 19 March 2010

New Beginnings

Until this week it seemed Winter hadn't quite finished with us, he was still hanging on by his icy finger tips and refusing to succumb to Spring's gentle advances. For some time we had a vicious wind which bit through to the very core of one's being. There have been some sunny spells but much of the time it has been dull. Thankfully though the last few days have been milder with some really lovely sunshine.


So, despite Winter's best efforts Spring is beginning to make her mark, the Snowdrops I thought had gone for good suddenly emerged from beneath their leafy duvet instantly bringing a wonderful promise of things to come.


'A light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period -
When March is scarcely here.'
(Emily Dickinson)


The Crocuses too seemed to appear almost overnight. So much must have been going on underneath that blanket of snow which covered the garden for so long.


' THE groundflame of the crocus breaks the mould,
Fair Spring slides hither o'er the Southern sea,
Wavers on her thin stem the snowdrop cold
That trembles not to kisses of the bee.'
(Lord Alfred Tennyson)


The birds have definitely sensed that things are moving on and seem to be pairing up and I have already seen a House Sparrow gathering nesting material. The Blackbirds continue to visit in large numbers and wait expectantly in the late afternoon for me to put out apples and grated cheese. I had intended to stop putting it out when the weather got milder but at the moment I haven't the heart to disappoint them.


I had no idea that the Blackbird has a yellow tongue!


The Goldfinches continue to visit the Sunflower feeders, what colourful birds they are, the garden always seems brighter when they appear.


The Robin seems to be around most days and I suspect will soon be nesting somewhere in the garden. There always used to be a Robin's nest in the Ivy outside our French windows but some years ago all the baby birds were destroyed by a cat early one morning, I was devastated and could hardly bear to look into the garden for days after. Oddly, there has never been a nest there since.


' My garden robin in the Spring
Was rapturous with glee,
And followed me with wistful wing
From pear to apple tree. '
(Robert William Service)


A bird often heard in the vicinity of my garden but not often seen in it is the Carrion Crow but I managed to capture this one last week.

Carrion Crow
Chaffinches are regular visitors

Chaffinch (Female)

and at this time of year the male in particular looks very colourful.

Chaffinch (Male)

'And the Chaffinch warbles to his mate.
"Sweet, will you, will you, kiss me, dear."
All hail, all hail! thou growing year. '
(The Author Of "Ahab")


For the last few years Winter, for me, has been brightened by the arrival in my garden of the very welcome Blackaps. Previously, contrary to what many bloggers have observed, the females have been much bolder and fed openly at the feeders and on the tables whilst the males have remained much shyer and more elusive but this year there has been a complete reversal and the male has been the bolder sex although easily frightened away by the ever dominant Greenfinches! I have found it difficult to capture them this year but this little chap was very cooperative a couple of days ago.

Blackcap (Male)

Practising some sort of ballet manoeuvre!

' Thy blended notes are most complete,
Yet varied all the while,
Thy symphonies display the grace,
Of nature's complex style. '
(James Lawson)


This post has been shorter than usual (for which I'm sure you are grateful) but I wanted to get something published as the first part of my eye surgery has been brought forward by a month and will take place tomorrow, Saturday the 20th. Consequently, I may not be able to post or visit blogs for a while but will resume as soon as I can. If all goes well I then hope to post more regularly. I am not looking forward to tomorrow and at this moment feel rather like the condemned man, or more correctly woman :) but I am looking forward to being able to properly enjoy the beauty of Nature again in all its glory. I hope you all have a wonderful Nature filled weekend and a great week.


  1. Great photographs...
    You are lucky to have all those beauties around you.

  2. You get some fantastic birds in your garden. I especially love the shots of the Blackcap.
    Good luck for tomorrow, hope everything goes well & i'll look forward to seeing you back on here when you can

  3. Lovely photos - good luck for tomorrow & I look forward to seeing your posts again once you're able.
    Take care, Sharon

  4. I understand your trepidation but we're one step away from spring now and a sparkling fresh new world and when you take that step tomorrow you will be so much nearer to fully appreciating it all.
    Good luck

  5. A lovely post, as always. Hope all goes well tomorrow. I am sure it will. Take care, Angie x

  6. Hi there Jan :-D

    Great to see you’ve managed to post again. Can’t believe you are about to have surgery tomorrow and you have blogged tonight! I’ll guess you are keeping busy :-)

    What a great set of bird photos from your garden. I’ve been enjoying the crocus recently too. I’ll keep this short.

    Just wanted to say that I find the female Blackcap bolder and more friendly here too… when she visits. We only had one sighting this year. The males are bold enough too when they come, but friendly they are not here. They chase off most birds… never seen it take on the greenfinch though ;-)

    Wishing you a speedy recovery. Good luck for tomorrow :-D

  7. First of all Jan, all the best for tomorrow.

    A lovely post, and as always, a joy to read. A cracking selection of pictures too.
    It seems everyone is getting Blackcaps in the garden, except me lol

  8. Hi Jan,

    Good luck with your surgery, I am sure all will go well and you'll be fine very soon!

    Lovely photos and wonderful to see all the birds, here things have been moving along and the Blackbirds are still chasing each other regularly.
    On my way into work last week I heard 6 Wren's singing... Considering you rarely see them they're everywhere!!!

    (unless of course, it was the same one following me.... ha ha)

  9. I had to look at your profile to see where you where located. Why ? i`m much further north and my Snowdrops & Crocus have all but finished flowering.

  10. Nice photos. Blackcaps are handsome birds. I've also never noticed the colour of a Blackbird's tongue. I suppose there must be a reason for it being yellow...?

  11. Your bird photos are awesome, spring seems to have arrived in full force!! Thats wonderful another winter behind--
    Well I guess it was a shock to learn your surgery had been pushed up but, think of it this one month from now you will have that behind you by a month! My Mom had eye surgery last year--
    now she her vision is much better--best of luck to you and looking forward to your next update!

  12. All the best with your surgery and I hope you will soon be back to blogging again.

  13. Your photos are beautiful as usual Jan. Your birds always look different than ours. It's been beautiful here all month really but lately it's been in the 50's and even a few 60's!! Seems so nice.
    I will be thinking of you today as you go through your surgery and hope all goes well. Lots of hugs.

  14. Beautiful photos. Your signs of spring are marvelous.

  15. Hi Jan.....a beautiful spring lifted my spirits seeing your lovely birds. I have never had a black cap in my lovely.

    It is amazing how the plants suddenly peep out, telling us that spring is here.

    I do hope your surgery goes well Jan. I shall keep you in my thoughts and prayers until you are healed.......

  16. dont stay away too long songbird, you dont want to miss the spring!

    I love the Blackcap photo BTW

  17. Thinking of you ~ and, thankfully, by now the surgery will be over.

    Your bird photos are amazing, so clear and detailed ~ a lovely post.

    Looking forward to seeing you back here singing sweetly :)

  18. My thoughts and prayers with you Shysongbird - must be horrible waiting for tomorrow to be over and done with and I hope you have a really speedy recovery - what a lovely collection of photos - love the little male black cap - what a dear! The birds and plants are well on their way here too - possibly a little further on but not much... v. exciting I have a wren's nest in our stable - she's adapted an old swallows nest by filling in the gaps with moss! Do take care and will look forward to following more postings in 2010... Miranda x

  19. Hope all went well as by the time I'd written this it would all have been done.

    Wonderful post as usual and aren't blackcaps just the ticket eh!

    Looking forward to your next posting.... :D

  20. Spring flowers do seem to have rushed to make up time. A week ago I couldn't spot any miniature daffodils and now they are all in flower.
    Great set of photos as ever Jan.

    I hope all has gone well and that you will soon be enjoying the sight of your garden visitors.

  21. Hi Jan,

    I am sorry this is a little late, Lovely post as always. Blackcaps are now more frequent in our Winters and they really are a welcome visitor.

    I really hope all went went with the eye surgery and we see you back very very soon.


  22. First, let me wish you a very easy and successful surgery and speedy recovery.
    Second, I haven't been ignoring you but having been on much lately - trying to get my routine back.
    Your pictures are always such a joy to look at and your poetry as well. I love Robert Service but didn't know he did much other than Alaska. They use to have brochures of his poetry on Alaska Airlines when I was flying back and forth every 4 months trying to decide where I wanted to be ;-) very young then. LOL
    You are so lucky to have such a wide variety of birds where you live. I sure wish I did - I'd never get anything done but sitting and watching them and taking pictures.

  23. Welcome back... You got so many species and pictures of them, that I cannot tell you which one is my favorite there. I think I just love all of them! What a beautiful collection you got!

  24. I do hope your surgery goes well. The waiting is always much worse than the actual procedure. Can't help your imagination running wild.

    Your photos are beautiful. Will be looking forward to hearing how things go.

  25. absolutely beautiful post....the narration as well as the photos! I really enjoyed your descriptions of winter turning over to spring. Wishing you well with your surgery. Hope you are back behind the camera soon...

  26. What a wonderful tribute to spring! I enjoy seeing your robins and goldfinches which look so different than our native birds. The birds have certainly been more active here, too, lately, and I've finally seen the first robins in the yard looking for nesting material, I think. Sorry I didn't get to visit you earlier--I've been away visiting my daughter for the past week. When I returned home, I was surprised to see the crocuses had finally come up in my garden, too.

    I hope your surgery went well and that you are on the mend by now. Enjoy the music of the birds while you recuperate.

  27. Hi Jan
    Thats a great set of photo's and hard to pick a favourite, I think we are all glad that spring is on its way.
    Good luck with the op and hope all goes well

  28. jan,

    i hope your surgery went well. i am just catching up with a few blogs myself. i always enjoy your bird shots with the close~ups you are able to capture.
    i too am excited about spring with such a long severe winter.
    take care and happy spring.

  29. Greetings from Finland to your beautiful blog!
    I was just surfing and somehow got into your world ^^. I like these photos of the birds. So many familiar species and some of them are migrants that we are waiting to come here, as the spring proceeds.

  30. Beautiful,lovely and fantastic shot !! This is so fantastic post !! Great work !!Unseen Rajasthan

  31. great photos and verse jan, hope your surgery went well.

  32. I'm sorry, Shy Songbird. I thought I'd left a comment here some time ago. I'm hoping your surgery went well and that your recouperation is progressing as it should. It sounds as though you'll be undergoing further surgery?

    Please take care. Your birds are beautiful, as always. Rest and enjoy Spring weather! :-)

  33. Beautiful pictures! Sorry I’m late visiting, I haven’t been blogging. I hope all went well and you are looking after yourself.

    I will look forward to your return…love Lou xxx

  34. My very grateful thanks to every one of you for your lovely comments and for all your concern and good wishes regarding my recent operation. Also thank you so much to those who so kindly emailed me.

    Everything went well with the first operation and the sight in my right eye is now very good. I hope to undergo surgery on the other eye before too long and look forward to getting back to normal again.

  35. PS. I hope that just this once you will forgive me for not replying to each individual comment.

  36. Good to hear it all went well Jan.
    Just concentrate on your recovery.

  37. That is really good news Jan. I was wondering how well things had gone only yesterday.

  38. Great to hear from you Jan and so very pleased that all went well. As Keith says, just concentrate on getting better.. We'll be here as usual...... :)

  39. Hi again Jan, so lovely to see you posting again. Guessing you’ll have cut down on the late hours for the moment ;-)

    What a treat to see so many birds I never see. Great photos too. Gosh, reading this really shows me how much of a birder you are and I’m not.

    That Cormorant did look sinister didn’t it. Love the tufted duck shots… there’s something about that bird I like. I think it’s the eyes and their dark colouring.

    Hope you are feeling well and your operation eye is recovering well. Enjoy the rest of your week :-D

  40. Your photos of the birds and flowers are beautiful, Jan. You have a wonderful eye for photography.
    I would love to see all the different birds you have photographed.

    I hope and pray your recovery from the eye surgery is going well :)

    If you don't mind me asking...
    what camera do you use?

  41. Pam

    Thank you so much for your very kind words, Pam. I sometimes think trying to photograph birds is one of the most frustrating types of photography there is, if only they would cooperate and pose nicely more often!

    Thank you, my eye is recovering well and I have just heard that the other one will be operated on in July, then hopefully things will really be much better.

    My camera is the Canon 450d and I have a Canon 55-250mm IS lens and also a Sigma 150-500mm lens but hardly use that as it is rather heavy.


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