Friday, 5 November 2010

Closer to Home

As I had my little twitch :) with the Lesser Yellowlegs last week I was eager to tell you about it the next day which was when I was originally planning to publish this post. So, after all the excitement of last week, and later than intended, this is one of my more usual posts.

I was reminded a couple of weeks ago that the most magical moments in Nature don't always concern unusual sightings, sometimes the most 'ordinary' creature can deliver something very special.

I was walking close to home when I noticed a Carrion Crow perched on a fence post at the edge of a field. As I approached I expected it to fly away, I started to take photos mainly because I hadn't seen much else of interest during my walk. To my surprise the Crow was completely unperturbed by my presence, as I stood within arm's length of it, clicking away with the camera. For a few moments it seemed that I was totally at one with this bird which seemed to have a certain wisdom in its eyes.

'Crows can recognise individual human faces and hold a grudge for years against people who have treated them badly. This ability – which may also exist in other wild animals – highlights how carefully some animals monitor the humans with whom they share living space.
John Marzluff and colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle prepared six masks from casts of people's faces, then wore different masks to capture crows in each of four locations. In each case, they found, the crows recognised and scolded whichever mask they had seen when they were captured, and ignored the others.'

(Bob Holmes, New Scientist.)

Unfortunately, all too soon, the spell was broken by the approach of a group of people with dogs and my muddy beaked, new friend flew away.

In a Japanese city, Carrion Crows have discovered how to eat nuts that are too hard to crack. One method is to drop the nuts from a great height on to a road. Some nuts are particularly tough, so the Crow drops it among traffic. To retrieve the nut without getting run over, some birds wait by pedestrian crossings and collect the cracked nuts when the lights turn red! You can see this behaviour here.


It was lovely to see a butterfly recently, after not seeing any at all for some weeks when the weather inevitably turned from late Summer into Autumn. I suspect that is the last one I will see until next year now.

Red Admiral Butterfly

The hedgerows were laden with fruit waiting to provide a tasty meal for the birds.

Rose Hips

'Autumn! soul-soothing season, thou who spreadest
Thy lavish feast for every living thing,
Around whose leaf-strew'd path, as on thou treadest,
The year its dying odours loves to fling
Their last faint fragrance sweetly scattering.'

(Bernard Barton)

Hawthorn Berries


As I walked around the local reservoir I saw a number of Goldfinches flitting through the trees and hedgerows which line the path. By the time I realised my camera battery had run out of power and replaced it with the spare, most of them had dispersed and I only managed to get a very distant photo of one examining a solitary berry, while another sat below it presenting me with a bottom shot!


As is usually the case there was nothing of great interest on the reservoir itself. About the only birds I have ever seen on the water there are Mallards, Grey Herons, Cormorants, Mute Swans, occasionally Great Crested Grebes and of course gulls.

Black-headed Gulls

On this occasion, apart from the usual Black-headed Gulls, I did see this one which I think is a Lesser Black-backed Gull, if you think I have problems identifying waders I have even more difficulty with gulls!

Lesser Black-backed Gull

And here with a Cormorant.

Cormorant and Lesser Black-backed Gull

A Grey Heron was patiently watching the water, hoping to spot its supper.

Grey Heron

'Hermit-like, he stands and muses,
Until he seems to be,
Moveless in dream-like silence lone,
Some spectre bird, or sculptured stone,
Or stump of scathed tree.'

(Bernard Barton)

Surprisingly there were no ducks at all on the reservoir, not even the usual Mallards but I did see some through the hedge on the river

Mallards (male, left and female)

and it was nice to see a couple of wildflowers blooming in October.

White Campion


I will finish with this lovely Robin singing its heart out in the way I love to see them most.


'Bird, are you singing to me ?
Singing of wood and of dell ?
Of the flowers I used to take,
Of the nut-trees I would shake,
Of the fishing on the lake.'

(Menella Bute Smedley, Fanny Wheeler Hart)

Have a good weekend and ... enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.


  1. Good Pics of the Carrion Crow, and to film of it (BBC) is quite triumphant.

  2. Great post again Jan.
    Super photo's. I'll let others decide whether your Gull is GBB or LBB, something to do with leg colour I believe.
    I'm sure your Robin is the same one I pictured on my blog last week. A clear sign of migration i'd say.
    Just between you and me, i'm concerned about your relationship with the Rook.....a few hundred years ago it would have been the ducking stool for you:-)

  3. I saw a documentary about the crows so facinating! I rehabed a crow that had been hit by a car he had one wing injury. It took quite a time to get him ready for release but finally I did release him..HE didnt like me, I guess he considered me his captor, and didnt quite get it that I was only trying to help.
    GOOD job getting that Red Admiral!!And the Singing Robin is such a treasure shot!!!
    OH today I got a new bird on my list just 50 feet from my home..a Golden Crowned Kinglet!

  4. Great clip of the Crow Jan, and they are such intelligent birds. I love to watch them. Always interesting.

    Correct with the gull ID; and despite a big book just on gulls, I still have trouble with them lol

    Lovely shot of the Robin in full song to finish on.

  5. Great to get so close to the crow Jan. Round here all the corvids are very skittish and disappear rapidly as soon as they see anyone about. The video of the Japanese crow was fascinating.

    Lovely photo of the singing Robin. Many birds here had started singing last week when it was colder but have virtually been silent during this mild spell.

  6. Hi Jan
    What a wonderful encounter with the crow! I love the pictures of the goldfinch bagging the last berry, and the robin singing its heart out.

  7. Bob Bushell

    Thank you Bob :) I thought the BBC video might be as interesting to others as it was to me, clever birds those Crows!


    Thank you Phil :) Yes, I believe the LBBs legs are yellowish while the GBBs are pinkish. Gulls, waders, what a nightmare!
    I smiled when I saw your Robin photo last week knowing I had one almost identical to come.
    It was a great encounter with the Crow but I don't think I will need a black cloak and broomstick quite yet as my best animal friend is definitely not a cat :)


    Thank you Dixxe :) Well done for rehabilitating your ungrateful Crow! Maybe if he ever sees you again he will remember your kindness after all :)
    It is turning colder here now so I think that was probably the last butterfly I will see this year.
    Congratulations on the GCK, if I remember correctly it is very similar to our Goldcrest, in fact a cousin I believe.

  8. Hi Songbird,
    Nice read again, especially interesting about the Crows :-)

    Yellow legs on the Gull make it a Lesser Black backed. GBB have flesh coloured legs.

    Bye for now :-)

  9. great post, some beautiful photos,it's so true about how we can overlook the ordinary. I agree, crows are amazing.

  10. Hi Jan, I love the last shot of the robin. You have captured the magic of our much loved native bird. Sometimes their song can bring tears to my eyes, they always manage to touch my heart.

    They say that crows bring would seem you had a very personal delivery. I hope that it will be very good news!!
    I love carrion crows......they are regular visitors to my garden.

    I still have red campion in bloom in the garden. She has been flowering since I know why I love native wildflowers so much. Lovely to see the white campion and the comfrey.......

    You very kindly asked after Mum and Dad. Mum has lost a lot of weight and now weighs just seven and half stone. She eats little and often. I take her and Dad out fact, we went for a ride through the countryside to see the autumnal colours. They had such a lovely time......

    Best wishes

  11. Pale amber sunlight falls across
    the reddening October trees,that hardly sway before a breeze
    as soft as summer: summer's loss
    seems little, dear! on days like these

    Let misty autumn be our part!
    the twilight of the year is sweet:
    where shadow and the darkness meet
    our love, a twilight of the heart
    eludes a little time's deceit...

    Ernest Dowson (1867-1900)

  12. i always love visiting and seeing all your flora,
    birds, butterflies and other creatures. hope all is well with you.
    happy autumn.

  13. What a lovely post with a natural mix of beauty. I saw the documentary that was filmed in Seattle about the crows recognition skills. It was amazing ~ and I've never looked at crows quite the same since ~ I usually smile as I pass by them now so that they can see I'm a friendly sort ;)

    Autumn provides bright berries and seeds, and you have captured them beautifully. The singing robin is perfect!

  14. I so enjoyed this "ordinary" walk with you, Jan! Gulls and herons are birds I don't see in our land-locked area, so it's always a treat to see them here. And the photos of the robin and the goldfinches are precious; I can almost hear the robin singing his song.

    How interesting that the crows recognize human faces. I knew that they were intelligent birds, but didn't realize they could do this. I will have to remember to be nice to them:) We've had a lot of crows visiting recently, probably foraging in the cornfields next to our house. I've also seen quite a few hawks, though I don't know what kind. I never seem to have my camera handy when they fly low, though.

    We had a lovely sunny day here today, though rather cool--I'm enjoying each of these last days of autumn, knowing they can end all too soon. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  15. Hi Jan,

    I wonder why my blog thingy never tells me you've posted? I only happened to notice by looking down on my left nav bar... Annoying.

    Anyway, lovely photos... So nice to see a Robin singing. I was stood waiting for the bus this morning and initially thought I could hear a Robin, but eventually couldn't decide whether it was actually a Song Thrush - the bird seemed to be repeating notes.

    Very interesting to see the Red Admiral! I would've thought they were long gone by now!

  16. ShySongbird ,
    Your meeting with the Crow reminded me of the one I had a few weeks ago , but yours allowed you to get much closer , with some great shots .
    Always strange to see butterflies and ripened fruits in the same post , but the former helps keep the inevitable away a bit longer .
    Thoroughly enjoyable read .

  17. Lovely post, how great to get so close to the crow!

    Isn't the Robin a beautiful bird :-)

  18. holdingmoments

    Thank you Keith :) They certainly are intelligent, I read some amazing facts about them while researching this post. Thanks for the gull ID confirmation, they certainly are a minefield :)

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you John :) I really was very surprised at just how close the crow allowed me, it showed no sign of discomfit at all.
    I love to see birds singing their hearts out and Robins do it so well :)


    Thank you Dan :) The Goldfinch certainly looked determined to grab that berry. The Crow encounter really was quite special.

    Warren Baker

    Thank you Warren :) It was fascinating to find how many interesting facts there are about Crows and Corvids in general and to read some of the research which has been carried out into their habits and behaviour. Thanks also for confirmation of the gull ID.

    Country Mouse Studio

    Thank you Carole :) They are indeed and looking so closely into that one's eyes was very special, an encounter I won't forget!


    Thank you Cheryl :) I agree completely with your feelings towards the Robin, they touch mine too.
    I hadn't heard about crows bringing messages, I must look further into that :)
    I think I may plant some Campions in my garden next year, that is a wonderful, long flowering season!
    I'm very sorry to read your Mum has become so frail but I know you will be taking good care of her and your Dad and it is lovely that they are still able to enjoy some drives out with you. I wish you all well.

  19. Derek Faulkner

    Hello Derek :) Welcome and thank you very much for visiting. What an original and lovely way to comment! I love the poem and may well use all or part of it on my blog next October, I will of course credit you with giving me the idea. I do hope you visit again :)

  20. Jan I know you are a very private person, so ignore this comment if you feel so inclined.

    If you would like me to send you some red campion seeds, it would be a pleasure. You only need to scatter them onto prepared soil and they will be away.
    They attract many beautiful moths in the evening. Also the day flying hummingbird hawk moth, which visits regularly here. The carder bee loves the plant also.

    If you would like some email me your address....if not just ignore this comment.

    Best wishes.

  21. marmee

    Thank you marmee :) It is always nice to see you here. Happy Autumn to you too.


    Thank you Glo :) It was fascinating to read of the experiment, I shall make sure I smile at them now too :)
    That little Robin was a joy to see and hear.


    Thank you Rose :) I'm so glad you enjoyed it, I do worry sometimes that my walks are a little too ordinary.
    The Robin was a real sweetheart! I wish I could have got closer to the Goldfinch which would have afforded me a much clearer photo.
    I too shall make sure I am always very polite to the Crows :)
    It has rained non stop here so far today and is cold too. I hope it is sunny where you are.


    Hi Liz, thank you, it is always nice to see you here :) I think when it comes to bird song the Robin and Song Thrush are my favourites, certainly a nice accompaniment at the bus stop whichever it was, I suspect it could have been a thrush by your mention of the repeating notes though.
    The Red Admiral was a surprise to me to!

  22. Wow your encounter with the carrion crow was just magic... Gorgeous pictures of it you got ;-) I also love this nice singing robin you got... Beautiful

  23. Your photos are lovely, and that is a great story about the smart Japanese crows. My husband and I love birds too, but don't photograph them, so I enjoyed this visit here.

  24. hi jan,

    what a wonderful encounter with the crow, a moment you will probably never forget, i was intrigued with your following link, what a clever bird, loved the robin photo, hope you are keeping well,

  25. Greenie

    Thank you Greenie :) I was amazed by just how close I was to the Crow, I really could have reached out and touched it! That would have been pushing my luck a little too far though :)
    Sadly, I don't think I shall see any more butterflies this year. It has been very cold here and rained all day.


    Thank you Pam :) Yes, I agree the Robin is a beautiful bird and too see and hear them singing like that is just wonderful!

  26. Great Story..very cool that you could get so close!
    I do love your Robin,so tiny.

  27. Cheryl

    Hi again Cheryl :) That is a very kind offer. The Hummingbird Hawk Moth is a rare and very special visitor to my garden, how wonderful to have regular visits from such a beauty! I will be in touch soon :)


    Thank you Chris :) It did feel magical, I thought the camera might scare it away but it wasn't at all perturbed. I thought you might appreciate the Robin :)


    Welcome! Thank you for visiting and commenting. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit here, you will be most welcome any time :)

  28. A beautiful post as always Jan! I can’t believe how close I got to a hedgehog this week in my garden. I could sit all day watching animals.
    I hope you enjoy the rest of the week!

    Love Lou xxx

  29. I so enjoyed your story of the Crow. Don't you feel he could sense that you were not a threat? I have felt that way about birds--and wildlife. It's always when I am alone, and I feel an immediate connection. It's a magical spell that I don't want to break and I always feel so blessed by the experience.

    I loved you verse on Autumn--that soul-soothing season. It certainly is true for me. I always feel I can stop and catch my breath in Autumn.

  30. Super post again Jan with wonderful images, love the Autumn Berries, and that Robin giving it full vocals.

  31. denzil

    Thank you Denis :) You are right, I will remember that moment, an 'ordinary' bird but an extraordinary encounter! They certainly are very intelligent, I thought the pedestrian crossing clip was incredible.


    Thank you Dawn :) I love them too and compared to your American Robin ours are tiny, almost half the size I think. They are completely different really, the only thing they share is the name!


    Thank you Lou :) Now that would be fun! Spending the entire day watching wildlife would be wonderful :) Enjoy the rest of your week too and have a great weekend. Lots of love and XXXX to you and Poppy.

  32. Morning Glories in Round Rock

    Thank you Jenny :) Yes, it did indeed feel like the Crow sensed I was no threat, a very special moment.
    'Soul soothing' were the words that jumped out at me too and I suspect Autumn is even more welcome for you with the extreme Summer temperatures you experience. Although it is a lovely, colourful season here I find it quite a sad time as our Summers are so short and often not particularly warm or sunny.


    Thank you Monty :) The Robin was a joy to see and hear.

  33. Love your images of the Carrion Crow and the info you posted. I always love seeing crows and ravens. There is something about them that I like. Also love those berries! Gorgeous...

  34. Hi Jan,
    How have you been? I've been away for a while now and hope to be back soon.The little one has been keeping me really busy.Great to go through your posts.So long have a great weekend.


  35. Hi there Jan, hope you’ve had an interesting week ;-)

    Loved hearing about your crow encounter (great shots). Fascinated to watch the video of the birds on the crossing. These corvids are pretty smart aren’t they!!

    Love sharing on your visit once again - lovely images of an area I would never see otherwise. Thought I’d share a relevant (to this posting) story with you this time but on doing so it became too long. I’ll post it for you one day :-D

    Enjoy your day and have a good week :-D

  36. Kelly

    Thank you Kelly :) Crows and Rooks are a common sight here but we don't see Ravens in my area of the UK so one which strayed this way would be a very welcome sight!

    Nature Stop

    Thank you Shantana and welcome back :) Lovely to see you back in blogland and quite understandable that the family have been keeping you busy. You are back on my sidebar now so I will easily spot you when you have the time to post.

  37. Shirl

    Hi Shirl :) If by any chance you see this terribly late reply please accept my apologies! I don't know how I managed to overlook sorry :(

    I thought the video of the Crow on the pedestrian crossing in Japan was incredible. I really think we underestimate the intelligence of our fellow creatures.

    I am very curious now about the story you were going to tell me and will look forward to hearing it one day :)

  38. RE: your crow story, magical, isn't it! I love those moments. Great shots.

  39. You're right about ordinary creatures delivering something special. The crow certainly posed for you! I've never had one do that for me!:(

    Your posts are so wonderful...I always love reading the quotes that you include and "all creatures great and small". I especially love your bird pictures!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and sharing about the gentian. Nowadays I don't reply to every comment on my comments section but I visit the commenter. Looking forward to staying connected with you in 2011.

    Have a great day!

  40. oldcrow61


    Hi OC and Kanak. In the unlikely event you may check back here, please accept my apologies for omitting to answer your comments. They are always read with relish and greatly welcomed :)


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