Monday, 17 January 2011

Winter Visitors

After an unintentional break from blogging I have at last managed to put a post together. My apologies to regular readers and to all my blogging friends whom I have been unable to visit lately.
I will do my best to catch up with you all as soon as I can. I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and my very best wishes to you all for a healthy and happy New Year. I would also like to thank my blogging friends who have contacted me with expressions of concern at my absence, you know who you are and I have been immensely touched by your messages, it has meant a great deal to me to know that people care.

It’s all because life won’t wait,
before you know, it’s Christmas here.
And look, in a minute,
suddenly it’s New Year.

Snow is falling, deeper – deeper.
Maybe, with that same stride
in that same tempo,
with that same languor,
Time’s going by?

(Boris Pasternak)

With some rather depressing and ongoing family problems,
Christmas preparations, the festivities themselves, and my husband going into hospital for an operation just after Christmas I haven't been able to pay much attention to the computer for some time! However, my husband came home a week ago and is progressing steadily, he is not allowed to do much for a while which of course means I have a lot to do at the moment but hopefully things will get back to normal before too long.

Well, what weather we have all experienced recently! After just a small amount here to start with, we eventually had our fair share of very heavy snow which hung around for quite some time. The last few days have been much milder though and one or two have felt almost like Spring with lots of birdsong and the sound of Blackbirds establishing their territories. While carrying out my duties as chief dog walker, since my husband has been incapacitated, I have been keeping a lookout for any wildlife and over the last few days have seen lots of Robins, Sparrows, Blackbirds and Chaffinches darting in and out of hedgerows, Pied Wagtails strutting along pathways and yesterday I saw a small flock of Long Tailed Tits flitting from tree to tree. I have also seen many Grey Squirrels scurrying up and down trees. Unfortunately, I can't manage a large dog and a camera at the same time so wasn't able to get any photos.

I realise I haven't mentioned the birds in my garden for some time so thought I would show a selection of photos taken over Christmas but regrettably through the (not too clean!) window.

Collared Doves are regular visitors to the garden.

Collared Doves

It is amazing to think that before 1955 there were no Collared Doves breeding in Britain and now they are one of our most common birds probably in some part due to their lengthy breeding season of March to October. They are most often seen in pairs and remain loyal to their mate.

Chaffinches visit the garden in large numbers in Winter but not so much in Summer.

Chaffinch (male)

Chaffinch (female)

Some time ago I bought a couple of hanging feeders with adjustable roofs.


The idea being to not only keep the food dry but also to deter the larger birds. I always put food in various places around the garden so that all visitors are well catered for but that doesn't stop the bigger species from devouring more than their fair share. I should of course have realised that with Starlings, where there is a will ... there is always a way!


'An old huntsman named Maurice had a trained starling which, if its master said,'Starling, where are you' would immediately answer,'Here I am !'
This bird was a great delight to the son of one of the neighbours, a little boy called Charles, who often came to pay it a visit.
One day, when he came to see it, the old huntsman was not in the room.
Charles caught the bird, put it into his pocket, and was moving towards the door when in came Maurice, who, thinking it would please the child, called as usual, ' Starling, where are you?'
And the starling, from its hiding-place in the boy's pocket, cried with all its might,' Here I am!'

'Be a theft cunning as it may,
It soon comes to the light of day.'

Greenfinches are also regular visitors to the garden and I have noticed they can be quite aggressive towards other birds while vying for position at the feeders.


Although this one happily shared the peanut feeder with a Coal Tit

Greenfinch and Coal Tit

It is not always easy to get photos of the little Coal Tits as they don't stay still for long but in the snow and ice they stayed at the feeders longer in their frantic attempts to fuel their tiny bodies against the bitter cold weather.

Coal Tit

I think one of the most colourful and delightful visitors to the garden is the enchanting Goldfinch which is guaranteed to brighten the dullest day with its tinkling call and exotically coloured plumage.


In the Winter I always make sure I put plenty of apples out for the birds and this year I was hoping to attract some of the Waxwings which have been reported in so many parts of the UK including just around the corner from me. Unfortunately I haven't been fortunate enough to see any so far but the apples are particularly welcomed by the Blackbirds. Look how brightly the orange beak and tongue of this male show against his black feathers and the snowy background!


'The blackbird is a bonny bird
That singeth in the wood
His song is in the evening heard
When the red cow chews her cud ...

O bonny is the blackbird still
On top of yon fir tree
On which he wipes his golden bill
And blithely whistles he.
(John Clare)

A very occasional visitor to the garden is the Stock Dove, a slightly smaller and more timid bird than the rather similar and much commoner Wood Pigeon.

Stock Dove

Finally another frequent visitor all year round is the bird which I started this post with, the pretty little Blue Tit.

Blue Tit

'Where is he that giddy Sprite,
Blue-cap, with his colours bright,
Who was blest as bird could be,
Feeding in the apple-tree.'

(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Well that is all for now and I shall try to catch up with you all as soon as I can, thank you for bearing with me and until the next time... enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.


  1. Hi Jan,

    So nice to see a post from you! I'm sorry to hear about your husband but glad that he's on the mend and will hopefully soon be able to help you out with all the jobs! :)

    Lovely to see the Stock Dove visiting again!
    Has the snow really only just melted down your end of the world? Ours has been gone for a good few weeks or more now - distant but very vivid memory and one I won't forget for a while! :)

    I hope you begin to see signs of spring soon, it's certainly been much milder recently and today was a lovely day here with sun. Robins were singing to me too!

  2. Welcome back Jan and what a superb posting, well worth the wait. I love the verse, it so fits the dialogue and the excellent photos.

  3. Hello Songbird!!! Welcome back to blogland :-) Lets hope hubby makes a full recovery, thus allowing you more time to photograph the birds :-)

    I'm very jealous of your Stock Dove by the way, I've never had one in my garden.

    Bye for now :-)

  4. Welcome back, and you did a splendid return with a lot of sighting and a lot a fantastic pictures. I love the snow on them, it gives a beautiful atmosphere!

  5. Hi Shy, we've really missed you, I'm pleased about your husband, I hope he gets better very soon.
    I think that you have made a beautiful photos.

  6. Hi Jan
    Lovely to see you back! I do hope hubby recovers soon. In the meantime, enjoy the dogwalking!

  7. You were missed. Best wishes to your husband and hope for a full recovery. Beautiful snowy images.

  8. Good to see you back posting Jan.
    Hope your husband makes a full recovery very soon.

    Love that shot of the greedy Starlings. They certainly are clever when it comes to getting food.

  9. Jan, what a comeback! Great to hear from you again, you had me worried I have to say. Hope hubby makes a full recovery and that normal service resumes! A very happy new year to you both!

  10. A lovely post Jan. Glad you were able to get back to blogging.
    Very best wishes to HLH for a speedy recovery.

  11. I missed you! When life becomes all work and no play its unfair..I hope your husband is up and at'em soon, Im sure he will be happy to be back doing for himself. Your bird photos are AWESOME--every single one--I am partial to the Goldfinch also, so much color!!
    Good to have you back!

  12. Really nice collection of bird photos! The Coal Tit and Goldfinch are my favs.

  13. Well. I must say that for your windows not being as clean as you would want them for taking pictures, these all look pretty darn good!! What beautiful bird photos. Your Tit looks just like our Black-capped Chickadees. I'm glad I don't see many Starlings. I do have about four around. Love that little story about the one that talked..ha! Ha! I'm sorry that you are still having some health issues in your family Jan. Hope your hubby gets better quick to lighten the load on you. Nice to see you here. I hope it's a good year for you and your family. Hugs!!

  14. What a wonderful collection of photos and poems. Glad you're back and hope thing get better soon for you.

  15. So glad to see you back posting, Jan! I was concerned about you, and it does sound as if you've had your hands full. I'm so sorry to hear about your husband, but I hope that he makes a speedy recovery.

    It's always a delight to see your photos, and these backyard visitors are no exception. Your goldfinches are so colorful; here the goldfinches turn a drab brown/gray in winter, and I have trouble distinguishing them from many of the other birds. I haven't seen any woodpeckers here, which usually are frequent visitors in the winter, but you certainly have a wide variety of birds visiting you.

  16. Glad that you're catching up again Jan and that your husband is now on the mend - my what a lot you've had on your plate recently; it's no wonder you haven't had time to blog or visit others!!

    But you've come back in your true style with a lovely post that's always a joy to read... thank you and hopefully 2011 will get better and better for you.

  17. Good to have you back on line. Like you say it's good to feel a little warmth. Spring is a long way off yet, but we're going in the right direction. I'm glad himself is on the mend and all is well. You've been missed.

    Good to see the stock dove on the photo list too, not as common as they once were.

  18. hi jan, good to have you back, hope that the new year brings with it the best of health to you and your hubby, great photos, which look all the better with the backdrop of snow, love the story about the starling, you just have to admire them.

  19. So good to have you back, Jan. Wonderful photos; I especially like the one of the starlings. Hope everything continues to go well for you and yours.

  20. Hi Jan...what a wonderful post! Loved the quotes and all the birds. So right about the starlings picture about where there is a will....

    So sorry to hear about your husband. But good to know that he's recovering...hope everything gets back to normal soon.

  21. A gorgeous post ~ love the birds against the snowy background ~ it shows you had a lot on the one with the goldfinch that found a perfect protective spot for lunch. The poetry adds your own special touch. Glad to see you back and hope your husband improves daily.

  22. Hi Jan A very warm welcome back, and glad the hear Hubby is recovering best wishes to him.
    Lovely post as usual so full of wonderful images and verse gives one a real warm glow during these winter days.
    PS you came back just in time as I was showing the first signs of Poetry Withdrawal Symptoms.

  23. Liz

    Thank you Liz, The snow finally cleared here 2-3 weeks ago and it then turned very cold again. That was followed by a brief mild spell but it seems to be getting colder again now.
    There are definite signs of Spring though and I have some Daffodils shooting up at the end of the garden, always a welcome sight :)

    Derek Faulkner

    Thank you Derek :) it is quite a challenge to find appropriate verse but always enjoyable.

    Warren Baker

    Hi Warren :) Thank you, yes I am missing getting out and about with the camera.
    It's always nice to find I have a bird in my garden that you don't have in yours! It's usually the other way round ;)


    Thank you Chris, as my garden faces north it is always difficult to get decent photos but at least the snow provided a bit of contrast.

    Bob Bushell

    Thank you Bob, you are very kind :)


    Thank you Dan, I seem to spend more time dog walking than anything else at the moment, at least I'm not trudging through snow though ;)

  24. Mike Atwood

    Thank you for your kind comments Mike :)


    Thank you Keith, the Starlings don't miss a trick, you have to admire their ingenuity :)


    Thank you Phil, it's good to be back! A very happy new year to you and Carol also :)

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you John :) I'm glad to be back in blogland, I've missed you all.


    Thank you Dixxe, I have missed you too and all my blog friends. Yes, it has seemed like all work and no play lately and will be for a while yet, I'm fitting in the blogging where I can! :)

    Randy Emmitt

    Thank you Randy, I think the Goldfinch photo is my favourite too :)

  25. Ginnymo

    Hi Ginny, thank you :) Yes, I think your Black-capped Chickadee is cousin to our Coal Tit! I don't see as many Starlings in the garden as I used to but when they all sweep in together it is like a gang of rowdy teenagers :)
    I hope things are not too bad with you, I am thinking of you...HUGS :)

    Country Mouse Studio

    Thank you very much Carole :)


    Thank you Rose :) it has been a difficult time but I think things are improving steadily.
    I love the way the Goldfinches cheer up the garden at this time of year! I usually have trouble photographing the birds from our north facing window but the snow helped by giving me some contrast.


    Thank you Tricia, it has definitely been difficult to fit everything in lately! Hopefully things are gradually improving now. I wish you a very happy new year :)

    The Wessex Reiver

    Hi Andrew, thank you :) I was sorry to read you weren't too well recently. I think we will all feel better when Spring arrives, it is wonderful to see those small signs and promises of things to come, I have Daffodils shooting up in a slightly warmer part of the garden!
    I am always pleased to see the occasional visit from the Stock Dove, as you say not too common these days.


    Thank you Denis :) I completely agree about the Starlings, for all their bully boy ways you can't help admiring them!

  26. So glad to see you back again. Wonderful shots of the birds.

  27. ShySongbird ,
    I was hoping that I had seen the last of the snow , but , as you were doing a catch up , good to see you blogging again .
    Hope hubby continues on the mend , and that you have a less stressful year .

  28. Wilma

    Thank you Wilma, it's good to be back :)


    Thank you Kanak :) Those Starlings are very determined!


    Thank you Glo :) Yes, it's quite a long time since we had that much snow. It's getting colder again so I hope we are not in for some more!


    Thank you for your generous comments Monty, they gave me a warm glow, I hope you have fully recovered from your PWS :)

  29. oldcrow61

    Thank you OC :)


    Thank you Greenie, I had a feeling someone would say that about the snow ;) It feels cold enough for some more here at the moment, I hope we don't get any though!

  30. Great to see you blogging again Jan and producing excellent images thro' the window ... yours must be cleaner than mine!
    Best wishes to you and hubby and hope things will get easier from here on in. Cheers FAB.

  31. The Early Birder

    Thank you Frank:) If you saw just how dirty that window was...! Amazingly it didn't really show too much in the photos :)

  32. Welcome back ShySongbird - it's good to have you back :)
    Glad to hear that hubby is recovering well & I hope you'll be back to regular blogging soon!
    We miss your chirpy comments! :)
    Lovely photos - shame about the Waxwings, I've had no luck either!
    Look forward to your next post - take care of yourself (& hubby!)

  33. Thanks for putting the Save Our Forests on your blog.

  34. Sharon

    Thank you Sharon, it's good to be back :) It seems everyone (apart from you and me) have seen Waxwings this time :( The nearest I have got is literally dreaming about them!!! Sad or what? ;)

    Bob Bushell

    It's a pleasure Bob...and a fight that has to be won!

  35. Hi Jan, lovely to see you posting again. I do hope that each day hubby improves and is soon walking alongside you again.

    You have many garden birds, enjoyed looking at them.
    I rarely see a greenfinch now. I know their numbers are in decline due to the virus that has hit them so hard. I find it so sad. Hopefully their numbers will come back.....

    I do so love the LTT, such pretty birds. I do not know how you manage to get an image. I have never been able to.

    Have a good week.....

  36. I have such fun enjoying your photos and thinking of the birds I have here, that I often forget what I wanted to write! ;-) I'm glad your husband is feeling better. Nice to have you posting again!

  37. Cheryl

    Thank you Cheryl, I'm glad to say he is much better now :)
    Yes I think a lot of the finches have been badly affected by that dreadful disease. Thankfully though I still have a good number visiting my garden including Greenfinches. I do hope you see more of them soon.
    As for photographing the birds, it is never easy in my north facing garden... but I keep trying ;)
    Have a lovely weekend Cheryl, it is good to see you in blogland again.

  38. Shady Gardener

    Thank you Shady :) It's nice to be back!

  39. Hi Jan, sorry late with my comment. I too am delighted to see you back blogging. I was worried about you as you know.

    What lovely images with the birds and snow. I agree completely about the Goldfinch. It does seem too tropical for our gardens here and as you say whatever the weather it is out in it.

    Wishing you time and opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature where you are too. Enjoy your bird count too :-D

  40. shirl

    Thank you Shirl :) it is good to be back and no need for apologies at all, I know only too well how difficult it is to keep up with comments!
    Yes, the Goldfinch looks so cheerful with its bright, bold colours. It is always a delight to see.
    I am looking forward to getting out and about with the camera again and to the better weather as I expect you are too :)

  41. It is great to be visiting with old friends again. You photos are just beautiful.

    Seems the weather is extreme in so many places. Like you, I'm watching my birds out the windows. They are so vulnerable this time of year.

  42. I'm just as far behind as you...but I really have no reason. I have been working very hard to get my house back in order. Two years of blogging and not paying attention to organizing caught up with me. I'm almost there...this time I'm going to keep everything organized! (haha!)

    Love all the beautiful birds...and the lovely poetry. You're so good at linking up the birds with the poems...

  43. Roses and Lilacs


    Hi Marnie and Kelly :) 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 :)


Please feel free to leave a friendly comment and thank you for taking the time to visit, it's much appreciated and I try to answer each one although it may sometimes take me a few days to do so.

PLEASE NOTE: Any comments which include unrelated links will be deleted!