Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Now That April's Here!

Thank you to everyone who left supportive comments on my last post concerning the Larsen Trap encounter and thank you most particularly to all those who signed the petition against them. If you haven't signed it yet please do consider it, every signature helps, wherever you live in the world!

Well what a beautiful April day it has been here today, we had a temperature this afternoon of 21c (69.8F). While visiting a small local lake it was a joy to see all the Spring flowers and hear Chiffchaffs calling their name over and over. I also heard a rustling in the dead leaves and caught a glimpse of a snake but it was so quick I couldn't identify it, my goodness they move fast! Looking back at my records I noticed that on this day in 2008 we had heavy overnight snow. Hopefully that won't happen tonight!

'When April comes with softly shining eyes,
And daffodils bound in her wind-blown hair,
Oh, she will coax all clouds from out the skies,
And every day will bring some sweet surprise,--
The swallows will come swinging through the air
When April comes!'
(Virna Sheard)

Clockwise from top left:
Ground Ivy, Cowslips, Bluebells,
Violets, Lesser Celandines and Primroses.

'Spring flowers, spring flowers,
Fairest, sweetest gems of earth,
Won from Eden's happy bowers,
Angels smiled upon your birth.'
(Louisa Shaw)

I hadn't seen Bramblings in the garden since 2008 when according to my records they visited from March 7th until April 22nd. At that time I didn't have a camera capable of taking bird photographs and have been disappointed not to have seen them since. However, since just before last Christmas I have seen one in the garden again and for the last few days a small flock have been visiting regularly and at last I have managed to get some photos. They really are lovely little birds.


Brambling (male)

Brambling (female)

I still haven't managed to photograph any butterflies but have seen, Brimstones and Small Tortoiseshells on some of the milder days we have had recently. It has been nice to see bees again too

Tawny Mining Bee?

Edit: Thank you very much to Dean for identifying the above as a...

Buff-tailed Bumble Bee

On a visit to a very small Nature reserve close to home I found these Fritillaries. They were surrounded by wire to protect them, hopefully next year they will have multiplied. We opened the wire a little to enable me to take the photos but made sure we secured it again afterwards.


On another recent walk I saw these Mute Swans who looked rather romantic with their heart shaped pose!

Mute Swans

'They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old.'

(William Butler Yeats)

I had a face to face encounter with this Squirrel during a visit to Draycote Water

Grey Squirrel

The visit to Draycote was unfortunately made on a very dull day which eventually turned to rain and as I have mentioned in the past my camera doesn't perform at all well in low light but I tried my best and was pleased to see Grey Wagtails on the rocks

Grey Wagtail

And this Reed Bunting looking very smart in a hedgerow.

Reed Bunting

A bird which according to all the books is widespread across this country is the Linnet but I never see it on any of my walks close to home so was pleased but not surprised to see it at Draycote which does seem to attract many birds which I would never otherwise see!


'There are gayer birds, 'tis true,
On the mossy branches glittering
Gold or scarlet, green or blue,
Let them flit the woodlands through,
But their song to thine is twittering. '
(Ann Taylor)

Every now and again during our visit we heard a Green Woodpecker 'yaffling' in the distance. At the end of our visit, quite late in the evening and after a downpour which had sent most people home, I saw it in a place which is normally very busy. It was so good to be there at that time which emphasised what an absolute haven it is for wildlife when no one is around, I can completely see why some birders go there at daybreak before all the joggers, cyclists etc. appear.

Incidentally if anyone with any influence reads this it would be great if they could put a word in to persuade the powers that be to clean and fill the seed feeders at the side of the hide, they seem to have been abandoned for a long time now, almost as long as the visitors centre!! If I could get to the feeders I would fill them myself!

Green Wodpecker

Well, that's all for now... enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.


  1. Hi Jan, some beautiful bird images.
    I have never seen bramblings here. Aren't they pretty??

    My reed bunting is still visiting the garden. He comes each day for lunch. The female is not around, so assume she is on the nest.

    I am waiting, with anticipation, for the first swallow to arrive.
    Such an exciting time......

    Happy April Jan, enjoy.

  2. Great opening photo of the Brambling songbird ! Also nice to see you finding a Linnet :-)

  3. Hi Jan,

    Lovely photos, and so very jealous that you'd had Bramblings visiting; a bird I had hoped I'd at least see them passing through but sadly no luck yet.

    I love Fritilaries, some of mine have multiplied, and I'm glad to see they've returned again this year. I bought another pot of them though to add to my little collection :)

    Hope you have a nice week and the weather stays nice (I won't mention the s word that you had at this time of year back in 2008!!)

    I was in Uni today but decided to mow the lawn when I got back because it's been annoying me and I couldn't wait until Friday when I'd next get the chance. I feel much better for it too! Instead I now plan to plant some things on Friday instead... Ought to be doing work, but sometimes we need a break, right?! :D
    I hate the thought that the garden is going to have to take a back seat as I try to get the many, many essays out of the way.

  4. Aren't Bramblings pretty! I have never seen one before. I haven't been lucky enough to spot a linnet or reed bunting either. I love the picture of the squirrel!!

  5. Wow I guess you also got a pretty nice photographic day seeing this post... What a wonderful set.. I also guess you were waiting for this for days ;-) I love that squirrel and the wagtail shots a lot... It was still snowing over here today!

  6. Hi Jan,
    Seems you had the same weather up there today as we did down here in Kent.
    Weather that if it had a value would be priceless.

    "Lovelist of trees, the cherry now
    Is hung with bloom along the bough,
    And stands about the woodland ride
    Wearing white for Eastertide.
    A.E. Housman

  7. Cheryl

    Thank you Cheryl, Yes, the Bramblings are lovely, don't forget that in the Winter if you see a flock of Chaffinches in the garden it is always worth looking to see if there are Bramblings among them, you might be pleasantly surprised.
    You are so lucky to have Reed Buntings in the garden, wouldn't it be lovely if you see babies eventually? :)
    Happy April to you too Cheryl, don't work too hard ;)

    Warren Baker

    Thank you Warren :) I was pleased to get fairly decent photos of the Bramblings although the light was poor so they could have been better.
    Yes! Linnets at last ;)


    Hi Liz :) Thank you. As I said in my reply to Cheryl, make sure that in the Winter you always look among a flock of Chaffinches and you might just spot a Brambling! Sadly, they won't be here much longer.
    There is so much that needs doing in my garden but as soon as we have a nice day I want to be off and away looking for birds etc. ;) As you imply, a little of what you fancy...
    Good luck with all those essays ;( but again, you will feel much better when they are done!

  8. A spring festival there Jan; lovely set of shots.
    As someone who has struggled to get a decent shot of my local Bramblings, it's good to see your lovely captures.
    Grey Wag and Linnet are beauties, and the Swans....perfect.

  9. Hiya,
    Lovely pics especially the swan and bramblings, a lovely read as usual :)

  10. Hey Jan ,What another cracking post you've put together, and the images are superb. Really green about the Brambling its my bogey bird I have only ever seen 2 and never photographed one.Linnets we have loads of. Really glad you got the Green Woodpecker they are not easy,so well done.
    Take care and look forward to the next one.

  11. What a beautiful set of photos Jan. What with Brambling, hearty Swans and a brave squirrel. I don't think I have ever seen a Linnet.
    Glorious day here yesterday also and today is starting the same way.

  12. Hi ShySongbird, The Brambling photos are great and what treat to have them in the garden. There are some great colours there with the flowers and Grey Wagtail.

  13. Lots of great photos in this post Jan. I haven't seen any Bramblings for a couple of years now.
    You also got the "Classic Swan Heart" just right, I only managed a side on view of that last year.

  14. April is full of such lovely surprises, isn't it? I enjoyed seeing the bramblings and the linnets, two birds I have heard of in poems, but had never seen before. Your green woodpecker is also interesting--it looks very similar to our Pileated woodpecker, but the coloring is different.

    I always enjoy these walks with you, Jan, and the special sights you share--the photo of the swans is so sweet! I'm glad to hear you had such a good response to your petition on the bird traps; I didn't sign it, only because I thought probably only UK residents should. I hope you get even more signatures.

    Enjoy these lovely spring days!

  15. Jan I just enjoy your posts and pictures so much. I know I've missed a few lately but I'm trying to get back to normal.
    I can see why you were so disappointed when the Bramblings didn't show up for their photographs - they are just beautiful as is that Green Woodpecker. And the pose of the swans is gorgeous! Now how did you manage to get them to do that?
    By the way thanks for stopping by my place and YES, you can come live with me any ole time you want and we can watch my birds. But only if I can come to your place. ;-) LOL Oh and you were spot on with my mystery bird. It is indeed a Nuthatch I think a white breasted or something, my book is in the other room. Thank you so much for telling me. He's a regular now and does tend to hang downwards like the book said.

  16. Dan

    Thank you Dan, yes I think they are lovely too.
    I have been waiting for a Linnet for years! Just wish I could have got a better photo...the story of my life ;)
    I was pleased to get the Squirrel posing like that.


    Thank you Chris, It has been great to get some nice weather after the hard Winter...not as hard as yours of course! I do hope it improves for you soon and that your health is still improving :)

    Derek Faulkner

    Thank you Derek. Yes, it was beautiful here yesterday and should be tomorrow too.

  17. Such colorful birds and flowers you have there Jan. I was hoping to see some new birds as they passed through but haven't yet. Just the same old ones. The sun finally came out this afternoon. Sure makes things look nicer. It will get up to 50 degrees today and warmer on the weekend! I can now see the buds getting bigger on the trees. Can't wait for some green around here. Take care.

  18. ShySongbird ,
    Great shots of the Brambling , I have had to make do with just one fleeting glimpse before Christmas .
    Strange though , pictures of Brambling and still reading about flocks of Waxwings in these temperatures .
    A most enjoyable read .

  19. Hi Jan, tku for that tip. I have a flock of chaffinch in the garden most of the year. I will have to take a closer look. It would be such a wonderful treat to see a exciting.

  20. Some good pictures there Jan, especially nice to see Bramblings, only once seen in my garden two years ago.
    The Fritillaries are great I nearly posted a picture of some in the garden today,they don't last long here as the Lily Bugs eat them.
    I like your Grey Wagtails always a treat to see them.

  21. great post jan, accompanied by wonderful verse, bramblings woodpeckers, linnets, grey wagtails, you are very priviliged indeed to see those,

  22. Lovely blog and photos! Glad you have been making the most of the wonderful weather this week.

  23. holdingmoments

    Thank you Keith, I was really pleased to get some photos of the Bramblings even though there was no sun that day and the garden faces north which makes it rather dim. I see you have some lovely shots of your local ones now :)

    IOW Birder

    Hi, Thank you, it was good to get the Swans in that pose :)


    Thank you Monty, I waited three years for those Bramblings :) I do wish the light had been better for the Woodpecker photo. Isn't it odd that I generally never see Linnets at all? I know so many other bloggers do.

  24. Midmarsh John

    Thank you John. I'm glad I'm not the only one! That was the first Linnet I had ever seen!! So many people seem to see them regularly.
    Hope the weather is as glorious there today as ours is, it really is beautiful here :)

    Alan Pavey

    Thank you Alan, I was thrilled to see the Bramblings visiting on a regular basis this year after not seeing any for three years :)


    Thank you Roy, I was definitely in the right place at the right time for the Swans, not my usual luck at all :)

  25. Rose

    Thank you Rose, I agree, such a lovely time of year!
    Your Pileated Woodpecker has similar colouring to our Great Spotted Woodpecker, yours is very impressive!
    You are quite welcome to sign the petition Rose, I see that people from all over the world have, the more the merrier :)

    Rain Gardener

    Thank you Linda, it is always nice to see you here :)
    I really was lucky with the 'classic' swan pose, I will probably never see it again.
    OK, it's a deal regarding living arrangements ;)
    So glad to be of help with the Nuthatch, you are lucky, it's a real little beauty!


    Thank you Ginny :) Your birds may be 'the same old ones' but many of us dream of the sort of varied visitors you see from your window!
    I do hope Spring visits you soon...Hugs!

  26. What a beautiful post!! Your bird photos are exceptional!! Great job--and I too was out wandering around and found some beautiful wild flowers in bloom--I enjoy wild as much as cultivated maybe more so--
    Draycote continues to impress me everytime you do there! Happy Spring.

  27. Greenie

    Thank you Greenie, I was thrilled to get some fairly decent photos of the Bramblings at last and they made up in a small way for the fact that I must be one of the only people in the country who hasn't seen a Waxwing :)
    I'm sure they won't hang around long in these temperatures.


    You are welcome but don't forget they are only here in the Winter and early Spring so you may have to wait until next Winter now the weather has turned so mild.


    Thank you Phil, It was three years since the Bramblings last visited!
    I was so pleased to find the wild Fritillaries, not sure if you get them growing wild in Kent?


    Thank you Denis :) The Bramblings in the garden have been a real treat and I do feel very privileged to see all the beautiful sights which Draycote has to offer.


    Welcome Marianne! Thank you for visiting and for your comment. The weather is wonderful at the moment, such a treat after all the snow. I do hope you visit again :)

  28. Hi, Jan. Great set of Photos. In answer to your request, your Bee is a Buff-tailed Bumble.

  29. A brilliant blog, with Bramblings, flowers and of course Mute Swans, making a heart.

  30. Sondra

    Thank you Sondra. I think I prefer to see wild flowers, as Nature intended :)
    Draycote really is a wonderful place. I love it, there is always something of interest there.


    Thank you Dean :) and thank you very much for the ID. I had a feeling my ID was wrong. I was sure you would know and had noticed you had mentioned the Tawny Mining Bee yourself during the week.

    Bob Bushell

    Thank you Bob, I was really pleased to be able to capture the swans like that :)

  31. What a wonderful blog you have! I'm going to spend some very happy time reading your archive and admiring all those gorgeous photographs.

  32. NCmountainwoman

    Welcome! Thank you very much for visiting and commenting. I do hope you visit again :)

  33. Hi Shy, I cannot believe the number of wonderful photos you take... variety yes, but I love the birds. How in the world do you manage to get such great shots! (I'm sure your camera is much more advanced than my little digital point and shoot!) ;-) At any rate, I enjoy the diversity and difference in the birds you see as opposed to what we have here!!

  34. Hi Jan, I've just come back from a very tiring 10 days in Wales snapping kites and to read your blog makes me feel at home again. Beautiful.

  35. Wow looks like it yes, you got spring... I will sign just right now to see a brambling... Iðve never seen yet and it should be a nice addition to my birdlist;-)

  36. Shady Gardener

    Thank you Shady, I think you have some beautiful birds over there, some of them look so much more exotic and colourful than ours, I always enjoy seeing them :) I do have a DSLR camera but the main thing is patience, getting to know the right places to look and what you are likely to see there and of course...sheer luck, lots of it!! ;)

    Mike Attwood

    Thank you Mike, what a lovely comment :)
    Funnily enough I was thinking about you earlier in the week and thought you were probably at your beloved Gigrin. I hope you had a wonderful time and look forward to reading about it soon.


    Thank you Chris, The Bramblings are lovely little birds, such pretty colouring. I know you would enjoy photographing them. I hope you see them one day.

  37. Dear Jan,
    I cannot believe I missed this post.....
    Always love seeing your birds... the Bramblings are darling little birds.
    Your photographs always make me feel as if I am right there with you...your words I can almost hear your voice...ahhh.
    Such a delight!
    thank you,

  38. Q

    Thank you Sherry, the Bramblings are a delight and it is quite a rare treat to have them in the garden, it makes up a little for not seeing the Waxwings that almost everyone in England except me has seen this year ;)


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