Friday, 6 May 2011

Maytime Mixture

May already! This year is going much too fast for my liking but what a beautiful Spring we have enjoyed this time. The only downside being that the countryside and gardens are getting far too dry. I can't remember the last time it rained here although if the weather forecasters have it right that will be rectified this weekend with showers predicted.

'Welcome, welcome, lovely May!
With breath so sweet and smiles so gay;
With sun, and dew, and gentle showers,
Welcome, welcome, month of flowers!'
(From Juvenile Miscellany)

Just a sample of the beautiful views on my doorstep

This post will contain photos from various walks in my local area and a couple from a little further afield at Draycote Water but I will start with a couple of photos from the garden. As some readers will know, I have always been envious of those of you who have the Great Spotted Woodpecker visiting your garden feeders so I have been thrilled recently to see one in mine. The first time was a very fleeting glimpse as it fed at the peanut feeder at the bottom of the garden. Some weeks later I saw one again, a female, on the Sunflower feeder nearer the house and the next day posed beautifully on the bird bath. Needless to say I didn't manage a photo on the bird bath but I did get a not very good one of it on the Sunflower feeder.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

I photographed this Speckled Wood Butterfly on Forget-me-not flowers on a lovely sunny morning.

Speckled Wood Butterfly

This next butterfly isn't posed in the prettiest of places but the photo clearly shows how exceptionally dry the ground is here. It was taken during a local walk on April 17th and we still haven't had a drop of rain since!

Peacock Butterfly

Something else which wasn't posing in the prettiest of places, such is my luck ;) was this Yellowhammer. Luckily I have found somewhere else to see them without having to return to the scene of the Larsen Trap encounter!


This one was slightly more cooperative.

One of the wild flowers which always reminds me of my childhood is the Lady's Smock also known as Cuckoo Flower and Milkmaids. As a child I used to love hunting for the first ones of the year. In folklore it was said to be sacred to the fairies so was unlucky if brought indoors. For the same reason it was never included in May day garlands.

Lady's Smock

'Dainty as a fairy's frock,
White or mauve, of elfin sewing,
'Tis the meadow-maiden growing-

(Cicely Mary Barker)

It is also one of the food plants of the Orange Tip butterfly

Orange Tip Butterfly

Another favourite wild flower, I have a lot of favourites :) is the Cowslip which seems to me to have done particularly well this year. Actually, thinking about it although I love all wild flowers it is the Spring flowers which are dearest to my heart.


Another butterfly seen on a local walk.

Green-veined White

'But lo! a white and spangled thing
Was sporting there on tiny wing;

In haste from flower to flower it flew,

And sucked from each the honied dew.'
(Louisa Segrave)

All of the following photos were taken at Draycote. This Canada Goose looked like it was feeling the heat

Canada Goose

These Great Crested Grebes were looking resplendent in their breeding plumage

Great Crested Grebe

and Mrs Mallard was proudly showing off her ducklings.


Although it is easy to hear and identify Chiffchaffs I find it is not always so easy to see them but this time I was lucky.


And here, it was happily singing its name over and over.

Finally, it is always nice to see the delightful Yellow Wagtails at Draycote. This one is female

Yellow Wagtail

and I will finish this post as I started it, with the male.

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


  1. A beautiful post.....keep plugging away and you'll get a good shot of the GSW. quick things they are. I'm still trying for a good shot as well.

  2. I must say Songbird , your Photography is getting better and better, and the subjects are getting more and more interesting, Yellow wags and Yellowhammers! not to mention Chiffchaffs! Wheatear next ? :-)

  3. Lovely post. I am particularly smitten by the Yellow Wagtails, such elegant and beautiful birds :)

  4. I think the Yellow Wagtail is a super bird to start and finish a super post Jan. Well done with the Great Spot, maybe it's true that all things come to those who wait! Lovely Chiffy shots, how did you make it sit still? I'm very envious of your Yellowhammer shots too, not a bird I see very often, but i'm happy to be one of those who wait.

  5. The Yellow Wagtail is a stunner, and Yellowhammer, great.

  6. Some lovely stuff again ShySongbird, you have some stunning views there. I'm glad you found Yellowhammers somewhere else as well. I like the Chiffchaff and Wagtail pics.

  7. Hi ShySongbird,
    Some lovely photo`s there! I do like Yellow Wags, such bright birds.
    It is so dry here in Peterborough that there are cracks that you can put your hand in! It is forecast to rain tonight, so fingers crossed!
    Follow me @ HEDGELAND TALES

  8. Hi Jan,
    Well up to your usual standard with the words as much as the pics.

  9. A beautiful spring mixture.

  10. Lovely Yellow Wagtail photos...the male is a stunner. But my fave photo is the one of the 2 Great Crested Grebes...they are such majestic birds!

  11. wow what a nice post... You are getting very nice pictures of very interesting birds. I'm jealous of your wagtails shots and the butterflies are also superb. Have a nice week end too!

  12. I found you at my friend runaroundranch and I'm following you from Trapani, Sicily. I noticed that you're from the Cotswolds...I've heard about them from reading the English classics. What are they exactly, is it the name of an area or wood? Anyway, the view from your house is just gorgeous and I just love that woodpecker!

  13. You always have such beautiful photos Jan. They could be put in a magazine. Things are getting much greener here. It sure seems good. Now if it would just dry out a bit. Have a great weekend Jan. Happy Mother's Day!

  14. A wonderful selection as always Jan. Cracking pictures again.

    Had some rain overnight here; enough to bring some fogs from the pond, hopping around the garden lol

  15. Lovely set of pics, Jan.

  16. Wow, Jan, you may not do a regular post like many of us but what postings they are when we get them - so superb. And what a view that your perch has, makes my reserve look a really tatty place.
    Loved it.

  17. ShySongbird ,
    Read your post in the gloom of a much needed heavy shower , but the Yellow Wagtails at the start and finish really brightened the room. Another most enjoyable read , and loved the GCGrebe shot .

  18. An enjoyable read with some nice words and images. Good to see you are enjoying the late spring. I shall look forward to the next post.

  19. Jan, you live in such a beautiful area. Those are amazing views! Thanks for taking us on a tour of nature in your part of the world. How I wish birds here were as cooperative (and colourful) as the ones in your photos!!

    I must've told you before that the Peacock reminds me of our Peacock Pansy. Not the coloration but the 'eyes' at the back.

    Have a wonderful Mother's day weekend!!

  20. ADRIAN

    Thank you Adrian, The biggest problem is trying to get into the garden without disturbing it, in addition of course to actually seeing it in the first place :) Unfortunately, it still isn't a regular.

    Warren Baker

    Thank you Warren, I keep trying :)
    I did manage a Wheatear last year but I certainly wouldn't say no to another and there are lots of other birds on my wish list, that Tawny Owl of yours would be very nice ;)


    Thank you Marianne, I agree they are elegant and very colourful too :)


    Thank you Phil, Believe me, I have waited a long, long time for that GSW :) I just hope it visits more regularly now. Well, I had a little chat with the Chiffy and persuaded it to sit still, it didn't say much back though, just its name :)
    I am lucky to have found a couple of local places to see Yellowhammers.

  21. Bob Bushell

    Thank you Bob, I love their vivid, cheerful colours :)

    Alan Pavey

    Thank you Alan, we are lucky to have some lovely places so close to home :)
    It was great to find somewhere else local to see Yellowhammers!


    Thank you John, Yes that is why I like them so much, they are so bright and cheerful.
    The photo showing the cracked ground was taken three weeks ago so those cracks will be much larger now but...we had rain last night and this morning so I can uncross my fingers ;) What we need now is rain at night and nice dry, sunny days :)

    Mike Atwood

    Thank you very much Mike :)

  22. Naturedigital

    Thank you Costas, I hope all is well with you :)

    Jason K

    Welcome Jason, thank you for visiting and commenting :) I agree, Great Crested Grebes are beautiful birds, very elegant and rather underrated I think!


    Thank you Chris :) Draycote is a good place to see wagtails probably because of all the flies there!
    I hope the weather is improving for you in Iceland now.


    Welcome! Thank you for visiting and commenting :)
    The Cotswolds are a range of hills in west-central England, sometimes called the "Heart of England". The area has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I live on the very edge or perhaps you might say at the gateway.
    I think my words may have mislead you slightly, when I said 'the views on my doorstep' that is a figure of speech here :) What I really meant was all those views can be seen very close to home, just a short distance away.


    Thank you Ginny, you are very kind and I am very flattered :)
    I hope you get some dry weather soon. Our much needed rain arrived last night and has continued off and on today.
    We had Mothering Sunday (as it is called here) on April 3rd this year, it is always on the fourth Sunday of Lent.
    I hope you enjoy Mother's Day tomorrow though, take care...Hugs :)

  23. Beautiful post as always Jan, and the local views are spectacular. I am still very envious of your Yellow Wag and Yellowhammer shots they are great.
    I enjoyed this post very much.

  24. Hi Jan,

    I have tried and tried to leave a comment but have been unable.
    Hopefully this time it will publish.

    Lovely to see your garden birds. So pleased you have woodpeckers visiting.

    I can hear the Chiffchaffs in the garden but never see them. So pleased you managed to get a photograph. They are very fragile looking birds.....very sweet.

    The yellow wagtail is stunning. I have never seen one in the wild.
    I always find it so exciting when I see something for the first time.
    Maybe one day i will.

    A lovely post as always Jan, so refreshing. When the woes of the world get me down, I always know your posts will take me back to a more genteel time, when life was so much sweeter.

    BTW I would sow the campion seeds now. They bloom until the first frosts, so you might be lucky.
    If they are not succesful let me know and I will send you some more, when I send the ragged robin seeds. We must keep our native wildflowers, they are so important (but then You know that!)

  25. Hi Jan. Glorious scenic views and such a wealth of wildlife. You have obviously got your eye switched on as the photos are fabulous.

    A Yellowhammer or Yellow Wagtail would definitely brighten my day.

    BTW we had rain last night and it's amazing how fresh everything felt this am as the first Swifts screamed overhead and the birds including Nightingale sang with renewed vigour.

  26. really hope you get some rain soon...I know how that can be!!Awesome work with your camera..i love the butterflies--as much as the flowers and birds...THAT Grebe shot is amazing!!!
    Now go out and do that rain dance- go tmy fingers crossed for you.

  27. holdingmoments

    Thank you Keith :) Lovely to see you here when I know you are very busy with other things at the moment, I really appreciate you taking the time.
    We had rain too last night and on and off during the day and it is coming down heavily tonight. I don't have a pond but the rain usually brings the frogs hopping round my garden too :)


    Thank you Dean :)

    Derek Faulkner

    Thank you Derek, I am lucky to live in a lovely area with lots of stunning scenery :)


    Thank you Greenie, It seems most of us have had some rain now. It has rained heavily here tonight!
    The Yellow Wagtails are such colourful little birds.

    Kevin Groocock

    Thank you Kevin :) It has been a wonderful Spring this year, my favourite season.

    Nature Rambles

    Thank you Kanak :) It is lovely, I am very lucky.
    Some of our birds are colourful but most are not very cooperative! It can be very frustrating trying to photograph them, patience is a virtue :)
    We had Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday as it is called here on the 3rd of April. It is celebrated in the UK on the fourth Sunday in Lent. I hope you enjoy Mother's Day in India this weekend though :)

  28. Monts

    Thank you Monty :)

    I am really pleased I have found somewhere to see Yellowhammers other than the place where the Larsen Trap was and Draycote always seems to attract the Yellow Wags :)


    Thank you Cheryl for your very generous comment and kind words :) So sorry you had trouble leaving a comment, blogger can be very temperamental at times.
    How lovely to hear Chiffchaffs in your garden, I have never heard them in mine!
    I hope you do get to see a Yellow Wagtail one day, they are lovely little birds, so colourful.
    I will definitely try the seeds now. I was thrown by the fact that I have seen them flowering already and didn't realise they continue until the first frosts, I thought I had 'missed the boat' and that I should have planted them last Autumn. I will plant them this coming week :)


    Thank you Frank, I will have a word with the 'Yellows' and ask them to send some of their pals your way :)
    We had rain last night too and on and off throughout the day and tonight it has been falling heavily! It should freshen everything up :)


    Thank you Sondra, I've done the rain dance... and it worked :)
    I am always glad to see the return of the butterflies each year, they are all so pretty.

  29. Thank you for the cowslips. I wish I could smell the scent as well but just seeing them is a joy.

  30. I find that time is going far too fast as well. What beautiful scenery you have at your doorstep. You're pictures are gorgeous.

  31. Great to see woody visiting Jan. I have only ever seen a fleeting glimpse of a juvenile once in the garden.
    We have still had little rain here. A gentle shower yesterday and a short thunderstorm a while ago.
    The Yellow Tips just will not stay still in the garden, maybe no suitable plants to attract them.

  32. What a beautiful May post! The butterflies are wonderful ~ what a surprise to see one on the forget-me-nots. Your photos just resonate with springtime joy with the blue sky background. Sent a breath of fresh air all the way over here.

  33. Arija

    Welcome! Thank you for visiting and for your comment. I love the Cowslips too and look forward to seeing them every year :)


    Thank you OC :) I think it is far too easy to 'forget' to look at the scenery in your own area especially for someone like me who has lived in the same area all their life!

  34. Midmarsh John

    Thank you John, I was thrilled to see the Woodpecker in the garden, I have hoped for one for years!
    We had some heavy rain on Saturday night and some showers on Sunday morning but nothing to speak of since. We do need more, preferably only at night ;)
    I remember you saying you had planted Lady's Smocks in your garden last year, they should attract the Orange Tips.


    Thank you Glo :) I have seen a lot of Speckled Woods in the garden this year, more than I remember other years. Spring is my favourite season, I love it!

  35. Dear Jan,
    Always love your posts.
    Today I am smitten with the Speckled Wood Butterfly. It has been cold here...too cold for bugs....maybe next week it will warm up.
    Congratulations on having the Woodpecker come to your feeders. I understand the joy.
    I also have waited for birds to find my backyard. Once they know I have delicious treats and lots of water they return....
    Have a wonderful rest of May. I will visit when I return from my travels in June.

  36. So many lovely photos, Jan! The peacock butterfly is a favorite of mine. We don't have them here, or at least I've never seen one. They're very similar to our Buckeyes, but the peacock is so much more colorful.

    I hope you've had some rain by now. We've had more than our share this spring--maybe it will finally head across the ocean for you.

  37. An amazing set of images Jan.
    Great Yellow Wagtail shots.

  38. Shysongbird: Thank you for stopping by RA to set things straight on the LCO! And I'm very pleased to have found your blog with all the lovely bird photos, too.

  39. Well, now knowing that you use at 50-250 lens, I am beyond amazed. It just goes to show, underneath it all, it's not the equipment that matters, but the photographer!

  40. Q

    Thank you Sherry. I was very impressed to see that you have had 40 bird species visit you this month!!
    I hope you have a lovely time travelling and visiting your family and look forward to reading all about it :)


    Thank you Rose. Yes, the Peacock butterfly is beautiful but would have looked much prettier if it had been resting on a flower :)
    We have still had very little rain here, I don't remember it ever being as dry as this at this time of year!

  41. Hi Shysongbird,

    Lovely post, both the pictures and the poems. There has been very little rain here in the South, one starts to wonder when will it rain again, the garden is parched, the waterbuts are empty and I am having to use tap water to water my pot plants.

  42. hi jan,
    sorry i'm late commenting on your post, no time to myself at minute with dad being admitted to hospital again, very envious of your great spotted woodpecker, such beautiful countryside you have there on your doorstep, enjoyed your post, we have had nothing but rain, and cold with it, here in wigan for the last 12 days, hope the sun starts shining again soon,

  43. Roy

    Thank you Roy :)

    Raining Acorns

    Welcome! Thank you for visiting and following and thank you very much for your extremely generous comments :)
    I just wish there was a long but lightweight lens on the market as I find the longer ones just too heavy!

    Linda Yarrow

    Thank you Linda, it's lovely to see you back in blogland again :)
    Much as I like dry, sunny weather things are getting rather desperate, we had a few spots this afternoon but not enough to do any good at all.

  44. denzil

    Hi Denis :) Thank you, I just spotted your comment after I published the last replies. It must have come in while I was writing them.
    So sorry to read your Dad is in hospital again, it must be a very worrying time for you and your family. I do hope he gets the treatment he needs and feels much better soon.
    I haven't seen the GSW lately but hope that it is perhaps visiting while I am not looking.
    I thought everyone was in the same boat as far as lack of rain is concerned but it sounds like you have been getting our share as well as your own!!

  45. Your photography is amazing! Please forgive my boldness, I have sad, sad news regarding Rain Gardener on my blog if you have not heard already.

  46. Darla

    Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness Darla. I had no idea that Linda was even ill although I knew she had been but it seemed she had recovered. To say this tragic news is a shock to me is an understatement! I am deeply saddened. I have followed Linda's blog and she mine for over two years and considered her a very good and dear blogfriend.

    I am so sorry for her family and friends and my thoughts are with them. She will be sadly missed by all of us whose lives she touched whether actually or 'virtually'... she will not be forgotten.

  47. wonderful photography and great blog

  48. Enda Flynn

    Welcome Enda! Thank you very much for visiting and for your kind comment :)

  49. Hello again Jan, sorry I’m a bit late to say I enjoyed this especially your wonderful photos of birds I don’t see at all/much. So hard to pic a fav shot here but the Canada Goose gets it. However do love the wagtails and the chiffchaff too :-)

    I didn’t know it was seen as unlucky to bring lady’s smock indoors. It was my fav pick for my Mum and she put it in a vase. Would love to see an orange tip feeding on this flower. Well done for capturing that :-)

    Woodpeckers at your feeders! Wow that’s great – I think. I’m sure I read on a blog once that they were aggressive towards other birds at garden feeders and that some smaller birds stopped coming. Hope all okay at yours. However, what a treat it must be to see :-D

    You do live in a lovely area. Gosh how dry you’ve had it. We’re lucky I guess here. Today we have light misty rain. Our ground was dryish at one point but there hasn’t been probs here.

    May is has now come and gone… gosh we’re into June this morning. Wishing you many magically wildlife moments this month :-D

  50. Your photographs are beautiful, well done. I like to point out something about formatting on your blog, it would be better if you divide the blog into pages.


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