Thursday, 23 June 2011

Summer Selection

For various reasons, I haven't had many Nature outings in the last week or so, the weather certainly hasn't helped. When I said, on my last post, that we desperately needed rain I was rewarded the very next day but it doesn't know when enough is enough and I don't think we have had one day without it since. April finally arrived... in June! April of course, having masqueraded as June! I still can't believe how quickly the year is progressing, one minute it was the beginning of Spring and on June 24th it is midsummer's day!... It goes too fast...

'The days are clear,
Day after day,
When April's here,
That leads to May,
And June
Must follow soon:
Stay, June, stay! -
If only we could stop the moon
And June!'
(Christina Georgina Rossetti)

I haven't seen the Great Spotted Woodpecker in the garden since I last mentioned it (I may just have missed it of course) but I was pleased to see this one while on a local walk.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Here, helpfully displaying the red on the back of his neck to show me he is male.

I also saw this Bullfinch. Unfortunately the light was bad but I have included it as it is not often I manage to get a photo of one. I have seen Bullfinches several times in that location so hopefully, I may get a better photo eventually.

Bullfinch (male)

Not a very sharp photo of this member of the Crane-fly family but I had to put it in, just look at those eyes!!

Tipula vernalis

Butterflies are in worryingly short supply in my area at the moment but thankfully the same can't be said of bees. I think both this one and the one at the beginning of my post are Bombus hortorum but from memory the collar and 2nd abdominal segment were quite a deep colour so wonder if they could be Bombus terrestris.
Edit: Thank you very much to Greenie for pointing out that the bee at the start of this post is probably not Bombus hortorum but a member of the Cuckoo Bee family possibly Psithyrus vestalis.

Bumble-bee (Bombus hortorum?)

'Across the open common land
shines glowing purple floral blooms
The bumble bee can hardly stand,
as flowers' scent is rising fumes'
(Stephen Patrick)

The Chiffchaff was in its usual place again :)


I'm not sure what this cheeky looking Squirrel was eating but it was certainly enjoying it.

Grey Squirrel

'Intelligent his mien ;
With feathery tail and ears alert,
And little paws as hands expert,
And eyes so black and keen.'
(Catherine Ann Turner Dorset (?))

Chaffinches always seem to be pretty accommodating when it comes to having their photo taken.


'The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined body being o'errun
With the deluge of summer it receives'
(James Russell Lowell)

I had to heavily crop this very distant shot of a Common Buzzard so it is not the best but I have included it as I usually only see them in the air.

Common Buzzard


I took the next three photos some weeks ago but didn't get round to posting them.

Mute Swan

Greylag Goose (hybrid)

Edit: Thanks to Greenie for pointing out the above is of mixed parentage. I should have noticed!!



The following two photos were taken in the garden. I hadn't seen a Jackdaw visit for some time until this year, when I have seen several. In my opinion the Jackdaw is a very smart bird in both senses of the word. Not only does it look handsome but like the rest of the much maligned and highly intelligent Corvid family it is a very interesting bird. Jackdaws usually nest in colonies with monogamous pairs collaborating to locate a nest site which they then defend from other pairs and from predators for most of the year. They nest in the cavities of trees, cliffs or ruined, and sometimes inhabited, buildings, often in chimneys (sometimes with fatal consequences when a fire is in the grate below!), and even in dense conifers.


'There is a bird, who by his coat,
And by the hoarseness of his note,
Might be supposed a crow;
A great frequenter of the church,
Where, bishop-like, he finds a perch,
And dormitory too.'
(William Cowper)

The above poem refers to the fact that Jackdaws are famous for using church steeples for nesting. They have a linear hierarchical group structure with higher ranked birds dominating lower ranked birds. They mate for life, pairing before sexual maturity. Young males establish individual status before pairing with females. Once paired, the female assumes the same social position as her partner. Un-mated females are the lowest members in the pecking order, and are the last to have access to food and shelter. Hmm, I think they need a bit of women's liberation in their community :)

It is known that Jackdaws share food and objects. The active giving of food in birds is found mainly in the context of parental care and during courtship rituals but Jackdaws show much higher levels of active giving than that documented for primates such as Chimpanzees. This behaviour is not fully understood but there is a theory that it is associated with mutualism, reciprocity and harassment avoidance. It is also known that occasionally the flock will make 'mercy killings' during which a sick or injured bird is mobbed until it is killed, a harsh but effective way of putting a suffering bird out of its misery...


This Robin started to build a nest in the Ivy at the side of the dining room window but for some reason I think it abandoned it before it was finished. There was one in there complete with baby birds a few years ago which was destroyed by a cat which unfortunately still visits the garden so in some ways I was pleased the Robin had second thoughts this year. I think it did nest in a different part of the garden though.


Until next time... enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.


  1. Another tour de force. Superb photographs. I have always liked other corvus they are intelligent. Tool users also.

  2. I think your photographs are getting better all the time Songbird, I especially like that Chiffchaff and Chaffinch :-)

    Best of all is the Jackdaw though, great birds :-)

    See Ya!

  3. Love the Jackdaw and all the birds in fact but the Crane Fly is amazing, I don't think I have ever seen such a close-up,

  4. Hi Jan...well... my eyes are always looking to the flowers first if there are any!!
    So ...your two photos with the Bumble-bee and flowers are gorgeous : } Plus the verses under each I liked very much too!!

    Interesting bird the Jackjaw...the information you provided is great!! In general people just think of birds as unintellgent creatures, but I have had more fun observing there actions : }
    Treatment of Un-mated thats just "not right"....hahaha!!

    Cute Squirrel and those eyes on the Drangonfly? are wild...I used to wonder who came up with those monster that invaded the city in the movies, but all you have to do as look at that face.. hahahaha... tells the story!!

    Like your birdie photos too!!
    Sorry about the careful what you wish for : }

    Have a lovely weekend...Grace

  5. those are all beautiful shots. :) love your chaffinches and bullfinches and robins. so beautiful...

    wow. i don't think i want to be a jackdaw. especially on a day i feel 'puny'. :)

  6. I enjoyed your very informative and interesting read on Jackdaws Jan, what a great species and lovely pictures to go with it too. I was lucky enough to see a large flock of them myself to day when I did the final visit to my BBS square for the year.
    Interesting shot of the Crane Fly too, isn't it lucky that they are only the size they are! Well done with the Bullfinch too, a very difficult bird to get a shot of in my experience.
    I hope that you manage to get more nature encounters soon.

  7. Like the comments above really enjoyed the insight into Jackdaws. Some lovely photos too, great to get a landed Buzzard :-)

  8. Hi Jan another superb set of images and a excellent read as usual. Also great to see some Macro images , that Crane Fly is a real beauty.
    Thanks for the comment on my blog it seems I copied and pasted the the wrong name on the beetle will have to go in and put it right, so thanks for pointing it out.

  9. Hi Jan,
    Lovely photo`s. Any photo of a Buzzard is lovely to have, I can`t get close enough without them flying away and find it very difficult getting flight shots with just a digiscope set-up!
    The Jackdaw photo is marvelous, capturing that lovely blue-eyed bird perfectly.
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  10. Great posting Jan and some good poetry selections.
    Despite my dislike of Crows and Magpies I've always had a soft spot for the Jackdaws, they always seem such fun. I'm even more impressed now after reading about some of their attitudes to life.

  11. Hi Jan,

    Hope all is well with you?

    I got confused with the bumbles....I must confess I thought it was bombus lucorum BUT in all truth, I often mistake one for the other. They all look so similar, until you really study them.

    I have many jackdaw in the garden at the moment. the rooks usually dominate the space. I have a soft spot for the jackdaw, I don't know why.
    I loved the information about them that you included in this post.
    I also have a crow. He is very entertaining and struts the garden as though he owns it. Perhaps he does:)

    Lovely post as always Jan.
    I always feel peaceful when I leave your blog......

  12. Hi Jan, AWESOME nature in your post...Love those bees and that BUG Eyed fellow too!! Excellent reflection on your swan..and GLAD you got that rain--Mother Nature has been reading us the riot act with heat lately, Im ready for FALL already--

  13. Beautiful pictures. I took a Buzzard that was standing on a telegraph pole, it looked a bit like that one. I'm joking.

  14. Hi Jan,

    Beautiful photos as always, I'm sorry to hear you have so few Butterflies at the monent - it's a similar situation here!

    If you want to see guaranteed Bullies, come visit me! :D

  15. ShySongbird ,
    Great read and shots , as expected .
    Wouldn't argue with your Bombus hortorum for the second bumblebee , but the first looks to me to be a Cuckoo species with the dark lines on the light abdomen , possibly B.vestalis .
    Always good to get a Buzzard shot . Your Greylag seems to have had an 'meeting' with a farmyard goose at some stage .
    We have 100s of Jackdaws on the estate here , two nearly killed my ex neighbour , when a 'cowboy' fitted a gas fire without testing the flue . Three binbags of nesting materials came out of the chimney . They are almost every un-capped chimney .

  16. Beautiful selection again Jan, and fascinating information about the Jackdaw.
    That Crane-fly certainly looks like something from an old horror movie lol

  17. Adrian

    Thank you Adrian :) Yes, they are extremely intelligent. I think Corvids have had an undeservedly bad press over the years.

    Warren Baker

    Thanks Warren :) I keep trying! Yes, the Jackdaws really are fascinating.


    Thank you :) I was surprised how scary the Crane-fly looked close up!
    If you have your own blog Toffee Apple please let me know so that I can visit you. I have never been able to find a link.

    grammie g

    Hi Grace, thank you, I will try to find some flowers for you for the next post :)
    I sometimes think that most members of the animal kingdom are more intelligent than we humans!! Yes, those male Jackdaws need a bit of education in women's lib ;)
    That face did look monster like, a good job it wasn't as big as it appeared!
    Well, wishing for rain worked (too well) will the same be true of butterflies, I wonder.
    I hope you have a lovely weekend too.

  18. texwisgirl

    Thank you :) I agree, it would be best to be right at the top of the pecking order in their community!


    Thank you Phil :) I'm glad you enjoyed the info, I enjoyed researching it.
    You're right about the Crane-fly!!
    The Bullfinch is definitely camera shy... one day ;)
    Have a great weekend!

    Alan Pavey

    Thank you Alan :) I was fascinated by what I found out about them.
    It is the first time I have ever seen a Buzzard anywhere but in the sky!


    Thank you Monty :) I thought those big green eyes were pretty amazing!
    Insect ID can be a minefield as I know only too well and I know what you mean about copying and pasting the wrong thing, it is easily done ;)

  19. Derek Faulkner

    Thank you Derek :) As you know I think the whole Corvid family are fascinating. Extremely
    intelligent birds and as I keep emphasising... much maligned and misunderstood!


    Thank you Cheryl :) The bumbles, like so many insects, are a nightmare when it comes to ID, I am
    thankful to have the extremely knowledgeable Greenie to help in times of doubt and confusion!
    It has been a long time since I have seen a Jackdaw in the garden but this year it has been quite a regular occurrence. Your Crow sounds delightful, such characters!
    Have a lovely weekend Cheryl :)


    Thank you Sondra :) Old bug eyes is quite a character isn't he?
    It seems we are to get a taste of your heat this weekend, I suspect it will only be brief though. I hope
    it cools down a bit for you soon.

    Bob Bushell

    Thank you Bob, I am sure your Buzzard photo was much better than mine :)

  20. Liz

    Thank you Liz :) It is worrying about the butterflies, they really are few and far between here at
    the moment.
    I'm hoping to see those Bullfinches on your blog soon. You are so lucky to have them in the garden!


    Thank you Greenie :) I'm sure you are right about the Cuckoo Bee, the photo in my book looks like it. And of course I should have noticed the mixed up goose, silly of me!
    That sounded like a very dangerous situation for your neighbour, I hope the 'cowboy' was suitably
    admonished! Thanks again for your help, I know I can always rely on you to help me out :)


    Thank you Keith :) I enjoyed finding all the info on the Jackdaw, they are interesting birds.
    You are absolutely right about the Crane-fly...scary! :)
    I hope all went well with the tests.

  21. John (Hedgeland Tales)

    So sorry John, I nearly missed you out!! Thank you so much for your kind comment.
    I was pleased to get the photo of the Buzzard (even if not very good). That is the only time I have seen one settled, they are usually just a shape in the sky :)

  22. I always learn something new here, Jan! The information on the Jackdaw is so interesting; I'm not sure if we have this bird in the US, but I know I've never seen one around here. I have seen quite a few buzzards recently, however; we live next to a busy road, and unfortunately some squirrels or other small mammals aren't very good at watching traffic. I'm not fond of buzzards, but I've come to realize their role in cleaning up the environment.

    I love your photo of the swan--simply beautiful! And your photos of the bees--the first one is so detailed you could almost reach out and stroke his furry head. It's a great time to enjoy all the wonders of nature right now!

  23. Hi Jan, There is a nice feminine quality about your blog as always. All your pics. are worth seeing.

  24. Wonderful post again, Jan! Your bee/flower photos are excellent! My favourite is the first one.

    Looking at your bird pictures how I wish that birds here would be as accommodating! The Spotted Woodpecker is new to me. The ones I see here, from some distance I must say, do not have any significant vibrant spots. I've never photographed a Crane fly those eyes!! Loved going through the verses too!

    Have a great weekend!

  25. Lots of good information on this post along with excellent photos.

  26. Dear Jan,
    Spending time with you is a joy! I am fascinated with your Jackdew. A very handsome bird. I like Crows and Ravins and I wonder if the Jackdews are in the same family?
    some bees are very hard to id. Your photographs are wonderful, suitable for printing.....
    Spring did slip by and now we are in the heat and humidity of summer. I melt.....
    glad you finally had some rain we also have had way too much.
    Thank you for a fun catch up.
    Stay cool.

  27. It's always fun to visit you. Your bee photo is great! :-) I believe we can easily get so busy that we Don't take an extra look around and enjoy our surroundings enough!

  28. Rose

    Thank you Rose :) The only reference I could find to Jackdaws being in America was the following:
    'A small number of Jackdaws reached the northwest of North America in the 1980s, presumably ship-assisted, and have been found from Atlantic Canada to Pennsylvania'
    You make a very good point concerning Buzzards cleaning up the environment which shows that all creatures have their place, like Corvids and others, they are Nature's undertakers!

    Mike Attwood

    Thank you very much Mike, I'm glad you enjoyed the post :)

    Nature Rambles

    Thank you Kanak, I wish the birds were accommodating :) but actually they can be extremely frustrating. The Woodpeckers in particular disappear the moment they spot ones presence!
    That Crane-fly looked quite insignificant... until I saw it on the computer!
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  29. Honest Abe

    Hi Abe :) Lovely to see you here again. thank you very much for your kind comment.


    Thank you so much Sherry :) Yes! You are quite right the Jackdaw is a member of the Corvid family.
    I too am melting today, the temperature here has almost doubled in the space of a couple of days! it is not forecast to last though for which I am grateful. I love the sun but do not have the stamina for extreme heat and humidity.
    I hope it gets cooler for you, enjoy the rest of the weekend... Hugs :)

    Shady Gardener

    Thank you Shady :) It's always a pleasure to have you visit.
    You are quite right, we need to take time to just look and absorb the beauties of the natural world. It is so rewarding.

  30. Greetings from Finland. This, through a blog is a great get to know other countries and their people, nature and culture. Come take a look Teuvo images and blog to tell all your friends that your country flag will stand up to my collection of flag higher. Sincerely, Teuvo Vehkalahti Finland

  31. Hi Jan.
    You have done well getting the shot of the Bullfinch. I don't see them that often, let alone have the opportunity to get a photo of one.
    As other bloggers have said, nice shot of the Crane Fly.

  32. Besides being in awe of all these wonderful photos, I also think your header is absolutely beautiful!

  33. Great Spotted Woodpeckers seem to like poles this year. Lovely macro of the Crane-fly. I have never seen a Buzzard, flying or resting. I have a lot of Jackdaws visiting first thing each morning. The youngsters make even more noise than the Starlings. My gas fitter was telling me only a few days ago that he has had to clear out several blocked chimneys filled by Jackdaws dropping sticks down them.

  34. Excellent post,loved every image.
    My favourites were the Macro images,superb photography.

  35. Teuvo Vehkalahti

    Welcome! Thank your for visiting,commenting and following. I hope you visit again, you will be very welcome :)


    Hi Ken :) Thank you. Always good to see you here. I hope I will be able to get a better photo Of a Bullfinch eventually. I have seen them there before but they are not easy to pin down :)


    Thank you for your very kind words Denise :)

  36. What a fantastic collection and I can see you have many more birds than we do now ;-) There is one picture that stroke me hard, the swan.... Mamma mia, that one is just a perfect shot!! This pure white on the black of the water is a pure marvel... Congrats...

  37. Fantastic shots I really enjoy your choice of poems. A real treat to follow your blog.
    Colin . Brampton Valley Way

  38. Apologies for the late replies!

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you John. Yes, I thought it was amusing that we both got similar photos :)
    The Jackdaws certainly can be untidy!


    Thank you John, you are very kind :)


    Thank you Chris. I was pleased with the Swan photo myself, I think it was more luck than judgement though :)


    Thank you Colin, always a pleasure to see you here. I appreciate you mentioning the poems as I keep wondering whether to drop them, I suspect they put some people off. If I did drop them though it wouldn't really be my blog any more I suppose :)

  39. Lovely post - nice shot of the Buzzard!

  40. A wonderful informative post yet again Jan. Very interesting. I agree with you on the Jackdaws. I find their behaviour fascinating to watch in my garden.

    They never forget where I put things either. I remember putting nesting material out for Blue tits in a quite hidden spot (so cats wouldn’t spot the birds there) and the Jackdaw found it and came back to this spot every year after and was understandably puzzled when I moved it :-)

    As for the mobbing, I witnessed that once and it wasn’t pleasant to see at all. It was a good few years ago, one a street behind school when I was picking up eldest daughter in car. Younger sister was in the car with me. 15-20 birds were mobbing one bird. We were puzzled at the beginning not knowing what was going on and then looked in horror. From memory, I might guess I got out the car to disperse them. I think that worked for a moment. Thankfully the group eventually moved away and we never saw the bird killed. Being intelligent birds they will know what they are doing to support their own survival.

    Wishing you a good weekend :-)

  41. What a great update and I was wondering what I had been missing while I was away. I got back and was disappointed in the lack of butterflies. There are hundreds of Ringlets but very little else! Some lovely images in there too. Nice to get a buzz on a post (it doesn't seem to happen very often) and the Crane fly is superb :-)

  42. Pam

    Thank you Pam and sorry to be so late in replying!


    Thank you Shirl, your story about the nesting material conjures up amusing visions of a very bemused looking Jackdaw :)
    The mobbing incident did sound unpleasant, rather like something out of Hitchcock's film 'The Birds'!


    Thank you Chrissy, I haven't been able to get anywhere much lately but did snatch time yesterday to go where there are usually lots of butterflies and there wasn't even one! It was very disappointing and worrying.

  43. A wonderful collection of pictures. I particularly like the jackdaw. I feel the same way, time is going far too fast.

  44. Excellent posting. So glad I came for a visit. I love seeing so many different species of birds. Time. Ah, yes. The faster it goes by, the faster it goes by. Drives me crazy!! Swing by my blog if you get the opportunity. I'm having a give-away that you might enjoy. ~karen

  45. Bonjour j'adore les rouges gorges quel plaisir de les regarder dans nos jardins
    J'aime aussi les canards bien entendu
    j'espère que tout se passe bien chez vous!!!!!!!!


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