Friday, 6 April 2012

Springtime Strolls

What a wonderful taste of Spring we have had in the last couple of weeks or to be more precise I should probably say taste of Summer! It really has been glorious here but this week it's back down to earth with a bump, well a crash really :-) Many parts of the UK have plunged from temperatures in the low 20sC/70sF to sub zero and snow!! It hasn't been quite that bad where I live but we have had some much needed rain and it has turned very cold but of course the Blackthorn is in flower which often coincides with a cold spell, hence the old country term 'Blackthorn Winter'.

Blackthorn (In the Autumn it will bear Sloes)

The lovely weather has brought the butterflies out but I am rather worried that this cold snap will have an adverse effect on them. After a good start here last year they were disappointingly sparse during the Summer so I was hoping they would fare better this year. So far I have only managed to photograph Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshells, none of which posed on anything pretty unfortunately. The lovely pattern on the wings of the Peacock butterfly has always reminded me of the 'faces' of Pansy flowers. This one was on a house wall.

 Peacock Butterfly

'A velvet-winged butterfly flew,
And the pansies themselves were not brighter
Than the beautiful creature in hue.'

(Eben E. Rexford)

And this one showing the underside.

All my recent walks have been within a couple of miles of home but on one occasion we went further afield to Draycote Reservoir which as some readers will remember is a favourite place of mine to see birds, particularly water birds, which living in such a landlocked area I wouldn't usually see at all. Due to illness for much of last year, I hadn't been there for over twelve months and I was shocked to see how extremely low the water was and really it was disappointing as everything was very distant making photos with my 50-250mm lens very difficult. This drake Teal was about the only bird I managed on the water apart from some Great Crested Grebes which I will put on my next post.

Teal (drake)

At the end of a pleasant but not very productive walk I saw this Woodpecker foraging for ants. The sun was setting which made the colours slightly odd.

Green Woodpecker

Back to local walks and I was pleased to see a Redpoll, it was distant but nice to see as they usually escape me, I think it is the Lesser rather than the Mealy but stand to be corrected.

Lesser Redpoll

During these very local walks in the last few weeks I have seen and heard House Sparrows, Greenfinches, Magpies, Starlings, Song Thrushes, Yellowhammers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Green Woodpeckers, Treecreepers, Nuthatches, Common Buzzards, Kestrels, Skylarks, Linnets, Coal Tits, Pheasants, Canada Geese, Coots, Moorhens, Mallards and the single Lesser Redpoll. Also a huge amount of Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Blackbirds, Long-tailed Tits, Dunnocks, Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves, Carrion Crows and Rooks. Oddly, I haven't seen Bullfinches for some weeks. On March 23rd I was pleased to hear my first Chiffchaff of the year and just two days later they seemed to be calling their names to me everywhere I went, such a welcome sound in the early Spring :-)

'Live in each season as it passes:
 breathe the air, drink the drink, 
taste the fruit and resign yourself
 to the influences of each'
(Henry David Thoreau)

This Dunnock didn't seem at all bothered by my presence, I began to wonder if it was super-glued to the branch ;-) Frustratingly, and despite the lovely weather I mentioned, most of the birds in this post were photographed in moments when the sun had either disappeared or was very hazy :-(


For me, one of the loveliest things about this time of year is the emergence of Spring wildflowers, as a child it was always a thrill to find the first Violets of the year...and it still is.


Although I love them all, my favourite wildflower has always been the Primrose. I remember, as children, each year Mum would take my brother and me on what seemed quite a long trek to see them in a particular wood where they grew in great abundance, they looked an absolute picture.

Common Primrose

'I dream of uplands, where the primrose shines 
And waves her yellow lamps above the lea;
Of tangled copses, swung with trailing vines;
Of open vistas, skirted with tall pines,
Where green fields wait for me.'
(George Arnold)

I know I quite often show photos of Yellowhammers but I keep finding them on different local walks :-) They are actually on the red list of UK birds of conservation concern so I am always pleased to see them.


The Small Tortoiseshell butterfly suffered a worrying decline a few years ago but thankfully seems to have done much better in the last two or three years.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

7-spot Ladybird

Finally this Buzzard was one of many I have enjoyed watching soaring high in the skies in the last couple of weeks.
Common Buzzard

I hope everyone (who celebrates it) has a Happy Easter. I intend to post sooner next time. Until then...enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.


  1. Wspaniały spacer :-).Są śliczne ptaki, nawet te co po wodzie pływają, są kwiaty ( uwielbiam fiołki), kwitnąca tarnina, motylki i nawet biedronka. Chyba wszystko zobaczyłeś, co było możliwe. Bardzo mi się post podoba. Pozdrawiam cieplutko.
    A walk :-). They are beautiful birds, even those which float on the water, the flowers (I love violets), flowering blackthorn, butterflies and even a ladybug. I think you saw everything that was possible. I really liked the post. Yours warm.

  2. ShySongbird ,
    I for one wouldn't complain if you included Yellowhammer shots on every post , I see or hear them very rarely now . I wouldn't attempt to ID your Redpoll , but really like the composition on the Larch , I think , twigs .
    I hope you manage more visits to your favourite Draycote Water this year , perhaps with the big lens ?
    A most enjoyable amble through your countryside and very nicely illustrated .

  3. I also noticed last Summer the butterflies were few in number, I hope this summer they will do better. The one butterfly I hope to see in abundance this summer is the Marsh Fritillary. Powerstock is one of Dorset Wildlife Trust's reserve where they have the Marsh Fritillaries and they do have some high hopes that this butterfly's numbers are on the increase on this reserve.

  4. Hello,
    Some great Photo's on this post, your best work to date I think :-)

    I look forward to the Grebes in the next post!

    Not only good photo's but of species hard to actually photograph, you'll not find many Yellowhammers on my blog, or Green woodpeckers, I cant get near 'em :-)

    Happy easter Jan!

  5. i hope your butterflies and blooms make it thru the cold snap. :) lovely birds, too.

  6. A lovely post Jan, a great Buzzard shot and the yellowhammers are pretty special.
    The water levels are pretty low in many areas now.

  7. A pleasure to read as always Jan and some nice pics too. I find Dunnocks very approachable at the moment too. I think maybe their minds are on other things right now. I'm with you re the Primroses but I don't seem to see so many nowadays it seems.
    I'm glad you finally got back to Draycote and look forward to hearing lots more reservoir posts.
    I like your ladybird picture by the way.

  8. Hi Jan,

    Nice post, and some great photos too :) This weather really is quite chilly, especially with the breeze as well. Hopefully it will warm up over the next week or so. At least we don't have snow like some people in Scotland do at the moment though- that must be very weird!

  9. Wonderful images of your wildlife.
    The Yellowhammer is a real favourite of mine.

    I have shared images recently showing a Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell during our wonderful March weather.

    I spent half an hour chasing an Orange Tip only to get a record shot.

    Enjoy your weekend.

  10. Another enjoyable read Jan, some cracking photos there too. I like the Dunnock shot the best as they are a bird that we all tend to overlook!

    I think you are right with regards to the Small Torts..they seem to have over wintered in incredible numbers around these parts

  11. You are right Jan it has gone missing. I said, as always a beautiful post.

  12. Hi Jan. I heard it was cold over there again. I think we will be getting it starting on Monday. Even some snow maybe. It's been nice here for a few days. The nights are cold and I do worry about the frost killing the new sprouting buds.
    What wonderful, spring pictures you have here. Beautiful! I haven't seen any Butterflies around here yet. I like the countryside photos too. Your big buzzard looks more like our hawks. Hope you are well. Take care.

  13. So lovely to see your spring-filled post! You are right about the topsy-turvy weather which seems to have affected those all over the globe. While you were basking in your sunny weather, we were still cloaked in winter...just recently the daffodils have started to bloom. I hope your cold snap won't have a negative effect on any of your flora and fauna! I delight in seeing similar and familiar sights ~ primroses and violets in my own garden. Happy Easter!

  14. I once put some money on a horse called Blackthorn Winter just because I liked the sound of it! Great photos. Like you I seem to see plenty of Yellowhammers but nowhere near enough Redpolls.

  15. A great post of both words & images, Jan.

  16. Giga

    Thank you. It was lovely to have some nice weather so early in the Spring. This week has been much more like Winter again! Happy Easter Giga :-)
    Dziękuję. Cudownie było mieć jakąś piękną pogodą więc wczesną wiosną. Ten tydzień był o wiele bardziej jak zima znowu! Wesołych Świąt Giga :-)


    Thank you Greenie. Yes the Redpoll was in a Larch tree, there is a long row of them just there which attract lots of finches. It was in one of those that I saw the Siskin from my previous post.
    Yes, if the water levels don't improve I may well have to lug the longer lens and a tripod around Draycote.

    Linda Yarrow

    I do wonder what harm this cold snap will have done to the butterflies Linda, last year really was very poor here.
    I have never seen a Marsh Frittilary, they are very rare in my area. I hope you get to see them at Powerstock.

    Warren Baker

    Hi Warren, Thank you for your very generous comments :-) I just wish I could have got less twiggy photos of the Yellowhammer and with some nice sun. I did get some photos from a better angle but needless to say the light was all wrong!
    A very happy Easter to you too :-)

  17. Beautiful photos and poems - what a lovely post! Great to read about all the birds and flowers you have seen.

    Draycote Water is one of those places I keep telling myself I must visit but I can never drive past Brandon Marsh without visiting and then there isn't enough time left!

  18. TexWisGirl

    Thank you Theresa. I hope so too.


    Thank you for your kind comments Roy. It is worrying, we have hardly had any rain in the last twelve months!


    Thank you very much Phil. That Dunnock certainly seemed to be in a world of its own :-) Glad you liked the Ladybird photo, I was quite pleased with it.

    Κωστής Τζαγκαράκης

    Thank you Costas :-) Happy Easter to you too.

  19. A fabulous update, I really enjoyed seeing all your photo's as always. Like you I have only seen Small Tortoiseshells and peacocks up until now ...But, I was quite glad I didn't see lots of different ones in the little bit of nice weather. I prefer to see them at normal times, the season is right then! Wonderful bird shots, I am so jealous of the woodpecker (my bogey bird haha). I also managed to see some redpolls but no luck with capturing them so another well done from me.

  20. What a lovely post, photographs and poetry. I wouldn't mind if you showed a Yellowhammer every time either, I don't see them here. I think the Buzzard shot is super, the light hitting the bird at the perfect angle.

    Happy Easter!

  21. Joe

    Thank you. It's quite miserable here today, cold and drizzle from time to time but as you say it could be worse!


    Thank you very much. I too like Yellowhammers, so bright and cheerful. I have yet to see an Orange Tip this year. I would like to have seen you chasing yours ;-)

    Jason K

    Thank you very much for your kind comments Jason :-) I agree, it is all too easy to overlook the more common species which is a shame I think. Yes, Small Ts are definitely doing well here recently.

    Mike Atwood

    Thank you for trying again Mike, very kind of you :-) Blogger can be very temperamental sometimes!

  22. Nice one, and the Yellowhammer??? I'd love to have been there, they are illusive. Great photos and a happy easter to you Jan.

  23. such a wonderful set of photographs you shared here; I enjoyed each one. I thought to myself how beautiful it would be to see those primroses you mentioned in your childhood years, in the woods. I can't imagine anything like that growing 'in the wild' here at all. It makes me think of my much-loved Enid Blyton books I used to read, The Enchanted Wood being one of them .... Anyway, fabulous bird and nature photographs!

  24. Thanks for sharing --Happy Easter Sunday to you.

  25. Great post showing clearly the beauty of the spring in your territory. And the yellowhammer an dunnock, always hard birds to see were i live.

  26. Ginnymo

    Hi Ginny, thank you very much :-) It is much more Wintry again here this weekend but no snow in my area thank goodness! Yes, the Buzzard is a type of hawk, probably our commonest.
    Have a lovely Easter Ginny, I hope the weather isn't too unkind to you.


    Thank you Glo, it definitely feels more like Winter again now but it was lovely while it lasted :-) I'm sure such dramatic changes must be confusing and detrimental to wildlife. I hope you get some nice Spring weather soon. Happy Easter!

    John "By Stargoose and Hanglands"

    Thank you John, That's a great name for a horse, I'm longing to know now whether it won ;-) At least I'm not the only one who struggles to see Redpolls, some people seem to see them all the time!


    Thanks very much for your kind comment Dean :-)

  27. Ragged Robin

    Thank you very much Ragged Robin. It's funny you should say that about Draycote and Brandon Marsh. I have never been to the latter but keep promising myself that I will. Draycote is just that bit nearer to me and there wouldn't be time to do both in one outing....maybe this Summer I will get there, I have read it's a great place and suspect I would like it even more than Draycote as there is a lot of disruption there currently.


    Hi Chrissy, thank you very much :-) Although the first Small Tortoiseshells I saw in mid March were particularly early both those and the Peacocks are seen in late March/early April every year having hibernated over Winter. I would also have expected to see Commas and Brimstones by now, last year I saw my first Brimstone at the end of February!
    I hope you manage a woodpecker soon and it sounds like we both need some more Redpolls :-)


    Thank you very much :-) I used to see Yellowhammers in one particular place locally some years ago and then they disappeared but in the last couple of years I have been thrilled to find them in a good number of other local places.
    I was quite pleased with the Buzzard shot, there were quite a few around that day. I think they were enjoying the weather as much as I was!

    Bob Bushell

    Thank you Bob :-) the Yellowhammers are lovely, cheerful little birds and thankfully not too elusive friend who lives quite near me had one in the garden last year!!!
    A very Happy Easter to you too Bob!

  28. thanks for sharing your lovely walk, you saw some beautiful birds...and GOT some terrific photos to show also. Our weather reflects exactly what you said..we went from overnights of 57F down to 36F this week...some of my plants looked weak and bitten but brightened up as the sun warmed them back up. Enjoy your Easter day.

  29. That Yellowhammers head could not be any yellower - superb!!

  30. Ah, the blackthorn winter, that explains a lot. Glad you posted a photo, because I'd heard about them but never seen a photo of them in bloom. Now I know what to look for. Lovely photo of the yellowhammer, never seen one of those.

  31. Carole M

    Welcome! Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. I think you are my first commenter from Australia :-) Ah, Enid Blyton! I adored her books when I was little and only a few years ago received a present of her 'Enid Blyton's Nature Lovers Book' which I think is enchanting even though it was meant for children!


    Thank you and Happy Easter to you too :-)


    Thank you very much :-) Spring seems to have temporarily deserted us but it is a wonderful time of year! I hope you get to see some Yellowhammers and Dunnocks soon.


    Hi Sondra and thank you. The weather really does seem to be weird in many parts of the world at the moment, I expect the experts will tell us it is to do with global warming...but who really knows?!!
    I hope you are having a lovely Easter :-)


    Thank you Jerry :-) You are right there, they are certainly a wonderful colour!

  32. It's always a treat to read one of your posts, Jan! I wish I could identify birds as well as you, but I'm learning a little more each year. Of course, you have many species that I don't think we have in the US; what a bright yellow that Yellowhammer is! If we had any here, I think I would recognize them quite quickly:)

    I always love seeing the Peacock butterflies, which we don't have here. They are so colorful. We've had quite a few Red Admirals this spring, and I'm hoping like you that this will be a better year for butterflies.

    It's been cooler here, too--I have had to cover part of the garden with blankets some nights. But we're in desperate need of rain. Without April showers, we may not have many May flowers!

  33. Hi Jan
    Superb set of images as usual, I am really envious of the Yellowhammer shots (Still need some)and the Green Woodpecker is a very difficult bird to get close to.
    Well done.

  34. Hi Jan,
    Love the Dunnock, with their saucy life style! and the Yellowhammer pictures are a golden delight! Thanks for the stroll around your patch, I enjoyed it!
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  35. What a fabulous post this is today. Yesterday it rained 100% of the time and today it is cold, so like you I am hoping the lovely hot weather we had has not confused the wild life too much. Lovely bird and butterfly photos.

  36. The yellowhammer shots are splendid but I would love to get a try to the green woodpecker... Superb. Spring is alos slowly coming over here, but it is still only 10°c ;-)

  37. Crystal

    Thank you, Crystal. Look out for Blackthorn along country lanes and field hedgerows, they are very common and in the Autumn have attractive Sloe fruits which are often used to make Sloe gin. I have never tried it but am told it's delicious and pretty potent!


    Thank you for your lovely comments, Rose. No, unfortunately you don't have Yellowhammers there. They are lovely little birds and even if not in view I find it easy to recognise by its distinctive song which is reputed to sound like 'a little bit of bread and no cheese'! :-)
    We had a day of much needed rain yesterday, though slightly bad timing for many, being Easter Monday. I hope your lovely garden gets some soon.


    Thank you Monty. Every time I see a Yellowhammer I think about how you always say you would like one, I think I'll have to talk nicely to them and see if they would like a little holiday in beautiful would have to make sure they came back to me though ;-)


    Thank you very much John, those Dunnocks are a saucy lot aren't they... and they look so unassuming ;-)

  38. Hi there stranger:) Sorry for not responding sooner. I just came back from out of the country and have FULL internet access again which is nice. Spring is really nice in your area....everything has a nice green hue to it. And I imagine the birds are more vocal:) Beautiful shots. Hope you had a good weekend. Chris

  39. A lovely selection of varied wildlife there Jan. Great close up of the Peacock Butterfly

  40. the cuby poet

    Thank you very much :-) We too had a very wet day on Monday and showers yesterday. Although it's a shame to lose the lovely weather the rain is very much needed here after hardly any for the last twelve months!


    Hi Chris, thank you, it's never easy getting close to woodpeckers but always fun trying :-) It is only 9C here today and will be colder still at the weekend! It seems Winter hasn't finished with us yet!


    Thank you very much, Chris. Spring is always a wonderful time of year here although the last few days have felt more like Winter again! Yes, the birdsong is amazing at the moment. Glad you are back home safe and sound and I hope you enjoyed your weekend away :-)

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you very much John :-) Let's hope the plunge in temperature doesn't do any damage to the wildlife.

  41. A fabulous feast of springtime Jan.
    The Yellowhammers are stunning birds at the moment; such a rich yellow.
    The Primroses are lovely too. They seem to have done really well this year.
    Good to see the butterflies. I've not seen many yet.

  42. Nice blog!
    Lovely to discover what's around you!
    A great set of pictures, congratulations!

  43.'s such a pleasure to see your photos! The birds, butterflies and the landscape are all so beautiful! Oh, to see primroses and violets growing wild...! Birds in my vicinity aren't all that colourful. Well, most of them aren't.Loved seeing the teal and I'm looking forward seeing the Great Crested Grebes in your next post.

    The marsh near our house has been the property of one family for several years. There was never any protest as such (only resentment that another structure was coming up) and I don't think anyone has even noticed any kind of wildlife as such in our area. I haven't met anyone who notices birds or butterflies. I get the weirdest looks every time I'm out with a camera. It's sad.

  44. holdingmoments

    Thanks very much Keith. The Yellowhammers are a beautiful colour. There definitely can't be too many Primroses for me :-)


    Welcome! Thank you very much for visiting and following me Noushka and also for your kind comment :-)

    Nature Rambles

    Thank you very much Kanak. I think you would love to see our woodlands in the Spring, they will very soon be carpeted by Bluebells, a wonderful sight!
    I hadn't realised the marsh was privately owned, not much that can be done about that I suppose, such a shame.
    It is sad that so many people don't appreciate the wonders of Nature like we do!

  45. Simply beautiful shots!
    Great series of spring potography!
    Many greetings
    Yvonne & Raphael

  46. -Yvonaut- Das sind Raphael und Yvonne

    Thank you very much :-) Happy Springtime to you both!

  47. I always enjoy your pictures. Beautiful!

  48. Lovely series of images! A little bit of everything - almost like being there in person!

  49. oldcrow61

    Thank you, OC. It's always a pleasure to see you here :-)


    Thank you very much for visiting and for your kind comments. I'm so pleased you enjoyed my post.

  50. Always a joy to stop by and see all these beautiful photographs in nature. Thank you for such a happy visit.

  51. Beautiful photos. Especially like the Yellowhammers as we don't see many round here. It's gone from winter to summer and now back to spring here, too - strange weather weather indeed. Have hardly seen a butterfly yet this year so enjoyed seeing yours!

  52. Dziękuję za komentarz i życzę miłego weekendu.Pozdrawiam.
    Thank you for the comment and have a nice weekend. Yours.

  53. Denise

    Thank you Denise, it's always a pleasure to see you here :-)


    Thank you Jeremy, Yellowhammers seem to be doing pretty well in my area :-) There isn't much chance of butterflies here at the moment, we have had heavy showers all is much needed though!


    Thank you for visiting again. Have a happy weekend Giga!
    Dziękujemy za odwiedzenie ponownie. Szczęśliwego weekendu Giga!

  54. I am late getting to this post but I am really happy to be here now. I loved all the birds and the peacock butterfly is gorgeous. But then all the butterflies are gorgeous, at least I think so. What a wonderful day, thanks for sharing. Lovely photos. I hope you have a great weekend!

  55.'s shifted to rain and cooler temps here too, but probably not for long. Real spring should be along soon! I have to catch up again. The past 6 months have been too busy in my life! I love the Yellowhammers, and the photo of the 7-spot Ladybird is striking. I love seeing the bright red of summer against the dead stalks of winter.

  56. eileeninmd

    Thank you very much Eileen. I love butterflies! Last year was poor here for them so I am hoping this year will be better. I hope you are having a lovely weekend!


    Thank you Kelly, I was quite pleased with the Ladybird photo :-) We have an official drought and hosepipe ban here and ever since it was declared we have had heavy rain showers! I hope the couple of nice weeks we had in March wasn't all we are getting this year ;-)

  57. How nice of you to drop by my way--and I'm glad, too, because somehow I seem to have missed that you're back posting. I've popped you back on my list, so hope I won't miss any more of these lovely bird photos.

  58. Very well captured moments, primavewra in pure, congratulations on the photographs

  59. Susan Scheid

    Thank you very much Susan :-)

    Paul Parsons

    Welcome Paul! Thank you very much for visiting and for your very kind comment. I tried to comment on your work on the Llynfi Valley nature blog but couldn't find a way of doing so! I did enjoy seeing your photos though :-)

    Tomas Crespo

    Thank you very much Tomas :-)


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