Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Long-Tailed-Tits, Fowl Play and a Mystery!

At last I have managed to get a few quick photos of the Long-Tailed-Tits which regularly flit in and out of the garden. Saturday was a strange day weather-wise, one moment it was sunny and the next it would hail, it was also very cold with a strong wind. I was standing indoors with the camera; the door was open and my goodness I was cold! I was hoping to get a photo of the male Blackcap or the LTTs so I was very pleased to at least get one of the two, I did manage to catch the Blackcap but the photo was no good at all. It was around this time last year when the Blackcaps moved on so I'm a bit worried I may miss the boat. Last year before I had a decent camera we also had a lot of Bramblings and a few Siskins visit for a while. This time, needless to say, I have seen neither!!

The photo below was taken during a sudden and brief hail storm which gives it a different look to the previous two.

After Saturday's inclement weather it was lovely to find Sunday was lovely sunshine all day, although still slightly chilly, so we decided to take advantage of the improvement and visit some local lakes. All the water fowl we saw seemed to be enjoying the sunshine too. These Mute Swans looked very serene.

The colours of these Mallard Ducks showed up beautifully in the sunshine.

The Canada Geese were much in evidence.

We also saw Moorhens ...

and Coots.And finally something of a mystery which I'm hoping someone can help to solve. I have to admit I'm not terribly hot on water fowl identification and before being disturbed by a dog the Mallard below was snoozing in the sun and cuddling up to this duck which I haven't been able to identify.

The duck below may be the same one with the light falling on it from a different angle or it could be another one which I can't identify, I do hope someone can help with this.

Monday, 23 March 2009

A Song Thrush and a Nature Walk

This lovely Song Thrush has been visiting the garden quite a lot lately and regularly serenades us with its beautiful song. I wondered at first whether it was a Mistle Thrush but on closer examination I could see it didn't have the whitish edges to its wings which the Mistle Thrush has. I do hope it finds a mate and breeds as the Song Thrush is sadly on the red list.

Yesterday we visited The National Herb Centre which is not too far away from us.

We have been several times before but this time we were not there to buy herbs, visit the gift shop or sit in the sunshine outside the Bistro eating their delicious home-made coffee and walnut cake, but to explore their nature walk in the hope of photographing some Long Tailed Tits which are remaining elusive in our garden. There is also the possibility of seeing deer and foxes, sadly the only deer we saw was dead on the road on our way to the centre. In fact our visit was rather disappointingly lacking in wildlife, there wasn't even much birdsong. We did catch a fleeting glance of some LTTs but unfortunately much too fleeting to get a photo, I did manage to snap this Great Tit.

On we walked enjoying the peaceful surroundings and the afternoon sunshine... 'When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host,

of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees, [sorry, no lake!]

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.' (William Wordsworth)

A little further on I spotted a Blue Tit.

This Mallard Duck was some distance away.

We saw some lovely clumps of Violets.

Also beautiful Primroses.

I really liked the shape and texture of these Bullrushes.

And also these Teasels.

After a pleasant, although rather birdless afternoon we found our way back to the gift shop where we bought a few bits and pieces and returned home in time to refill the bird feeders. We will visit again in the Summer when the leaves are on the trees and I am sure there will be more wildlife to see then.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Springtime Surprise and Bathroom en Tweet!

The Chaffinches have been surprisingly reticent in the garden lately unlike this time last year when they were visiting in hoards. I wonder if this may be due to the ever present threat of the Sparrowhawk, which although not so noticeable lately is, I suspect, still around. However this female was very happy to show off and posed prettily for me.

What a surprise I had today! After frequently bemoaning the fact that I haven't seen a Bullfinch in this area since I was a child I spotted a flash of red at the very bottom of the garden today and assuming it was a Robin reached for the camera and was absolutely amazed and thrilled to see it was in fact a Bullfinch. I didn't have time to focus properly but managed to hurriedly snap one photo just before it took off. Goodness that did give me a thrill! I do so hope it comes back.

I am starting to think that at last we can all breathe a sigh of relief in the belief that the worst of the weather is behind us and that Spring is really here....I know, famous last words!! But this beautiful Daffodil with it's lovely golden face surely bears testament to that.

This rather unassuming Periwinkle (Vinca Major or is this one Minor, I'm afraid I'm not sure) is a lovely colour I think.

Mr Blackbird also has Spring on his mind and is doing a little DIY, here he was rooting around for moss for his building work!

But where was Mrs Blackbird, was she helping? No! She was at the beauty parlour having a pampering session.

'I've lost the soap!'


'This is lovely!'

'Now where's the towel?'

All photos taken by me in the garden over the last two days.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Smiling Skies

I was recently sent this picture entitled (for obvious reasons) Smiling Skies, by a dear friend. She did not take it herself, it had been doing the rounds by email but I thought it was so charming that I would share it on my blog.

It seems Spring is even more shy than this ShySongbird at the moment! Just as we see signs of her peeking round the corner she pops her head back again! It has been really quite cold here for the last few days and a very keen wind also.

This Goldfinch looks quite Spring-like atop the blossom, but that is deceiving as it is in fact perched high in the top of our Winter Flowering Cherry tree (Prunus x subhirtella 'Autumnalis Rosea') which flowers gradually from late Autumn through to Spring and always brightens the gloom of Winter for me.

Here is another photo taken by HLH a few days ago whilst walking the dog which shows it is not quite time to wave goodbye to Winter yet.

But look! Spring has crept out again and left this Celandine to whet our appetites.

As I started this post with a sky shot I thought I would end with one. Last night as it was getting dark I noticed how beautiful the Moon looked so decided to try and get some photos. While I was doing so I half expected a witty comment from a neighbour along the lines of "you won't get many bird pictures at this time of night"!