Monday, 17 January 2011

Winter Visitors

After an unintentional break from blogging I have at last managed to put a post together. My apologies to regular readers and to all my blogging friends whom I have been unable to visit lately.
I will do my best to catch up with you all as soon as I can. I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and my very best wishes to you all for a healthy and happy New Year. I would also like to thank my blogging friends who have contacted me with expressions of concern at my absence, you know who you are and I have been immensely touched by your messages, it has meant a great deal to me to know that people care.

It’s all because life won’t wait,
before you know, it’s Christmas here.
And look, in a minute,
suddenly it’s New Year.

Snow is falling, deeper – deeper.
Maybe, with that same stride
in that same tempo,
with that same languor,
Time’s going by?

(Boris Pasternak)

With some rather depressing and ongoing family problems,
Christmas preparations, the festivities themselves, and my husband going into hospital for an operation just after Christmas I haven't been able to pay much attention to the computer for some time! However, my husband came home a week ago and is progressing steadily, he is not allowed to do much for a while which of course means I have a lot to do at the moment but hopefully things will get back to normal before too long.

Well, what weather we have all experienced recently! After just a small amount here to start with, we eventually had our fair share of very heavy snow which hung around for quite some time. The last few days have been much milder though and one or two have felt almost like Spring with lots of birdsong and the sound of Blackbirds establishing their territories. While carrying out my duties as chief dog walker, since my husband has been incapacitated, I have been keeping a lookout for any wildlife and over the last few days have seen lots of Robins, Sparrows, Blackbirds and Chaffinches darting in and out of hedgerows, Pied Wagtails strutting along pathways and yesterday I saw a small flock of Long Tailed Tits flitting from tree to tree. I have also seen many Grey Squirrels scurrying up and down trees. Unfortunately, I can't manage a large dog and a camera at the same time so wasn't able to get any photos.

I realise I haven't mentioned the birds in my garden for some time so thought I would show a selection of photos taken over Christmas but regrettably through the (not too clean!) window.

Collared Doves are regular visitors to the garden.

Collared Doves

It is amazing to think that before 1955 there were no Collared Doves breeding in Britain and now they are one of our most common birds probably in some part due to their lengthy breeding season of March to October. They are most often seen in pairs and remain loyal to their mate.

Chaffinches visit the garden in large numbers in Winter but not so much in Summer.

Chaffinch (male)

Chaffinch (female)

Some time ago I bought a couple of hanging feeders with adjustable roofs.


The idea being to not only keep the food dry but also to deter the larger birds. I always put food in various places around the garden so that all visitors are well catered for but that doesn't stop the bigger species from devouring more than their fair share. I should of course have realised that with Starlings, where there is a will ... there is always a way!


'An old huntsman named Maurice had a trained starling which, if its master said,'Starling, where are you' would immediately answer,'Here I am !'
This bird was a great delight to the son of one of the neighbours, a little boy called Charles, who often came to pay it a visit.
One day, when he came to see it, the old huntsman was not in the room.
Charles caught the bird, put it into his pocket, and was moving towards the door when in came Maurice, who, thinking it would please the child, called as usual, ' Starling, where are you?'
And the starling, from its hiding-place in the boy's pocket, cried with all its might,' Here I am!'

'Be a theft cunning as it may,
It soon comes to the light of day.'

Greenfinches are also regular visitors to the garden and I have noticed they can be quite aggressive towards other birds while vying for position at the feeders.


Although this one happily shared the peanut feeder with a Coal Tit

Greenfinch and Coal Tit

It is not always easy to get photos of the little Coal Tits as they don't stay still for long but in the snow and ice they stayed at the feeders longer in their frantic attempts to fuel their tiny bodies against the bitter cold weather.

Coal Tit

I think one of the most colourful and delightful visitors to the garden is the enchanting Goldfinch which is guaranteed to brighten the dullest day with its tinkling call and exotically coloured plumage.


In the Winter I always make sure I put plenty of apples out for the birds and this year I was hoping to attract some of the Waxwings which have been reported in so many parts of the UK including just around the corner from me. Unfortunately I haven't been fortunate enough to see any so far but the apples are particularly welcomed by the Blackbirds. Look how brightly the orange beak and tongue of this male show against his black feathers and the snowy background!


'The blackbird is a bonny bird
That singeth in the wood
His song is in the evening heard
When the red cow chews her cud ...

O bonny is the blackbird still
On top of yon fir tree
On which he wipes his golden bill
And blithely whistles he.
(John Clare)

A very occasional visitor to the garden is the Stock Dove, a slightly smaller and more timid bird than the rather similar and much commoner Wood Pigeon.

Stock Dove

Finally another frequent visitor all year round is the bird which I started this post with, the pretty little Blue Tit.

Blue Tit

'Where is he that giddy Sprite,
Blue-cap, with his colours bright,
Who was blest as bird could be,
Feeding in the apple-tree.'

(Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Well that is all for now and I shall try to catch up with you all as soon as I can, thank you for bearing with me and until the next time... enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.