My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
To view pictures in larger format, just click on any picture for the picture gallery....

Monday, 31 March 2008

Colour on a very dull day

My daughter and I decided to go to RHS Wisley today. It's a significant day in the year for me and my daughter was not going to let it go without a trip out somewhere.

Unfortunately, it was rather cloudy and dull but it was very pleasant walking around the gardens and, in particular, down through the Pinetum and the wilder area, then back alongside the River Wey.

A couple of Pied Wagtails greeted us on our arrival and the bird song was all around us as we continued our walk. A couple of mallards were asleep beside one of the lakes but, more energetically, Nest Box No. 47 (which is to be found in the wooded area that runs near the A3; which is unfortunate as the traffic noise is overpowering) was being used by a Blue Tit; very busy bringing nesting material into the box. (No pic - wrong lens!)

We walked around the new(ish) Glasshouse which was opened by H.M. The Queen on 26 June 2007. There the colour was really uplifting as the gardens, generally, lack colour at the moment. Having said that, daffodils everywhere giving a cheery wave of their heads in a gentle breeze.

We stopped for a cuppa in one of the many eateries and indulged in a cream tea for elevensies!! So indulgent and decadent, but the day warranted it!

After school my grandson came to visit and we had cake - but, very diplomatically, it had just the one candle!

Not the healthiest diet today but - for one day - who cares?

A bit of colour to brighten up the day. Where I know the names of plants, I have annotated the pictures accordingly - so please don't ask me what the unnamed ones are!

The rockery.

The Trial Beds

Sleeping Mallards

The Wildflower Meadow

Inside the Glasshouse

Lillies - with amazing scent!

Papaya fruit

"Bird of Paradise"
(Strelitzia reginae) A native of South Africa

Sunday, 30 March 2008

A day of surprises!

Over the last 24 hours I've had some very enjoyable surprises.

My daughter and grandson had arranged to take me out for a celebratory pizza on Saturday night. There was much discussion about who was going to pick up whom, with me arguing that it was a waste of time and petrol for my daughter to come to me, only to drive back to the Pizza place near her, and then repeat this at the end of the evening.

To cut a long story short, she, with my grandson, picked me up. When I got to the restaurant Harts Boatyard in Surbiton (which was definitely not Pizza Express) there was my son, daughter-in-law and nephew already seated at the table. They had travelled about 113 miles to join us. I had no idea they were going to be there and it was a delightful surprise. It also explained why my daughter was so determined to give me a lift!

My son and his family then stayed the night with me - it was great to see them all again.

So thank you to my daughter, for a great surprise and making all the arrangements, and to my son and his family for being there. Kinda makes a Mum feel very special.

The other surprise, and this time on the birding front, that not only is (what I thought to be) my only brambling about, but this morning he brought a couple of lads and a lassie to breakfast. Haven't seen four together before although I know I've had three males and two females visiting.

However, the Green Woodpecker continues his early morning "waffling" - but manages to elude me completely. He must be on the far side of one of the oak trees. Fingers crossed he comes back into the garden again. Ants anyone?

Regents Park - part 2

Forgot to mention that there is a walk-through butterfly house in the Zoo. Unfortunately the outside temperature was cold and the inside was hot and steamy! Consequently the lens on the camera steamed up relentlessly. However, it did more-or-less acclimatise eventually and I managed to get a few shots.

and another penguin shot that I missed yesterday

I rather like the "eyebrows" of these penguins.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

A trip with a bit of a conscience

Today saw me with Pete and Hugh at London Zoo as we wanted to see tropical birds and the new aviary has just opened.

And for me I had a first today. Nothing to do with birds and animals, but I actually drove the car from home (in Surrey) to North West London to the zoo. This is the first time ever that I have driven through London (being the wimp that I am); but, it was much easier than I'd anticipated. Helped, in no small part, by some pretty impressing navigating and giving-of-directions by Pete; thanks Pete, couldn't have done it without you :)

Now in principle, I don't like zoos for what they are - captives!; but nonetheless this didn't detract too much from being able to photograph birds and animals that I believe it's unlikely that I'll ever see in their natural habitat.

Started off with a wander around Regents Park - lots of birds about; wild and collection birds and took many pictures. I had the camera set to RAW but, as I was anticipating taking a number of pictures I decided to switch to jpeg. Silly idea really, as for some reason I had somehow changed the colour to black and white. DOH!! DOH!! and DOH!!! again. Wish I'd kept that little faux pas to myself as this blunder caused much entertainment for Pete and Hugh. Probably going to be a while before I live that one down.

After a scrummy bacon roll and a welcome cuppa we then headed off for the zoo.

Some amazing birds and beasts. I loved the meer cats in particular having previously watched Meer Cat diaries on TV.

The other "AW" factor was the penquins - real cuties.

Also some pretty impressive tropical birds. The only down-side, and one particular reason for going, was the Humming Birds. For reasons of their needs they were housed separately from the other birds but in a very small enclosure and impossible to photograph. I was surprised that they had such little space and quite dull light for them as well.

I think my favourite two birds of the day however, were the Blue Tit and Robin and equally, my favourite pictures of the day too.

Some of the aviary pictures are not very clear as I had to shoot through wire fencing.

After arriving home and having a very welcome cuppa, Pete then left for home. I walked back into the lounge to find a Sparrowhawk in the garden. After swooping about and chasing a bird, unsuccessfully, he then sat in the apple tree for a good ten minutes so I was able to get a picture.

Thanks to Pete and Hugh for their company.
Regents Park

Around the Zoo

And some non-flying beaties

Ever since childhood, I've always saved the best 'till last.

Friday, 28 March 2008

A Couple of Days in West Sussex

I've spent the last two days down in West Sussex with my Mother.

Thursday was great. The sun shone warmly, blue skies and just a gentle breeze.
We had to do some shopping but then had a trip along the sea-front from Worthing, travelling west to Ferring.

At Ferring there is a lovely grassy walk which goes as far as East Preston; this is Kingston Gorse. There a considerable erosion problems at the East Preston end with the sea eroding the shore line.

Along the Ferring end are some incredibly large and very expensive houses. Some are beautiful and some - not so beautiful.

There is one that always catches my eye; you can't see a great deal of it but you can see the beautiful thatched roof. It appeals to my eye as it softly undulates from one end to the other. And it has two pheasant type reed birds perched on the roof.

We didn't walk far but far enough to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the sea air certainly blew the cobwebs away.

I tried to get a picture of a group of turnstones but had the wrong lens with me. I crept nearer but got too near and they flew off over the sea. Enjoyable to see them in flight nonetheless!

And today; it poured with rain most of the morning but watching the birds in the garden, we were rewarded with a male AND female Blackcap; a first for Mum's garden this year. It would be lovely if they were a pair and bred in the area.

Unfortunately, depending on your view point, Mum's been getting several visits from a Sparrowhawk with little piles of feathers as evidence. One dived across the garden this morning. Left with nothing though.

And finally, I was taken out to lunch in the village where my Mother lives - yummy!

I'm always fascinated by the thatched roof of this house.
The rather intrusive red brick wall belongs to the adjacent house.

Still not sure which river this is - might be part of the Arun.
It runs from near the sea, inland and is accessible from the car park
where we started our walk.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Parakeets having a bath

This morning the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Looking out of the window watching the birds I became aware that there was a shower. Very strange though as this "shower" was only in one part of the garden.

There were about eight Ring-necked Parakeets up in the Eucalyptus tree and this is where the shower was coming from.

The leaves were covered in water from rain in the early morning and the Paras were using this to bathe in. Much flapping of wings and squawks which went on for about ten minutes.

In all the time the Paras have been coming to my garden, I've never seen this happen before. Equally I've never seen them use either of the bird baths. I can only assume from my observations that this is their way of bathing. Fascinating.

The camera was packed away but did manage to get it set up in time for a few pics before the ablutions were over.

Normally my pictures of parakeets are when they are sitting still on the branches of the trees or when eating from the feeders. These are a bit different!

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