My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
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Thursday, 30 April 2009

My visit of yesterday continued

When I arrived at Painshill yesterday and was just about to cross the bridge, a male Blackcap was singing up in the tree - such a wonderful song.

After leaving the car park, you walk along a footpath through a small field to a very modern bridge, scanning the River Mole, before going through the visitor centre and out into the main park.

This is looking towards the exit and the Walled Garden is on the right.

On this occasion I decided to wander below the bridge and was caught by the reflections of it in the river below

Walking through the park, the vineyard was reflected in the lake below.

A Grelag goose decided a swim was in order

Further around the lake, this Canada Goose had a family of 10 goslings to look after!! In all I came across three separate Canada Geese families and I'm sure there will be more.

Another family of Canada Geese - just 8 this time - were swimming about where the overhanging trees coloured the water green.

The first Greylag Goose family swimming in tight formation along the lake

Then, standing on the Chinese Bridge I used my binoculars to inspect the group of rushes and irises on the opposite bank. This is where the Great Crested Grebe has been nesting. I couldn't see anything and was hoping it was the increased amount of vegetation hiding it from view.

I walked around the head of the lake until I was closer and no - it wasn't hidden. The nest was deserted and the (at least) one egg was not there. The nest is not far from the bank, so I can only assumed the egg(s) had been predated. Saddened I walked on.

But much to my delight, the pair of Grebes were very much visible in the place I first saw them and they were still very much a pair.

Whilst there had been some very half-hearted courtship displays, the main activity was sleeping so I left them to it. It looked as though they had built another nest in a different place so I shall go back to investigate. I hope they try again!

The sun had gone by now and the light was really strange. The water seemed murky today, I don't know why. Perhaps the rain had churned it up a bit.

On my way out, there were three of these chaps in the picnic field.

A quick pit stop in Bushy Park before going home. The park is now dominated (or so it seems) by Coots and these two youngsters - well, I'm sure their mother loves them!

These four male Mandarins seem to stick together. I presume they are the same group I've seen in the Woodland Gardens but I didn't have time to check out my theory!

I was delighted to observe that one Great Crested Grebe is back on the Boating Pond. No sign again of the second one but at least it's an improvement.

Not a bad day after all!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Swanning about

I awoke this morning - felt that my "get up and go" had definitely "got up and gone". Just couldn't get going and didn't want to. Well, the sun was shining so that helped.

Had a toddle off to Painshill. The Great Crested Grebe was no longer on her nest and no sign of any eggs now. But, all was not lost - but that's for another day.

A pair of swans were in amorous mood...

"Quick check that I'm looking my best...."

Seems I was...

A little celebration

and for one, a bathe....

before settling down for a preen.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Today I went to to Sussex as Mum needed to go for her annual eye test - she passed with flying colours!

Off along the sea front where the sun was shining and sparkling off a blue sea; a cool breeze kept the temperature down but out of the wind in the shelter of the cafe, we sat outside and had lunch, watching and listening to the waves break on the shingle at high tide.

Inland we headed after lunch, and the further north (albeit only about 7 miles) the darker the clouds; the sun now intermittent but where it shone on the fields of rape the yellow was dazzling.

A slight detour through Wiston along a single track road took us through woods upon woods with bluebells carpeting the floor. By now the sky was black.

Undeterred I parked the car by a field gate and took some pictures - the sun remained shy!

Amazing sight. Off back to Mum's driving through rain - and then hail!! Hard to imagine that a couple of hours earlier we'd been lunching outside in sunshine and blue skies!

Monday, 27 April 2009

My garden mystery!

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that there was a bit of a mystery surrounding the ground feeder with the mesh guard over it that sits outside my lounge windows. I use the "cage" so the Feral Pigeons don't get at the food and it gives the ground feeding birds a supply of their own.

Whilst it hasn't happened since, over two nights something odd happened.

It all started, I think, because I left some cheese out overnight. The ground feeder normally has sunflower hearts, usually a fat ball and sometimes small lumps of cheese. The robin, dunnocks, occasionally blue and great tits and, if the other feeders have run out, greenfinches and goldfinches all help themselves. Additionally I have a wood mouse that is normally there feeding every day - and it loves sunflower hearts!

In the morning it is not unusual therefore, to find the tray empty of sunflower hearts (cheese and fat are usually still there) as the mouse mostly feeds under the cover of darkness.

However - I'd left a fair-sized lump of cheese outside the cage and hadn't taken it in before nightfall. In the morning this had gone completely - and it couldn't have been the mouse as the quantity was far too much. The cheese under cover was still there.

Now the two mornings in question.

The first morning, the cage had been moved about two feet (I'm not yet into metric); this had caused the tray to be tipped up! All the food had gone - cheese lumps, sunflower hearts (topped up just before the evening in question) and the remains of a fatball. A very hungry visitor.

The next morning, the cage had moved again but, as this time the tray remained upright, not so much food had disappeared.

So the questions is: "Who done it"?

I can only assume it was a fox and I do have them visiting the garden. I would love the think it was a badger (it would be big and strong enough) or even a hedgehog.

So - I will have to settle for a fox.

This evening there's some (live) mealworms for a very hungry robin. I wonder if......

Any other ideas?

Just as a footnote: The robin is backwards and forwards to the mealworms and flies off with about 3/4 in his beak. Always the same route down the garden and then over the neighbour's shed - I do hope he brings his family in due course :D

Sunday, 26 April 2009

A racing day at Holmethorpe

Graham had arranged the annual Bird Race Day at Holmethorpe and Steve had posted about the event on 24 April.

The day had threatened to be wet in the morning - luckily this wasn't turned into reality. I arrived about just after 8.00 a.m. having followed Graham's excellent directions. It was sunny, but with a chill in the air. I turned off the road into the car park - lucky I noted the closed and padlocked five-bar gate to the entrance and stopped in time.

I wandered up the road a little - drove down a lane and managed to locate Steve and Gordon. Having kitted up I joined them as they were watching a Little Owl - and my thanks to Steve for a view of it through his scope - what a way to start the day. Onward then to join Graham and Richard who were with Frank and Ian.

Whilst others may have felt the day was a little light on birds, I was pleased to see all that was there. My list is not for the race, but a record of what I saw. In some ways, it was more of a wildlife day given the variety of things we saw; and my thanks to Richard for sharing his huge fund of knowledge about all matters flora and fauna..

So what did I see or hear?
Little Owl
Canada Geese
Greylag Geese
House Sparrow
Tufted Ducks
Great Crested Grebe
Reed Warbler (H)
Wood Pigeon
Little Grebe (and two on nests)
Long Tailed Tit
Common Buzzard
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Blackcap (Male)
Little Egret (x 2)
(Hobby - others saw but I couldn't find it!)
Chiffchaff (H)
Green Woodpecker (H)
Mute Swan and
finally - just as I'd put the camera in the boot of the car, a
Wren - posed nicely on a nearby branch singing away :D

Whitethroats seemed to be the order of the day and accompanied us nearly everywhere we went. However, they weren't staying still long enough for a portrait much just managed to catch this one...

before he high-tailed it for another perch!

A little more obliging.

The sun shone over the lake

and highlighted the fluffy seed heads of the rushes

The water glistened

and a Drinker Moth caterpillar slowly climbed a fence post

A Green-veined butterfly landed on a dandelion and rested

Further on, this young rabbit enjoyed a meal

By now we had been joined by Sue and we watched Cormorants sunbathing

and drying their wings after a dip!

On the far side of the pond, a couple of interesting species came into view. They'd obviously spotted something - we can only guess the species and what it was viewing :D

Cowslips tucked away by the fence

and a Male Kestrel hovered high overhead

And of course, the obligatory Grey Heron rose up and flew off

and finally, just before parting company, we can across some Sussex cattle!

Graham, Sue and Richard decided to head off up the hill for some raptors, but Frank and I decided we should be on our way.

So home I came without incident.

So a day spent in warm sunshine, with many types of wildlife to enjoy, and excellent company all round.

Thanks Graham, for hosting such a great day! :)

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Just a quick post

I've been down at Mum's all day today, and we've been busy doing various tasks so no pictures taken.

Except, first this this morning when I looked, bleary eyed, out of the window onto the garden, I noticed it was raining heavily. Just as it stopped I was aware, against the very black sky, how iridescent the colour of the newly emerged leaves were, especially on the Acers. So I took a picture and here it is!!

Now you may wonder, why the caged ground feeder has such a prominent position in this picture. Currently it's feeding my robin, blue tits, the odd dunnock here and there, and my resident wood mouse. The latter has been very visible early each morning for at least the last week.

However, if what happened the last two mornings, happens again by tomorrow morning, I will let you know about the mystery!

Oh and I completely forgot to mention, that when I was in Bushey Park a couple of days ago, I saw my first Swallow flying around, backwards and forwards over the Boating pond. No doubt enjoying the food supply in the early evening. I was sooooo pleased! :D
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