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....

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Last birding day of 2008

I started watching the garden birds at about 7.30 this morning and in the following 90 minutes these were my visitors:

2 Robins - quite happy with each other
1 Wren - which is a very rare visitor to my garden
3 Blackbirds
2 Great Tits
3 Blue Tits
13 Goldfinches
3 Greenfinches
3 Chaffinches
2 Jays
6 Ring-necked Parakeets
1 Dunnock
6 Feral Pigeons (about 26 later in the day!!)
1 Blackcap (male) - yes he's still here.
3 Starlings.
Not a bad start.

The weather today is cold but dreary and I had to have some exercise. Where to? Well, I felt on the last day of the current year, I wanted to be loyal to my local patch so went for a walk this afternoon, very well wrapped up, to Bushey Park.

About 90% of all the ponds were frozen over and the (main) Boating Pond had just a couple of Canada Geese on the largest part where normally, it would be covered in birds.

I'm going to digress and have a rant now - Yes the ice was thick, you didn't need to do anything but look to know that! Around the edges of the pond is mesh wiring with large stones filling the area; this is to protect and reinforce the pond edges. Today however, a great number of these not-so-small stones had been thrown out onto the ice by visitors. This is not good. It now means that some of the reinforcement of the banks is missing and, when the ice melts, these heavy stones are going to sink to the bottom of the pond where they are not going to do any good and could become a nuisance to wildlife. Why, oh why, do people have to be so inconsiderate!!

An example of stone-throwing

OK - rant over!!!

I had a wander round the Woodland Gardens, and some of the usual residents were coping in the cold; there the water is mostly moving so not so much ice. Although the light was dreadful I did manage some pictures but, with one exception, you will have seen all the subjects before but.... it is 31 December 2008.

The highlight of the day was this Mistle Thrush

Four Mute swans were flying over

and on the Diana Pond, it was time for a preen

Canada Geese - skating...

A coot showing its very blue feet.

and the Mallards, Coots and Gulls were sleeping or moping about..

I don't know why, but seeing Black-headed Gulls in trees always looks odd to me.

and this 1st winter BH Gull has also seen something odd!

In the Woodland Garden, the Cape Teal

and a male Mandarin Duck; there were 4 pairs of Mandarins and a lone male.

Not a bad day's birding for the last day in the garden and local patch.

I wonder what 2009 will bring?
Some Waxwings would be nice...................

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Brrr - A Frosty start

Well I didn't get out with the camera today, instead had a day out with my daughter - which was really great!

It dawned bright and frosty this morning. The pond was frozen, as was the bird bath. The visiting birds were waiting expectantly to have the ice broken and water exposed so - clad in PJs and a thick fleece coat, there was I braving the cold to remove the frozen water and replenish the bird bath - the birds, duly thankful, returned for a drink as soon as I was safely back inside.

Just a few early morning visitors from today
Through the Looking Glass
(aka double-glazed window)

Blue Tit at the edge of the frozen pond
(It seems to have a rather long beak!)

Mrs Blackbird



Frosted grass!

and Abelia "jewels"

(And on a personal note: Mum continues to improve - which is a great relief) :D

Monday, 29 December 2008

A Birthday remembered

It's Dad's birthday today - he would have been 91 (had he not passed on six year's ago)! So Happy Birthday Dad!

Mum is much improved and has now been to the doctor's. Prescriptions obtained from the pharmacy we arrived at her home and she's now warm and cosy with various medications, a bunch of grapes, some oranges and declarations of feeling a great deal better!

Thank you all for your good wishes regarding Mum.

Weather's going to be -3 tonight; not that that's particularly cold for some of my American or Canadian readers, but chilly enough for me!

I now have a couple of free-ish days so hoping the weather and light will be kind and I can get out to put my new camera through it's paces with some decent sunshine - fingers crossed!

Usual birdie visitors with numbers still nicely up and the Blackcap still visiting. Would now like a few Siskins again but they don't start arriving with me till mid January - and the Bramblings arrived about that time this year too! Here's to the 2009 arrivals!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

It's been and gone

A quiet couple of days over Christmas and didn't even manage a walk. I came home yesterday bringing Mum with me for a few days. Unfortunately Mum has started an unwelcome and unpleasant cold which, for her, is not good news as she suffers from asthma. Bit of a worry.

Regrettably it's far too cold for her to go out, so we went for a drive around Richmond Park.

Not many birds about in the park but, not far from Roehampton Gate and the Rugby pitches were two very large herds of Fallow and Red Deer. The latter chose to cross the road as we approached which gave us wonderful views of these lovely creatures. It's noticable now that the stags are back in their all male groups following the rut in the Autumn.

The birds numbers are down a bit, in the garden but the male Blackcap continues to visit as does the Jay. Blackbirds, blue tits and goldfinches (only about 14) are the normal first arrivals followed by chaffinches and greenfinches. I'm now fairly certain that I have two robins visiting
so I'll be keeping an eye open...

Hopefully, for her sake, Mum will feel a bit better tomorrow........

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

It's Christmas

I shall be "missing" for a couple of days or so for a Christmas with my Mother and other members of the family down in Sussex. We will be a small (but beautifully formed) group and my brother (who's a chef) is cooking Christmas dinner so it's going to be good!

Whatever the weather we can all enjoy a
White Christmas

A Very Happy Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A comparatively colourless day

Before dawn broke this morning, I was off to the supermarket to do the food shopping for the Christmas period. As I stood outside the front door, the wonderful sound of robins singing their hearts out was really cheery and in the distance a Song Thrush's lovely melody could be heard. Chores done and dusted I felt the need for a walk.

I mentioned dawn - now that conveys daylight - daylight is a comparative word today; it means compared to total darkness, it is light!

Armed with camera off I went to find birds at Wisley. Fieldfares and Redwings in the Fruit Fields again; a pair of mistle thrushes and a flock of approximate 40 finches - gold, green and chaffinches in the tops of the trees.

The birds were constantly flocking back and forwards to the feeders but the light was too poor for many pics.

A Rhododendron in bloom - far too early

and the velvety buds of the Magnolia waiting to open

The easiest birds to photograph today were those you could guarantee wouldn't move! A pair of Cranes.

Some of Wisley's gardeners had "planted" Christmas trees with lots of goodies for the birds to eat. This was one of several.

And this picture of a snowman is made entirely of citrus fruit - Pink and White grapefruit, oranges and limes!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

A visit to Barnes

I met Pete for a trip to Barnes this morning, but as usual the weather was grey and dull with bad light for pictures.

Spent most of the morning on the reserve except for a stop at the cafe - where Pete decided to have a cooked breakfast and I discovered it was just too hard to resist - so we had "brunch" - lovely!

The reserve was quiet in terms of birds and people but we did manage a couple of Goldcrests, a Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe, Siskins, Long-tailed Tits, loads of Blue Tits, Great Tits, Goldfinches and Chaffinches. Lapwings, Cormorants, Teals, Wigeon, Gadwall etc. and some Collection Birds

And just a few pics:
As if I don't see enough Ring-necked Parakeets!

or Grey Squirrels.

Little Grebe

Male Teal

Two Canada Geese flying over

Group of Wigeon

(Collection birds)
American Wigeon

Male Eider

Marbled Teal

Cormorant (wild bird)

Male Shoveler

Female Shoveler

and, in the little sunshine that we had, sunlit Reeds

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The beginning and end of a day

It started with grey, grey and grey so I changed my plans and went to finish my Christmas shopping!

A few early morning visitors and the male Blackcap was back again - he is now becoming a daily visitor - whey hey!!
The noisy Ring-necked Parakeets with a Grey Squirrel creeping up behind them..

What is now becoming typical for this time of the year, was the arrival of in excess of 25 Goldfinches - lovely to watch and hear these quarrelsome but beautiful little finches!

Shopping finally finished (except I left one bag in a shop and didn't discover this until I got home DOH!! I was not happy.)

However, by the end of the afternoon the clouds started to clear away and thus enabled a glorious sunset - view from the back of my house!

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