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....

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Visitors to my garden

I've been fairly heavily occupied these last couple of days helping my daughter prepare for, and, move. And there's more tomorrow! Needless to say, this has left little time for blogging.

However, if there's been anything of interest in the garden over the last couple of days, and the light's been good enough, I've taken a few pics.

I've moved a couple of the feeders out into a less shaded area - it seems to have worked!

This fox is a frequent visitor but wouldn't turn around to pose for the camera

The Ring-necked Parakeets are driving me mad at the moment. It's always the same every June/July when the young are begging for food - at about 5.00 a.m. onwards in the Eucalyptus tree in the garden. Then again, the same things happens from early evening until they go off to roost.

Now - talking of roosts - I've noticed large flocks of them (largest was about 50) flying west over the house; they may be invaders but it's quite a spectacular sight!) This is the direction of Esher Rugby Club where the roost used to be until it broke up in Autumn last year. Many of the Poplar Trees were felled (Health & Safety don't yer know) and the roost disbanded. I shall have to go and have a look at dusk one evening to see if they're back on the remaining trees.

Youngster being fed

Having a preen..

The Grey Squirrel numbers have dropped this year and the most I've had is three. Here's one eyeing out the feeding potential..

And another having a drink

The bird bath is popular and this Magpie had just had a bath before preening up in the Eucalyptus..

In the garden pond, one of the frogs had come up for air. It wasn't until I processed these pictures that I noticed the tiny tiny froglet on the pond lining. It can only have just stopped being a tadpole!

And as I type this in the early evening of Saturday, the thunder clouds have gathered and it's tipping it down.

My daughter is still packing up and loading the van for the last trip of the day - she then has to bring the van back tonight and return southwards!!!!!!! Fortunately she has some help......and the final journey she will be driven rather than having to do the driving! Good luck SPD - thinking of you.

And I'm off back down again to the south coast tomorrow - complete with my Marigolds :)

I'm now going to expire in the heat and humidity.....that's all for the moment folks......

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Another one!

Regular readers may recall that a week ago I was wishing my Grandson (J) a Happy Birthday. Well today, it is the turn of his Mum - my daughter - (SPD), as today is HER birthday so

Happy Birthday Daughter dear! :D

At the weekend SPD and J are moving house and going to be living in one of the small coastal village down in W.Sussex; and they'll be able to see the sea when standing outside their flat. My Mother, Aunt, Brother and nephew already live in the area and now two more members of my family will be joining them. I wonder if there's a message hidden in there somewhere...

We had a good day today. We met up this afternoon and went out for an ice cream - ooooh Loseley Strawberries and Cream variety; this all because I needed some more bird food. We met J from school and then went our separate ways.

Then this evening, we all met up as I was taking us all out for a meal to celebrate birthdays, moving house, starting new job and new school etc. etc.

Within walking distance of SPD's current abode is a good pub/restaurant, with the added bonus that it is literally on the banks of the River Thames overlooking (on the other side of the river) Hampton Court Palace gardens!

The tables outside were all occupied so we kept with our booked table in the restaurant! And on the menu as a starter were Scallops - which I normally find irresistible. But, I forwent those as I knew my appetite wasn't that large in the heat of today.

So - we had:
SPD - Lamb rump cooked pink with sauted potatoes and veg.
J - a very beefy beef burger with pomme frites and veg
Me - Rainbow trout with spicy sauted potatoes and green beans

Whilst we were eating, House Martins were skimming across and dipping down into the river. The restaurant is next to a Skiff and Punting Club and therefore rowers were skudding up and down practising their skills. Over on the far side, a man was propelling a punt along the riverbank - in fact he kept going backwards and forwards - we still don't understand why!

Swifts shrilled overhead and then a mute swan flew upstream.

We ordered pudding and whilst waiting watched Mallards preening on the boardwalk before tucking their heads under their wings.

Pudding arrived: Apple and Strawberry crumble for SPD; Warm Chocolate Brownie with chocolate ice cream for J and for me - Double Chocolate Marquis with double cream and chocolate sauce. (Tomorrow a long walk should be on the agenda)

It was a lovely meal in excellent company and a good way to celebrate a multitude of happenings!!

Thank you SPD and J - and, although you're not going that far, I'm gonna miss you both being "just around the corner"!

And - oh - I do feel full..... think I need to stroll around the garden for a bit....

(Or I could just have a glimpse at house prices in a particular area of West Sussex........; it's a lovely county and I also have a very very good friend who lives in East Sussex................)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Travelling south for a particular bird.......

Over the next three to four weeks, I'm going to be more curtailed and have a more rigorous timetable to adhere to - but more of that another day. So today I decided I wanted to use the full day to travel further afield than "just local". I'd been wanting to see the Common Terns at the WWT Arundel so off I headed. Needless to say, I was hoping to get some decent pictures as well. :D

As I left the visitors centre on arrival, a family of Pheasants greeted me.

As I walked on a bee was gathering nectar from a plant..

Around another corner, and this female Chaffinch

was kept company by a male..

both were observed by a Great Tit

The sun was getting very warm as this Mallard family had a doze

After a sandwich, a cuppa coffee and a rather tasty piece of coffee cake... (well, I'm sure I walked the calories off in the afternoon heat) I came across this Shelduck have a wash and brush up

then deciding enough was enough so balanced on one leg for a bit of a change..

A Banded Demoiselle sat in the heat..

whilst another family of Mallards - very young ones this time - could not keep their eyes open..

Whilst back by the visitor centre and watching some other birds, this female Tufted Duck and her brood approached below me..

and the little ones came "ashore"

But the bird that I'd come to see was very much in evidence. The Tern raft was immediately in front of the visitor centre but only visible through double glazed glass windows!!

I gather there are 3 young ones but I only saw two in the time I was watching.

Moving away from the visitor centre, I walked along the path and found the terns fishing!!

Back "at the ranch" one of the little ones was coming out to play, whilst its sibling stayed under cover in the "tunnel"

A little while later and much further out in the pond, one of the adult terns chose to land on a post next to a Black-headed Gull

They both registered their displeasure at seeing the other one in "their" space, but finally settled down in mutual tolerance!

I'd also enjoyed one of the boat rides around the reed beds in one of the electric boats. Voles were visible but mostly well hidden amongst the very noisy reeds - it was rather windy!

Dragonflies flitted about tantalisingly near but the boat's movement wasn't conducive for pictures of them!

As we disembarked, high above on top of the tree line at the top of the hill, two Common Buzzards performed their aerial acrobatic display.

OK time to move on and as there was a bit of time to spare I popped in to the Warnham Nature Reserve. Walking through to the first hide, I saw a Tree Creeper. Other than that it was very quiet. There are two tern rafts and both have a pair of terns - but no young in evidence.

They are very far out (as I've mentioned in a previous post) but I managed a shot of one on its usual perch!

A good day out in the sunshine!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Beetling about

Last night I was sitting quietly and chatting to a friend on the phone, when I was aware of a dark body flying towards the patio doors - one of which was open. In true form, the flying body crashed into the window and landed on the ground.

At this time of the year, the Stag Beetles start flying around the garden. Many years ago when I moved to this house, the bottom of the garden was lined with Laurel bushes. Now, I detest with a passion, Laurel!!! So I had them taken back to ground level and have, over the years, completed replanted that area.

The stumps of the trees I deliberately left to rot as I know that some wildlife species like rotten wood - particularly beetles. Confirmation that I was in for some as usual this year, evidenced itself as a very large and white beetle grub which I'd encountered when weeding earlier on in the year.

And yesterday the proof was visibly flying about. The said Beetle recovered after a while and "staggered off" (oh the pun!) as only beetles can, with their haphazard flight path off into the twilight.

And of course, not being one to miss a photo opportunity.....

Saturday, 20 June 2009

The Elusive....

At the close of play yesterday, my trusty lawn mower came back home from its holiday; it's been away for 5 weeks now and I hope it's glad to be back.

The plan for this morning was - you've guessed it - to cut the grass. But overnight rain and black clouds decided me that it was not a good idea. So - I headed off to the London Wetland Centre.

Whilst I didn't expect to see much in terms of birds, I thought I might bump into one or two acquaintances. Well I did, which was nice :)

But the bigger surprise......
I'd been hearing a Reed Warbler in the same spot for most of my recent visits. In fact there were two in close proximity outside or near the Dulverton Hide. Today was no exception.

There they were - singing away and so near you felt you could put your hand into the reeds and touch it!

And finally, it came into view. I'd been there for some time and it appeared, very shyly, in the reeds.

OK - I got a couple of shots thinking - well, it's better than nothing and at least I've seen it!

But then, it lost some of its shyness and, with beak open singing for England, it came a bit further forward!

It then decided it would forsake the reeds for a visit to an adjacent tree - where it could hide - yet again!

But, having teased me for some time, it eventually decided it would be photographed..

So it was very much worth the wait. Question: how do Reed Warblers sing so constantly and for so long without seeming to pause for breath?

Behind me, in reed beds I could hear another Reed Warbler and also the call of young. I couldn't see the nest at all, but at one point, the adult bird flew out of the rushes and into a tree on the other side of the boardwalk. I was somewhat taken by surprise by pointed the camera and got this!

Still no sunshine so this Damselfly sat still long enough to swap to the Macro lens. I've no idea what it is despite pouring over the relevant (and very good) book I have.

Couldn't find anything with this colour body and eyes let alone the abdomen and marking.
So - if anyone can help I would be very grateful

Edited some time later.
ST has IDd this damselfly for me as "a female Blue Tailed Damselfly (rufescens-obsoleta) - but it is not fully mature. The blue tails come in a number of colour forms."
Thanks for that ST

The light was dreadful for photography today; grey but bright(ish) which caused unwanted reflections on the water which was being wafted by the wind!

BUT, such a wonderful sight, Great-crested Grebes with their chicks. Initially, I could see three but was advised there were four.

Later on when I passed them again, the adult bird decided it was time to swap over the child-minding duties with its partner.

So having unsuccessfully wriggled to disembark the youngsters, it then reared up and shook them off into the water.

This revealed all four little ones and now the second adult had joined the party!

It was great to watch them!

The two more recently added Cranes (in the captive section) were having a bathe today.

and further around, this duck was having a preen.
A Comb duck (also known as a Knob-billed duck - well it's obvious really :) )
But nonetheless, whether or not it's a foreigner to our shores it was sporting some fantastic wing colours.

On the way back I came across this family of Mallards! Still a lovely sight in spite of all the more exotic birds.

For those of you who do NOT want to be graphically aware of the natural food chain involving a Grey Heron - then I please SCROLL DOWN VERY QUICKLY to the end of the blog.

We'd been watching this Heron when it flew over from behind me....
Unfortunately for the young Coot, the Heron had a meal!

Finally, I came home with every intention of cutting the grass but - heavy showers again made this an impractical idea - so it will have to wait until Monday!

I decided that as the black clouds had moved away and, not being given much patience when it was first handed out, I couldn't bear the suspense of knowing whether the grass cutting machine was going to be co-operative or not, so I set to!

I've now cut ALL the grass - without incident! Whey hey!
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