The lovely sunny weather has continued all through the weekend which has definitely helped to lift morale in these difficult times.
The birds have been more difficult to photograph with the leaves growing on the trees and so that is probably why I found myself in the garden without my camera yesterday morning when a CUCKOO flew over making its way, it seemed, from Eastville Park to Stoke Park and probably way beyond – definitely the best of my garden record (if I kept one). There were several other flyovers with birds moving from Stoke Park to Eastville Park (and back) but I failed to photograph the mallards, Canada geese and grey heron.
I wandered down the road opposite our house early this morning, more to see the 5 wisteria trees, than to see birds but I did manage to photograph house sparrows, goldfinches, a robin and a blackbird. They were all in full voice at that time of the morning.
An inquisitive goldfinch
A rather glum robin
I’m told there are sunflower heads in the back garden
Flirting blue tits
Starling with breakfast
The house sparrows are persistently noisy (is that a dust spot on my sensor or dirt on the drain pipe?)
Even a lesser black-backed gull paid me a visit
A cheery blackbird
A jackdaw taking the coronavirus seriously
Show-off blue tit
Curious carrion crow
Later back in my garden a grey heron flew over. I have photographed these birds in Eastville Park and Stoke Park more than any other bird and I am sure it recognised me as, before flying off, it did a circle over head in a sort of fly pass.
A fly-by salute from the grey heron
The other notable bird I saw was a buzzard but I only managed a distant shot before it disappeared in to the azure of the sky.
The blue tits, woodpigeons and collared doves have entertained me regularly too.
I have had a go at photographing the aphids on my roses and aqualegias and ants on my peonies but I must admit I’m not very good at it because everyone says its a great macro lens!
Slideshow of my photos over the last two days. On an iPad you can pinch and stretch.
Another glorious day. I’m sure that on such a day I would have been looking to go further afield for my dose of nature or at least taking a walk in one of the local parks.
Recently in Stoke Park Estate there have been lots of exciting bird sightings including ring ouzels, wheatears and a tree pipit and even the first brood of ducklings. In Eastville Park I gather there was a mandarin duck on the lake this morning.
However, not for me as to keep safe and away from the coronavirus I am staying here in my garden and, for a while this morning, in my neighbour’s garden whilst she was doing essential shopping for herself and friends.
The variety of birds is very limited but it all helps to keep my sanity. A friend commented I must have taken a photo of every plant in my garden. Maybe that is the case but fortunately for me they change a little and I am still challenged by photographing them.
And again there’s only so much bread you can bake! So here are some of the stars for me:
Dunnock fascinated by bee
House sparrow “up the wall” – I know the feeling
A timely reminder why I am here
Blackbird takes a leap of faith
And some of the botanical photos:
Magnolia still performing well
Our flower tubs from the local Elmtree Farm are loving the sun
Many of my neighbours have wisteria – we had two at one stage but I couldn’t control them
I’m sure we will be eating our figs before lock down ends for us!
I don’t normally see this lovely tree but I could see it from my neighbour’s garden
Wendy picked the first bunch of lily-of-the -valley. The aroma is amazing.
Slideshow of all my photos from this morning:
I didn’t spend long taking photos at home today (maybe because I didn’t see many) but for the short time I had a camera in my hand I was lucky to see a comma butterfly.
I have already seen a few varieties of butterfly in my garden this year (peacock, orange-tip and a white which I didn’t manage to identify) but this one was the first I have managed to photograph.
In fact the only bird photo I took was a jackdaw. Was this the corvid answer to Covid-19?
No, I’ve not gone barking mad (not yet anyway). I have not really made off to Holland but (in a way) a little bit of Holland has been transported to our home and it has a tenuous link to my nature blog.
My wife, Wendy, has completed her most recent patchwork quilt and we have managed to mount it in our dining room. I am sure she is delighted to be able to see the culmination of months of her work but it has in fact lifted our spirits for both of us.
I feel I have contributed a tiny amount to this beautiful work of art as I bought her the book with the initial design for the quilt. I have spent a fair number of hours sitting looking at the library of books at Midsomer Quilting (her favourite shop for all matters quilting and probably most of the UK’s favourite shop too) and it was there (drinking their coffee and eating their chocolate biscuits) that I was attracted to a book “Promenade dans un jardin hollandais” (Petra Pins & An Moonen). I love the series of books produced by the French publishers Quilt Mania as the main text is in French (there is also an English translation) and they always have the most amazing photographs. The photographs are technically brilliant and the quilts are also displayed in the most imaginative ways.
Wendy’s quilt is a tree of life and there’s the tenuous link to my nature blog.
Wikipedia tells me that
“the tree of life is a fundamental widespread myth (mytheme) or archetype in many of the world’s mythologies, religious and philosophical traditions. It is closely related to the concept of the sacred tree. The tree of knowledge, connecting to heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, connecting all forms of creation, are both forms of the world tree or cosmic tree, and are portrayed in various religions and philosophies as the same tree.”
I would love to visit “L’Ecomusée ou musée de Plein Air de Arnhem aux Pays Bas” which is where the quilts for the book were photographed and which in the book is described as:
” a magical place that relates several centuries of Dutch history through a 100 acre park. Founded on April 24th, 1912, the museum opened in 1918. Nowadays , this site includes ninety-six buildings and points of interest such as farms, windmills, a drawbridge, houses, workshops etc. from different eras, with one of the most recent attractions being a tram station from Amsterdam.”
A visit to Arnhem would also be very poignant as it was there that my Uncle Cyril (a glider pilot in the RAF) was killed in the Second World War.
I so miss my dose of nature. It’s been such a crucial part of my life since I retired. I love the exercise, I love being in the fresh air, I love the way my photography skills are challenged and I love the mental challenge of trying to identify (mainly) birds and (occasionally) flora and the intimacy that that provides.
I have been very lucky through these first few weeks of lock-down in that I have been able (especially with the very good weather we have had) to be outside a lot and to see and photograph a surprisingly large variety of birds in and around my garden.
However, I think that is going to change as the leaves on the trees are coming out thick and fast and (from the experience of the last few days) my view of the birds is diminishing.
This morning the weather was very dull and, as rain was forecast from 10 o’clock, I pressed on and tried to photograph some of the nature (mainly trees) in and around my garden. The purpose of this exercise was simply for self fulfillment. I am not trying to “show off” my garden as it is tiny and designed for minimal effort so that we are able to take off either locally or further afield whenever we want and not have to worry about the consequences. However, it does provide us somewhere to cook a barbecue and to sit outside when the weather is good. I didn’t realise how important it would become to me.
We probably have too many trees for the size of the garden and since I realised that I have reduced the number.
The highlight has been the front garden where we have planted a crab apple and a magnolia, which this year have really been at their best. In the dull weather this morning they probably weren’t at their best for photos but I do restrict my blogs to photos of any particular day.
When the 20 mph signs were erected I thought “what madness, who could possibly do more than 20 mph done this road?” but I have eaten my words more than once when some crazy fool has sped by.
As well as the crab apple and the magnolia there are a couple of other shrubs (I don’t know what they are called).
As the viburnum has finished blooming two peonies are about to bloom but there are some worrying signs with loads of ants on them.
I love this plant (is it an aubretia?) which clings to the outside wall
In the back garden the best has been the acer with its very delicate blossom. But a rowan tree (mountain ash in such a tiny garden – madness?) is about to come out in blossom and the scots pine seems to have more cones on it this year.
The holly had a severe trim last year as did the bay tree and the fig (not featured as it was just too dark to photograph).
The rowan has blossom appearing.
But beneath the bay the lily of the valley is already out (it will always be “muguet” to me for the special connotations it has on the 1st May in France).
An aquilegia has self sown among the lily of the valley.
But the best of all the trees is not outside (!) and I hope to be able to show it (and explain) in my next blog.
Slideshow of my photos from this morning (on an iPad you can pinch and stretch)
This morning I broke my bounds and ventured in to a neighbour’s garden (with her permission whilst she was walking her dogs). I saw the same birds, more or less, but from a different perspective and I enjoyed the variation enormously. Thank you S.
Another beautiful day for this time of the year (Easter Sunday) with the temperature reaching 22 C. The birds seemed to be taking it easy today but I was pleased to get a photo of a great tit. I can hear them regularly but don’t seem to photograh them that often.
Was this gull taking precautions?
This lungwort is getting a lot of atttention from the bees
The weather for the last few days has beeen fantastic. As I write it is 24 degrees C and I have had to come in out of the garden as, with very little breeze, it feels very hot indeed.
I have followed a routine by taking some photos in the morning but this afternoon a couple of buzzards flew over our garden and I couldn’t resist breaking my regime.
I have been surprised and pleased what opportunities I have had from our tiny urban garden.
I have left some dandelions as the bees love them
A flyover grey heron
The vibernum is lasting well
The bees love the aubretia too
Tulips have lasted so well but are beginning to go over now
Who let those forget-me-nots in?
Unfortunately our rosemary is being decimated by the Rosemary beetle
The crab apple in the front garden is looking spectacular
The magnolia is dwarfed by the crab apple
The acer is beginning to provide cover for the birds
Goldfinch in a neighbour’s garden
Foreign invaders in our garden – Spanish bluebells
House sparrows mating
Carrion crow posing on neighbour’s gatepost
A touch of Provence?
Lily of the valley and it’s not the 1st May yet!
Slideshow of some of my photos from the last two days. (If being viewed on an iPad you can pinch and stretch).
Three weeks in to lock-down and there is clearly a repetition in my blogs. My apologies, but trying to capture photos of wildlife from the boundaries of my home is doing the world of good for my mental stability and, for anyone who sees my blog, I hope others enjoy a little bit of digression from the worries of the terrible Covid-19 pandemic.
At least the weather has helped to lift moral and my photography has benefited from a little of the sunshine in the past two days, although this morning when I took most of my photos, it was still very grey.
Carrion crow jumping for joy!
…because he’s found a stash of chips (not ours!)
Dunnock getting tarted up
Blue tit about to move off
Blue tit in flight
Starling with party hat
Bird on a wire
Crab apple in front garden
Bee on crab apple in front garden
Gull (I’m hopeless on gulls especially when I can’t see their backs or the colour of their legs)
Neighbour’s magnolia lasting well
Hover fly (well at least it was hovering)