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8th May 2020 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

It’s lovely to see the park being used by so many people but we really had to keep our wits about us to keep at a good distance from others.

It was a truly glorious day (temperature reaching 23 C). We saw our first swift (no photograph unfortunately) and our first damselfly of the year.

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DSC05771Whitethroat

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DSC05844Duckling

DSC05898Coot

DSC05903Moorhen

DSC05920Greenfinch

DSC06072Coot – have you seen those feet?

DSC06101Hawthorn blossom

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DSC05807Carrion crows

 

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6th May 2020 – Stoke Park Estate, Bristol

We broke bounds today and nervously took an exercise walk to Stoke Park (just a few minutes from where we live). We have so missed getting out and about. The walk was almost essential for our sanity; the decision was prompted by the beautiful weather.

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It was so wonderful to see the beauty of spring with the lush green grass, the trees with blossom and plants that clearly we don’t see in our urban garden.

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There were also some birds (and a butterfly) to add to our joy.

DSC04291Wren

DSC04367Wren diving for cover

DSC04389Whitethroat singing its heart out

DSC04470Great tit

DSC04586Magpie

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DSC04802Reed bunting

DSC04872Carrion crow

DSC04907Mallard

DSC04917Mallard with admirers

DSC04928Canada goose

DSC04932Mallards

DSC04549Ducklings

DSC04541Moorhen

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3rd May 2020 – Self-isolating in Bristol

My neighbours are becoming very noisy. I don’t know if lock-down is anything to do with it but I suspect not as all the humans have been very considerate and very friendly.

No, its the birds that are making most of the noise; calling to mates and dashing around finding nesting material and even grubs for broods that are already sitting in the nest.

Good luck to them all.

DSC03583Blue-tit enjoying the sun. Often they are accused of head banging: I read this comment on Bird Forum “Blue tits made a nest about a week ago in a nestbox and I have since been hearing a constant tapping from inside, like a woodpecker. The box is on the wall of my house and I can hear the tapping for ten minutes or so several times a day, long after the nest was finished.”

DSC03605These Canada geese were very noisy honking as they flew over my garden

DSC03655This starling was making no noise at all but often they have a shrill whistle; this one was looking the worse for wear – clearly he had had a night on the town

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DSC03855The blackbird has a very melodious song but it does carry a long way

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DSC03837Wood pigeons and collared doves certainly disturb the peace as they flutter back and forth and make an almighty din when going in and out of my neighbour’s leylandii .

DSC03964The goldfinches are very sociable birds and  have a delightful liquid twittering song and call

DSC04029The dunnocks are quiet and unobtrusive but when two rival males come together they become animated with lots of wing-flicking and loud calling

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DSC04068 The house sparrows are the worst offenders with their incessant monotonous chirping

I wonder if I’m going to be able to get out and listen to the dawn chorus any time soon?

Today was the International Dawn Chorus Day (the first Sunday in May) –  I’m sure they will be singing for a few days yet..

 

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1st May 2020 – Bonne Fête du Muguet

It is a tradition in France on May Day (1st May) to offer a sprig of lily of the valley (un brin de muguet) to one’s loved ones as a lucky charm (un porte-bonheur).

As a student in France in the late 1960s I can remember seeing on street corners vendeurs de muguet with buckets of lilies of the valley selling little bouquets of these fragrant spring flowers. Today (or rather in normal circumstance) you are more likely to find them being sold in florists and supermarkets. By all accounts the French spend millions of Euros (31.8 million Euros in 2013) on buying the plants.

The plant has long been considered a symbol of spring, renewal and luck since the days of the Celts. However, it really gained importance in France after King Charles IX  was given a lily of the valley plant on the 1st May in 1561. He was told it would bring him luck and, being a superstitious person, he thought it would be a nice idea to give a lily of the valley plant every year on May 1st to the ladies of his court to bring more luck all round.

IMG_1639It is said that whoever finds a lily of the valley with 13 small bells will be particularly lucky

Today I offer here a bouquet of lily of the valley picked from my garden in the hope that it brings a bit of luck to all who read my article.

 

In a corner of my tiny garden lily of the valley seems to flourish (even popping up at times through concrete).

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In another corner (and spreading everywhere) I also have woodruff,  which in French is known as “le muguet des bois”

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DSC03401Woodruff (in French le muguet des bois)

I also share this little story linking lily of the valley with the nightingale:

THE STORY OF LILY OF THE VALLEY AND THE NIGHTINGALE

Once upon a time, the very first lily of the valley was in love with a nightingale. Every night, the nightingale would come to the garden to sing. However, the lily of the valley was shy and hid herself from the bird. So after a while, he grew lonely and flew away.

Alone in the garden, the lily of the valley waited in vain for the nightingale to return. Eventually, she grew so sad that she stopped blooming. She resumed flowering only when the nightingale reappeared (in May) and her happiness was restored.