Thursday, 25 April 2013

Sunshine and flowers

A common theme of my last few posts is sunshine and warmth! The garden is looking green and springlike and the flowers are vibrant and beautiful. There are possibly thousands of bees, all buzzing around the top of the eucalyptus tree and around the laurel bush. Bracken keeps chasing them and eating them. This doesn't bode well for the arrival of wasps as I think he will get a nasty surprise when he catches one of those!

There have been quite a few birds around, including blackcaps which we heard and caught a brief glimpse of. Also a lone red kite which is unusual to see down here. A very common visitor while I was at Uni in Reading, but a very welcome sighting over the house! I had almost forgotten how stunning they were! 

There have also been some more dramatic sunsets which I have captured leaning out of my Mum's bedroom window...

Bracken has had fun playing in the garden today, and meanwhile I have been using my old skills that I learnt in GCSE Resistant Materials to make a new bird feeder...

.... It was meant to look kind of abstract. I thought it might look more interesting with uneven sides. I hope the blackbirds and robins etc find the tasty meal worm morsels that I have put out for them!

Our afternoon walk was really warm again, shorts and t-shirt weather still! It seems we have a pair of kestrels that look like they have set up home in the small area of woodland behind our house. Fab!! They were being extremely vocal, which is the only way we knew they were there, as they were well camouflaged! 

Finally when I went upstairs to draw the curtains this evening I was instantly dazzled by a bright pink sun, which was just setting beyond horizontal fluffy clouds.

That is all for now folks. It is my birthday in a few days and I'm hoping all the bluebells will be at their best! This time next week I shall be on a plane to Montana! Very much looking forward to seeing my cousin James and celebrating his graduation, and also for our short trip to Yellowstone, which I am incredibly excited for!!

So until next time, thank you for reading :)

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Some more spring weather...

A few evenings ago (18th) I went for a later than usual evening walk. It was still quite chilly, and made me long for those warm summer nights! As the sun was setting the trees looked beautiful, silhouetted against a pale blue sky and large illuminated clouds. These days I usually take my camera out with me because I find if I don't then there is bound to be something worth photographing!

There were huge numbers of wood pigeon and corvids around and all were flapping around a bit before settling down to roost for the night.

The light soon began to fade and I was treated to the most glorious sunset!

Today was another sunny spring day, most of which I spent indoors at work. I did, however go for a lovely walk in the morning with Mum and pup. We were just walking up to the church along the road and I noticed a bird flitting around in the vibrant patch of dogwood, seemingly appearing to be catching flies... Flycatcher I thought?! Mum got the bird in her bins, I was simultaneously attempting to hold on to Bracken on his lead and focus my camera. No easy task! Anyway I did get a couple of shots, I'm not too sure whether it was a female pied flycatcher or a female spotted? I'm thinking more spotted? Please do comment below :) (Actually a whitethroat, thanks Andy and ShySongbird, find links to their blogs further down the page)

Surrounded by flies!
The walk we were on we name the cleave hill walk which takes us about an hour. We walk along the road a little then down the hill and into the marshy area. We are usually lucky enough to have several skylarks singing to us, however since the farmers have ploughed up their nesting grounds we didn't hear a single one. This upset us a fair amount and it is exactly these actions which are leading to the severe decline in birds which use farm land to breed.

We also saw a few other little brown birds, some of which I think were reed warblers, however I could be wrong?! (now identified as a whitethroat thanks to Andy, whose blog you can visit HERE and Shy Songbird whose blog can be found HERE thanks to you both!)

Also spotted a linnet, which was the first I've seen on "patch". Also a male reed bunting and a rather telling sign of spring.. a bright green catkin against a lovely blue sky!

Quite far away, but distinctive pink breast!

From the countryfile weather forecast it seems that this weather may hang around a couple of days before it reverts back to its wintry ways!

Thanks for visiting and please do feel free to leave a comment :) 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Loud voice for a small fella!

To say today is blustery would be a massive understatement! I could barely walk in a straight line during this mornings dog walk! If it wasn't quite so windy and there weren't so many clouds it would be a wonderfully warm spring day! Anyhow I still managed to spot our "patch" marsh harrier which was a joy to watch swooping and riding on the strong gusts of wind. Heaven knows how the smaller birds manage to make any successful journeys in these practically gale force winds! The trees were creaking and groaning which I found a bit worrying whilst walking through the woods!

Anyway here are a few shots from the past few days...

Would anybody be able to tell me if this is a mistle or song thrush? I'm not great at distinguishing between the two!! 

A couple of green woodies foraging amongst horse poo!

Distant view of our local marsh harrier

Little wren hanging on for dear life as it is blown about in the eucalyptus tree!

Winner of the how wide can you open your beak competition!

How rude!
I could (and do) spend hours watching these tiny little birds which are bursting with character! I can hear him belting out his melodious territorial song as I write this and I struggle to imagine how this minute creature that weighs only 9 grams, can physically create such a loud sound!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Delightful Sunday in April

The morning started off with quite a bit of cloud around and the odd drop of rain, however we decided to explore the paths around Victory Wood in Dargate. This is a new plantation which has been created with the hope of linking two existing woods together (Blean and Ellenden). We were serenaded by skylarks for the entire duration of our walk, which was absolutely delightful! I don't think I have ever seen and heard so many before!

We didn't go for this walk specifically to see any particular bird, but I always think this is best because then we never go home disappointed! In fact we went home exceptionally happy today!

In the first few minutes of our walk we watched a flock of small finch like birds, unfortunately it was windy and a bit rainy so neither myself nor my mum got a decent look at them. I did get 2 photos of a bird in this flock but they are heavily cropped so aren't very sharp! I think they were linnets but not sure. If anyone reading this has any better idea, please do comment!! :)


Bracken was getting absolutely filthy and the rain was still spitting at us, which wasn't very kind of it! We took cover in the woods where it looked very autumnal! Bracken raced around with sticks and I found some moss to take a photo of!

We left the woods and walked across the top of the ridge where we were greeted by many more skylarks! I tried to get a decent photo, but they are particularly difficult to capture, in my opinion! Below are a couple of my attempts!

These don't even look like birds! But I am pretty sure they are skylarks!!


The trees in the plantation are still pretty twig-like. It will be lovely to see them grow into a beautiful woodland! There was also lots of pussy willow to be seen, and many of the furry catkins were coming into flower.

I only realised this was some sort of fly when I was cropping this photo! Not sure how I didn't notice it before!

This walk also brought us our first 2 swallows of the year! I always used to say that swallows were my favourite bird, but now I find it very difficult to choose a favourite. I now take the view that each and every bird has beautiful qualities. However I will never ever get bored of watching these fantastic creatures!

Beautiful swallows

After about 1 and a half hours we had done a nice circular route and had reached the link sculpture where eventually the 2 original woods will meet. We had earned spectacular views from the top!

Myself and Bracken

On our way back down I thought I heard a chiffchaff amongst the overwhelming skylark song. We made our way towards the brambles and shrubs and managed to locate the little brown bird! This walk was turning into one filled with spring migrants!


Our next birdy spot was a kestrel which landed on a fence post and had a nice preen! It was fairly distant so the photos weren't great. I'll include them anyway :)

We then noticed what at first I thought was a blackbird. It was calling slightly differently. I joked with my mum, "Imagine if it was a ring ouzel!" It flew from the distant tree onto a fence post a bit nearer to us. Immediately we noticed a white bib!! I edged a bit nearer to try and get a photo that I could look back at when we got home, just to make sure! A RING OUZEL!! We love seeing new birds which we don't expect to see! That feeling will NEVER grow old! :)

Ring ouzel on the middle post

Ring ouzel (heavily cropped) showing distinctive white bib

This cropped photo shows the white streak down its wing and part of its white bib

This was most definitely the highlight of my day! It was a shame I couldn't get closer before it flew away and that the sun wasn't shining. Sod's law that as soon as we got in the car, the sun came out and the clouds cleared! We watched another 2 swallows dancing in the sunshine before we headed off!

We got home and had some lunch. Pup was knackered and lay in the sun on the patio. My camellia (which two of my friends bought me for my birthday last year) is flowering and so I took the opportunity, while it was sunny, to photograph it.

A blue tit was chirping in a nearby tree as was this rather demonic looking goldfinch!!

How blue is that sky?!

I then said to my mum: "Wouldn't it be lovely if a house martin flew over right now" and about 5 minutes later when we were taking the washing in, what did we spot? Only a blooming house martin! Could this day get any more perfect!! :)

So to wrap things up, today has been a wonderful one! Not only the hottest day of the year so far, but also brought spring migrants and a "lifer".

I hope everyone who reads this also had a lovely day!!