Friday, 10 December 2010


With the current bad weather times are hard for the regular feathered visitors to our garden. Temperatures have fallen even further than in my last blog post now down to -14ºC and perhaps a few degrees even lower than that. There has been more snow and the birds have spent longer in the garden as it is even harder for them to find food in the wild.

 Today it is warmer. The snow and ice are melting and the birds have been busy on the feeders. I was just heating our lunchtime soup and looked out of the kitchen window. In one of the trees I saw a larger bird partly obscured by the branches. Quickly grabbing my camera (totally forgetting the soup that was saved from boiling over by the prompt action of Mrs Wolds-End) I got a better look at it and saw the fierce looking face of a Sparrowhawk. All the other birds had disappeared so they must have spotted the danger.

These are wonderful looking birds and I managed to get a few photos but it was tricky to get a clear shot as it was trying to remain hidden from potential prey. Shooting through windows is far from ideal but there was no way I could get outside without disturbing it.

I was only thinking the other day that the large number of birds visiting our garden may attract a predator but I presumed that the hedgerows and fields around are a better hunting ground for them with less chance of disturbance by human or feline.

Failing to find lunch it flew away and our garden was deserted by the usual birds for sometime.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Payback Time

The birds that visit our garden give us a great deal of pleasure. Most of them seem to hang around together and I am convinced they know each others' strong points as regards recognising danger and often the first bird to arrive is a Blackbird. They are so sure of their ability to identify a dangerous situation that they appear to be foolish getting worryingly close to Wolds-End Tom who after many years has given up chasing them as he knows they will fly off the moment he makes a move towards them. 

The other birds then follow as if they know that a Blackbird feeding on the lawn means the coast is clear and if any danger approaches this bird's warning call will alert them too.

We usually get a group comprising of Great, Blue and Coal tits who will approach the feeders in turn respecting the pecking order that they have established. The Great and Blue tits will give out their warning call if they spot any danger as if they are on sentry duty for the other birds.

From the hedge Dunnocks will appear together with a Robin who will do his best to chase them away from the bird table.

There is a large group of Tree and House sparrows who tend to appear after the tits and these are followed by a group of Chaffinches. 

There are quite a few Collared doves and Wood pigeons in the area and they will make frequent visits during the day.

Less frequent visitors are Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Jays and Long-tailed tits.

Winter has suddenly made an appearance and we have over 1 foot of snow in the garden. Temperatures have fallen as low as -10ºC and life has become hard for our feathered visitors.

After putting the bird food out this morning I spent some time crouched in the snow photographing the birds. I was careful not to disturb them as feeding time is so valuable to them at the moment.

They soon seem to know when food has been put out and a Blackbird was the first to arrive. A couple of days ago I dug through the snow to create paths across the lawn and very quickly a Blackbird appeared and hopped along the paths - happy to see the grass but I am not sure if he found any worms!

 Today I had the pleasure of a visit by some Long-tailed tits. Infrequent visitors but always welcome. They always seem hyperactive and were chattering away. After a short time they flew away - they never stay long.

 Then a couple of Dunnocks dropped in. They prefer feeding from the ground or the bird table

 The Blue and Great tits stayed at the peanut feeder on the other side of the garden but this Great tit popped over to investigate the bird table.
 The group of House and Tree sparrows arrived and again mainly stayed at the other feeders but this House sparrow popped over to my side of the garden

 The Robin favoured the table for food but did not stay static for long prefering quick grab and run sorties interspersed with chasing the Dunnocks.

The cold finally got to me and it was time to leave the birds to fill up with food. They provide so much pleasure that it is only fair to help them when conditions are as bad as this. In summer their visits to the garden will become less frequent as more food becomes available in the surrounding countryside but for the last few cold days they have become more reliant on the feeders.

Now then is the time to pay them back for all the pleasure they provide and with this in mind we pulled on our wellingtons and headed to the local farm store to stock up with a selection of bird food.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Bempton - Chatting on the cliffs

An autumn visit to Bempton revealed a far different place than in the summer. The cliffs are now more or less deserted as the breeding seabirds have departed.

The tide was in and the relaxing sound of waves against the cliffs replaced the summer sounds of nesting birds.

It is hard now to imagine all these nests occupied.

We arrived at lunchtime and were disappointed that although promised on the RSPB website the ECO catering van was absent. Never mind we drove the few miles to the Redcliffe Farm shop and enjoyed a fine lunch.

Returning to Bempton we walked along the cliff tops as the sun went down. There were a few Stonechats about and their colours suited the warm light.

There is more to Bempton than the cliffs and the area behind is open countryside. Rather than swap to a wider lens on my DSLR  for a landscape shot I used my new Nikon Coolpix P7000. Hopefully it will prove to be good enough to complement my DSLR and keep my camera bag lighter! Today however there was little opportunity to use it but my impressions so far are good and for a compact camera with a smaller sensor than a DSLR noise control has been better than expected.

As the land to the south is lower than the cliffs there are views for miles. Beyond the land can be seen the sweeping Holderness coastline.

Time was against us and soon the light started to fade. It was the time when predators start to hunt and this Barn owl flew across the fields.

Back at the car park with the light nearly gone I saw this scene.  I was tempted to take a photo as I thought it captured the atmosphere of the time of day.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Regulars

October has been one of those months when for one reason or another I have not been out and about with my camera.
Well I thought I could not let a month go by without a blog update so out into the garden I went to photograph some of the regular visitors.

Now I have started putting peanuts out again the local Coal tits are paying the feeders a visit.

Also visiting were some Blue and Great tits.

A few days later the sun reappeared so I was out with the camera once more.

The days between each group of photos had seen early morning frost which had turned the colour of the leaves - Autumn has arrived in the garden.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Damp Dalby

Sunday started with heavy rain but we had planned a walk in Dalby Forest and as brighter spells were forecast for later we saw no reason to change to plan b (not that there was one). Anyway I do think that getting out for a walk on rainy days is better than staying in.

Due to the weather I decided to leave my dslrs at home and took my waterproof Fuji compact. 

When we arrived it was still raining but the trees sheltered us from the worst of the weather. 

I find mushrooms very difficult to identify unless on a supermarket shelf and although I have looked through my copy of Mushrooms of Britain & Europe (Collins) I am stuck with this one:-

One of the few I can identify is the well known Fly Agaric

But these also have me stumped  - I found two or three that looked similar but could not with any certainty decide between them:-

Walking through the forest we noticed some leaves turning to their autumn colours

We walked for a few miles and saw little wildlife (Mrs Wolds-End saw a Roe deer but by the time I turned around it had gone). There had been a group of people showing true British spirit by having a BBQ and they had left some bread for the wildlife - a pair of crows soon moved in to eat the leftovers.

Although the rain had eased off the promised bright spells did not appear until we were well on the way home. Still it had been and interesting walk and we had explored new (to us) parts of the forest - it is a place that I like more each time we visit.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Friday Fungi

A trip to Allerthorpe wood on an overcast day with the  odd shower presented us with an abundance of fungi to photograph.

This moth was determined to walk across the path rather than fly.

I have so far failed to identify it - any help would be appreciated.

There was a plentiful supply of blackberries on the edge of the woodland.

Mrs Wolds-End spotted this group of Ladybirds

Walking across Allerthorpe Common we saw this Dragonfly but it soon disappeared.

There were quite a few spiders webs about with the occupants awaiting a meal.

I was surprised to have found the walk hard work but now realised I was running a temperature.  I was getting the first cold of the year - I hate colds - but then who doesn't.

As Summer comes to an end in the wood Autumn approaches with all the photographic opportunities it brings. So at least I have something to think about while I wrap myself up and raid the medicine cabinet for cold remedies (do any really work) for the next couple of days.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Flying Dragons

Sunshine was forecast for the morning with rain later so as soon as I could I grabbed my camera and went to the local canal.

I have not been for a number of weeks and with all the berries on the trees there was a late summer look. 

The wind was very strong but in the shelter of some trees and undergrowth I saw this Southern hawker dragonfly

and a Speckled wood butterfly

reaching a bridge I looked down to see a Common darter clinging to the wall

I spent a few minutes trying to get a photo of a Migrant hawker in flight

In sheltered areas of the footpath Common darters were enjoying the sunshine

As the wind got stronger everything seemed to take cover. There were a few Small tortoiseshell butterflies flying close to the ground but they were too active to get a decent photo as they only landed for a short time. Through gaps in the lilies I could see some good sized Roach hanging in the crystal clear water.

Work beckoned and building clouds in the distance promised rain (although it did not arrive until early evening). It had been a very warm but windy walk with lots of activity from dragonflies.