Posts Tagged "feathers"

The memory of squirrels – Patch walk, 17th July

Yesterday’s rain was so welcome, not least for its cooling effects. Everything was nicely aligned for a patch walk. Felt good to be filling the food bag up again, grabbing the camera and going.

Quiet seems to be the order of the day, that quiet of high summer. I only heard the first sound from birds when encountering the sparrow colony at the top of the road. Always a welcome sound! Yet on the main road all is quiet and only a handful of sparrows are showing on the back lane. The copse, so rich in the sounds of life only a few weeks ago, now stands completely silent. Traffic is the only sound I can hear in there now. That and the crunch of leaves underfoot, the heatwave having forced the early exits of some leaves this year. I can’t resist crunching leaves!

Into the park and the quiet continues. Apart from the noisy altercations of quarreling magpies and the ambitious amorousness of a woodpigeon no bird is making a sound. Not even those I get fleeting glimpses of, like wren, dunnock and robin.

The horse chestnuts have been very busy though, growing this year’s crop of conkers so quickly that I suspect that if I stood long enough in quiet I could perhaps hear them growing. For those who favour things that grow, summer really is a boom time. For those (like me) who favour things that move, summer really can be the quietest time.

Still very much on the move though are the squirrels, who clearly haven’t forgotten about me during my absence from the patch. They’re fair sprinting over to the the spruce tree where I feed them as soon as they see me.

The three usual suspects are all there, all eager to take nuts.

A very happy 20 minutes of watching and feeding follows, as all 3 squirrels vacillate between burying the nuts…

….or deciding they can’t wait and eating them instead!

This tree is also one of the best places to pick up natural found objects and today I’m collecting cones and feathers for a pocket hitchhikers post, a new side project inspired by the artwork of Raspberry Thief. On the way home I add the first fully ripened blackberries I’ve found this year to my foraging pouch, from the same little patch of ground that helped me rescue a downed bumble bee just a few weeks ago.

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Patch walk, 8th June 2018

Its a cloudy morning and with the temperature rising its already feeling quite close and humid as I step out of the door. Hmm, herring gulls are calling loudly, that’s a little unusual at this time of the year. Part way up the road the reason for all the noisy kerfuffle is revealed. 3 herring gulls are mobbing a buzzard. Its all happening at close quarters, the buzzard trying to flare its claws at its tormentors but constantly giving ground to them. By the time I’ve reached the top of the road and have an uninterrupted view things are changing again. Another buzzard floats effortlessly into the melee. The gulls don’t seem to like this change of odds and swiftly change direction, unwilling to take on 2 buzzards at once.

On the back lane, goldfinch and robin are singing while dunnock and sparrow are foraging where the road surface meets the old hedge. The only singing in the copse today is from woodpigeons. The great tit nest is still devoid of activity, the woodpigeon is off its nest and there’s no activity at the nuthatch nest hole. I suspect I’ve missed my chance to see the nuthatches fledging, they were so close a couple of days ago.

In the park and below one of the huge horse chestnut trees there’s a collection of feathers. Downy feathers, all white and grey.

Handiwork of the sparrowhawk I’ve been hearing so often recently? Seems like there are too many of them to be from the impact of just one kill. Perhaps the sparrowhawk’s favourite plucking post is right above in the horse chestnut? Its definitely worth keeping an eye on.

At the robin spot the resident robin is around, albeit a little reluctantly today as the area is currently overrun with with very active squirrels. She does come down to collect mealworms, but she’s not hanging about, smashing and grabbing, back into cover. Just how fast is she on these forays from the bushes? Faster than the zoom on my camera, I don’t manage to get a shot today.

With appointments to get to later I don’t have as much time on the patch today, so head straight to the black spruce tree and the squirrels…who aren’t there and aren’t appearing quickly from elsewhere in the park when I rattle the bag of nuts either. Still, it gives me time to collect. I do have a bit of a habit of collecting what catches my eye from what flora and fauna have left behind. Right now, with birds starting to moult, there’s plenty of feathers to collect. Crow and woodpigeon feathers are easy to identify, but the last one (all shown above) is new to me. Could it be a buzzard feather? I think it is.

Its too beautiful to leave behind either way, this one is going on display at home.

There’s also the first spruce cones of the season on the ground, not fully grown of course, but the shapes and patterns are fascinating and these are still sticky with sap.

Eventually, after going on a little wander while rattling my bag of nuts, Braveheart squirrel appears and is looking either extremely eager, extremely curious, or both together!

“Focus? Schmocus! I want to do an extreme close up!”

Its not just Braveheart who turns up today though, there’s also the polite squirrel as well as a new one who’s not come to the tree before. He squats down, both paws crossed across his chest, trying to look innocent. Trying, but the missing section of one of his ears suggests he knows how to look after himself. He gets up to the tree stump and has a good look at me, but doesn’t take a nut yet. His approach is to try and chase Braveheart for his nut instead, so the squirrels are all spinning around the trunk like fireworks.

With the sun over the yard arm and appointments imminent its time to head home.

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