Posts Tagged "goldfinch"

Finding blooms, patch walk 19th July

The only birds singing now are goldfinches and so I’m particularly glad for their cheery tunes as I step out of the door. Get distracted by a little weeding and then head on up the road. There’s a shiny, iridescent black feather at the top of the road, likely magpie, perhaps crow. Either way, into the collecting pouch it goes.

By the top of the road the theme of the walk is set, small white butterflies are everywhere, they’ve really come into their pomp right now. They’re industrious creatures, never really staying still, which makes them more than a bit tricky to photograph. There’s even more of them exploring the hedgerow on the back lane, dancing up and down like a small child on a visit to Disneyland.

The copse is full of butterflies today too, though here the speckled wood butterflies are holding their own against the small white army. Its a perfect habitat for them as they hug the sunniest spots that are just like woodland edges. Pairs of them dance together in pools of light. Singles flit between grass and leaves. Just for a moment its like a perfect patch of summer woodland.

On into the park and its largely quiet. The small birds are once again absent from the robin spot, but there are friendly dogs and I’ve reason to be grateful that I always bring dog treats with me in amongst the wild animals food! Its not long before that bag is empty. No sign of small birds and no sign of squirrels either but there are plenty more feathers for me to collect and lots of cones beneath the scots pine trees too.

The wild area is filled with brambles, which have completely taken over whole patches. They’re fruiting well, but not enough sun to be ripe yet. Soon they’ll be popular with all sorts of creatures. Already popular are the thriving clumps of ragwort, flowering beautifully and covered in insects, just like I was told they would be.

Its the random things you find in the wild area that I enjoy finding most, like a bed of spearmint just besides the path, just waiting to be brushed against and let fragrant and delicious smells loose.

I take a cutting of spearmint and a bit of ragwort too. Well, you never know if they might be persuaded to grow. Spearmint has a shot, ragwort is almost certainly wishful thinking.

Delighted to see that the stand of nettles has been left and the butterflies are making the most of it, especially our old friends the speckled wood. Long may park keeping decisions like this continue.

Disturbed from my nettle reverie by a cawing commotion I look up to see what all the fuss is about. Its a rare park raid by a troupe of gulls! Normally denizens of the nearby playing fields, these Herring Gulls are on a bin raid and making quite a bit of noise about it too, right until a black backed gull arrives and establishes itself as the king of the castle – or the top of the bin at least.

Its a scene that plays out in towns everywhere, but it is no less welcome a sight for that, especially when they’re the only birds I’ve seen all walk. That’ll have to suffice until the next time, its time to head home.

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The deep green days

At 5am there had been the faintest sounds of rain. Apologetic rain, the sort of rain that knows it has to fall but feels dreadfully sorry about it so stays small and quiet, hoping its not noticed. By morning it was cooler than it had been for weeks. Cooler and cloudy, a good chance to explore before the sun re-emerged and turned the few spots of rain into humidity.

The lime tree right outside my door has noticeably raced towards seed in the past few weeks, decorating the ground and window ledges with its helicopters where they’ve snuck in through open windows.

At the top of the road the sparrows have fledged, but they’ve not gone far. They’re all in the laurel hedge and flitting down to the grass verge in search of food. Come the winter they’ll head for the beech hedge I expect, but that’s a long way away yet.

On the main road a pair of goldfinches catches my eye, but wait, there’s a sparrowhawk in pursuit of them! They dive into a bush and the sparrowhawk pursues, but they escape. The resident blackbirds in that garden are having none of this, however, and in a cacophony of wing flaps and alarm calls they mob the intruder away. Sparrowhawk flies up to a chimney pot and looks around, but the woodpigeons on the roof ridge and TV aerial seem utterly unconcerned by the presence of the predator, unconcerned to the point of disdainful looks. Apparently its hard work being a fearsome raptor some days.

On the back lane the bloom of flowers has disappeared, replaced by the deep, rich greens of the height of summer. Only the occasional stray avens near the ground or the first ripening blackberries break up the 50 shades of green of the mammoth hedge.

So early, they’re ripening so early, the heatwave forcing everything to rush to seed (and untidly too) it seems.

Even the late starting sweet chestnut in the copse is rushing to catch up, with the ground and the path through the copse littered with its worm-like flower remnants.

These are the green days now, the deep and darkening green days. Summer’s height is here.

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In the little moments

Its in the little moments that a fascination with the world beyond our human concerns is sown. The little moments, that like a dolly zoom effect in a movie, grow in an instant into very big moments. There is so much life poured into those moments. They are vital, quickening. We only have to look.

Look, and see blackbirds posing grumpily on gate posts in the morning.

See a juvenile goldfinch, barely weeks old and filled with curiosity, visiting a bird bath for the first time.

See a juvenile robin, all unknowing bravado, settle down for a sunbathe.

See a chaffinch, still singing loudly about wanting a ginger beer on the summer solstice, barely feet above your head, unconcerned at or not noticing your presence.

And see a squirrel, stretching to pull up a dandelion leaf from beneath a pot to eat it….

…then take a drink…

…Then eat a lone ear of wheat that must have grown up from a stray seed that fell from a bird feeder in the deep winter, showing off its moulting of winter fur along its back…

…then reach for another and fall off.

Stray moments. Random moments. Full, rich, glorious moments. Happening every single day, just outside your window. Stop and look, the wild is right there.

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Patch walk, 15th June 2018

Its cloudy, its cooler and there’s a fresh little breeze blowing. A lot better and a lot more interesting conditions than empty blue skies and wall to wall heat, to me anyway. Blame my long standing membership of the Cloud Appreciation Society for that. Its quiet outside today, both on the roads and in the trees and gardens as I’m walking past.

Goldfinches still sing from hidden perches on the back lane. behind garden walls or on roof tops that I can’t see behind the high hawthorn hedge.

The hedge is filling with even more flowers, including a bindweed flower that is so recently bloomed that it hasn’t turned white yet. Avens, green alkanet, brambles and nettles abound alongside.

Chaffinch is singing in the copse again. Crow is moving lazily at the edges, half-heartedly looking for food.

There’s an unfamiliar alarm call at the top of the canopy of trees, but the leaves are too dense for me to be able to see. Love a good mystery like that. I’ll be wondering what it was for ages.

There’s a tractor out cutting the grass in the middle of the park. If you’re going to cut you may as well cut big I suppose. Looks like some smaller, hidden corner areas have been cut too, but credit where its due the big stands of nettles have been left. That credit will be spent very quickly, however, as I later discover.

Under the shadowy yews of the robin spot a robin is already calling to say he’s seen me before I even get there. As soon as mealworms go down on the ground, so does he. Both robins are back and forth to the nest, but in between their visits there are squirrels sniffing about…quite literally so in one case as one squirrel comes right up to my shoes and gives them a good sniff! I’m trying to get these squirrels to stay off the ground in this area, otherwise they end up being chased endlessly by the dogs in the park, so no one gets a nut if they don’t come up the tree to get them.

Seeing a fast-moving young squirrel was a definite highlight, not seen any 2018-edition squirrels before today.

Heading off around the park. Blackbird-by-the-oaks is out and about, watching me walk past. Seeing him is always good news, but going through the hedge and seeing the other side is serious bad news. Some muppet has been cutting the hedge and right by the robin nest too. Its a real mess. I see one of the adult robins close to the nest site, but they show no interest in coming down for food as they always have before. Has the nest been disturbed? It seems extremely likely, looking at the devastation of the serious cut-back the hedge has had. This is too sad to look at. How can people be savvy enough to leave nettles uncut but then cut hedges at this time of year, especially a hedge that was so obviously occupied?

Great tit and wren are singing as I wander past the overgrown areas of the park. Time to head home.

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Patch walk, 13th June 2018

Its a sunny morning but there’s a lovely breeze. Just about perfect weather to be outside in.

Been a while since the roadside grass verges have been cut now and they’re starting to become lovely, rich habitats. Alongside the daisies and creeping buttercup now the clover is flowering in force and the bees are loving it. It seems like the local councillor who tried to use the platform of World Environment Day to complain about the verges not being cut didn’t actually look at the verges closely. Sigh.

Bees are buzzing on the back lane bushes too. Sparrows cheeping, goldfinches singing from unseen perches. More bramble flowers are opening, nettles are forcing their way through and the first bindweed flowers are out.

Shining almost as brightly as the sun that is lighting them, their large trumpets  offer treasure to the brave pollinators who will venture in.

The copse is beginning to fall silent. Nesting is over here, it seems. Woodpigeons are calling, but the woodpigeon nest lies empty. No sound from tits, blackbird, wren or chaffinch. Summer has embraced the copse.

Its different in the park at the robin spot.

Here the robin pair can’t get enough of the mealworms I’ve brought for them, ferrying them back to their nest site and coming back for more. It does the heart good when they trust enough to come close, giving a “Tik!” call to remind me to throw more mealworms down.

Both birds are looking good and I’m full of optimism for this nest. I stand and watch them for ages.

Its good to see a school group using the park today, looks like a couple of classes exploring, but the noise of them in this usually quiet park has sent the wildlife running for cover. I can’t even see the normally ever-present magpies and there’s only one ambitiously amorous woodpigeon chasing an unimpressed female around. Best to head for home I think, collecting a recently moulted woodpigeon feather off the ground on the way out of the park.

Little did I know just how helpful that was about to be. On the bottom road I spy an exhausted and grounded buff tailed bumblebee, almost disappearing into the cracks between the stones. Good job I’ve got that feather! I use it to scoop up the bee, got to do something and fast, she’s barely moving, legs splayed. Its still too far to home, she needs something now. In my head a little voice is saying, in dramatic medical drama tones, “flowers, I need flowers, stat!” as I look around frantically, holding a feather and a bee out in front of me. I remember there’s a bank of flowers just around the corner, in an area abandoned behind a hedge.

Hurrying, I can see the area is full of flowers and also full of bees, so this must be the good stuff. To me it look like they’re dog roses (but I’m dreadful at identifying anything other than wildflowers) and I carefully place the bee on one of the flowers. Instinct kicks in, she tries to feed, but moving very slowly. When she looks like she’s trying to move to another flower I pick her up again, placing her at the centre of the next option. Again and again she feeds, again and again I move her and bit by bit she comes back to life. Now standing on all of her legs instead of dragging them, now rubbing her legs against her body, now her flat-folded wings separating and starting to vibrate.

When she is strong enough to move herself to the next flower, my heart soars. She’s going to make it. I don’t think I’ve done anything even remotely as rewarding for days. Get home with a big smile on my face. Don’t just look up for wildlife, remember to look down too.

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