DO NOT TOUCH

DO NOT TOUCH

Out on recent walks I came across some of nature’s curiosities. My DSLR camera has been busy. Me, well, I just edited in photos and edited out what I thought didn’t work. What was left seemed quite interesting. See what you think.

Frost And Wind Burnt Leaves May 2019
More Frost And Wind Burnt leaves May 2019

These trees were in a sheltered setting. In February this year we had an unexpected spell of very mild weather, plant life was confused. The trees leaved early, only to be caught out by a sudden dip in temperatures, frost, gales, and wintry weather. The trees will shed their leaves just like they should do in Autumn, and at a time when they should be bursting forth with the new spring growth.

Wild Life?

Sauntering down another path, we came across an interesting creature in the lee of a Gorse bush. If you peer into the bush you will see another.

Gorse Spikes

Do not touch! Nature has her own way of warning off marauders. Those Gorse spikes are nasty. You really would not want to be caught up in them. They flower all year round. At this time of year (spring/summer) Gorse puts on a good show, the flowers are abundantly at their best, as you will see in the photos above and below.

Pussy Willow Buds

We passed on by the Willow, the only one we saw.

Elegant Nettles

Nettles vigorously grew, as they do; these were in the early stages of growing and filling out, elegant and beautifully formed. Another one of Nature’s stings, best avoided. There were no Dock Leaves in sight with which to offer temporary nettle sting relief (first aid).

Silvery

These twigs were glittering like rods of shiny silver in the sunlight. The stunning effect, I knew, would be hard to capture. I guess the camera did its best.

We ambled on and near the end of our walk this tranquil scene came into view.

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BIRDS BEING WILD ABOUT BIRDS.

A sparrowhawk returned to the garden a couple of weeks ago. The evidence lay around on various parts of the grass, plucked mounds of feathers. Close to the wall was the featherless body of its attentions. the Sparrowhawk was disturbed from feeding on its prize, a collared dove, when hubby went into the garden. The bird had been too big to fly off with in the Sparrow hawk’s talons, it had, therefore, succumbed to its attacker at the spot where it was caught. The Sparrow hawk returned later, leaving behind a well picked carcass.

Collared doves usually pair up. There were two that visited us regularly and happily sat on the washing line surveying the scene and just relaxing. That is, until the pair were split up. The mate has returned a few times to find its friend. It sits for a few minutes on the chain link fence that separates our garden from the neighbouring farm. Then the bird flies away. I guess it will stop seeking its mate soon.

P1020521 collared dove

Varieties of Pigeon continue to visit, as do Sparrows, Green Finches and Crows.The last two weeks have seen them joined by Thrushes. The thrush having a longer narrower beak than the usual visitors, have been voraciously nibbling away at the peanuts. Seeds have been a little slower to disappear.

P1020514 My Perch

It has been noticeable that many more of the smaller birds are giving food offerings to the bigger ones who cannot easily obtain the food from the feeders. My untested theory is that the little birds are keeping the larger ones close by to help ward off further Sparrowhawk forays. Crows are very good at mobbing Sparrowhawks. In addition, while birds are feeding, there will be birds on the ground who can alert them to dangers in the skies above.

P1020458 2010 April 10th Turtle Dove

THE FEEDING POST

This morning I saw the cutest thing at the bird feeding post. I was so wrapped up with watching the interaction, I did not even think of grabbing a camera. A green finch alighted on one of the perches of a a peanut holder. On the ground below head turned up expectantly, a wood-pigeon waited. Its patience was rewarded as the green finch pecked out bits of nut, turned to look down at the wood pigeon and let the pieces drop at its feet. This happened several times, then the green-finch carried on pecking and feeding itself, uninterrupted.

Another wood pigeon espied the dropping of ‘manna from heaven’ and ventured towards the feeder post and its pigeon compatriot to see if it could muscle in on the favours awarded to the first pigeon. The unwelcome visitor was swiftly dismissed, by being chased off in no uncertain manner, for daring to attempt to muscle in the already claimed turf.

COASTAL SIGHTS

The majority of the lighthouses that I have seen have round towers, this one stood out because it is a castellated square tower lighthouse.

P1000451 Square Tower Lighthouse

Further on, along the natural cliff strata, sea birds had taken up their bijoux residences. Fulmars, not the most pleasant bird characters to cross, were staking in their real estate claims. They are related to the Albatross family and other bird life wouldn’t want their ‘sticky torpedoes’ to land on them.

This settled couple look as if they wouldn’t say ‘boo’ to a goose.

P1000459 A pair of Fulmars

But, this one is not too happy at being left alone:

P1000463 calling Fulmar

Close to the coast line the Guillemots bobbed around on the water and a number of Fulmars flew above.

P1000468 Fulmar + Guilliemot_edited-1P1000469 Sea bird life_edited-1

Wandering much further on, these stacks came into view, shrouded in a light sea haze.

P1000455 Duncansby Stacks.

In the Sandstone cliff face, we saw ‘Guillemot Tower’…. was there going to be room for newcomers? It looked a very overcrowded.

P1000484 Guillemot Tower

WARS OF NATURE AND MAN

As if it is not enough that the horrendously damaging brutal forces of nature are being unleashed on man with hurricanes tsunamis and earthquakes, man, in addition, imposes horrendously brutal damaging forces of man, on on man.

Lest we forget, the ordinary folk in Libya are suffering awful upheaval, injury and death, as are other people in the world. This is through man-made force and restriction imposed on them by their own and other societies.

:no:

MANY FEET IN A SMALL PLACE

During one of the Summer/Autumn walks I went on to learn about the existence of, and to admire the remnants of the ancients, the group stopped off on the way at an old but not so ancient cottage. The landowner, on whose land and water paths we were trailing, and who was our knowledgeable tour guide, wanted us to see original features that were retained in the sympathetic restoration and refurbishment of a dwelling, now used as a holiday cottage.

About a dozen of us arrived and started to trudge around the nicely prepared homestead, at the same time as the holiday-makers turned up with their very sociable hunting dogs, plus their hunting,shooting and fishing luggage. As we stepped into the sheltered garden to inspect the original three hundred years old stone wall of the house and the reconditioned roof line, we were met with an array of hunting birds on static perches stretching their wings. The birds were also part of the holiday group’s outdoor pursuits accoutrements.

P1010845 copy

We talked to the bird handlers about the birds, finding out that they were reared in captivity (under license) especially for the purposes they were going to be used. The dogs and the birds had travelled by road, about 500 miles, from Derbyshire – not in the same vehicles – to the remote estate where we saw them.

P1010844 copy

THE FEEDING POST

The wee garden birds and the not so wee ones, have not been visiting my garden bird feeders in any number and I have been puzzling about this. Could it be, I wondered, the change of feed. The local shops were out of packets of seed as so many people were putting out food. So, in the depths of the Arctic blast we had, I went to a local farm shop and bought about 20 kilos of their ordinary bird seed mix. Could the seed really have been totally different…surely, bird seed is what it is. The peanut house, which holds a kilo of nuts was not going down very fast either. I had not changed my nut supplier.

Perhaps the birds were well supplied with the thoughtfulness of all the other people feeding them and they did not need my offerings. I continued to wait and watch. The other morning, I believe I was presented with the true and not so palatable answer. As I gazed through the window a sparrow hawk flew close by; close enough for me to see a small bird being carried in its claws.

MIXING UP THE BIRD FEEDERS

I asked hubby to put the bird feeders away a couple of months ago, not a good idea, as I did not know where to find them. But, the up side of it was, that hubby had to go out in the ice and snow yesterday to retrieve the feeders for me.

Having filled the peanut feeder ‘house’ which holds an awful lot of peanuts, I gaily poured in mixed seeds to the remaining small feeders I had been given, which were….wide meshed peanut ones. What a mess, seeds everywhere, but not in a feeder! Fortunately, I have a plastic tub into which I could sweep most of the misplaced varieties of seeds. There is no doubt I was distracted, dealing with unpacking food, travel bags and sorting out the washing. No chance of any of the washing going out on the line to dry in all that ice and snow and more snow.

The down side of the exercise was, I had to trudge outside in the ice and snow to find hubby so I could get the appropriate bird feeding containers. We’ll have to fix up a two-way communication system. Calling never works.

The birds found the bird food today and we have seen crows waiting to shake the feeders to get seed onto the surface of the snow. Lots of little feathered visitors arrived too. Some birds are so small, sparrows and robins, for example, you wonder if they would survive a long hard Winter. Temperatures were below -17Celcius last night and it’s only November.

SPARROWS GALORE

The two common sparrows appeared to be inseparable. Though they were about the same size as each other, one had slightly fluffier feathers. I watched their interaction for a bit. The neat one picked at bits on the pavement (probably crumbs, or maybe leftovers from a candy floss stall from the night before). The other sparrow looked on. The moment the neat one turned towards the other, its mouth opened wide and the beaked cornucopia entered. This feeding process occurred several times and when it was deemed that enough was eaten, both birds flew up to a ledge on a nearby building.

This was obviously mum with her fledgling, possibly a late and second hatching of baby birds. We have heard much about there being a dearth of sparrows. I have seen plenty of hedge sparrows in my garden and other varieties of small birds. In the town precinct, here was the proof that more sparrow life was developing. I think there is time for the young birds to strengthen up for the Winter, and if it is not a long harsh one like the last one, perhaps they will survive in number.

CAUGHT IN THE ACT

A post script to my last post:

I have been proved right in my thinking about bird tactics. This morning, much to his annoyance, hubby found two chubby blackbirds under the net yomping on the gooseberries. One slipped out of the ‘protective’ netting as he approached, the other bird, in a bit of a flap, hit the inside of the net twice. As hubby went to help it out, it managed to squeeze through. There is now a search underway for finer netting. Some fine mesh fishing net would probably do, in the absence of anything else.