November 12, 2016

Starlings are back !

It is definitely the season of 'mist and mellow fruitfulness,' now with dark early evenings since the clocks have moved back.  ( I cannot get over how stupid it is still doing this in this digital age.)

It is with tremendous delight that a noisy gang of Starlings have moved into the neighbourhood  having been absent for many years.  We always had a starlings nest in the eaves when growing up as  children.  The nest is still there but the starlings moved away, largely the result of the frenzy of everyone blocking up their eaves.  Deliberately we refused to do this but the damage has been done.  What has changed is unknown but to have them back nattering and squabbling on the roof is wonderful.  With luck the site will be occupied next spring.

The trees have been hanging onto their leaves a long time this autumn, even now the vibrant colours are still evident especially in the light of the low setting sun.

Watching the countryside change is best viewed from the top of a double-decker bus, brighten many a boring journey.  The Goldfinches have been congregating in the Beech trees outside the coffee shop to feed and sing their hearts out.  Unfortunately no one can hear because of the roar of the passing traffic but that does not seem to deter them.

Even though we are in November there are still butterflies and bees around that have not yet hibernated. We were also witness to an unusually large influx of Harlequin Ladybirds this past month. (These have come over from America)

 I came upon a Yellow-Browed Warbler perched in a low bush in a meadow recently.  As tiny as a wren but with the, distinctive yellow flash above the eye.  Off course I did not know then what I was  looking at.  It was a question mark sighting until I read Derwent Mays bird column in The Times.  Most of my bird knowledge has come from this column over the years and my greatest delight is to spot something before he writes about them. (which does happen a little more often now)



October 10, 2016

Nuts and more nuts

Our orphaned young Goldfinchs have now grown into their full plumage and no longer look like babies.  The two of them have acquired a friend to join their little gang. Together they consume vociferously a very large amount of Nyger seed which due to some sort of shortage is now 25% more expensive.

It is so lovely to have all the birds singing again, the garden is full of sound and activity. The Blackbirds and Jackdaws are gorging themselves on Rowan berries, whilst   the Squirrels are obsessively burying nuts.  The crop of nuts and berries seems prolific this year so their is a lot to 'squirrel' away. 

A very energetic Robin has claimed the garden as his/her exclusive domain and endeavours  usually unsuccessfully to repel all interlopers.  Both male and female set up winter territories and both sing about it.  Ours holds conversations everyday with another across the road which in all probability is its mate. 

It is very nice to be owned and as Simon King says in his new book 'Nature Watch', I have my own 'ITS HER' call that goes out around the neighbourhood each time I venture into the garden, because everything small and large appears from everywhere and nowhere.

In the early morning dew the shrubs shimmer with  the intense activity of millions of spiders cobweb constructions made the night before.  As you walk down the garden they waft and stick to your face as the lace floats across from one side to the other.  

White Poplar

The White Poplar is an exceptional tree as the pale undersides of the leaves appear like a dusting of snow over the tops of the trees when the wind tips them over.  Originally accepted  as a non native tree it is now discovered to have been around a lot longer than was thought and is now consider native.  Usually planted as wind breaks, together they look like a distant hill top covered in snow. 

The rest of the  trees and shrubs are having a sedate autumnal transition from verdant green to mottled yellows, burnt umber, yellow ochre  and russet reds.   We have had no gales thus far which have cut short autumns in the past. Where I sit now the sun shimmers and glows through the beech leaves as they rustle in a gentle breeze. If only photograhy could capture the full ethereal light to take away with you to open up again on a dull dreary day in January.  We have such short memories and forget oh so quickly those special moments of a season.  Already the wildflowers of the meadow have become a distant shadow memory of the summer.

September 26, 2016

Wild and wet

Despite unbelievably high temperatures over the last few days we are creeping into the fresh balmy days of autumn.  Proper clothes at last like cuddling up in a thin fleece to keep the gale out.  The daylight fades away much earlier in the evenings and it is time to close curtains and put the lights on. Whilst the Robin  sings in the gloom the Blackbird sings in the rain the Jackdaws start noisily  clearing the gutters again.

This photo of the Harvest Moon was taken recently on one of these balmy nights.

Harvest Moon
Nearly all the summer migrant birds have left for sunnier climes but each year a few juveniles take a unilateral decision to stay behind.  Maybe this choice is made for them if they are not strong enough, but how do they know?  Two young Goldfinches decided to stay behind when  their parents and siblings all left together on the same day.  They come  several times everyday always together to feed on the Nyger seed in the garden and hopefully will continue to do so throughout the winter.

In the meantime winter migrants are already on their way.  Small groups of geese can be heard and then seen overhead, many arriving in the night.  RSPB Burton Mere has huge numbers collecting on their lakes at the moment.  Check out  for lasted sightings.

Pink Footed Geese

Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner   is very evident in Wirral and although not fatal  is responsible for early leaf drop and unsightly rusting leaves.  Fortunatly not all trees have succumbed and pockets have still resisted.

Maybe like last year we will have a long slow Autumn with drawn out tree colour over many weeks.

Cow Parsley seed head

Virginia Creeper