Tag Archives: nature

Robin Redbreast Again

Robin Copyright Zeb Bakes

29th May 2013

The English Robin or Robin Redbreast as she was known when I was a child was probably the first bird I ever learnt to recognise. Small and plump, bright eyed and endlessly curious about the world of humans, the little robin is part of the fabric of the suburban garden life of so many of us in the cities and towns of England. We never get huge gangs of them, as they are very territorial but we nearly always have one or two in residence, checking out what we do, looking in the windows and engaging in our lives.  They squabble and fight, quite badly sometimes and build nests in open fronted boxes and raise their speckly children happily there.

This is the one who you saw sitting on the whirly clothes dryer in the Back Door post. I have stretched my little camera to its macro zoom limits to take these so you can see her more clearly. (If you click on the image I think you might get to see it bigger, I have tried to link to where it is stored on WordPress) .  She sits on the corner of the dryer most mornings, looking down at the grass, and then whizzes down to pick up worms and grubs. Once she has a beakful she heads off over the fence to my left where I suspect she has her nest.

Brian is convinced that she bobs her head at him to tell him the feeder is empty and needs filling and I think he is right, these are the same birds who ask for you to spray the hose for them on hot days so they can take a shower. What adaptive mechanism is at work where a little bird can figure out how to get a human’s attention like that?  Currently we are putting out fat balls, finely chopped peanuts, husked sunflower seeds, and assorted fine seed.

marguerite

The bluetits are nesting and raising their babies, I can hear them cheeping in their box on the garage wall. The blackbirds too are on the hunt for food;  there are jackdaws off to the side in the neighbours’ chimneys. Greenfinches and goldfinches fly through from time to time; they dance in the tops of the silver birches trilling away, offering glimpses of their delicate feathers and making me catch my breath when I track them down.

Even when it has rained all day and the geraniums are collapsed on the path, resembling a  damp poodle’s top knot, sodden with water and formless, I console myself for our everchanging and unpredictable weather, because rain means insects hatching, and worms wriggling; all good quality high protein fresh food for the growing birds.

Borrowed Flowers

Psst.. wanna see some American Robin eggs and babies, head over to Ardys and take a peek!

Wonderful Waxwings at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

This morning while I sat huddled under the duvet,  drinking my tea in bed, contemplating the incredibly thrilling prospects for the day I saw a tweet by Paul Bowerman, a local birding expert, that made my little heart jump and I leapt out of bed, flung on many layers of clothes and begged Brian to come with me to Winterstoke Road to see 24 waxwings in a tree at Easy Fit. Brian found one of his big cameras and off we went. Winterstoke Road is in Bristol, about twenty minutes drive from where we live.

When we got there we drove up and down and there was no Easy Fit. I got my phone out and googled and found there was an Easy Fit in Winterstoke Road in Weston Super Mare, about 12 miles away.

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I looked again at the tweet and realised that the birder’s home patch was in fact Weston Super Mare and even though he comes up to Bristol, well you see which way my thoughts went. LIttle tears of hopelessness came to my eyes. I have been waiting and hoping for another waxwing sighting since I missed seeing the ones in West Shrubbery before Christmas. They have been all over the country but none near enough to get to in a sensible time span.

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 “Oh, come on then!” he said, and we were off, speeding down the road to Weston Super Mare.  We drove behind this lovely AA vehicle part of the way, great number plate!

First Glimpse Of the Waxwings

First Glimpse Of the Waxwings

We found the Easy Fit garage and we found the waxwings just where they had said they were!  Brian and I have a thing about birds, we don’t do much birding these days on account of the excitable poodles who have a tendency to bark and chase things, so our birding is more or less on hold, but I do miss it and I do love the excitement of seeing something just a little bit different from time to time.

Suspen... se !!

Suspen… se !!

We last saw waxwings in Bristol a long long time ago, when Brian still took photos on film. They appear every so many years in large numbers in the UK. They come from Scandinavia  and delight many people with their presence and their oh so pretty plumage. To find out more about them click on the link in this paragraph which will take you to the RSPB site.

Feeding Waxwings Brian Kent

Feeding Waxwings

Today was grey and overcast but as we got near the garage we could see them sitting in a tall tree. I squeaked and bounced on my seat!  There were 24 beautiful, red wingtipped, quiffed little birds, unspooked by the traffic rumbling past and perfectly content with their current home near an excellent food supply. They were flying from their tall tree to the other side of the parking lot where there were berry filled bushes, picking a couple and then flying back to the tall tree to sit, rock in the breeze, digest and poo from a great height.

 While we were there we met a great guy called James O’Connell, ornithologist, freelance film maker and passionate birder, making a film for the local news for tonight. He recognised Brian from when Brian used to go birding much more often down on the Somerset Levels. He has also been filming at Steart on the coast near Hinkley Point, where they are making a huge new saltmarsh reserve for wild birds. Here is a link to his new film Steart ‘The Flood’ on You Tube and we will be heading out to Steart again soon one of these days to see how it is all progressing.

Waxwing eating Berries

Waxwings eating berries

Here are some of Brian’s photos of the ‘Easy Fit’ Waxwings. Aren’t they lovely?  Brian is one of the kindest people I know, he put his morning on hold to go out there with me. I could have driven there, but I wouldn’t have managed the photos as you need a decent lens and a good camera to capture these speedy little birds in such poor light. Thank you darling!

Fabulous Flying Waxwings

Fabulous Flying Waxwings

PS

(James O’Connell was taking some footage for the local early evening BBC news on 22nd Feb, if you switch on you might see the waxwings, if they run the story) and if you are near Weston Super Mare, the waxwings might still be there this weekend, so dust off your binoculars and go and see….