Monday, 19 March 2018

bokeh man

I had a couple of hours this afternoon and couldn't resist a return trip to the Botanics. The sun was out and I wanted to improve on yesterday's pics. A lot of the flowers and trees looked much better in decent light, though it's different every time you go there, and the wildlife can't be guaranteed to behave the same 2 days in row. So no bullfinches today. However there was a robin singing his heart out and taking bread out my hand. And it doesn't get better than that!

last of the snow(drops)

this wee guy was at the Chinese garden

He mugged me for that crumb of bread but ate it in the shadows. When I came past the second time he maybe recognised me and sang a very loud and pretty tune before flying over for a photo shoot.

Plenty squirrels about today - none quite as tame as yesterday but loads burying nuts and prepared to model for photos!

Campbell's Magnolia Tree

I just wandered through the gardens looking for well lit areas. There were a couple of places I came upon squirrels and birds that were in shadow and realised I'd get better photos if I moved to an area lit by the sun. I saw a pair of Long-Tailed Tits but they were out of range flitting through the tree tops. And various Blue Tits also escaped my lens. On the way back through the Chinese Garden this robin was singing really loudly. He was used to approaching humans - he might well have been the same one my pal Michael was taking photos of a while back. I held out more bread and he skillfully flew over, and while hovering took it neatly out my hand. I managed to get some video of him singing which is only slightly marred by the workmen who were operating machinery nearby. Will post in due course. (I have some new video software to learn.)

A bit away from the pond these 3 mallards were out and about (possibly avoiding the machinery at their pond) and having a wander. When they saw me throwing peanuts to a nearby squirrel they came over for a chat. I walked down the hill to where the sunlight was streaming across the path and everyone obliged by coming over and standing in the sunbeams to get their picture taken. The squirrel, the ducks, (two chaps, one lady) several crows (hanging back but chasing the others away from any stray nuts that came their way) and some wood pigeons clattering about in the background.

Mrs. Mallard photobombs the boys.

smile for the camera

very tricky to get these 2 to pose together

After about 70 or 80minutes the cold was seeping into me and it was time to cycle home for hot cups of tea. I didn't get round a quarter of the stuff there and look forward to more trips soon. The combination of hungry wildlife and all the plants waking up and sprouting after Winter is irresistible. 

Sunday, 18 March 2018

buds and bullfinches in the baltic botanics

I seemed to forget to go running today. I hadn't planned anything and with Mary not running and the weather being a bit shit I hadn't got out the house by the time Mary (feeling somewhat cabin feverish) said she was going to the Botanics for a walk. Of course I had to go too and it was great fun despite the light being kinda crappy and it being REALLY cold. Far too cold for standing around taking pics!

We cycled there and Mary enjoyed the non-virtual effect of travelling somewhere rather than looking at a screen while pedalling. However it is always a bit of a palaver cycling and then carrying padlocks and wires and removing all removables from the bike and stowing them in the back pack and my helmet was too big so I ended up wearing it and to have the camera handy and the essentials: bag o nuts for squirrels, bag o bread for birds. Same bag o (homemade) bread as yesterday btw, and I really enjoyed it again today - it has dried out to the consistency of tree bark or soft toffee and is full of seeds that slowly release as you chew it. Superb!

Anyway, we expected to get thrown out as soon as we arrived as it was after 4pm. Technically they're open till 6 I think. However we only lasted an hour or less because it was just so cold. And no running to warm up. And I think they'd frown if you started doing burpees.

funny face

loads of signs of Spring - lots of buds and shoots


There was a tree with loads of Bullfinches. They were hopping along the branches eating the new shoots. Like Robins we have seen earlier this year they seemed to have inflated their feathers to insulate themselves against the cold. This male (the females are less vivid in colour) looked very puffed up and almost spherical.

The squirrel above was mildly interested in nuts but ran off with a couple and wasn't in a hurry to return. We were too cold and had to keep moving. After a lap of the Chinese Garden section and greatly admiring the plants and shrubs we were near the duck pond when we saw the specimen below maybe 60 yards away. I rattled the polythene bag o nuts and she came galloping at top speed. Extra keen! (I say she because in the past the best squirrels for interaction have been nursing mothers taking on as much as possible knowing they need it to raise young. I couldn't tell what sex this one was so let's just say she. 

you know that monkey that took a selfie...?

I was still struggling to carry all my bits and pieces and get the food bag out and have the camera handy. Happily Mary was covering much of the action. I did the close-ups while Mary did the long shots. The squirrel was well used to human company and had no qualms about acting up for nuts. She would run up to my hand, take a nut or 2 and eat them sitting at my foot facing away while I took photos 2" away from her face. She didn't even flinch. We did this half a dozen times and I think she would have happily done this all afternoon had we not got cold and called it a day. We left a pile of kernals on the path as a tip. We both had frozen hands and had to cycle home quickly for lots of hot drinks. But also really elated for some charming interaction and photos with a furry tailed rat and a few colourful birds, all in the wonderfully curated setting of the gardens. It really is a splendid place and does my heart and outlook the world of good to spend time there. Really good therapy!

checking the pockets for luckies