Thursday, 8 April 2021

in like a lion, out like another lion

...but one with very cold teeth. To be fair I'd rather have a cold bright day than a dull warm one. All my best pics and videos are in the sunshine. And there have been a few bright spells between the grey drab days of winter. March did not go out like a lamb. It roared strong winds and cold blustery days. Happily in these times of no butterflies the birds have been there for me, and I have to admit to being won over by their charms and interactions. Especially as I now have a camera that can capture their distant antics. I hate to admit it but many of them (and I'm thinking mainly robins here) have far more character and soul than butterflies. And turn out on cold days to say hello, and thanks for the bread, and how is your father? You just don't get that from butterflies. And not on windy cold days either. 
1st April.

Nice to see Mr. Bullfinch near the feeding tables in the secret garden. I couldn't remember much about this trip a week ago so checked the gps output. It lets me know I was mostly around the East Gate (and just South of that) where the wrens and robin hang out. But also spent a bit of time taking pics at the feeding table. The female (ringed) blackbird is a regular there, dropping out the ivy, often as soon as I place some food on the tables. The bullfinches are more shy and only occasionally come to the tables, more often sitting high above watching things closely. Which also makes for better or at least less artificial photos. Although I don't mind the artifice of the water dish. A coal tit was having great fun splashing about in there today and I got some decent video as well as some stills of water droplets being thrown far and wide by the frenzied beating of wings at bath-time! 

not happy bedfellows

The magpies like the handouts but are wary of my presence. Similarly the woodpigeons although their greed often overcomes their shyness. This is a poor quality photo of the magpie and woodpigeon sharing the far table but I wanted to include it as it rarely happens; and they didn't much care for sharing, either of them. The magpie will watch from the trees and only if it feeling confident or particularly hungry, will it fly down to the table. It will then hurriedly try to pack every crust of bread into its beak and fly off. The pigeon will swallow the bread but will also try to clear as much as possible. If I leave the area and return maybe 30 mins later the bricks are almost always entirely clean. Not crumb covered and with seed residue but spotless like someone has swept them with a soft haired brush. I suspect the magpies and pigeons and maybe the crows help too. The smaller birds, the tits, finches and robins are happier to feed while I am there taking photos. 

coal tit having a splash about

woodpigeon packs it down

A section of the wall in the secret garden has been revealed by the ivy being chopped. There is still a large section of ivy on top of the wall but it is no longer connected to the roots and will likely die and fall away. Meanwhile it provides shelter for the birds. And squirrels. And - exotic highlight of the day - a rat scurried along the exposed section. It was too quick for me to photo on this occasion but I got a blurry photo next time I was there. Presumably it got used to operating under the cover of the ivy and now continues to use the same route. It did notice my presence and was weighing up the options. No wonder they are such a successful (if not terribly popular) species! I think it might scurry about the ground below the tables getting the stuff knocked to the ground by the birds.

Quite a few of the smaller birds can be seen checking out the nooks and crannies around the place. The coal tit above was looking in these holes in the masonry and gave me a look that said "don't tell anyone I'm making a nest in here!"

"coal tit nest in that crack!"

Naughty robin spilling the beans! That was the picture I cropped for the opening image at the top of the page. I like that I can see right into his beak and the roof of his mouth, practically his skull. He lives near the catacombs and is very happy to pose in exchange for bribes. In fact he will present himself whether there is bread or not. I think he just likes to keep an eye on things. 

snake's head fritillary
presumably named by someone who's never seen a snake

When I posted this pic on facebook I titled it crow channelling Leonard Nimoy. It is difficult to say exactly what is spock-like about it but there is defo something, isn't there? 

While wandering aimlessly I noticed these privet-like shrubs in flower. That's exactly the sort of thing that will be popular with the butterflies. I hope. Not a super abundance of it, and just North of the tunnel. Fingers crossed. 

I chased this wren for a while and took many photos, this being the least bad. Not great either! But being posted here because I invested so much time and energy dammit.

On the other hand this hoverfly image took all of maybe 7 seconds and is miles better.

bee sunbathing on gravestone

I was aware I hadn't checked out the area North-of-the-crypts much. There is a row of tall trees and if you listen in to where the most chirruping is coming from you can zoom in on small gangs of smaller birds. Like goldfinches up high, or bullfinches. They seem to enjoy grouping in the same area and so you sometimes get treecreepers or nuthatches in the same tree at the same time. In this case a goldcrest. I like them because of their jolly yellow stripe on their heads although they belt around they've been speeded up and so are particularly tricky. And have a frowny downturned mouth! I took dozens of pics and only a few are worth posting. However it is all good practice and today I got luckier than usual as this one hopped about the same tree for a while and wasn't as hyper as usual. 

Also lucky to see this siskin which enjoying the sun on his back. Wasn't terribly helpful and suddenly flew off without pointing his head in my direction but the sunny piney flavour has a tropical feel. For the record I'm pretty sure it wasn't as warm as it looks!

afternoon delight
chaffinches making the most of the last of the sunshine

the East Gate wren on one of his favourite perches

5 miles incl from home and back
4hrs wandering