Saturday, 30 March 2013

Seasonal Splash: Hen and Chicks

Perhaps not so *wild* but very *wonderful* ~ hen and chicks

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Home Patch: Birds in the Snow

The snowy weather continues to fight for its grip on the landscape. Despite moments of sunshine, there is still a bitter chill in the air. The small birds have been busy at the feeders. You can see a Long-tailed tit above.  

We were at the Camden Roundhouse in London at the weekend, and came back to find a white world in Suffolk. 

I took this view of the trees over the weekend. There is still a little snow on the boughs and on the hillside beyond (yes, we do have hills in Suffolk!), but the scene is looking less like a winter wonderland.  

This is a close-up of the Long-tailed tit. I don't think I have ever had Long-tailed tits in my previous gardens, so they are a delightful bonus!  

Blue tits, Great tits and Long-tailed tits feed happily together most of the time. Great tits and Robins do not like to share the feeder, though Robins are prepared to eat alongside the smaller Blue tits, as you will see in the bottom photo.

I don't know who has been making tracks across the lawn, but this scene above was waiting for us this morning. You can see that the snow is past its best, and since I took the photo, there has been a further thaw.  

Time for a new coconut!

The Robin has been a frequent visitor. You can see him below, trying to fool me into thinking that it's Christmas and not Easter just around the corner!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Home Patch: Enter a Sparrowhawk!

I looked out at the snow yesterday morning ... and there before my eyes was this male Sparrowhawk.

The bird sensed it was being watched, and began to turn its head ...

... in my direction.

It was my best Sparrowhawk sighting to date ...

... despite the fact that I was looking (and taking photos) through double-glazing.

I have seen a Sparrowhawk in this garden before, but only on a couple of occasions.

We have had hungry Robins, Blue tits, Great tits and Goldfinches in the garden recently ...

... and with such a large predator about, I feared for their safety.

Here is one of the tiny Blue tits ...

... keeping a wary eye out for trouble.

Then today, David took this photo of a Long-tailed tit feeding from our coconut fatball.

The Blackbird was hopping about in the snow, and so far the small birds seem to be surviving.

I wonder whether you feel protective towards your small birds? I love the concept of 'wild', but find I have to brace myself when it comes to Tennyson's phrase, 'Nature red in tooth and claw'.

I looked up Tennyson's poem, In Memoriam A. H. H., 1850 (Canto 56) ... and only then remembered with a shudder that 'Nature' in this particular poem is not the personification of a wild creature in our landscape such as the Sparrowhawk: no, it actually refers to us as a race of human beings. 

So what set me thinking? Well, two things, triggered by the arrival of the Sparrowhawk in my home patch. The first was a post on fellow poet, Juliet Wilson's Crafty Green Poet blog, about her sighting of a fox and a drove of rabbits in the snow (I was willing the fox to feed, but not on the rabbits!). The second was a memory of my time in Philadelphia a year ago last January, when I discovered that there was a version of The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks (1780 - 1849) in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Hicks, apparently, painted 61 versions of the scene, so don't be surprised if this is not the version you know! 

  • On the subject of foxes, you might be interested in this

Monday, 11 March 2013

Beautiful Birds: A Cold Afternoon at Needham Market

A tense moment: Canada Goose meets Mute Swan
A Black-headed Gull surveys the scene.

I'm guessing the huge drake (back right) is a Mallard hybrid

You can read my previous post about hybridisation here.

Time for a spot of ...

... spring-cleaning, aka preening.

The gulls thought so, too.

The one on the left is a juvenile, with paler head, legs and beak.

A final fluff-up ...

... before joining the Mute Swan and other gulls on the water.

The Moorhen preferred to scrabble for food on the bank.
We saw a few distant Fieldfare on the way home.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Seasonal First: Hare Sighting

I can testify to the fact that our Mad March Hares are out and about. We were driving home through the Suffolk countryside in the Sudbury area when we alighted on a couple of hares. By the time we had found somewhere safe to park, I was only able to take a quick couple of record snaps. This is the better of the two!

We have only seen hares once before since our arrival in East Anglia, and that was last year at WWT Welney in the Fens. However, I hope to see many more sightings of these iconic creatures, with their black-tipped ears and strong hind legs. Unlike rabbits, hares do not have burrows. They live above ground.

We saw some beautiful rabbits recently (like the one below), and, although you cannot tell from these photos, the rabbits seem very small in comparison with their larger Leporidae cousins.

Mammals seen in 2013, January - early March ...

1] Grey Squirrel - Minsmere
2] Rabbit - Minsmere
3] Hare - Sudbury area
4] Red Deer - Minsmere, Rendlesham Forest
5] Muntjac Deer - Minsmere