Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Birds of Prey

With great excitement, my partner pointed out the sparrowhawk flying across the garden, then back over the treetops. Shortly afterwards, a kestrel appeared, hovering in roughly the same place where we last saw the sparrowhawk. What could suddenly have attracted them to that particular spot? Could it be that some migrating birds had gathered there?

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Season of Mists...

This 'forest' view is in fact the tops of dwarf conifers in the garden. And the blue flower shows the last of summer giving way to autumn. I don't think the pears will ripen now. Keat's 'mellow fruitfulness' requires a lot more sunshine than we have had this year.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Hungry audience

I was preparing dinner the other night when the back of my neck started to prickle in that sixth sense way that tells you there is someone, or something, looking at you. In my case it was 'somethings' in the plural. Out beyond the patio doors there were Flad the resident cat, Oliver the greedy fox, a magpie, a crow, two pigeons and a squirrel, all staring hard and hopefully. All that came to hand was a stale scone. That eliminated one of the hopefus straight away - Flad. However, Oliver scarpered with it before the rest got a look-in.

The new fish are settling in well. We inherited four large ones from someone who was moving house. The big spotty one that I call Measles has spent the last few days resting up in the lily stems. My partner guessed she was about to spawn and this morning there was a shoal of teeny fry to add to the various youngsters in the pond. They shoal by size. There is one shoal of one-inch fry and another of two-inchers which already have a gold sheen when the sun hits them. A friend has already put in an order, having lost most of his to a heron. As 11 of ours came from him in the first place, it seems only right that their descendents should return to their watery ancestral home, which is a long, narrow pond in Langley!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Common Darter, Speckled Wood

This beautiful dragonfly (I think it's a Common Darter. If not, can someone correct me?) sat patiently on a piece of wood attached to the pond netting while I took its portrait. An hour later, a Speckled Wood butterfly chose the same perch on which to sun itself.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Birdless in Hillingdon

Maybe it's the time of the year - lots of fruit and seeds - but there have hardly been any birds in the garden apart from the regulars, the wood pigeons, Open Heart Surgery in particular (see early posts for the story of OHS). I was surprised he was still around. It must have been three years ago that I rescued him from the cat, the scars of which he still bears on his breast, but he still rules the lawn, big and bolshy. I did some research and discovered that wood pigeons can live for ten years, so perhaps he still has a few to go.

Apart from fleeting glimpses of a robin and a yellowhammer and the distant yelps of woodpeckers, bird life has been elusive. I wonder if it could be anything to do with the five foxes that regularly scour the lawn, in particular Oliver, who takes up a Sphinx-like position every afternoon, watching for activity in the kitchen. Our neighbour saw a fox grab a pigeon one day, so the birds are probably very wary. Talk about nature red in beak and claw!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Darling Starlings

Glad to report that starlings are doing well in Hillingdon. I saw a very big flock gathered on adjoining rooftops today. They took off and wheeled and whirled like silk streaming in the wind.

My partner has continued to wave his arms and shoo the little fox away, but Oliver keeps returning. Every afternoon at around four, when he knows humans will appear in the kitchen to feed the cat, he takes up a Sphinx-like position on the lawn, lying down facing the patio doors. When he spots us. he waggles his ears enquiringly and of course I can't resist chucking him a handful of cat biscuits. Maybe it's time I bought a sackful of dog biscuits instead. Don't want him to start meowing.