Saturday, 28 March 2009

Olive spotted?

I think I saw her a few nights ago, half a mile down the road, sitting in the driveway of a big old house. It was her stance, her size, her way of sitting like a dog with her head cocked on one side. In fact, I'm sure it was her. She hasn't been seen in our garden again. The only fox to come visiting is a very sick one that has lost all its coat to mange. Towards the end, we saw Olive being driven off by her mum, so I guess Mum owns the territory and daughter has had to establish her own. Not far from Iceland's bins, so that's a jolly good choice!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Kama Sutra Magpies

I saw the strangest sight on the lawn. I didn't know what to make of it at first, so I blinked and looked again. It appeared to be a magpie with its wings in a kind of pyramid shape, lying face down on the lawn. Then I noticed it had two heads. As I reached for my camera, the shape began to dissolve and the top half of a magpie sandwich flew away, revealing the female lying flat on her back beneath him. The odd shape of the wings had been caused by hers being tucked around his. I have never come across birds using the missionary position for mating before. Are they unique in the bird kingdom?

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Butterfly Ball

The butterflies are out in force today. First to appear was a Peacock, which soon found another and courtship commenced. Second was a beautiful golden Brimstone and third was this cheeky Comma which chose my shoe to warm up its wings on.


There are teeny, tiny baby fish in the pond. Don't know why they call them 'small fry' as they are actually too small to fry!

Saturday, 14 March 2009


I didn't add owls to the list because I have only heard them, not seen them. I few years ago I thought a Scops owl had come over from the Continent. Day after day, right through the Spring afternoon there was a monotonous "Ooh, ooh" coming from the field beyond the garden. Eventually, I asked an expert who told me it was a young Little Owl. They call while their parent is away getting food. Yet I always thought owls were nocturnal...

We hear the odd Tawny, but really, for a garden with huge oak trees at the foot and lots of fields all around, there don't seem to be many owls at all. They probably congregate in areas like Ruislip Woods.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Bird List

Here is a list of all the birds I have seen in our Hillingdon garden (the swifts were over it, of course). It doesn't match the list of 36 different species noted by my sister in her garden in Cumbria, but it's certainly not bad. A few years ago we noted a pair of Hen Harriers which were frequently glimpsed flying over the fields beyond the garden. We kept shtum, but twitchers eventually found them and now we haven't seen any for three or four years.

There is a local buzzard who wheels majestically over. You always know he or she is around when the sky and garden are suddenly bare of birds. We had to dismantle the newly erected bird table due to lightning attacks from the sparrowhawk. We have also had to cover the pond with netting since the heron took the only silver fish, the one it could see glinting in the moonlight at 1.30 am as it sat watching from the roof of the house. I never knew they were nocturnal birds. The jays are around a lot at the moment. One is copying the squirrel's method of swinging the peanut feeder until food falls out, whereupon it jumps to the ground and eats it.

The wood pigeons are sitting on a branch of the oak tree, billing and cooing. It's so sweet to watch them rubbing beaks and nibbling at each other. The blackbirds appear to have sorted out their territorial disputes and now just one pair appears regularly in the garden whereas before there were five birds, three males and two females. I hope the lone male has found a mate. I also hope last year's lone thrush, whose mate was killed by a cat (perhaps even ours), will find a mate and successfully breed this year.

Blackbird Collared Dove Crow Dunnock Goldfinch Greenfinch

Heron Jay Magpie

Pied Flycatcher Pied Wagtail Ring-Necked Parakeet Robin

Song Thrush Sparrow Sparrowhawk Starling Swift

Tits: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-Tailed Tit, Coal Tit

Woodpeckers, Green and Great Spotted Wood Pigeon - also Town Pigeon and crossbreeds

Wren Yellowhammer

Monday, 2 March 2009

Omnivorous squirrel

And then there is the chapati-eating squirrel...


When you're used to seeing blue tits on the bird feeder, it comes as a bit of a shock when a parakeet suddenly flies up and sits atop the feeder, working out how to get at the treats. I'm sure it will be back for more.