Friday, 31 December 2010

Speckled blackbird

There are two pied blackbirds visiting the garden. One has a white feather in his tail and the other is this one, who looks as if some snow has fallen on his shoulders. (Do birds have shoulders?!)

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Study in green!

We bought a posh new bird feeder ( supposedly squirrel resistant but the furry rodent still manages to fish out a few seeds) and it's proved very popular with the parakeets. I wonder if they think it's a very rotund member of their own species? It's certainly good camouflage!

Thursday, 23 December 2010


The fieldfares arrived with the snow and I managed to get the photo of one sitting in a tree on next door's garden. My zoom lens works to about 40 feet. Oh for a more powerful one! I discovered last year that the best way of attracting fieldfares to your garden is by putting out some pieces of apple. They love it.

By the way, you can tell a fieldfare from a song thrush by the ruddy tints on its chest.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Fox close-up

My partner was in the right place at the right time, with camera in hand, as this fox came right up to the patio door and gazed in as if to say, "Oy, where's me grub?" How I wish I'd taken this photo! Just look at the wild eyes, reflecting the camera flash.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Fox stash

My partner took this one. We'd thrown out some stale buns and caught the fox burying them between the flowerpots.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Snow fox

I put one of these photos on my Facebook page (my dear sister accused me of stealing the image from Christmas card, how dare she!), but I thought you might like to see all four shots that I took.

First, I caught sight of him lurking beneath the apple trees...

Then he began to approach...

Then he trotted a bit closer...

And finally, I got the prizewinning shot! Or is the last one better? I love them both.

Snow Birds

The birds didn't know quite what to make of the snow. For the youngsters, it was the first time they had ever seen it. This starling on the roof of the bird table seems to be looking up and asking, "What on earth is landing on my head?"

The blue tit has realised that it's easier to use our new feeder where the food is released from the bottom and sheltered from the snow, than to cling to one of the others.

And as for this robin... well, it's a typical Christmas card shot, isn't it?

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Well fed fox

I came into the kitchen yesterday and spotted the fox curled up like a ginger cat on the lawn. "Is it okay?" I asked my partner.

"Yes," he replied. "It's just eaten a whole tin of cat food and it's sleeping it off."

You can clearly see the mange in this photo. I found some of last year's anti-mange drops and hope they will still work. I shall start putting a sandwich out every night now (peanut butter or jam) with the drops on and will chart its progress.

Another pic of the strange blackbird

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Odd bird

Is it a mutant blackbird? It was in the garden yesterday and had a white feather in its tail and a black beak, whereas blackbirds have a golden beak. Any suggestions?

Friday, 10 December 2010


This fox lies in wait until it sees us in the kitchen. Then it comes right up to the glass and makes eye contact. As soon as we open the patio door, it runs away a few steps and waits to see what we will throw: a biscuit, a rasher of bacon, a peanut butter sandwich. It has mange and a nasty raw patch on one side. I shall have to get some more anti-mange medicine to treat it with.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

On the table...

We shoved the small metal bistro table into the shelter of the bushes, about 40 ft from the house, and every morning I sprinkle some robin food on it. However, as birds can't read the packet, they've all taken to it with gusto and the poor old robin hardly gets a look-in. Here are just a few of the robin food guzzlers, all taken with my lens on maximum zoom, which is why they are a bit blurry. Wish I could afford an expensive camera!

Blue tit and female chaffinch. Haven't seen any male chaffinches yet.

The squirrel - 0f course! This is one of this year's youngsters.

I took this one a few days ago, before the bad weather had all the other birds fighting for the food on the table.

Two ladies together - chaffinch and blackbird.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

First goldfinch!

Last weekend I bought some Niger seed and a special feeder for birds with tiny beaks. Even the squirrel hasn't managed to break into it. It took till Wednesday for the bird I was hoping to attract to find the feeder, and here it is, a beautiful, shy goldfinch. I was thrilled to bits to see it.

I took this photo of the magpie as it really shows the beautiful turquoise blue coloured feathers on its wings. It's so easy to think of them as just black and white.

Another 'first' this winter is this female chaffinch. I haven't seen any since last winter's snows. This one could well be a migrant from Northern Europe.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Green woodpecker

I hadn't seen the woodpecker for some time but today he (or she) was on the lawn, drilling for ants. Any creature that eats ants is my hero. I hate the things. I would dearly love a pet anteater, but as that isn't possible, a neighbourly woodpecker is the next best thing.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Another hat trick

Magpie, squirrel and parakeet this time, and somewhere in the bushes all the poor little sparrows and blue tits were hungrily waiting till the big guys departed.

A foggy day in London town

The weather was vile yesterday, damp, cold and foggy, and this wood pigeon looks thoroughly miserable.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Tree rat

Grey squirrels are a pest and I'd like to send them all back to North America where they originated from. However, I shall make an exception for this one, as she really is quite cute, even when raiding the bird feeders. I suppose that she sees them as squirrel feeders!

Hat trick!

This is a combination of big birds that I've never seen on the bird feeders at the same time before. A jay and two parakeets. The little birds can't get a look-in at the moment. Not with the magpies and pigeons attacking the feeders as well.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Headlamps on

Haven't seen anything at all of the foxes for at least a couple of weeks, but I just happened to snap this one as it slunk past the bench, its eyes gleaming golden like twin harvest moons.


This time of year, when the parakeets are in the trees, it's a case of 'now you see me, now you don't.

And this one is so flexible, I'm sure it could win the Para(keet)lympics!

Patient Jay

The jay is annoyed with me because I haven't positioned the peanut feeder where he can easily get at it, and he is too large to cling to it like the blue tits do. So he has devised his own method.

First he looks at the feeder and works out what he's going to do...

Then he gives it a bash with his beak to set it swinging...

And finally it swings towards him so that he can grab a peanut.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Parakeets akimbo

During the summer when, I suppose, 'the livin' is easy', the only time you see them round here is when they do a flypast. But in autumn, they start coming into the garden and raiding the bird feeders. If you look closely, you'll see a patient little blue tit waiting its turn.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

New birds

We have some new wildlife in the area in the form of a pair of jackdaws. I heard that familiar 'chack-chack' and was instantly transported to my friend's garden in Cornwall, which was where I last heard jackdaws. Then I blinked and remembered I was in Hillingdon and realised I hadn't drifted into a dream as I heard them again. Haven't managed to get a photo yet (the one above is one I nicked from the web) and can't work out where they are nesting, unless it's somewhere amongst the farm buildings in the fields beyond the garden. I've just read up on them and it says they nest in buildings, hollow trees and sea cliffs. There ain't many of the latter round here!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Danger in the garden!

I had my back to the garden, chatting to a friend, when all of a sudden my partner gives a shout, leaps up and rushes for his camera. This is what he had seen - a sparrowhawk bringing down a pigeon. It stripped it of its feathers, ripped the wings off and what it didn't eat, it carried back to the nest. What an amazing sight in a suburban garden, nature red in tooth and claw: well, beak and claw!

Danger on the ceiling

One small spider is swinging in its web minding its own business, when along comes a bigger one, noiselessly stalking the ceiling for prey. It didn't get it, though, as the larger one was too heavy to step onto the smaller one's web and grab it.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Hear no evil...

These three parakeets really look as if they are having a good old gossip, don't they?


Sorry, couldn't resist the pun. Apologies also for the dark, blurry photo but it was taken late last night after I had slung my past its sell-by apple yoghurt.

Friday, 1 October 2010

More about spiders

Did you know that spiders shed their skins like snakes? I didn't. I used to feel sorry for the poor, dried up, eight-legged husks I saw on the floor. Poor things, I thought; didn't get enough to eat and starved to death. Now I know differently. Our kitchen ceiling spider spend three days huddled up doing nothing.

On the fourth day, it suddenly got lively again and as it walked away, it left behind what looked like a dead spider, an empty, ghostly shell. "It's shed its skin," said my partner. "Nonsense, spiders don't shed their skins," I insisted. Then I hit Google, and found out I was wrong. They do! And each time they do it, they grow...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Spider catches moon

Caught this surreal shot of the spider in the doorway with the full moon behind her last night.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Spider time

It's that time of year again when you can't go out without breaking the webs that industrious spiders have spun during the night with no regard for us blundering humans. This particular one has chosen the place where the patio doors open and has pitched her web right were anyone over 5 ft 3 ins puts their head through it. My partner, being 6 ft, has particular problems. Last night we used the flash to get these shots of the web's owner. I never realised that garden spiders had such bristly legs. She really needs to borrow my razor!