Strictly for the birds

Today’s guest picture shows that the weather must be better in the south than it is here because my sister Mary saw this tremendous display of colour in the Isabella Plantation in  Richmond Park yesterday.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 2015 032We had a nice sunny day here today which was welcome but the brisk and chilly wind that came with it was less fun.  I wasn’t very keen to cycle as I am still feeling a bit tired after Monday’s efforts so I was happy to go up to the Moorland bird feeders with Sandy, as it was his day to fill the feeders.

I was less happy to find road menders operating a noisy digger just behind the bird hide and although the road maintenance is very welcome, it did lead to a decided scarcity of birds for us to look at.  We made a note of what we saw and although we thought it was a dull morning, we still counted 10 different sorts of birds..

The pheasants were not frightened at all by a little noise though.

They are beautiful birds

I did see a woodpecker in the distance but before it could get settled, another one arrived and chased it away.  It didn’t stay long either and a distant glimpse of them was all that I could get.

woodpeckerI had a stroll round the garden when I got back.

garden flowersThe blackcurrant bush was busy with bees again and I hope that they will be just as active soon on the espalier apples which are beginning to come out.

bee and appleGenerally in the garden, the daffodils and tulips are going over and their replacements are sulking because of the chilly weather so we have a bit of a floral gap at the moment.

As it was rather chilly out, I went back in and stared out of the window,  The chilly weather may have held back the flowers but it has encouraged the birds back to the feeders and I spent quite a lot of time watching goldfinches today.

And going beserk.

They were in combative mood today.

Arguing with strangers…
…and among themselves.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help with the driving for the disabled.  She likes this very much as they have electric bicycles for the the volunteers to use when they go round as stewards with the pony traps and she can zoom effortlessly uphill on them.  I am looking to buy an electric bike when the time comes.

After lunch, I went out for a very gentle pedal on the slow bike just to turn my rather stiff legs over a few times.  I was hoping to see a few birds while I was out so I started by going to the Jubilee Bridge to see if blue tits really were using the old nuthatch nest.

The evidence speaks for itself.  A pair were nipping in and flying out…..

blue tits…and flying in and nipping out.

blue titsThey were very busy.

I cycled back to the sawmill bridge and peered over the parapet to see if there were any dippers about.  There was a pair of them too. I watched them live up to their name for a while and then they flew down nearer to me and one kept watch while the other disappeared into a hole in the banking.

dipperThey are tricky birds to photograph as the camera finds them hard to pick out against the water or the bank and the bright white breast and dark brown wings confuse it.

After stopping on the Kilngreen to snap a herring gull at the Meeting of the Waters…

herring gull…I cycled back to the suspension bridge and propped the bike against the railings and went down to the waterside to see if I could catch a swallow swooping over the water.  I couldn’t but I was able to watch a pied wagtail by the water’s edge instead.

wagtailThey don’t usually stand so still.

During the day, both Mrs Tootlepedal and I exercised our hard won democratic right to vote in the general election but It doesn’t, as I write this, look as though our votes are going to lead to return to sanity in the way the country is run.  Still, there are a lot of votes to count and the exit polls may be wrong.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre with Sandy but we had a frustrating time with passwords and couldn’t get connected to the internet so I left him there too meet a visitor and came home.  I put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the database using my own computer.  I was doing an edition for the 18th December 1889 and was intrigued to find an enterprising retailer offering “tit bits, rare bits and dainty bits” to the discerning Christmas shopper.   More mundanely she was also offering buns, cakes and shortbread.

The flying bird of the day is that wagtail, skimming off in search of something to eat.

flying wagtail

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

25 thoughts on “Strictly for the birds

  1. Congratulations on getting the dipper and wagtail to stand so still while you photographed them! I love the close-up of the pheasant face and feathers.

  2. I agree with you about the pheasants. They really look beautiful in your photographs – the colours and the patterns are stunning! I also particularly like the blue tit shots as the tree trunk texture and colour is such a nice contrast in the background and the shot of the open wings is so sharp. Mrs Tootlepedal is kind to help out with the disabled driving. My grandpa recently died at the age of 104. He was still cycling into his early 90s but by then used an assisted electric bike on hills. Cycling certainly kept him healthy!

    1. I was surprised that the wings seemed to come out better than the body. The camera finds the sharp contrast of the pied wagtail a bit of a problem.

  3. What a glorious show of colour in Richmond Park! When you enter the newspaper index into the database, what exactly do you do? It sounds as though you can read the articles from the old issues, which would be a great distraction – aren’t you tempted to read more than you enter?

    1. The data miners read the papers and prepare brief summaries of advertisements and articles for me and another person to type into the database. Even reading the summaries is often interesting and seeing what the shopkeepers are advertising keeps me entertained.

  4. Nice shots of the all the birds but to the uninitiated, the pheasant appears quite put off by all the noise. It’s interesting that the only dipper we have lives along the streams in the western (Rocky, etc.) mountains.

  5. Things haven’t changed while the birds were away from your feeder, they’re still as combative as ever. It was good that you were able to add a few more species than the regulars, I can see that the camera would have trouble focusing on them.

  6. Bottom left nuthatch pic is especially nice with the outspread wings and the black hole vortex sucking him in! Well, it might not be that, but the lines look very cool!

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