I’ve seen better days


Today’s guest picture was taken in sunny Scarborough over Easter by my brother and makes a pleasant contrast to our own weather here today.


The first of April signals the start of the six brighter months of the year between the vernal and the autumn equinoxes but but if today is a sign of the times to come, we are in for another rotten summer.  It was wet, cold and windy.

I sneaked out into the garden in a light drizzle to see if there was anything new to see but found hope rather than any present delight.

potential primula
Potential primula
Tentative tulip
Tentative tulip

Under the circumstances, I lurked indoors for most of the rest of day but found plenty to do.  I started by making sour dough bread and followed that up by entertaining Dropscone to a cup of coffee while nibbling on a couple of his traditional Friday treacle scones.

It was one of those days when almost every time that I looked out of the window I saw a sparrowhawk.  One crashed into the feeders while I was chatting to Dropscone and left without catching anything.

But it wasn’t long before the hawk was back and this time it caught a goldfinch.


We think it must be feeding young because its visits were very frequent and after Dropscone left, it was soon back again, this time to nab a siskin.


It is sad to see our little birds taken in this way but sparrowhawks need to feed their young like any other bird and it is part of life.

I broke off from the action and went to the computer to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I have now managed to make a slight dent in the backlog and hope to be able to continue to catch up over the next few days.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been out for a coffee and chat fest with ex colleagues from her work and when she returned, I made some soup and we had a light lunch.

The small birds were soon back in action, with the lure of a free lunch overcoming any fear of the hawk and the steady rain proving no discouragement to them.


Mrs Tootlepedal has cut down a flowering currant in her works at the back fence but she took a cutting and put it in a jar in the kitchen.  She told me that although the flowers would have been deep red if left in place, the cut branch would produce much whiter blossoms.  She was right.

flowering currant

I had several attempts to get a good shot without using any additional lighting but it was hard.  Even a tripod and a remote control didn’t bring entirely satisfactory results.

flowering currant

More practice needed.

I went off to transcribe a keyboard part for a trio sonata into the computer.  The kindly printers have put the right hand of the accompaniment into such tiny print that it is unreadable for anyone without 100% eyesight.   They have their reasons for doing this but it is a bit annoying for the pianist.

When it was time for a slice of toast and a cup of tea, I had a moment for another look out of the window and was pleased to see a little redpoll in the midst of the frantic feeder action.


It was the smallest bird about but it was quite able to keep its place at the table.


You can mistake a redpoll for a siskin if it has its back to you but when it turns, the unmistakable red cap and red breast show what it really is.

I haven’t seen more than two at any one time this year so far.

In spite of the rain, some birds seemed to be able to keep quite dry.


Mrs Tootlepedal went to do some shopping and got quite wet between the car and the shop door.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I enjoyed a gentle run through a wide selection of music while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal sipped on a glass of red wine and put the world to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a graceful chaffinch dodging the raindrops.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

40 thoughts on “I’ve seen better days

  1. Great action shots in the rain! It has the feel of a movie, and the sparrowhawk is the villain. I also really enjoyed the beautiful view of Scarborough. Thank you, as always, for your story through pictures!

  2. The sparrow hawk has quite a set of eyes.
    I like the shots of the currant flowers but the only ones I see are skunk currant (Ribes glandulosum) so I can’t say which one looks more true to life.
    You’re brother’s photo of Scarborough is amazing.

  3. Oh dear. I always feel bad when I see one creature kill another. Then I sit down to my dinner . . . I, too, am a predator. It’s good to have a bit of music to take away the sting of being part of red-clawed nature.

  4. It’s very humbling when you try to photograph something like the flowering currant that you did in controlled conditions, and the results are not up to your expectations. It happens to me all the time, but I usually learn something from having tried.

    Your photos of the sparrow hawk were excellent. It is sad to see them taking the smaller birds, but it’s nature’s way of controlling the populations of them, and keeping everything in balance.

  5. I do hope the weather today is not indicative of your summer to come. It does sound miserable. Here we’ve actually had one of the driest summers on record! Usually we get most of our rain in that season so it will be interesting to see what happens in winter.
    I admire the pretty colouring and sharp shots of your sparrowhawk. I wondered how much of a difference it makes to the numbers in your garden. I assume it’s not much compared to the cats?
    The flowering currant is very pretty, even though you weren’t completely satisfied. I find it difficult to capture the true colours of many flowers.

    1. The last couple of days have been unusual for the number of sparrowhawk visits. Normally they don’t catch enough birds to make any difference on numbers. The cats are much more regualr predators.

      It was the sharpness that I was disappointed with in the currant picture.

  6. You did well with the flowering currant.
    Sorry about the weather, but you packed in a lot of useful and enjoyable activities as usual.

  7. How fantastic to get such shots of a sparrowhawk in your garden. They are beautiful birds, but it is sad to hear how this predator uses your feeders as some sort of supermarket! Nowadays. even in a country area the pickings are slim for sparrowhawks, the small bird populations have been decimated by the disappearance of hedgerows etc.. It would seem your sparrowhawk has become a garden feeder also. When I think of all the variety of birds I used to see in the local countryside when I was a lot younger, it is very depressing. Nowadays, it has become a very rare thrill to see goldfinches, bullfinches, blackcaps, whitethroats etc., the list goes on. I got to be very good at recognising the different birds from looking at the illustrations in the “The Book of British Birds” my father bought me when I was about eleven. I still have it, but it is seldom picked up to check on any sightings these days. What have we done to our world?

  8. Wonderful photos all…especially the Sparrowhawk although I too am sorry you get to witness the carnage. I am quite sure the same sort of thing goes on in my yard but I rarely see anything except a pile of mourning dove feathers. Nice to see Redpolls, too. For certain the weather isn’t predictable anywhere, anymore, no matter the satellites.

    1. We seem to get longer periods of the same weather (mostly wet and windy over the past year and a half but occasional very dry spells) than we used to. Our forte was changeable weather so at least you got something different but now we seem to get stuck.

      1. Yesterday we had the most bizarre weather I’ve seen in a long time. Alternating blustery snow squalls with periods of calm and sunshine. This went on for hours, all day.

  9. Beautiful photos as always, but especially loved the sparrow hawk. We have all kinds of predators here, avian as well as mammalian, even carnivorous slugs (Limax maximus). All must eat to survive and raise young. Still hard to watch when prey is taken.

  10. Tom, I loved your photographs and clarification on how to identify the Redpoll. Also, we once again are enjoying the same weather. Has it cleared up for you yet?

    I have on more than one occasion been saddened when a hungry hawk came to dine here. It is upsetting, but yes, the hawks also need to eat and feed their young. Maybe I just wish they would eat more squirrel! Squirrels are bad here they eat my vegetable garden, the chicken and goose food, and the best blooms off of many of my flowers. I guess they prefer the chicken because it’s more plump? 😉

  11. I think the flowering currant will be a beauty if Mrs T is successful in getting it to root. I enjoyed seeing the action shots at the bird feeder, the elegant sparrowhawk and the graceful chaffinch.

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