Today’s guest picture comes from one of my sister Mary’s visit to Regent’s Park. She encountered ‘The Drummer’ on her way to play tennis.
After several hours of strong winds rattling the windows and and sighing and moaning in the night, we woke up to calmer conditions with no damage done and nothing more terrifying than some steady rain.
It was my 75th birthday today so I celebrated by getting up late and eating my porridge with an extra spot of honey on it.
It was a miserable morning as far as the weather went and even when the rain stopped, a cold north wind continued to blow so I found things to do indoors. These included opening a very large hamper of bird food which my daughter had sent me, doing the crossword and looking at the birds.
The birds took quite a long time to arrive in numbers, doubtless because they needed a moment to recover from the night’s wild weather. When some birds did come, it was in the shape of a small flock of goldfinches….
There was a single robin about too.
I made a pan of sweet potato soup and after we had eaten some of it for our lunch, we considered a birthday outing.
One of the camera club members had seen a good turnout of starlings at Gretna last week and told me where to go to see them so we thought that this sounded like a good place for our trip.
It had stopped raining and the wind had dropped and we went off with high hopes.
When we got to the appointed spot, there was the makings of a good sunset to look at…
…which was a pleasant surprise after such a grey day but sadly no sign of any birds.
The starlings arrive at their roosting site in large numbers just before dark and when they have gathered, they enjoy an aerial ballet for several minutes before settling down. It is known as a murmuration but today, although we sat and waited patiently, there wasn’t even a whisper of a starling about so we drove back through the village to see if they were to be seen anywhere else.
A pylon, looking rather thicker than usual caused us to stop.
At least there were starlings about even if they weren’t in the air yet.
Nearby there is a newly erected windmill…
…standing in lonely splendour.
It won’t be alone for long though because as we stood and looked at the starlings, we noticed a turbine blade being delivered to the site behind us…
…and we could see the crane and the column ready for the installation of the blades.
Turning back to the pylon, we saw that a few birds had taken to the air…
They were soon joined by others…
…and rather annoyingly, they set off in the direction of the spot which we had just left. We jumped in the car and drove back again. The sunset had got more dramatic by this time….
…and across the Solway, we could see the lights on the Caldbeck television mast glowing in the twilight.
The starlings soon joined us and we could hear the flurry of their wings and the chatter of their conversation as they flew overhead.
…filling the sky above us.
Soon the ballet was under way, sometimes in solid shapes….
…sometimes in snaking lines..
…but always flowing and changing. The birds split into two or three separate groups so the effect was not as sensational as it can be when they are all together but it was still a privilege to be able to watch them.
The camera does a fantastic job of peering through the gloom so the results don’t give a true indication of how dark it was by this time and soon even the camera couldn’t see the birds any more and we turned and headed home.
We hope to go back later in the year, if we can find a day with a bit more light about (and hopefully a few more birds as well).
When we got back, it was just in time for a nice cup of tea and a birthday treat.
You can see that we know how to celebrate in style.
That was quite enough excitement for an old man.
The leaves of the day, finally all swept off by the wind, are the last of the climbing hydrangea on the house wall…
…and the flying bird(s) of the day is a celestial hedgehog.