It’s all about the pecking order

Arrival

Last month whilst staying with my father I hid behind the Venetian blinds and poked my camera lens through to see what was occurring at the bird feeders. There were several phases of activity when several birds arrived at the same time.

Fat-for-me

This very beautiful long-tailed tit, timid and nervous, only really managed to tuck in once the other birds had flown away.

Long-Tailed-Tit-looking

Then a noisy chattering of starlings (well six or seven) turned up to muscle their way in.

Starling-squeezes-in

After initially flying away the long-tailed tit eventually plucked up enough courage to fly back and hang onto the feeder and wait for his turn again. He obviously knew his place in the pecking order.

Pushy-starling

Not all the birds were interested in the fat ball. The greenfinches were happy to peck away at the sunflower seeds. Much to my amusement I did see the starlings make an attempt at landing on the perches, but they were too big, and, after unsuccessfully flapping around and wasting energy, they gave up and returned to the fat ball.

Greenfinch

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Summer seals

Horsey-beach-rocks-and-seals

It was very windy last weekend and the sea was rough with plenty of white horses. On the sandy beach granite rocks are strategically strewn across the shoreline in attempt to reduce erosion, but what’s that? – a rock just moved.

grey seals on the beach
A few members of the grey seal colony at Horsey Gap, Norfolk.

Walking down towards the sea we find members of the Horsey Gap grey seal colony flopped out and sunning themselves. Or, playing rough and tumble in the surf.

Or, simply having a little nap.

The seal colony at Horsey Gap on Norfolk’s east coast is popular with visitors in late winter when all the pups have just been born. We were surprised to find so many seals on the beach in August. Of course, there are always one or two of them watching the watchers. . . .

. . .  especially when some of those watchers come a little too close and then the whole colony clumsily, but speedily move a couple of metres towards the water and away from the nosey humans.

Humans-visitors

You can’t see in these photos just how windy it was, but every now and then a gust whipped up the sand stinging any exposed skin. It reminded my father of the Shamal that blows down from Iraq and across Kuwait almost continuously during June and July each year.

It-was-very-windy

 

Nature does yellow – nobody does it better


It’s that time of year when yellow is big in the garden and often just for a few days you might see people dressed in yellow. For us northern European folks yellow is a notoriously difficult colour to wear successfully. A pale lemon or a gentle soft buttercup knit may look fine in out northern light, but after the long winter and many indoor hours too often even pale yellow does not enhance a washed out and sometimes sickly complexion. Strong bright or piercing acidic yellows are mostly definitely out. And, it’s not just clothing, I’ve noticed how bright yellow cars appear less than appealing in our spring sunshine, yet somehow in the same light nature’s yellow is so satisfying.

Whether it’s cultivated daffodils, violas or forsythia, or even the humble roadside dandelion, nature’s yellow is eye-catching, refreshing and triumphant.

I said no photographs, please

Blackbird-nest-building

“I think that means you behind the lens – I can see you”

'Now I saw that. You just took another picture, didn't you?"
‘Now I saw that. You just took another picture, didn’t you?”

“Look, I don’t want everyone knowing where I live. Privacy, please.”

"Go away and get on with your own work now. I'm very busy today. This is only a 10 second break. You may not realise this, but nest building is a rather labour-intensive business."
“Go away and get on with your own work now. I’m very busy today. This is only a 10 second break. You may not realise this, but nest building is a rather labour-intensive business.”

Tennyson and the Chirping Hedge Sparrow

Hedge-SparrowStunted right wingAll over the weekend this little hedge sparrow has been returning to serenade itself dancing up and down in front of my french windows. Madly chirping away and fluffing up its feathers until it saw me with my camera. When it flew off I noticed that its right wing was significantly smaller than its left. And, that led my train of thought to wonder why it found its own reflection so utterly enticing.

I thought perhaps it wasn’t used to getting attention from other sparrows because it looked odd and uneven. The famous “Nature, red in tooth and claw” line from Tennyson’s poem ‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’ sprang to mind.

In Memoriam AHH

A quotation that has been lifted from a long, reflective poem on a central theme of grief. This canonical Victorian poem also works in and around the controversial science/nature/faith debate of the time. Although the poem was published nine years before Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’ the “Nature, red in tooth and claw” has subsequently become a shorthand summing up the harshness of evolution.

No mate for the mad hedge sparrow then.

Hiding in Parsley