Monday, 20 April 2009

A walk up the hill

You will have to forgive the lack of posts, but with our daughters here over Easter, my time was taken up - 4 long-distance journeys took up four days of the time they were home.

Anyway, back on an even keel again now, and here are some photos from a walk up our hill last week, when more wild flowers were starting to bloom.

Garlic Mustard, or Jack-by-the-hedge. The leaves may be eaten, raw in salad or boiled.

Ground Ivy - a better picture than the one from the Preselis recently. A Greater Stitchwort also getting in on the act.

Shining Cranesbill flower.

Herb Robert flower.

You could miss it easily - a little Fairy Forest of lichen on an old log.

Young Sycamore leaves with their pinky-bronzey tint. They are much larger than the similar-looking . . . .

Field Maple. This big old tree grows in the hedgerow in our top field.

Here is the trunk, for identification. With that flaky bark that looks a little like a Plane tree. The hybrid London Plane tree which is what we see (deliberately) planted in our cities is a deliberate cross, and the Plane tree is not indiginous to Britain as it is to Europe and America and Mexico.

I have recently bought a proper niger-seed feeder to try and attract the Goldfinches to the garden. Now, when I put the seed in a cheap-and-nasty feeder (which kept falling apart!) they didn't come near, but the Blue and Great Tits enjoyed it. Within hours of putting the proper feeder out, I had four Goldfinches appear from nowhere. Here are two of them, to prove it!

So I have been enjoying their colourful plumage and their antics. There is a definite pecking order - these two are a pair, but if one from the other pair tries to muscle in on the seed, there is a bit of bother! You can just see the third of the four, beak-on, to the right and below the feeder - or better still, double click and you will seem them all clearly.

I still put crumbs out for the birds on the window sill too, and thought I was seeing things recently when a little Blue Tit arrived, but his face was completely YELLOW. Anyway, I looked in one of my bird books, and found that immature birds do indeed have yellow faces. A couple of them looked a bit fluffy still - obviously moulting off fluff - so I wonder if the Blue Tits had a very early brood and these are they?

In the paddock, I noticed a Tree Creeper recently. He is often around, but as I was sat in the car, he didn't notice me and flew to the smaller apple tree near the car, so I could get a close look at his curved beak - used for hunting out insects in the cracks in the fissures in the bark - and his white tummy and eyebrows. He is a regular visitor over the years.


  1. Love the fairy forest of lichen, it's so easy to miss things like that. Oddly enough I was noticing the new sycamore leaves this morning, they are really beautiful with the fine pleating and the bronze sheen on them - this only appears on the young leaves though, the mature ones are nothing like as attractive.

  2. I agree with you there - we have SO many Sycamores invading our land (and Ash in every corner) and I don't find either to have many redeeming features! That little airy forest was delightful. There was another bit too, so I must put that picture up.

  3. BB this is the first year we have had gold finches :o) its worth getting an attachment to the feeder as they drop MASSES,its like a saucer that sits under neath.They are such pretty birds,I was thrilled when our visitors appeared,I put the feeder up when we moved here & this year was going to take it down as had never seen any then literally that day they appeared lol!
    R says they visit her garden too & she hasnt seen them in there for a few years
    GTM x x x

  4. Your goldfinches appear to be a bit different from ours - our males are a bright lemon yellow in breeding plumage with black on the face and black and white wings. The females are a lovely olivey-green without the black head markings. They do love the thistle (niger) in a tube feeder! We sometimes get as many as a dozen on each feeder.

  5. Kate - I checked out "your" Goldfinches and they are SO pretty. I must find my American bird book and acquaint myself with more birds.

    GTM - that saucer sounds like a good idea. Don't know if they had any at Carm. Farmers, where I got the feeder, but DH may be able to knock something up for me. Thanks for that.

  6. I used to get Goldfinches on our niger feeder but not for a year or so now, no idea why! Glad you have been sucessful though.

  7. I see that someone has already pointed out the difference in the bird called "goldfinch" in America---interesting that names are not always what they seem.
    The wind is such a presence here in Wyoming that seeds from the feeders always end up dashed on the ground. Fortunately a number of birds don't seem to mind picking them up. We've had a rather beautiful and gaudy yellow-headed blackbird I wanted to show to you--my zoom isn't powerful enough to do him justice.

  8. That's just reminded me to go and get some more niger seeds BB! I love the gold and green finches too, but am always wary with putting out food, as we have 3 cats and I don't want any casualties!

    Willow x

  9. We have 8 cats, plus 3 strays, and have very few bird casualties, but LOTS of dead mice and baby rabbits (the latter "in season" soon . . .)

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