Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Serpentine

Our recent trip to London didn't really involve much wildlife apart from a couple of walks through Hyde Park and by the side of the Serpentine.

There were plenty of Geese around - Canada mostly a very large flock across the lake from where we walked. We stopped by the island and had a Heron flying overhead and one just landed on the edge of the island and waded through the water for a while.

All the ducks were expectant but we had no food for them, though other people did. The usual Mallards were there along with Pochards, Tufted Ducks, and Moorhens. A Great Crested Grebe was asleep in distance.

On the post nearby were plenty of Gulls, most of which were too far off for me to ID but I think
there were a few Black Headed Gulls amongst them. I saw my first Cormorant here several years ago and wasn't disappointed again with one sat on one of the posts close by.

Not the greatest shot but at least you can tell what it is!!

We did have a great trip despite not having much time to spend looking at the wilder parts of London! Heading to Scarborough at the weekend (if it isn't torrential rain still) so hoping for some seabirds there.

Thought I'd finish with a shot of something not quite so native to London!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

RSPB HQ, Sandy

Our visit to the Lodge on Tuesday was made in persistent drizzly rain. It only let up briefly but for the most part we were under cover of trees. It was easy to find and we had a quick look at the feeders in the picnic area outside the shop. They were filled with Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blue Tits, Great Tits and more Chaffinches than i've ever seen before! There were quite a few juveniles there too.

We walked around the nature trails and down past the actual Lodge, which was busy with workers and bigger than I thought. Some of the trees near by were huge and looked quite amazing.

Down in the woods towards the quarry it was well covered with the trees and ferns but not a bird in sight! It was beautiful though and we ended up taking quite a hike up and down through the woods.

Finally we came back around to the Lodge and got a little lost in the gardens and around the buildings but made our way eventually back up the trail.

We stopped in the hide twice which overlooks Jack's pond and has several feeders and were the only people around apart from people who worked there just about the whole time we were there.

Now I really cursed not having a good camera today as I got my second ever sighting of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, male, female and juvenile at different times on the feeders outside the hide. They were posed perfectly and we could have got some amazing shots 0h well.... There is also a handy book in the hide which helps with any id your not too sure of.

We stayed in the hide a while watching all the activity, again there were Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Great Tits, Blue Tits along with Coal Tits, Crows, Dunnocks, a rabbit and a couple of squirrels.

We spent almost three hours there and maybe it was the rain but I was a little underwhelmed with it. I think that was down to me though I was expecting a little too much with it being the RSPB headquarters - hyped it up in my head! I could quite happily have spent longer there despite the rain but with the kids in tow it wasn't going to happen.

Just means we'll have to go back again and hope for better weather!

Saturday, 18 July 2009


We paid a short visit to York today purely at my request as I wanted to do some shopping! I didn't forget the wildlife and spotted two Kestrels hovering over fields on the way. There were an awful lot of Gulls about too, but then we did have to go past a landfill site near the motorway though! My daughter pointed out some very large Crows on the side of the road - 3 of them lined up on the barrier.

View of the Minster from the city walls - don't think I've ever walked around so much of them as we did today.

In York we saw quite a few Swifts and House Martins too. The river Ouse had flooded over onto some of the paths due to the torrential rain yesterday.

You can see where the bicycle racks are supposed to be!

There were Canada and Grey Lag Geese everywhere. In a lot of places they just cross the road and all the cars and buses just stop to let them!

We did see a couple of younger Canada Geese which are almost as big as the adults now but still have some of the downy feathers.

The cloud formations on the way back to Leeds were stunning, the sky was blue and the sun was shining and there were a lot of white fluffy clouds just hanging quite low in the sky, some of the higher ones caught in the sunlight were faintly rainbow coloured. The closer we got to Leeds the darker the clouds got though. My photos don't do them justice.

A nice afternoon out (and I got to shop!).

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


The Californian Poppies we got from my parents are still throwing out the most gorgeous flowers. One at a time and there are still plenty more buds too.

Otherwise it's been quiet here. We're saving ourselves for our hols to London next week. Managing to squeeze in a trip to the RSPB HQ at Sandy on the way too - very excited about this! I've been a member of the RSPB since I was a child and always remember this address on the magazines I received. Seemed like a million miles away then. Just hope that the rest of the family enjoy it too! Will have lots to post next week I hope.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Garden Life

The birds have been a bit hit and miss over the past few days. I ran out of food towards the end of last week and they had to wait a couple of days before I could stock up and I think they were sulking with me!!

Slowly though the garden has been getting busier. The Goldfinch are always around though I haven't seen any young since last week. One of the Dunnocks has taken to eating sunflower hearts out of the feeder, first time i've ever seen one do that! There have been a couple of Blue Tits about often too.

The Starlings are back in full force devouring the fat balls I put up. I threw out some old bread on the lawn and within about thirty seconds a flock of about 20 flew in along with half a dozen House Sparrows too, my garden is only small and it looked like a scene from The Birds!

I managed to get a couple of blurred shots through the window but most of them flew off before I could get the camera.

Can you see the Blackbird cowering in the corner of this one - there were Starlings fighting over the fat balls right above his head!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

A Quiet Week

Well all went good with the op, though i'm off work still till Monday. The weather of course has been hot hot hot so it's been a bit of a relief to be able to stay at home with the fan on!

I've made sure the water for the birds has been kept clean and topped up and the Starlings especially have been making great use of it. They have been lining up together round the edge of the bird bath all drinking from it - quite a sight. I've seen a few of the House Sparrows drinking from the smaller dish on the feeder too.

The birds have been out in force all week, the Starlings have demolished several fat balls helped along by up to a dozen Sparrows and their young. The Robin and a couple of Dunnocks picking up anything that's fallen on the floor. There has been a visit from a Great Tit family, the first time I ever remember seeing juvenile Great Tits, they have been a couple of times. The Goldfinch juveniles have gone from two to four and are regulars along with three adults on the nyger seed and sunflower hearts.

We still have a couple of juvenile and a couple of adult Blackbirds around, the young seem quite scared of the noise the Starlings make and seem to cower quite close to the ground! The Woodpigeon manages to squeeze onto the feed tray and eat as much as it can, no wonder they look so big. The Collared Doves are still around too, most we've had at once is four at the moment but you usually see another couple on the roof or telephone wires nearby.
Finally the Swifts are still as noisy as ever - there are up to 7 flying about at once and they fly backwards and forwards over the house twittering non stop till late into the evening.

So that's it for the birds for now. The garden is looking good despite the lack of rain and our neighbour has given us some Sweet Peas, which are now planted in the front garden. Something my Mum has always grown but a first for me. Here are some of the other flowers that are out at the moment.

This first one is a Californian Poppy that comes from my parents, they got the seeds from someone they met on a garden tour around their town last year. I love how it has the hint of pink in the leaves.

This poor thing opened up looking all 'chewed' around the edges. It must be one of the throw and sow seeds I put in - I don't know what it is.

This is a returnee from last year, not sure what this one is either!

The Carnations in my back garden, they never stand upright.

This plant is ground covering and spreads quite quickly in the summer, but it looks great, the leaves are a lovely light green and the yellow flowers are beautiful.

The poppies have really taken to life around our bins - certainly brightens the area up, several plants have seeded themselves.

These are the flowers that have opened on the trailing plant around the top of the garden gate, they are very tiny and you can only just see them against the leaves unless you are pretty close.