Rain stopped play

The weather. Favourite topic of the British. It dominates our lives. When Vivaldi wrote The Four Seasons I suspect he had in mind a summer’s day in Hampshire. Old Hampshire that is. Ancient Hampshire perhaps. Yesterday I was ready for the rotovating to commence. The umpires consulted their lightmeters, whipped out a rain gauge and trudged disconsolately back to the pavilion. Rain stopped play.

Half an hour later the sun was shining and the wind had dropped. I hoped play would recommence. Ten minutes later still and the wind was skewering my ageing bones. Someone put a tea cosy over the garden and the light disappeared. Bible black it was. It felt like a dry Sunday in Llaerggub. Duw it was hard.

I sought out the comfort of my rocker and read a few chapters of Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature (Nick Davies).  Notwithstanding the forecast (more rain) I put out my actinic moth trap overnight. I pushed it under the old brick barbecue with little hope that it would attract anything. To my surprise it turned up a Lunar Underwing, new for the garden. A ray of consolation.

The morning produced plenty of bird activity around the garden. I was trying a long shot of a Jay (far too long as it turned out). It was almost in Dorset.Jay

Had I not been wasting my time trying to make a decent shot of a distant speck I might have managed a decent shot of the Grey Wagtail that flew in. Instead I produced 2 or 3 blurred images none of which is worth bothering with except for the fact that this bird was ringed (banded). I only realised when I saw the frames on the big screen. Sadly the ring alphanumeric is unreadable. This was a juvenile bird, flushed apricot on the breast. I do wonder whether it had been ringed locally.

Mr. Nutkin was entertaining me during lulls in bird activity. Just one shot today. I must not spoil you.Squirrel

Most of the time it was Blackbirds. At least a dozen. There were 2 Song Thrushes but they kept a safe distance. The Blackbirds ushered them away if they hopped too close. Contrast the attitude:

The cautious peer through the bushes:Song Thrush 2

Versus the disdainful, almost indignant standing strut of the Blackbird.Indignant BlackbirdIts hard to look tough though when you may well have been dragged through a hedge backwards. And you’ve chosen to perch on the ugliest cable in the garden.Scruffy Blackbird

I was a few seconds too slow to get on to a Great Spotted Woodpecker and I managed just a record shot of a Blackcap as it moved through the garden. On the whole I found it quite satisfying watching the Blackbirds. Some are identifiable as individuals, distinctive plumage and regular forays to the pond. I can understand well how it possible to become engrossed with a single species. I would choose the Song Thrush over the Blackbird but T. Merula probably provides greater options in the garden.

I should have added that yesterday we bought more pots, a few bags of peat-free compost and a mixture of tulips and daffs to plant out. Vivaldi Weather put a stop on that. I once sang in a performance of Viv’s Gloria in D. However I promise not to do it again. As long as he gives us seasons in the sun instead of four for the price of one. That would be music to my ears.

So near yet so far

Coffee table bird photography is rather frustrating if the CT is more than a few yards from the birds. The birds are more mobile than a table and so you tend either to miss a lot or get small subjects that might be dust bunnies. The birds in my garden are not really picking the perfect distance at the moment but I live in hope.

Now every aspiring bird photographer knows that no portfolio is complete without a Robin perched on a spade. Someone had not read the script.BlueTit

This picture falls into the ‘dust bunny’ category and the bird is perched on the side of the spade not the top. It is also not a Robin. I checked in The Observer’s Book of Birds and it is definitely not red enough.

This bird is better. It does what is says on the can. Its called a Treecreeper and by golly it creeps on trees. Amazing!Treecreeper

Here’s another dust bunny dressed up as a Wren. We smart folks call these ‘in habitat’ shots to cover the fact that it was half way to the other side of the universe.WrenHere are 3 photos of the same genus to finish off. Two Blackbirds and a Song Thrush. Another 22 Blackbirds and I can bake a pie.Blackbird


Song Thrush

The middle one is a leading candidate in the ‘Scruffiest Bird’ competition and the last one looks vaguely bemused at life. I also photographed Coal Tit, Goldcrest and Nuthatch today but none passed as being blog-worthy. I am sure you will all be relieved to know that Mr. Squirrel is alive and well but lost out to the birds today. At least Squirrel has the decency to be big enough to be photographable from the coffee table. Birds, take note.

Lodge Labours Lost

As fast as I plant I suspect someone is digging them up. I planted dozens of bulbs today and dashed hard work it was too. I broke my trowel trying to lever out some flint. That’s the second one to go. A John Lewis special it was too. There was enough flint to have started a fire. Half way through one batch I was harrassed by a wayward Retriever from next door. A fine way to introduce yourself. He seemed keen on my bulbs but the real worry is this chap.untitled-1Still, the CCTV is now up and running so if he is the culprit we shall be able to hand him over to the constabulary PDQ. Squirrel, we’ve got you covered.

More welcome today was the Song Thrush. There are several around here but they rarely come close and in the open. Song Thrush

I am not baiting the birds. I sit on the terrace in full view and if they hop by then all to the good. I felt the birds were settling this morning but then I was called away to Waitrose duty so we shall never know.

I also removed the bulk of the old fencing at the side of the house today. This required little more than brute force and ignorance. One out of two isn’t bad. I quite enjoy hitting things with a mallet. The new fencing goes in shortly so we will then be deer proof. A week Monday a man is coming to relay the terrace, level the ground underneath, repoint it and clean it so you could eat your breakfast off it. Things are moving faster outside than in.

Oddity of the day was a bat flying directly over my head at 16.20. Rather early for a bat I thought. Perhaps its alarm clock went off accidentally.So there we are. A working day for a change and the bonus is that I have lost 5lb recently. I need to lose another 5-10lb and then I shall be content. Though perhaps not quite as content as this chap.untitled-10