Please, do not hamper a young bird's life by picking it up, and taking it home with you. It is calling its parents to help them in locating it.
After fledgling from the nest, the parent birds will keep feeding it, and look out for it, until it will be able to look after itself.
And the reason you cannot see a parent is because of your own proxomity to the young bird. And while you are ebating if or not you should take the bird home, you keep the parent from giving it well needed nutrition in the form of a meal!


The photos on this blog are all taken by me. If there is any picture you might want to use for any other than personal use, please drop me a line to the email address shown in the sidebar on the right.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Feeding Frenzy on Niger Grass

I’ve used Niger seeds now and then, without actually having a Niger feeder. These tiny seeds get lost easily, of course, which is why I’ve been mixing it in with the peanuts when making peanut cake for my feathered visitors. Still, many a seed had escaped already, but you tend to forget about these once spring moves into summer and then late summer, where we are now.
Weeding the planter, which as a birdtable, sees a lot of spilt (sunflower/mixed)seeds over time, has been necessary almost daily at some point. I started to notice that it was getting harder to get clear pictures of my birds and that these were getting lost among the many seedlings, so I’d take time in the early morning when putting food out, and sit there quietly for some time, pulling out grasses, and other germinated seeds. I might have destroyed many Sunflowers’ chances of growing up and setting seed for my birds, but with a very large Fennel in my planter, it would have competed too much for root space probably. Also, a large Sunflower would have easily blown over, as the height of the planter would have added an extra 80cm. to the Sunflower at least. And living at the Atlantic coast has meant disaster for many tall objects already {our homemade and very sturdy birdtable, rising up from the planter, was blown of its perch after 2 heavy storms, last winter.}
However, one of the Grassy types had managed to escape me, and grew up among or behind the Fennel, and when taking pictures of the birds, I started to notice Grass blades in the Fennel. It grew and grew, and I started to get used to the leaf among the Fennel stalks, so I just left it.
. And It had started to set seed a few weeks ago, and I loved the structure of its seedpods, so I’d watch it regularly, swaying in the wind. Apparently, the Sparrows had noticed it too, as these were quick to take advantage of these seeds and I saw the Sparrows fight in the Fennel where they would even try and sit on fronds; anything would be tried out, in their attempts to reach the seedpods hanging in-between their favourite Climbing frame. There was a lot of squabbling too among the Sparrows and many would peck at each other, in an attempt to get hold of that {single? multiple?} seed within the seed pod.

I’m almost convinced that it was Niger, but it could have been any germinated seed from the Mixed seed Mixes I use.. It doesn’t really matter what it was but I do think about sowing some Niger seeds, next spring!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Playtime In The Creche

Sometimes I feel like a Crèches Supervisor. Don’t you get that feeling that all those hardworking parents sometimes bring their offspring into your garden where they drop them off before leaving for a spot of R&R and perhaps a dinner for two? By putting out food for those silly little uns you have automatically offered to take care of them while the parents are busy elsewhere.
As soon as the food has been tasted and they have gorged themselves on treats like peanutcake {every youngster’s favourite in this garden} seeds or whatever is on offer, it is playtime and the play frames are tested out. My birds love the swing; they will see how many birds they can add onto the one swing, before either the chain breaks or one will fall off because it is bending over too much. When the Sparrows have gathered three birds onto the one swing, they are getting anxious, because it really starts to bend over quite a lot. Looking at each other, they will try and hold on as long as possible before the one on the outside eventually hears the ringing in its ear and is starting to see stars in broad daylight. He or she then realizes that it is time to move somewhere safe. And flying off does not mean he is a sissy, oh no. Far from it. He just likes the fact that by letting go of the swing he has left the others in peril. Because as soon as its feet release their hold onto the swing, it will want to return to its natural position, which is upright and not bend over. As soon as the swing bounces back, the ones left behind on the swing are in a difficult position; is their hold strong enough to stay on the swing, or had they lost their tight grip when sibling departed? Perhaps he had relaxed their grip in a moment of distraction, if so, that bird will be jostled into the air.
Now that another weight has left the swing, the same will happen to the swing’s next victim. He, sitting closest to the roots and thus the bottom of the swing, thought he’d be safest of the lot, as he would be in most circumstances. However he too will now start to see a few tiny stars, dividing into more and more little astral bodies, floating in front of his eyes. Also, he has to be careful to keep that yummy peanut cake in his stomach, otherwise Mum might start feeding him plain old seeds, and no, we don’t want to happen now, do we? It is OK for adult birds to feed on seeds, and he will left with no option to forage for these once he has left home and finds his own, but until then… Come to think of it, where is Mum? Have they all left while we were having fun? OK then, I’d best take advantage of it, now that all the others have left the planter and the peanut cake! I’ll have to start feeding myself one day, and perhaps this is my day…

The Swing in our garden is the Fennel; her vertical stalks is loved y the birds and these not only provide them with a climbing frame and swing, it is also a great vantage point for getting to know your neighbours. In winter, the hollow stems of the Fennel will also provide the Tit species with insects hiding inside it. I’ve often seen the Blue and Coal Tits feed on these while they are waiting for a spot on the peanutfeeder.
Miss Fennel is now looking twice her size at the bottom, where the fronds obscure birds queuing on the shelving behind it, where, like on the Fennel, wall and the cage, birds congregate to have a chat, chew on what they have collected in the planter, or look out for any sign of danger. The wall is also used as a race track for youngsters and adults alike, the Sparrows, Chaffinches and Jackdaws run regularly across from left to right.
And I have also seen the Dunnock use this for that reason, when one day it had to make a hasty retreat from Jackdaws.

Often it is the cage where new birds will land, have a look into the garden, and smell whatever is on offer. Yes, I strongly believe that they “smell it out” besides their sight which is excellent to say the least. But sight and smell I will leave for the next post.

Today I had my Wren visit me again. Jenny only comes now and then, mostly staying underneath the shelf where it will search for Insects in or on the wood. Therefore, it is very hard to get a picture opportunity, and my first photo of her was when she had picked up a large green Caterpillar from my garden. Today’s pictures did not turn out as good as those back in spring. Perhaps also because it was very dull this morning at 9am.

Use of the Swinging Fennel,Learning to watch for signs of danger while cousins play,Being thrown in the air from Fennel on the way upright,Some of my ChaffinchesMy Jenny WrenJuvenile RobinGreat Tit enjoying peanutcakeMagpies, making a racket whilst raiding the foodtrayHooded Crow too, will join Rooks, Jackdaws and Magpies, in their efforts to get the best of the lot

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Hunchback of Notre Jardin

With the coming of two beautiful Jackdaw fledglings, quite some time ago, I started to notice some strange behaviour yet could not pinpoint what it was exactly. Until recently after observing for a few more days.
With the young ones becoming bolder by the day, and more often than not, would come and feed on their own, with the parents and the rest of their family elsewhere or perhaps on the roof of the house. When feeding independently from mum, dad or aunties and uncles {and Granddad with the big hairdo, to show his patriarch status of this family of 12 or more.} the Juvenile Jackdaws would often behave as boisterous Jackdaws do, more often than not, their crop with everything they can possibly discover around the feeding area.

As soon as an adult arrives, the youngster will stoop, almost doing a curtsy while bowing to the elder. As long as the elder is on the wall with junior, he will keep up this hunched stand, and slowly start to eat what he has assembled in his crop. Any spills are eaten by older Jackdaw. I’m not sure if this spill is intentionally or not. Pecks at junior are a common sight too. Mostly resulting in junior jumping up high before landing a good distance away from Elder. Still, junior will keep his hunched stance toward the Elder, with head bend low.

It is a pity we do not get to see junior as he flies off towards an uncertain future, searching for a new land, an territory he will at last be able to call his own, and where he can stand up to others, stretch his neck and start his own long line of family and will start his own row of juniors..

Left is other, older Juvenile JackdawAnd when nobody is looking, Junior tries out another attitude,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Hardship of A Coastal Birder in Summer!

The title sounds like a total contradiction, yet I wish it wasn’t. And although I was complaining perhaps how difficult it was to get out during winter, I always kept looking forward to summer, in the hope I’d have less problems in finding a little window in the weather where weather and winds would be favourable to the local conditions, and to my pain giving me the opportunity to put my wheels into, and pack my, gear, for a couple hours on the road. Living at the coast of SW Eire, this means that finding a gap of dry weather, a Light to Moderate breeze, and a reasonable temperature is often hard to find in winter, even though I do not mind cold weather so much.

Since I got my camera in December, I’ve been more on the road I feel during the winter and spring than I have in this summer. In spring I was able to get out on the road either every day or every other day during the first week of May.
Of course it is not only the weather which plays its part, the tides have to be to my liking too. I prefer to get on the road about midway High and Low, which then gives me an hour to get on the road to the little strand where I used to walk our dog, Whitey, a mix between English and Irish Sheepdog; an Irish Collie with a mass of hair.

On the way to this little spot, I will most likely take a detour via the little back road, which is one of the Wildflower hotspots for me, other than inaccessible fields, which I can just glimpse via gaps in the hedgerows. Along the sides of this little road, grow Blue Bells, Ragged Robins, Honeysuckle, Wild Garlic, Little Robins, and many other beauties. Insects you find here too, of course; these flowers all have their preferred pollinators, and Bees, Wasps and Flies buzz around from side to side, and hovering above the sea of alluring colours, smells and shapes. Getting a picture of one, sitting still long enough is another one of those challenges which nature photography brings with it. More often than not it is a question of luck, rather than anything else. Well in my case anyway. I often wish I had a nice macro lens for better detailed shots of these little creatures though. Same with photos of my dear {Micro} Moths. My Lumix does do good pictures but as in the case with most beginners of digital photography, you start wishing for More & Better Shots on those subjects which you favour!

I’m only just back from the shop down in the village, and on my way back along the hedgerows of the back road I stopped suddenly when I noticed some little flowers peeking through. I was unable to discover if they were actually wild ones, or if these had been growing in the garden behind the hedgerow. Still I took their pictures so I can try and look for an ID later.
The Brambles are already underway in the forming of their berries, whose progress is perhaps closely monitored by the House Sparrows living in the dense vegetation of the hedgerow.
The relative new houses which were built behind the hedgerow on a steep slope, have managed to do so while keeping most of these hedgerows intact, a great contribution to the local wildlife. In contrast, Cork County Council destroyed all hedgerows before building the houses on the other site of the road!

Sparrow Fluffers in the Garden,Jackdaw, Head of the Family,Swallow above the backroadJuvenile Great TitChaffinch femaleA bit of colour, Dandelion Berries for the birds Wild Greater Bird'sfoot in the garden