A Crush on a Thrush

When I did my Fictional Asked Questions last month, I nearly included a question from “Bored Birder” demanding to know if I was ever going to take birdwatching seriously.  To which the answer would of course be No.   I love watching birds, and taking photos, but I’m not keeping any lists or chasing any rarities.  In fact the one birdwatching activity that I found stressful was the Big Garden Birdwatch, when counting and identification really mattered.  I’m still worried that my jackdaws may have been rooks.

But tonight I could use some help from my readers who know birds.  A pair of thrushes visited my garden in Northern Ireland this evening.

thrush on front lawn (1)

These lovely birds deserve praise on the blog for being kind enough to pose in the golden light.  They also deserve proper identification.  I shouldn’t be advertising song thrushes if I’ve actually got mistle thrushes.

thrush on fence (2)They came and left together, so I assume they are both one species.  I know that Songs are smaller, and more common, than Mistles, but that doesn’t help.

thrush under fence (1)Someone out there must know.


28 Photos Later: Day 11 in London

It’s Day 11 of my “28 Photos Later” project.


Today’s photo is called “Paint your Chairs to Match your Geraniums”.

match your chairs to your geraniums

This lovely pink oasis has been created by the residents of a mews house in London W2, near Queensway.  I’m impressed at just how much they’ve managed to squeeze in to the space between their house and the double yellow parking lines on the street.


28 Photos Later: Day 8 in London

Welcome to Day 8 of “28 Photos Later”.


Today’s photo “Blooming Marvellous” was taken a few months ago.  I thought of it today because of the contrast with yesterday’s deadly garden.

Blooming Marvellous

This sign outside a Primrose Hill pub is advertising more than just the few tubs of flowers that you can see in the photo.  Food and drink are served in a garden at the back of the pub.  Looks like a lovely place to go in the summer.

My Feeble Contribution to the Big Garden Birdwatch

So, do you want to know the results of my Big Garden Birdwatch?  (New readers click here or here for explanations of BGB).

In my one hour of birdwatching, I recorded 12 birds.  I identified one Robin, one Woodpigeon, one Blackbird, one Jackdaw, Two Blue Tits, Four Coal Tits and One Great Tit (at the feeder in this photo).

Birds great titSome humans don’t like taking part in a government census.  Maybe it’s the same with birds.  Around the farm during the course of the day,  I saw a hawk on a telegraph pole, ten woodpigeons in one tree, and seven magpies in a field; none of them came near the garden for the BGB.

And I can’t even blame the cat, because Bono was asleep in the kitchen.  Smart move, with the temperature sitting at 2ºC .  So there was no chance of a repeat of this scene from Monday.

Bono climbing tree 3

If anyone else took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, I would love to know what you saw.  I hope you had a warmer day, with more co-operative birds.










Big Garden Birdwatch

The weekend of 24-25 January 2015 is the UK’s “Big Garden Birdwatch”.  The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has been running these bird surveys for 36 years now.  This is my first year.


 These are the instructions.

1.  Watch the birds in your garden for one hour.

2.  Make a list of the birds that land in your garden, not those flying over.

3. Record the highest number of each species you see at the same time, not the total over the hour.

4. Send your list to RSPB.

Last year the top 10 species were: house sparrow, blue tit, starling, blackbird, woodpigeon, chaffinch, goldfinch, great tit, collared dove, and robin.  Click here if you want to take part this year.

Birds blackbird - Version 3

I was out in the garden on the drumlin today, so I have a pretty good idea of the birds I’m likely to see in the Big Garden Birdwatch.  The feeder brings in blue tits, coal tits and robins.  And it’s hard to imagine a whole hour going past without a blackbird or magpie flying in.

The birds didn’t take much notice of me today.  They can’t have known just how excited I was to try out a new lens and tripod for my Nikon D90.  My first day ever taking photos with a tripod – and it was great. I found the lens (Nikon AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm) surprisingly heavy, and the aluminium tripod (Manfrotto 055 with ball head) surprisingly light.

birds coal tit seed in mouth

 I will report back at the weekend with the results of my Big Garden Birdwatch.  My main problem may be the other member of the household who is keen on birdwatching.


Gazing Wistfully Through the Railings

London has some peaceful, quiet garden squares.

Some of them are only open to key-holders, unless you are Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts or Ronan Keating in the movie “Notting Hill” or the video for “You say it best”.

Local residents can pay an annual fee for a key; the rest of us can visit on the next  London Open Garden Squares Weekend weekend on 13-14 June 2015.

For a few years I had a key to Manchester Square, but I gave up my key when I went to India.  Maybe it’s time to apply for another key, instead of gazing wistfully through the railings.

W1 Manchester Square

I shall leave you with a photo of an inviting bench in Cleveland Gardens, W2.

Cleveland Gardens autumn bench



Belfast Rose Week

More roses today.  About a month after London’s roses peaked (and starred in this post), I headed 500km northwest of London to Belfast, where summer comes later, and Rose Week is celebrated in July.

white rose in belfast

Local councils are responsible for some of the most mundane aspects of our lives, but sometimes they get to take credit for something lovely – like Rose Week.   Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Nichola Mallon, unveiled a plaque this morning, marking the 50th anniversary of the Rose Garden and the founding of the Rose Society of Northern Ireland.

Rose Garden plaque

Some of the roses in the garden are in competition, with international judges.  For the domestic judges, i.e. me and my Mum, the winner was this red and white one.

red & white rose in blefast

Rose Week runs until Sunday 27 July, with all kinds of events for families – click here for details.  The gardens and surrounding parkland are open all year round of course, even after the roses have faded.

Rose Week Banner