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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Champing At The Bit - on 17th January, 2013

I'm still a bit under the weather with a chest and throat infection, and a couple of short trips out have resulted in me regretting it! Today, therefore, with much frustration I've stayed at home. This, however, has had its compensations. It's been a truly remarkable day in or garden, in spite of the very dull cold weather or (more probably) because of it. 

Bearing in mind that we only have a postage stamp of a suburban garden (about 100 sq metres or 1,000 sq ft), to have 24 Blackbirds (just realised that that's a pie's worth!) in our garden at one time (a record for us!) was a bit Hitchcockian.

It was also a record day for the number of species seen in our garden in a day - 17.

Nothing very unusual in the way of species was seen in the garden in the morning, except that we were having our second visit of the year from a Great Spotted Woodpecker when I looked out of the bedroom window first thing in the morning.

The afternoon, however, was a bit more exciting, in spite of it staying cloudy and dull. First on the scene were a couple of Long-tailed Tits. We don't get too many of them. No photos were taken of them as they were at the far end of the garden.

Next on the scene was a Brambling. I'm pretty sure that this was a winter plumage male, as there was quite a lot of black showing on its face. This obliged by coming to within about 8 metres (8 yards) from my study window.  As we'd only seen a female Brambling this year, I was particularly pleased.

Brambling (male) - our garden
A short while later the female Bullfinch, that has been visiting us on an occasional basis, briefly came quite close to my window. Lately she's tended to stay at the other end of the garden.

Bullfinch (female) - our garden
As what little light there was was starting to go, a male Lesser Redpoll graced us with his presence. This was the sixth Redpoll visit we've had this year, but lately it's been a female that's visited us.

Lesser Redpoll (male) - our garden
 This is a female bird from the previous day.

Lesser Redpoll (female) - our garden.
I mention a couple of excursions that I'd regretted. One of them was to my favourite Calke Park. I didn't arrive until the sun was setting (if there had been any sun!), and didn't see the hoped-for owls. This stag Red Deer was quite obliging however.

Red Deer (male) - Calke Park
I have seen some owls since I last included them in a post. However, I've not managed much in the way of images, so will probably wait until I have a few more sightings before posting on them.

Hoping to get out there and do something soon!!!


In my last post, I featured a number by Cream. Two thirds of cream (Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker) had once been half of The Graham Bond Organization - the other half being Graham Bond (who played a mean Hammond organ) and Dick Heckstall-Smith on saxophone. I managed to get to see this band many times as they were a great favourite of mine. Ginger Baker's 15 minute drum solos were utterly amazing (I still rate him the best drummer ever!). He put so much energy into them that it was quite normal for him to disappear off stage to throw up afterwards! This is a number that, with it's train theme, was destined to be a particular favourite for me. Yes, I have this on vinyl too!


  1. Why venture out? What a selection in the garden, Richard. I love the Lesser Redpoll - I think it has to be the cutest bird in the land. Rest to get well, and then you can fully enjoy the outdoors!

    1. Thank you Christian. Looks like I've got to go out in the snow tomorrow as the car's booked in to have the ABS and ESP sorted - just the things that you don't want inoperable when road conditions are slippery!

  2. An all round excellent post with 4 and 20 Blackbirds in your postage sized garden, Brambling, Bullfinch, and Redpoll, some garden Richard whatever the size.

    Hope you're feeling better soon.

  3. My favourites, should you can guess, the Bullfinch. And not to be pushed out, was the Red Deer, his antlers, wow.

    1. I too have a soft spot for Bullfinches, Bob. The Red Deer stag certainly looks to be a fine specimen!

  4. I'm coming over to twitch your garden Richard, I'll be hiding in the bushes by the time you get up!!!

    1. You'll be welcome at any time Paul. I can't guarantee the sightings or the photo opportunities, however. By 9:00 today we've already had Brambling (female), Bullfinch (female), and Redwing (1st for the year).

  5. Hi Richard!
    What a gorgeous series of pictures!
    You are lucky to see Bullfinches, I only saw them in the centre of France when I was a kid, but here in the south of France, in the past 10 years I haven't seen one!
    The stag is phenomenal!
    To answer you question, we live just north of the Pyrenees, a mountain range we see from our house which is on a hill, about 420 m in altitude.
    We get a little snow once or twice a year so naturally these days are sort of special!
    Last year, we had a 3 weeks' cold spell - temperatures remained below -10°C -, a disaster for many birds, all the Cattle and Little egrets died, so did many Lapwings and so on.
    Cheers and enjoy your day!

    1. Thank you Noushka. It's been snowing all day here, and the poor birds are suffering. The upside to this, of course, is that the Pegler Bird Restaurant & Watering Hole is doing great trade! We're heading for a record number of species in a day with a first for the year (Redwing) and a lifetime garden first (Mistle Thrush) already. It's a real cure from being stir-crazy - I just don't want to move from my window! Shame that the light makes it impossible for photography but, if the snow stops and the sun comes out, I might just have to throw caution to the wind and get out into the countryside!

  6. Excellent pics Richard that Brambling is a corker :-)

    1. Thank you Alan. I didn't break the garden record for number of species seen today (it's nearly dark now), but I did equal it.

      I've had three Brambling visit today, but I can only count two for my garden maximum (must be seen at the same time), although I can tell all three apart because of the head markings.

  7. Superb collection from your garden Richard,wish we could see as many in our garden,not had Bramling for a couple of years.
    Love your Lesser Redpoll,top notch.
    Hope you get better soon,take care.

    1. Thank you John. Would be feeling much better today if it wasn't for a sore throat!

  8. Great images, especially that Bullfinch. I would kill for a Brambling in my garden. I have to say I seem to have the same sort of day the weather definately made for interesting viewing. Get well soon.

    1. Thank you Doug. I reckon I've been lucky this winter in the garden.

  9. Great set of garden birds - Brambling and GSW would be a real pick me up.

    I saw Ginger Baker play during his brief time with (wait for it!) Hawkwind!

    Thanks for the link to WBW.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne.

    PS: sorry for slow reply - I been out of internet range in Tasmania!

    1. Thank you Stewart. Didn't know the Ginger had played with Hawkwind!

    2. Only one album as far as I am aware - Levitation. SM

    3. Thanks for that info Stewart. I'm horrified to see that I wrote "the Ginger", rather than "that Ginger" as I intended. Sounds as if I have a prejudice against people with red hair - which, of course, I do not!


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