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Monday, 9 January 2023

The Last Days of 2022

My last blog post covered a period which terminated on 8th December - the day that Lindsay and I departed on a journey to have her fitted with a new right knee. The time since then has had a number of ups and downs, with rather more downs than we expected or would have wished for. I'm sorry to say that, as I write this, Lindsay's recovery is still being marred by an infection that could have serious consequences.

Saturday, 10th December

I returned home this day after a meeting with Lindsay's surgeon, with Lindsay remaining in hospital.

In my last blog post I said that I was a little disappointed that my departure from home with Lindsay had coincided with the arrival of avian winter visitors. In spite of only getting home at mid-day, this day I managed to record 17 species putting a foot down in our garden before sunset four hours later, and I did photograph a few of the more common birds.

The Magpie was being greedy, and stocking up on peanuts.

Magpie (Pica pica) - garden on 10th December, 2022
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) - garden on 10th December, 2022
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - garden on 10th December, 2022
I did also get some shots of one of our much less common winter visitors. At this point in time, there were still plenty of berries left on our Rowan tree.

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - garden on 10th December, 2022
Sunday, 11th December

We had a very cold morning, with a sprinkling of snow. I was called mid-afternoon to collect Lindsay from hospital, but I did manage to get a few shots of the two wagtails that visited that day - (possible - doubt due to a comment from 'Conehead54, see below) White Wagtail and Pied Wagtail. My records list them as two different species but, technically, one (Pied) is a sub-species of the nominate (White) species.

(possible) White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) - garden on 11th December, 2022

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) - garden on 11th December, 2022
Monday, 12th December

At the start of the week, we had a little more snow and we were still being visited by Pied and (possible) White Wagtails.

(possible) White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) - garden on 12th December, 2022

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) - garden on 12th December, 2022
Tuesday, 13th December

Dunnock is a daily visitor to the garden and sometimes we get up to three of them. However, I don't often photograph them. This rather dull day was an exception, however. I find the faces of this species to be particularly attractive.

Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - garden on 13th December, 2022

We also had visits by Mistle Thrush and Redwing this day, although only Redwing was photographed.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus) - garden on 13th December, 2022
Both Pied and (possible) White Wagtails were still with us, and the Pied Wagtail offered itself up for some more imtimate shots.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) - garden on 13th December, 2022
Thursday, 15th December

This was a very cold day, although I did not record the termperature. I did, however, photograph frost on our conservatory window, which made an attractive pattern.

Frost on our conservatory window, on 15th December, 2022
Fortunately, it was also a sunny day. We were pleased to welcome the winter visitors again.
I was pleased to get the first image, below, of one of the two Redwings that visited as it shows how the top-of-head plumage overhangs their eyes - a fact that I don't recall noticing before.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus) - garden on 15th December, 2022
A first winter male Blackcap, with its black cap fringed with brown, was back with us this day also, and has continued to be an intermittent vistor.
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (1st winter male) - garden on 15th December, 2022
There was beautiful golden light towards sunset, and I photographed two of our visitors which were still around.
Redwing (Turdus iliacus) - garden on 15th December, 2022
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - garden on 15th December, 2022
Friday, 16th December
It had been a while since we last saw a Bullfinch in the garden so I was delighted to spot a male visiting, although it was a very dull day, the bird was about as far away as it was possible to be in our garden, and so my shots were not good.
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - garden on 16th December, 2022
I was rather pleased with the background colours in this next image, so please excuse yet another Mistle Thrush.
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) - garden on 16th December, 2022
I was pleased to get some video clips of the (possible) White Wagtail that visited just before sunset.
Saturday, 17th December
Needing to keep my trigger finger exercised, I took some shots of a Redwing in the garden.
Redwing (Turdus iliacus) - garden on 17th December, 2022
Sunday, 18th December
We had a remarkable 23 species of bird put a foot down in our garden this day (in summer it's an execeptional week when we get 20 species in the week). We had all three wagtails ((possible) White, Pied, and Grey), although White Wagtail was not photographed.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) - garden on 18th December, 2022
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - garden on 18th December, 2022
For me, the most exciting visitor that day was a Song Thrush - a species that rarely visits us, with the previous visit being on 28th November, 2021.
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) - garden on 18th December, 2022
The male Bullfinch was back. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Bullfinches are some of the messiest eaters in the avian world I know of.
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - garden on 18th December, 2022
A little more excitement was caused by the Redpoll that showed up. I only managed a record shot on one of our feeders at the top of the garden.
Lesser Redpoll (Acanthis cabaret) with Goldfinch - garden on 18th December, 2022
Wednesday, 21st December
We had another visit by Song Thrush, which put on a good show. Fortunately, there were still a few berries left lower down on our Rowan - they have all been consumed now.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) - garden on 21st December, 2022
I was also delighted when Stock Dove made a return visit.
Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - garden on 21st December, 2022
Thursday, 22nd December
The star visitor this day was a male Sparrowhawk. Sadly, it did not linger long enough for me to get a decent shot, and it left without its dinner.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (male) - garden on 22nd December, 2022
Friday, 23rd December
A non-wildlife item to report for this day. Last Christmas I made a leather bag for Lindsay. On seeing it, our daughter asked if I would consider making one for her, but to a different design, and with a cat motif. How could I refuse !?  I'd promised her it would be her Christmas present, but that was before we learned of Lindsay's pre-Christmas knee operation. Much to my relief, after working on it for a couple of months, I finished it just two days before Christmas. I think that she was pleased with the result.
the bag that I made for our daughter for Christmas 2022
Sunday, 25th December
The week ended with what I believe is possibly our highest ever weekly tally of birds setting foot in our garden - 27 species (although I confess to a slight cheat here as Pied Wagtail is a sub-species of White Wagtail).  These were (in alphabetical order):-  Blackbird (5) ; Blackcap ; Bullfinch (2) ; Chaffinch (5) ; Crow, Carrion ; Dove, Collared (4) ; Dove, Stock ; Dunnock (2) ; Goldfinch (14) ; Greenfinch (3) ; Jackdaw ; Magpie (4) ; Redpoll, Lesser ; Redwing ; Robin (2) ; Sparrow, House (3) ; Sparrowhawk ; Starling (8) ; Thrush, Mistle (2) ; Thrush, Song ; Tit, Blue ; Tit, Coal ; Tit, Great ; Wagtail, Pied ; Wagtail, (possible) White ; Woodpigeon (5) ; Wren.

Due to a number of factors, no further significant photos were taken before the end of the year.

I am sorry if you find the subject matter in this blog post is too repetitive, but the winter visitors are something that I have really cherished and I wanted to give them a level of coverage that reflected their importance to me. Having the garden, and the winter visitors, has been a real benefit to my wellbeing while I am confined to home looking afdter Lindsay.

Hopefully I will be able to publish another blog post in about a week's time, but I have little material to offer as I write this as the winter visitors seem to have now departed! In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature.

Thank you for dropping by - - - Richard


  1. Beautiful photos of the last days of December.

  2. Stunning set of photos as always. I love the 'face on' shot of the Redwing. That overhanging brow makes it look like it is quite cross.

    The Dunnock is one of my favourites. I have only ever seen one here in the garden and it is almost always under a shrub and impossible to take photos of. I need to wait for a really hot day, and then I might just be lucky enough to catch it coming out for a drink of water or a bath.

    Please take care and tell Lindsay I am thinking of her. Very best wishes Diane.

    1. Those Dunnocks do like to skulk in the bushes, don't they Diane. Their other English name of "Hedge Sparrow" is, I think, quite appropriate.

      Lindsay is, I'm pleased to say. now showing sign of improvement. This last couirse of antibiotics seems to be working. Fingers are crossed.

      My best wishes to you and Nigel - - - Richard

  3. PS Forgot to add, your leather work is superb. Well done. Diane

    1. Thank you, Diane. I think that this might be my last ever leather piece as my eyesight is proving to be a bit challenging for intricate work these days.

  4. First and foremost, Richard, Gini and I have not stopped thinking positively for both you and Lindsay.

    Well, it appears word has leaked out about your garden paradise for birds. Most likely, some Stool Pigeon tweeted its location on the Bird Wide Web.

    What a terrific winter collection! Your superb photography makes it impossible to identify a "favorite" as they all qualify. I'm drawn to that Song Thrush just because it seems so handsome. Wait, the Bullfinch has such neat lines. But, the Wagtails are just so energetic! Look at the markings on the Redwing! And the Mistle Thrush!

    Okay. I can't decide. I'll get back to you on my final decision in the Spring.

    Relax when you have the chance. Birds and bloggers shall wait patiently for you.

    All is well in sunny Florida. Too many birds to count so we gave up.

    1. Hi Wally. Yours and Gini's positive thoughts, plus the latest course of antibiotics, seem to be working in the right direction - thank you.

      Just recently, it has turned warmer and wetter here, and the winter visitors have deserted us. It's tempting to selfishly wish for harsher weather to bring them back, but then I think to myself that they'd only be here because their life would be difficult otherwise - and then there's our own heating costs to consider too.

      My best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  5. Lovely shots as ever. Have to say I'd call the bird described as a White Wagtail, a female Pied Wagtail, especially with the dusky flanks. A December record of White Wagtail would be very unusual for a bird mainly seen on passage.

    1. Thank you for your much-appreciated commments. I now have a bit of a dilemma. I was somewhat undecided myself about the ID of that wagtail. However, a couple of months ago, I was introduced to the ObsIdentify app. which I have found to be rather good and, having tested it on a number of items, relatively reliable. I did put several images of this bird to ObsIdentify and, each time, it came back with 'White Wagtail' 'certain'. I did further tests by submitting some Pied Wagtail images just to check that it actually recognised the subspecies yarrellii, and it did. I have also mentioned this bird on Twitter and our county birdwatching society have responded, but not queried the ID, nor has anybody else. I hope that you will not be offended, therefore, if I just amend this blog post to state 'possible White Wagtail' which might show people that I'm open to discussion and correction!

      Thank you again for your input and encouragement. Best wishes - - - Richard

    2. Have now checked with a member of our county bird records committee - he agrees with your observation. Thank you again, for bringing this to my attention, and sorry that I had some doubts about your advice. It's a bit late to be changing this blog post, but I will be changing my records accordingly. Best wishes - - - Richard

  6. Hello Richard: Sorry to hear that Lindsay is not recovering quite as quickly as she (and you) might have wished. A potential infection is not to be trifled with and hopefully antibiotics can take care of that. In the meantime your little backyard oasis continues to deliver thrills. There was a time when almost every visitor would have been a lifer for me! Best wishes to Lindsay - David

    1. In the last 24 hours, I think that we may now be turning a corner in a positive direction with Lindsay's recovery, David. Fingers will remain crossed, however. Thank you for your kind wishes - - - Richard

  7. Three comments from me Richard....First, I am desperately sorry to hear the news about Lindsey ( join the club I hear you say). I can only add, hoping all this is going to be history as soon as possible. Second, such an excellent variety of birds to you garden, at least two of which I'm not likely to ever see in ours. Third, the leather bag for your daughter is surely the result of one of your many talents Richard.

    Kind Regards, and please Get Well Soon Lindsey.

    1. Thank you for those three much-appreciated comments, Pete. Every bit of encouragement is helpful and heartening. My best wishes to you and KT - - - Richard

  8. I forgot to add that I am seriously impressed with your leatherwork, as I always am. Fabulous result!

    1. Thank you, David. As mentioned to Diane, above, I suspect that this will have been my last leather piece, as my eyesight is making it more difficult for the intricate aspects. It wasn't helped by being told yesterday that my wet macular degeneration, having made a great improvement, was now starting to return and I'll be on continuing injections into the eye for the foreseeable future and an 'oh, by the way, we need you to come in to the glaucoma clinic as the pressure in your other eye is way too high!

  9. Hello Richard, so sorry to read that Lindsay has a severe set back. Infection is the last thing you want when recouvering from an operation. I do hope she wil get the necessery medication. Wishing her speedy recovery. For you as well all the best with taking care of her. Your garden birds are stunning so manny different species. Amazing. I only get about 20 House Sparrows every day on my feeders on my terras. Love it.
    The hand bag you made for your doughter is stunning. You are verry skilful.
    Warm regards from Belgium,
    Take care.

    1. Thank you, Roos. This last course of intravenous antibiotics seems to be just starting to work, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

      There was a time, until a few years ago, that we would daily see more than 20 House Sparrows in our garden, but now we are lucky if we see more than 6. They are really not doing well in UK.

      Sadly, Roos, I think that the lather bag may be my last piece of leather work as I find my eyesight struggles with intricate work. That bag does not look so good if looked at closely.

      Best wishes from a rather wet Middle England. Take good care - - - Richard

    2. Glad to read that the antibiotics dous the good thing. Hope by now that Lindsay has much improved?

    3. She has very much improved, Roos - thank you so much for your kind concern - - - Richard

  10. Hi Richard! You are a true artist! An incredibly beautiful bag. There has been a lot of interesting things to photograph there.

  11. Hello Richard
    there good ones first, the translator works perfectly again, your pictures are even better, a huge selection, that pleases the bird lover and the great light at sunset.. perfect post.
    Greetings to you and of course to Linsay and get well soon..
    the bag is a very nice gift

    1. Thank you, Frank. I'm pleased to know that the translator is now working for you. I'm also delighted to report that Lindsay's condition seems to be improving now.. My very best wishes - - - Richard

  12. Hi Richard!!! Beautiful birds and shots... Happy weekend

    1. Thank you for visiting and your kind words, Ana. Best wishes from a cold and wet UK - - - Richard

  13. Birds, birds, birds, you are pleased with pictures, excellent showing. Nice present for your daughter, lovely.

    1. Thank you, Bob. Best wishes to you and the family - - - Richard

  14. Beautiful photos Richard. Nice birds. Thank you for your friendship.

    1. Thank you, Caroline - your visits are much appreciated.

  15. Espectacular sesión, me han encantado todas las fotos y también tu regalo navideño, muy original y diferente. Richard un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España, todo lo mejor amigo mío!!!

    1. Gracias, Germán, por tus amables palabras. Felicitaciones por pasar el millón de visitantes a su blog, ¡un logro maravilloso!

      Mis mejores deseos para usted desde el centro de Inglaterra, donde actualmente hace frío, pero hace sol. Mantente a salvo - - - Richard

  16. Dear Richard I am so sorry to learn that Lindsay had an infection following her knee surgery, which is a setback to her recovery. I hope that by now the antibiotics have successfully cleared the infection, and Lindsay is feeling better. I was also saddened to learn of your eye condition, and think it is a miraculous that you were able to make the beautiful handbag for your daughter. Perhaps it will be the last time you will make something, but you always have your birds, and I can't fault the professional photographs you take which have thrilled and delighted me every time I visit. The many bird visitors you share on this post is no exception as all are extremely beautiful as are your photos.. The berries of your Rowan tree are a great attraction for birds in winter when food is scarce. Thank you for sharing, and also for your get well wishes for both myself and my daughter which is much appreciated.
    My best wishes to both you and Lindsay.

    1. Dear Sonjia, I am pleased to report that Lindsay is making good progress, although a little more slowly than we might have wished for! I'll know more about my eye condition in a few weeks time - thank you for your very kind concern for both of us, and also for your kind words about my photographic efforts.

      The problem with the Rowan berries is that, once the birds find them in the right state of ripeness, they are all gone within about two weeks!

      With my very best wishes to you and your daughter - - - Richard


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