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Saturday 18 November 2023

The Second Half of October - 2023

For various reasons, I didn't get out with my camera in the second half of October, so this will just feature observations of things in our garden. The birds were either seen and photographed from my study or from our conservatory at meal times. The insects had me going into the garden to photograph them.

Monday, 16th October

A Heron landed on the roof of the bungalow behind our garden, and I couldn't resist a shot, even though it wouldn't be on the Garden List. It is many years since we had a Heron actually land IN the garden, and the garden list only includes birds that set a foot down in the garden - not even fly-throughs are recorded. 

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - behind our garden
That day, we had six Long-tailed Tits visit. These are always a delight to see, but they rarely stay still and tend not to hang around for long.
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - our garden

Tuesday, 17th October

Stock Dove is still a regular visitor to the garden. Most of the time, we just get the one bird, but sometimes we get two together. These are strictly ground feeders. On this occasion we just had the one bird.

Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - our garden
Wednesday, 18th October

We had some real excitement this day in the form of our first Brambling of the winter. Sadly, I only managed record shots of it on a feeder. I kept my eyes open for its return, but it was not to be. Hopefully there will be more opportunities later in the winter.

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) (female) - our garden
Thursday, 19th October

Whilst enjoying breakfast in the conservatory, I noticed something that piqued my curiosity, on the pedestal of the bird-bath. I went out to have a look and found what I am pretty sure was the larva of a Ruby Tiger moth. It was very wet from the earlier rain.

Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa) (larva) - our garden
A late-visiting Red Admiral was a pleasure to see.
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - our garden
I went out later to check on the Ruby Tiger. It had dried out and was changing position from time to time and my initial thoughts were that it was looking for somewhere to pupate. However, it seems that this species likes to pupate on the ground under bushes and leaf detritus. I then came to the conclusion that it was just trying to find a dry spot following the torrential rain in the night.

Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa) (larva) - our garden

Friday, 20th October

We woke to find that the extremely heavy rain in the night was causing water to flow through our garden, and was lapping round our back door. Fortunately the rain, and water level, subsided to a safer level. It had just stopped raining when a Sparrowhawk arrived in the garden. I tried to take some photos from the conservatory, but the windows were so wet that I couldn't get focus. Something inspired me try try holding the lens hard up against the glass and this worked! 

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (immature male) - our garden
Sunday, 22nd October

Our garden Robin seems to have found a mate. I think that this one, photographed from the chair in my study, is the male.

Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - our garden

Wednesday, 25th October

This blog post will now get a little repetitive as the last week of the month in the garden was being dominated by visits from the immature male Sparrowhawk. Its visits, which were occuring several times a day, had a negative effect on the numbers of visits by other birds. Here's one from this day, when it had the audacity to sit on the quick-release plate on the stake that one of the three trail cams that I deploy every night gets attached to. My excuse for multiple images is that, once the majority of birds have gone elsewhere, the Sparrowhawk will seek somewhere with richer pickings and will probably not be seen for a month or so.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (immature male) - our garden

Friday, 27th October

The Sparrowhawk was busy this day. These two shots were taken at 14.12 and 16.35. 

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (immature male) - our garden

Sunday, 29th October

Yes, it's that Sparrowhawk again!

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (immature male) - our garden

That night, one of the garden trail cams recorded one of our regular Hedgehogs nest-building in one of the two houses that we have deployed. At this time, we were down to three Hedgehogs visiting,and this one is giving us a little concern as it is rather small, and possibly too small to survive hibernation. I shall be keeping an eye on it.

Thus ended the month.


I expect that my next post will cover the first half of November, and be somewhat different to this one as I managed to get out with my camera during that period.

In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature. Thank you for dropping by - - - Richard


  1. Beautiful photos of the birds in your garden. The sparrowhawk is excellent. Have a nice weekend !

    1. Thank you, Caroline. The Sparrowhawk is a magnificent bird, but I wish it was a vegetarian! Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. Have to say, the handsome killer hawk has the most evil eyes I know of in the world of UK raptors. I also found a Ruby Tiger larva recently with it's lovely long ruby hairs, and your late Red Admiral joins a list of others in November on our local butterfly conservation website, where the latest one was 17 December 2021. Pleased to hear you got out with your camera in the first half of this month Richard.


    1. I suspect that the Sparrowhawk's prey die of fright with those eyes looking down on them, rather than through any physical despatch, Pete. That bird is getting far too cocky - this morning it shot past me at head height, close enough for me to feel the draught. I'm guessing less than a metre away!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  3. Hi Richard
    I did the end Sparrowhawk, it is lovely enjoy it. The last of Hedgehog series.

    1. I'm guessing that this is you, Bob? - Thank you for your much-appreciated visit. Best wishes - - - - Richard

  4. Wow Richard I love those shots of the sparrowhawk, I just hope its hunting in your garden was not successful!

    I wish the long-tailed tits would visit our garden, I have seen them further South but never around here. The guys in the Dordogne occasionally get photos of them. Wonderful shot of the robin and so nice to see the hedgehog.

    I hope all is well over there, we have a busy time over the next few weeks, We are buying the neighbouring barn, so several visits to the notaire and N has a couple of days visit to hospital coming up for an unexpected op. Thankfully all should be well for us to go on our trip to Namibia at the end of January.

    My very best wishes to you both, cheers Diane.

    1. The Sparrowhawk is getting more adept at hunting, Diane. It is also getting to be more bold, as I mention to Pete, above.

      Sad news about the Hedgehog - it suddenly started looking very sick a couple of days ago. I took it to a hedghog rescue centre yesterday and got a message this morning to say that it had died in the night. I'm very upset!

      Is the barn that you are buying the one that you see the Little Owls on? If so, you might want to think about puting up a nest box for it. I can probably dig out some design details for such a box if you wish - they do benefit from a design specifically for Little Owls.

      I shall keep my fingers crossed for Nigel's op. Recently, we seem to be having more days with medical related visits than days without, including a scheduled hospital visit for me today (Sunday!).

      Best wishes to you and Nigel - take good care - - - Richard

  5. Hello Richard,
    As already mentioned in the first half, the sparrowhawk drives away the other birds, but the beautiful pictures of him are fantastic, this look is just great... in the video I initially thought it was a fox coming, but it turned out to be a cat. .
    Greetings Frank

    1. I suspect that there will be more photos of the Sparrowhawk in future, Frank, as it is visiting several times each day.

      We have several cats that visit during the night - none of them are ours. They usually keep well away from the hadgehogs. Sadly, that hedgehog suddenly got ill, and was found dead at the hedgehog rescue centre this morning.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  6. Lovely Sparrowhawk shots Richard. Really classy photos. Take care.

    1. Thank you, Marc - the photo opportunities with the Sparrowhawk compensate, in part, for the reduced visits by other birds that it causes!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  7. Lovely post Richard. Well worth the effort.

    1. Thank you, Mike - no effort at all, really!

      Stay safe, and look after those Foxes - - - Richard

  8. How marvelous you have your very own birding oasis! No need to fight traffic when you can just peer out the window.

    Of course, the Sparrowhawk is the star of the show. If only he can refrain from eating the rest of the cast.

    I really like the subtle coloring of the Long-tailed Tit and the iconic Robin is fabulous. A Brambling must have been a nice surprise. Perhaps it will spread the word and you will soon be inundated with its friends.

    A few coolish and dry mornings have made recent outings extremely pleasant. Of course, this week is punctuated with doctor appointments and feast preparations for celebrating our American holiday of Thanksgiving at our daughter's house.

    Gini and I are thankful for you and Lindsay - friends even though we have never met. Technology, when used correctly, can be a blessing.

    Take good care this week.

    1. Although our garden is fairly rich in avian visitors, in truth, Wally, I'd rather be getting out more - just to get a bit more variety in my life. However, most of my excursions lately have been to places to help Lindsay getting rehabilitated with her walking, and which are somewhat depleted in wildlife. I'm pleased to report, however, that her mobility is improving.

      Lately we've been being visited by a Goldcrest (akin to your kinglets). However, I've yet to get anything but records shots.

      I'm amused by the disparity of our weathers - you're enjoying the benefits of cooler days while we are eagerly awaiting warmer weather. We do, however, seem to share plenty of rainfall!

      I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow with family. Our meet-up at a restaurant with my brother and sister-in-law yesterday produced the most bizarre dining experience that any of us had ever experienced - it was so awful that it was amusing!

      Your 'on-line' friendship is much-appreciated and highly valued. Maybe one day we will meet?

      My very best wishes to you and Gini - - - Richard

  9. Hi Richard!!! What a beautiful pictures... Fantastic the Sparrowhawk and very interesting the Ruby Tiger... many thanks for your kind comments... Take care...

    1. The Sparrowhawk is getting to be more successful in its hunting visits to our garden, Ana, and my wife is getting upset by it taking the birds that visit us.

      Thank you for your visit and kind words which, coming from an extremely talented photographer such as yourself, are very much appreciated.

      My very best wishes - - - Richard

  10. Un gran reportaje, has hecho unas fotografías preciosas, me encantan. Un abrazo.


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