Tag Archives: European Robin


ChristopherThank you everybody who voted to give the little Robin a name 🙂

The most popular name was Christopher and that is how I will remember him.

He’s gone 😦

I haven’t seen him since Wednesday. He wasn’t there when I opened my door on Wednesday morning, he only showed up once that day, I think to say goodbye and I haven’t seen him since.

ChristopherWhat happened?

There were too many Robins. I was seeing four birds every time I looked out of my window. I think they were last year’s brood and that they just hadn’t dispersed yet. Christopher must have been one of the juveniles.

I don’t think that he was hit by a bus, just because he did come to see me once on that last day. I think that he had to leave and find a territory of his own.

I put off writing this post. I am a bit disappointed, just because it took me three months to get him eating out of my hand and I miss seeing him when I open my door.

The way that I see it is that it was a wonderful experience and there is nothing at all to regret and I will try again.

ChristopherTake care Christopher (I have to stop calling him little bird now). Thank you.

Now that was a sad post. I have got another post to write today. The Dog has been saying some things about me that are not completely true and I have some beautiful pictures to show you.

Honey Bee

The Boss Speaks

There are two things wrong with today:

One: It is chucking down with rain.

Two: Whenever I look after him, when my mum and dad get back (his owners) they give him a bottle of whiskey for being a good boy. You won’t see him for a while.

So let us start by righting a few wrongs.

The Eagle has landed!

European RobinGreat! So it is “Eddy the Eagle” then. No need for a poll.

Eddy as in a tide. The tide comes in and the tide goes out (Geddit?)

European RobinEating isn’t a trick. Anyone can do eating.

Eating FizzI can do the dishes.

DishesSo I took him for a walk today. At his age it doesn’t really matter about the exercise but I need to keep his mind active, it slips so easily.

Hey Fizz come and look at this beauty.

SheepLeave it Col, it’s not even one of ours.

The last thing that I want to do is mess about photographing lambs in springtime.

It is not a lamb Fizz, it is a Sheep with a very pretty face. No lambs involved.

Pretty SheepIt is hard to keep him on track sometimes.

We are up here looking for Lent Lilies. (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) otherwise know as Wild Daffodils. I found a bunch up here last March and I keep coming back, hoping to catch them from the beginning.

Pictures from last year.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Narcissus pseudonarcissusWe can’t exactly remember where we saw them last year, so we just keep walking this trail and looking for them.

Fizz, Fizz, Fizz!

Spring LambYes! We agreed, no lambs. Remember?

“No lambs involved,” That was his words.

Yes but it’s her lamb Fizz!


Come this way. I need you to focus. Would you like to throw your ball away for a bit? I’ll get it back for you.

Then, a breakthrough!

Lent LiliesHidden in amongst the Bluebells, just where I knew they would be, I found them.

Lent Lilies“Col, come quick! I’ve found them!”

Fizz, Fizz, Fizz!

LambTry to remember that I am a Dog and that technically, I could bite you.

Bite me Fizz! It’s her other lamb.

Other LambSometimes I despair.

SheepHe is just a sucker for a pretty face.

(I know, I work it)

Pretty FaceWe will be back to talk about Lent Lilies in a week or so, when he has sobered up. Until then, I will be running the blog.

Is it Spring yet?

Has anyone seen any signs of Spring?

Pick Puck or Pickle

Nah, Pickle isn’t an option.

It has been a month since we had a proper Robin update, the last one was Valentine’s Day. I asked you for suggestions for a name and said that when I got him eating out of my hand we would have a poll to choose the best one.

Today we raised the bar (by about two and a half feet) and he needs a name. Bear in mind that this is an important decision because after three months of hard taming, he is family now and he will be appearing here, as much a part of my day as walking the Dog.

If anybody has got Facebook then I ask that you just ignore any name suggestions that Fizz may post. I am not going to call him Flighty or Misfit. They will be chums.

Today started just as any other. He waits outside of my door for me to open up and start feeding him, that is usually about six thirty at this time of year.

European RobinHe has been eating out of my hand for a couple of weeks but he likes to eat at ground level and that involves me getting on my knees and stretching my arm as far as I can.

I feel like an idiot.

European RobinI have been trying to get him to approach me from the hand rail and today he accepted that, I haven’t had to get on my knees since.

You can see that he wants this worm.

European RobinYou big, brave, little bird.

European RobinAs soon as he had done it once that was it, problem solved.

European Robin

European Robin

European RobinAll of the pictures in this post were taken today, he is a hungry little bird.

European Robin

European Robin

European RobinNow he needs a name. The names on my list were suggested by you after my February 14th post, except for the last two, I decided to allow Fizz a little input. The poll is open for one week and then we will know who he is.

He is getting very confident and cheeky and I do like a rude bird. He has given me a lot of pleasure today and he will do so tomorrow as well.

European RobinI know that there are people who would prefer it if he was  a vegetarian. I am feeding him live Wax Worms. It is just necessary at the moment to win his confidence. His natural diet is live insects and he would eat them anyway, by feeding him commercially grown animals I am saving the lives of hundreds of valuable native insects. I will talk to him about lifestyle options when we know each other better and probably after the chicks are fledged.

The other thing is  that today was just a lousy day for photography. I thought that if I left this post a couple more days then I would get much better pictures but the post is about today.

I will do the better pictures, I will do both. When the sun shines I will have all of the opportunity in the world and he will sparkle.

European Robin

European RobinWildlife in the Spring 🙂

Little Things Pleasing Little Minds

Starting with Fizz and for anyone who didn’t see it already this is Fizz proving that dogs do actually say, “Bow, Wow,Wow.”

The little bird is still here.

European Robin

European Robin

European RobinHe is landing on my hand now.

I am getting way ahead of myself. I am thinking that he might bring the young to me for food just as he will show them the bird feeders in the garden.

Maybe when it is warmer and I can leave the door open he will learn to come into the kitchen and have breakfast with me.

Shut up, Colin 🙂

European Robin

European Robin

European RobinThe other little thing that I have got today is Primroses.

Don’t worry about the flowers we will have plenty of them. Last year the mice ate most of the flowers and I might have a go at filming them in the act. Pesky little animals.

Today I am looking at the buds, these are really special.

Primrose Buds

Primrose Buds

Primrose Buds

Primrose Buds

Primrose Buds

Primrose BudsOne last little thing that is bringing me a lot of pleasure, the Long-tailed Tits.

Last year they visited the garden but they didn’t stay here, these have been here every day for the last six weeks and obviously now I am hoping that they will stay and nest here.

I couldn’t photograph them today because the light was just too good. At this time of year the sun comes up behind the feeder and I can only see silhouettes and by the time it moves around it has dropped too low in the sky. Cloudy days are better for birds until the summer.

I made a video.

That’s it, no wildflower post because I didn’t have time today, I was too busy walking the dog 🙂

If I had a Goldfish…

It’s your fault.

That DogAll of this mud is your fault. There is mud everywhere.

FizzI don’t feel any compulsion to be fair, I just want to photograph beautiful things.

My camera doesn’t work very well in the winter. One day I will catch these birds in the sunlight.

Female Bullfinch

Female Bullfinch

Male Bullfinch

Male BullfinchThat is my pair of Bullfinches. They have been here for nearly two weeks now, surely they will stay and nest?

We had new species arrive last year that we had never had before, particularly the Goldfinches, because I changed the feeding a bit. There is no reason why we can’t add a few more species this year.

I am a bit worried that they will go when the buds start to appear.

This one is new for this year too.

Coal Tit

Coal TitIt’s a little Coal Tit. We didn’t have them last year but there are lots of them about just now.

This next one is proof positive that I can’t take pictures in the dark but I have to record this. It is a Zombie Robin.

Zombie RobinIt seems strange to me that the birds are moulting now when we are at the start of the breeding season, you would expect them to be in their prime.

I missed some good pictures of a male Robin displaying to another male this morning. He had his head thrown right back and his chest all puffed out and he was bouncing toward the other bird before chasing it off. There are a lot of Robins about in our garden at the moment, far more than there should be. I have only seen four together at once but none of them were Zombies and I think that there are at least six around the back garden and possibly another pair in the yard around the side, including the one that I am taming.

Maybe they can live quite close together when there is a lot of food. They do scrap around the feeder but they only chase each other, I haven’t seen any serious fighting yet.

Anyway, as I can’t take photographs because of Fizz and all of the rain and mud…

FizzI have decided to give you something else to think about.

A couple of days ago my landlord asked me to have a look around his pond, something had been making holes.


Hole“What do you think that is,” he said.

“That’s  a broom handle, mate. Somebody’s been poking a broom handle in your grass.”

Well the holes are about one inch in diameter, pretty round and they go straight down.

He thought that they were being made by an animal and he wanted me and my nature detective dog to investigate.

I put the camera out and filmed it and it is indeed an animal and it is not big enough to wield a broom.

I don’t exactly know what it is yet and I thought you might know.

You will probably have to go full screen to have any chance of identifying it and even then the image isn’t very good but then I am not very familiar with these little animals. This video is slowed down to half speed, they are fast little animals.

I have a feeling that the holes might be a better indication of species and the video just confirmation.

All of the holes are around the edge of the pond. This is a garden pond and it has a liner so I am not expecting underwater entrances such as a Water Vole would make. There is a much larger natural pond just a few yards behind this one.





HoleIf I had to guess then I might say Bank Vole but I really don’t know much about that species. I have a feeling that the size of the hole might be indicative. They are pretty uniform holes and there are about a dozen that I can see.

C’mon Mudface, let’s go and get muddy in the mud, mud, mud.

MudfaceIf I had a goldfish then I wouldn’t have to wash my kitchen floor again tomorrow and there wouldn’t be branches of Gorse and worms all over my kitchen table.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Ulex europaeus, The Common Gorse

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)Also known as Furze or Whin, Common Gorse is a spiky shrub of the Pea family, It bears bright yellow flowers.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Gorse buds:
Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus) Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)   Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)   Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

The structure of a Pea flower:

Like other members of the Pea Family the calyx of Ulex europaeus is made up of five sepals but these are fused together.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)When the calyx opens it splits into two halves, a top lip and a bottom lip, giving the appearance of just two sepals.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)The flower has five yellow petals and the petals have names.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)The top petal is called the “Banner” or “Standard” petal. The two petals that form a boat like shape, bottom, centre are called the “Keel” petals and these house the stamens and style. Either side of the keel petals are the “Wing” petals.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)The reproductive parts of the flower are initially hidden within the keel petals and it requires the weight of a large insect, such as a bee to land on the keel and expose the stamens and style, when this happens a small cloud of pollen bursts from the flower.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Inside the keel there are ten, partially fused stamens and a central style.

(Gorse flower, petals removed)

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)The seed pods of Common Gorse are quite small and they develop within the brown remains of the petals. Each pod contains two or three seeds that are relatively heavy and fall close to the parent plant.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)The spines on the Gorse are modified leaves.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)The spines have been developed to protect the plant from being eaten but a lot of other species have learned to take advantage of the protection offered.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)Adders, Grass Snakes and lizards all take advantage of the cover of Gorse as do many small mammals. The dense spiny growth also makes an ideal nesting site for many birds but it does not just offer protection from predators. Gorse is evergreen and in the winter months it offers valuable protection from the elements.

The Dartford Warbler, an insect eating bird that does not migrate, could not survive our winters without Gorse for shelter, it is dependent on the plant.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)Gorse flowers produce a lot of pollen and so they are a valuable food source for bees.

When it comes to nectar the scientists can not agree on this one, some very reputable sources say that Gorse does produce nectar and many others say that it does not. My take on this could be that it obviously doesn’t produce nectar in any significant quantity or there would be no dispute.

However, it is worth remembering  that until 2013 Wood Anemones didn’t produce nectar and then they found the nectaries. See my post on Wood Anemones for more on that one. Science just doesn’t know everything about everything.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)There are a number of moths and other invertebrates that also rely on Gorse. One example is the Gorse Case-bearer Moth (Coleophora albicosta) which overwinters in a silk cocoon inside a Gorse flower, the larva emerges and eats the seeds of the flower and then lives inside a case made from the sepals of the flower.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)It is not just wildlife that benefits from Gorse, it has been a valuable crop to us as well.

The soft, coconut fragrant flowers are edible and have been used as decoration and flavouring but it is the tough spiky foliage that we really prize. It is very nutritious and available all year round and has been grown as animal fodder, particularly for horses. They can’t eat it as it is, it has to be milled and there were Gorse mills built for this purpose.

Gorse was also grown as a fuel. The woody stems burn with a lot of heat and produce little ash.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)There are three species of Gorse native to the UK. The other two are Western Gorse (Ulex gallii) and Dwarf Furze (Ulex minor).

Common Gorse grows to two to three metres and it’s main flowering period is from January until July (Although it can be found in flower at any time of year)

Dwarf Furze as it’s name suggests is a small plant growing to about thirty centimetres (12 inches) and flowering from July until September.

Western Gorse is also quite small, not making more than about forty centimetres (16 inches) and again flowering from July till September.

Common Gorse has small bracts growing at the base of the flower, between two-four mm long. They do exist on Western Gorse but less than one mm long so if they are noticeable it is almost certainly Common Gorse. Although often these bracts remain attached to the calyx and are not so evident.

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)Common Gorse in the hedgerow:

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus) Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)   Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)   Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Fabales

Family: Fabaceae

Genus: Ulex

Species: Ulex europaeus

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Common Gorse (Ulex europaeus)Wildflowers on a wet and muddy winter’s day 🙂

One Man and his Dog

Today Fizz and I were tasked with fetching the sheep down from the top field.

SheepdogA well trained sheepdog is such a joy to watch.

There is a connection between a shepherd and his dog. It starts with choosing the right animal. You need to select a dog that is intelligent and active but most of all it must be eager to please. I would love to show you how this works but…

Obviously I am stuffed 🙂

If Fizz understood every word that I said she would still do the exact opposite. That is her impish sense of fun and playfulness.

In this video I am employing a different sort of connection and half a loaf of bread.

Well it works just the same. Having kept her on the connection for the first half hour I then had to take her somewhere else for a bit of exercise.

FizzHere is a short Robin update.

I am pretty sure that my (soon to be) tame Robin is a male.

The male and female European Robin look just the same and you can’t tell them apart by appearance but they don’t always act the same.

This Robin always takes two worms and then he flies off. He eats the first one. Yesterday when I made this video I was surprised to see him almost a full minute after he had taken the second worm, he still had it and he was flitting around with the worm in his beak and he was managing to sing. Eventually he disappeared under a car with another Robin. I think that he is taking the second worm as a gift and that he is courting and that would make him a male.

Since making this video he has become even tamer and now he sits with me while he eats the first worm  and then takes a second and flies off. What a nice little Robin 🙂

I will need a lot of worms when they are raising their brood.

Well it has been typical winter weather here and there hasn’t been a lot to see. I could show you some pictures of Haircut. When she came back from the beauty parlour I was careful to keep her clean for the first  hour but then a dog has got to be a dog…




FizzThere was a short moment in February when she looked almost pristine but you had to be quick to catch it. She is by nature a mucky pup.

FizzGorse is flowering nearby and it isn’t on Easy Wildflowers yet so yesterday I went out to collect some pictures.

I don’t want to spoil you too much because Gorse will probably feature in my next post but it looks like this.





GorseOne last little Robin update, this video was made just a few minutes ago.

On with the wildflowers, this one is in flower now and that is probably how it will be from now on 🙂

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)

Lamium album, The White Dead-nettle

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)Description: It looks like a stinging nettle with white flowers.

That is a reasonable description, it does look like a stinging nettle but the two plants are not related. Urtica dioica, the Stinging Nettle is a member of the Urticaceae or Nettle Family and White Dead-nettle is a member of the Mint family.

Unlike the Nettle family the Dead-nettles don’t  have a sting.

You can’t really confuse the two plants, the flowers are the give away and they start to form almost as soon as the plant appears.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)(White Dead-nettle in February)

Like other Dead-nettles Lamium album has a square stem.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)The leaves grow in opposite pairs.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)The leaves are described as cordate (heart shaped) to ovate (oval with a tapering point). They are deeply veined with a net pattern and the edges are toothed. They are also covered in soft hair on both sides.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)The flowers grow in whorls around the stem and above a pair of leaves.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)The flower is tubular, opening up to a hood and a three lobed lower lip.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)Under the hood are four Stamens, two long and two short and just below the anthers you can see the white style with a two lobed stigma.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)The White Dead-nettle is described as having a three lobed lower lip, It has a large central lobe, the two outside lobes are the very small tooth like projections either side of the central lobe in this next picture. They are fairly insignificant.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)The white flower has small green markings at the centre of the  bottom lip.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)Newly emerging flower buds are protected by a five pointed calyx.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)White Dead-nettle is native to the UK, Europe and Asia and naturalised in many other parts of the world.

It is a valuable wild life plant providing a good source of nectar early in the year. It is very popular with bees and is sometimes known as the Bee Nettle. It is the food plant for a number of beetles and moths, including the Golden-Y Moth, the Rivulet, the Burnished Brass and the Speckled Yellow.

Speckled Yellow Moth(Speckled Yellow moth)

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album) White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)   White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)   White Dead-nettle (Lamium album) White Dead-nettle is edible. Only the youngest leaves are good to eat raw in salads. Once it starts to flower leaves can be steamed or added to soups and stews.

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)Taxonomy

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Lamiales

Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Lamium

Species: Lamium album

White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)Wildflowers in winter.


Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

It’s only me 🙂

European Robin
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

Those are lines written by the poet Robert Burns in 1785. Okay he wrote that poem To a Mouse but my bird is just as tim’rous.

I am really startled that in 1785, without the benefits of social media, a man could be so aware.

Robert Burns was way ahead of his time.

European RobinMy tim’rous beastie has been obsessing me. I am so close to fixing nature’s social union, so close but not quite there yet.

I noticed that the bird was following my hand. What happens now is that he sits outside my door singing and his song is very clear, so I go to the door. I say hello and I put out a worm or two and the bird is watching my hand because almost before I can withdraw, it swoops down and takes the worm.

So I reasoned that if it knows the hand provides the food then let me offer the food on the hand.

I am doing a lot of this. The neighbour’s think I’m nuts, we’ll see 😉

FeedingIt is still dark outside as I start this post. The Robins started singing at six thirty this morning. I know what I will be doing as soon as it gets light. I have put off writing this post just because I keep thinking, any time now, I will get the pictures that I want but no, this is just going to be an update.

European RobinI need a name for my soon to be tamed European Robin.

In my mind I am making the association with Robin Goodfellow. The bird is cheeky and mischievous but also capable of meanness. Puck just doesn’t sound right (Something that you might play ice-hockey with) but there is a name there somewhere. I am open to suggestions.

European RobinThere is more than one bird and I may need more than one name. I have seen four Robins together outside of my door. That is a bit odd. I have just mentioned that the Robin is capable of meanness, a male Robin will not tolerate another male in his territory and while many animals settle such disputes with a good display of bluster, a Robin will kill an intruding male.

So how come, four birds? The only thing that I can think of is that these are last years chicks and they haven’t dispersed yet. They will have to go soon, the breeding season is starting.

European Robin

Ducks on the Pond!

Mind your language now.

MallardsAs predicted our solitary male has been joined by another male and a female.

MallardThe two males are quite easy to tell apart.

MallardSo the Ducks can have names too, if you like 🙂

MallardsThe trail camera is out watching the Ducks. I would like to make a “sex tape.” The breeding habits of Mallards are quite interesting and deserve some explaining but we can talk about that when I get the video.

I think that this one is my favourite, he is the underdog duck.


MallardIs Fizz being neglected while I play with my birds?

If I ever do a post called, “Interesting things you can do with a Dog,” it will involve mud.




FizzThe Sheep are meant to be having their toenails painted today but it is raining. Apparently you do not want to handle wet sheep, the fleece holds quite a bit of water. Well that is something that I have learned today.

SheepOn with the flowers.

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)Mercurialis perennis, The Dog’s Mercury

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)Dog’s Mercury is a green woodland plant that does best in partial shade. It appears very early in the year (January) and forms dense mats on the woodland floor.

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)A member of the Spurge family,  (Euphorbiaceae) it spreads from it’s rhizomes (rootstalks) to form a large mass of plants that can shade others out.

Dog’s Mercury is dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female plants.

The male plant carries spikes of flowers that open to reveal between eight and fifteen, pollen producing, stamens.

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)The flower has no petals, it has three, lime green, tepals (a term used when sepals and petals are indistinguishable from each other)

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)The female plant is much less conspicuous and most easily recognised by the lack of a flower spike.

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)Female flowers are carried singly on a long stem.

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)The female flower consists of a two lobed stigma above the ovary. The also have the three lime green tepals, soon hidden by the growing seeds.

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)The leaves of Dog’s Mercury are spear like (narrowly elliptic-ovate) and grow in opposite pairs. Most of the leaves are at the top of the stem.

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)They are finely haired and have a toothed margin.

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)The stem is unbranched and by this I mean that the leaves and flowers grow directly from the central stem.

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)

Similar species: The leaves and flowers of Annual Mercury (Mercurialis annua) look very similar to Dog’s Mercury, the big difference between the species is that Annual Mercury grows on branched stems, by this I mean that they grow on stems which branch off the main stem.

I don’t have pictures of Annual Mercury because in the UK, it only grows in the South East of England but if you are unsure of your identification then just Google for images of Annual Mercury and look at the stem.


Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)(Dog’s Mercury growing amongst Wild Garlic)

Dog’s Mercury is extremely poisonous. The first recorded case of fatality comes from 1693 when a family of five ate it and one child subsequently died. They had boiled the plant before eating it. The most recent case of poisoning comes from the 1980’s and was reported in The British Medical Journal. A couple boiled and ate the plant, mistaking it for an edible. They were hospitalised for two days but recovered without any serious ill effects. Their recovery was put down to the fact that they had boiled the plant before eating it.

Serious cases of poisoning in Humans are rare because there is little reason why anyone would eat this plant, most cases must arise from mistaken identity, or just not noticing the leaves when you pick your Wild Garlic.

Poisoning is more common in animals with several cases of Sheep poisoning being reported. I have also read a lot of reports of Dogs being drawn to eat it and subsequent vomiting. The plant has an unpleasant smell that repels us but may attract Dogs.

Dog’s Mercury in January:

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)   Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)   Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)Taxonomy

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Malpighiales

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Genus: Mercurialis

Species: Mercurialis perennis

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)

Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)Wildflowers in winter.



Like a Puppy on a string…

We do have quite a bit to report today. The Badger cam turned up an astonishing creature that I really didn’t expect to see, I will show you that in a little bit.

Fizz is on a bit of string for a reason and it’s not just because I lost her lead, I am keeping her out of trouble today.

But first, our first butterfly of 2015.

Small TortoiseshellIt has been hibernating in my flat. It was quite sunny yesterday and I guess the poor little thing thought that spring had arrived.

I had exactly the same thing last year with the same species waking up in February. I kept the curtains shut in my bedroom to keep the sun out and it went back to sleep. I let it go in March.

I have given this one a good book to read and sent it back to bed.

Small TortoiseshellThis is last year’s stowaway.

Small TortoiseshellI was out searching for wildflowers this morning and I found this one.

Common-field SpeedwellI found two of them in flower. This is Common–field Speedwell. There is so much that isn’t in flower that should be but I wasn’t expecting this one until March.

Common-field SpeedwellSo another nice surprise 🙂

Common-field SpeedwellThey may not look like much at the moment but in the summer they will look like this.

Common-field SpeedwellThe third nice surprise was that the Mallards are back.

Well the drake is, no sign of the female yet.

MallardShe will be here soon. They breed on our ponds but last year she didn’t nest here. That was a shame I would have loved ducklings on the pond.

MallardFor the next couple of months they will strut about the garden as if they own the place. It is nice to have them here.


MallardSo what has Fizz been up to?

FizzWell yesterday I said that I would take her for a picnic.

FizzShe announced it on Facebook and all sorts of rabble turned up.





GatecrashersIt’s all gone Pete Tong!

Next is a little video that I made yesterday. This little bird sings for me every day and I always want to remember this.

That brings us to the mystery animal, this is the last thing that I expected to see up there.

The mystery is not what it is but what is it doing up there?

The only water around is the stream that feeds the pond the ducks are on. That is only a couple of feet wide and nearly three quarters of a mile from Badger cam.

It is of course a European Otter, Lutra lutra. I am told it might be a dispersing juvenile but dispersing from where?

Could there be Otters breeding on our little stream out back of the farm? I doubt it. I don’t know anything about Otters, I really didn’t expect to see one here. It is an exciting mystery 🙂

The Big Garden Birdwatch

That is what we have been doing today.

Every winter in the UK (since 1979) the RSPB asks the British public to take part in a survey of the birds in their garden. About half a million people take part and it has become the worlds largest wildlife survey.

So for one hour over this weekend we were asked to record the birds that visit our garden. They don’t want you to count how many times Blue Tits visit your feeder because that would be the same birds over and over, instead they want you just to watch and record the largest number of each species that you can see at any one time.

So during my allotted hour there was one point that I had four Blackbirds on the grass together, four is the answer, not how many Blackbirds I saw in the entire hour, get it?

This is my view of the garden from my kitchen window that will do. Most of the birds will be around the feeder, I have put plenty of food out on the grass to try and bring them into my field of vision and if I get three or four of one species on the feeders at the same time then I am scanning around to try and see more.

The GardenMy results were not very spectacular. Some birds that I could almost guarantee to show up, didn’t. So for Collared Doves the answer was none, there are a pair that live here and I see them every day but during my hour they didn’t show. I hope they don’t get the idea that Collared Doves are extinct in Gloucestershire.

Blue TitIt is quite a fun thing to do. It requires a lot of attention. We had ten species visit during our hour and it could have been quite a few more. They all visit at the same time so I am trying to keep track of three House Sparrows over there and two Blue Tits on one feeder and two Robins squabbling amongst the bushes and so on.

BlackbirdI couldn’t take pictures while I was counting, I was too busy and then I couldn’t take pictures afterwards because it was just so murky but I did my best to try and show you what it was like.

RobinThe results that I returned were..

6 House Sparrows
6 Blue Tits
4 Goldfinches
3 Great Tits
2 Robins
4 Blackbirds
3 Chaffinches
2 Dunnocks
4 Bumbarrels
1 Wren

My favourite was the Wren, I hardly ever see them in that part of the garden and didn’t expect it.

It doesn’t look like a lot of birds but there were quite a lot of birds, they just didn’t all appear together and I was just following the rules. Quite a few local species would appear to be extinct if they just looked at my results but I expect that other people will report seeing them and an hour isn’t very long.

Blue Tit

Blue TitI could easily have missed the Bumbarrels too (Long-tailed Tits). They are not regular visitors but they have been here for a few days and just at the right time for the survey.

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed TitSo that is the Big Garden Birdwatch. The RSPB will collate all of the results and tell us which species are in decline and which are doing well and they will use that information to focus their conservation efforts on the birds that need the most help.

Yeah, You And Whose Army?

Fizz has been having a few problems with the livestock today, I’ll tell you about that in a minute. The day starts with feeding the animals.

It’s probably best not to mention what Fizz had for breakfast, that might have been what started her off.

BreakfastEven before Fizz gets fed and before it gets light, the early bird gets the worm.

European RobinThe Robin tried to land on my arm last night but it was getting dark and I didn’t see her coming, so suddenly there was a lot of fluttering as she tried to perch on my arm and taken by surprise, I moved my head quickly and I think that I said, “Hello” and I scared her off. This morning we were friends again.

There have been a couple of notable birds on the feeder this week. Long-tailed Tits have been here for the last few days. They don’t visit very often so it is nice to see them.

Long tailed titThey arrive in small flocks and feed together. I have counted eight of them on the peanut feeder at the same time and you can hardly see the feeder for feathers. A very beautiful little bird.

Long tailed titThere was also a Woodpecker on the feeder today. I haven’t seen a woodpecker since the little ones fledged last summer so I am hoping that she will start visiting regularly again.

Goldfinches are back in their charms. They disappeared late in the summer when the thistle seed appeared but they will stay here now.

Then it was time to feed the Sheep. They have really taken to this idea of being fed and when they see me they come running, it doesn’t matter if I have got food or not, I might just be taking the Dog for a walk.

This is a rubbish, short video but you will get the picture.

I cut the video so short because the camera was shaking, I wasn’t scared, just common sense really.

SheepThey are eating pellets, well it says “Sheep Food” on the sack that I get them from.

They are all enjoying their food except for that white one at the front, that one is always focused on me. I think that this must be the Bull Sheep (if there is such a thing). It is the one that I observed in my last post and it is always in front and always the first to approach me.

Bull SheepAs Fizz would say, “Remember this face.”

The BullIt says she is number 00127 on the green tag but I just call her “The Bull.”

So I went back and fed the birds some more and played with Fizz in the garden. Then I was cold so I went and got some breakfast and coffee.

Then it was time to walk the Dog.

Remember that I said it doesn’t matter if I have got food or not, they come running when they see me.

That ArmyOh! That army. Col! They’ve got an army.

You can stop that.

Bull SheepThe Bull is interested in my Dog as well as me.

Well, I rescued Fizz from the Sheep and we had a nice walk and a game of ball, on the way to the woods to check the trail camera.


FizzNow I would like to have some kind of reference to nature in my blog posts. There is not going to be a wildflower bit at the end of this post because I have been having major problems with my new operating system. It is fixed now but it took me all day yesterday and I am behind.

One little nature observation though…

Wild ArumWild Arum, Arum maculatum is coming into leaf everywhere. We won’t see the spathe until April, it spends a long time as a leaf but it is still nice to see another little sign of spring.

Wild Arum

Wild ArumThings are not going well up in the woods. The camera has been out for four nights and all we have seen are Foxes.

This is a very nice Fox but I have watched 150 videos of Foxes and I wouldn’t mind seeing something else.

That was just one video that I more or less picked at random. It has a nice atmospheric sound track.

As we walked back to the farm we could see them all waiting for us.

The GuantletIt was time to run the gauntlet once again.

SheepThere were familiar faces in the crowd.

Face in the crowdI think that I better lock the door tonight when I go to bed 🙂