Tag Archives: Robin

A Guelder Rose but no Gorillas.

We had to revise our plan for today. It was a bit misty.

It just seemed too dangerous to take Fizz out on the road, we could get knocked over and traumatise a motorist.

There was a little dog sitting underneath my window who wanted me to come out and play..

FizzPlan B then. The fog was coming down heavy. We would go and look for Gorillas in the mist (that’s where they live. Right?)

MistI put Fizz in charge of watching the trees, we don’t want anything jumping down on us and I was in charge of the little things.

MistThe first little thing that I found was rose hips, from a proper rose a Dog Rose.

Rose hipsBut not all of those berries are tasty rose hips, some of them are Black Bryony.

Black BryonyWe are going to see a lot of berries today.

MistHawthorn berries are everywhere.


Hawthorn berriesThis next little mushroom is one of the Mycena. That is a genus of fungi with several hundred species. Many of which can only be separated with a microscope. I can’t get it to species from these pictures but it is a pretty one. These are often collectively referred to as Bonnets.

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified FungiKeep watching the trees please!

MistI am bent over examining the ground and at any moment something big might jump down and land on my back with a thump. What’s my lookout doing?

Lookout FizzMessing about! Although, I am not sure how much she can see out of her haircut anyway.

Lookout FizzThere are many more berries to come. These are Black Bryony again. The profusion of these poisonous berries delights me.

Black Bryony

Black BryonyAll around I am seeing signs of winter. These Ivy berries will be a feature of January when they have ripened.

Ivy Berries

Ivy Berries

Ivy Berries

Ivy BerriesLambs Tails are forming on the Hazel ready for January too.

Hazel CatkinBehind these catkins is the plant that we have come to see.

I first photographed these berries in January, there were far fewer berries then and there were no leaves on the tree. I didn’t know what it was and so I told myself that I would come and look at it in the summer and then I forgot.

Guelder Rose This time we have leaves.

Guelder Rose These are the fruits of the Guelder Rose, Viburnum opulus.

Guelder Rose It is a member of the Adoxaceae family. That means that it is related more closely to the Elder tree and the lovely little Town Hall Clock than to the roses.

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose Well, I have missed the green leaves of summer and the white flowers that would have bloomed in June but at least we have got the berries and we know what it is.

These actually look like they must be related to Elderberries, don’t you think?

Viburnum opulusThis post just goes on and on, I just want to show you one more thing and then we will head back.

We are right at the end of Badger Alley now and this is where I think that the Beast of Badger Alley lives. On one side of the track there is woodland.

WoodlandOn the other side of the track there is impenetrable scrub. This is a tangle of Brambles, Hawthorn, Blackthorn anything with thorns on it.

Last winter I tried to press into this scrub, just a little bit to photograph some bright rose hips and as I went in an animal was startled and went crashing deeper into the bush. It was making more noise than me, it was big. Not a Fox, it was the Beast of Badger Alley but I didn’t see it, I only heard it moving.

ScrubOkay we had better hurry back now.

Just ignore the pretty little bird. It is just guarding it’s territory.


RobinI took loads of pictures of this Common Hogweed but we will rush past this one as well.


HogweedAnd the last thing that we won’t look at will be little Herb Robert.

Herb Robert

Herb Robert

Herb RobertThat’s it. We were out for ages and we still didn’t see a Gorilla. Maybe Fizz scared them all off.


FizzI was going to show you how muddy she was when I dropped her off but you can probably guess.

Muddy Fizz


17/11 Update: We received a tip off from the very kind Mar’yana Svarnyk in the comments section, advising us to take a look at the beautiful red seeds of the Guelder Rose. Thank you so much. (These pictures will be in my upcoming post, “The hunt for Red November” but also here for anyone searching for Guelder Rose)

Guelder Rose Berries

Guelder Rose Berries and seeds

Guelder Rose seedsTake care when extracting the seeds, I recommend wearing eye protection. The fruits are very juicy.

Guelder Rose juice

Mystery Bird

I woke up this morning and there was a new bird on the feeder, one I haven’t seen before. It looked hungry.

“Where’s my worms?”

Robin Fledgling

Robin FledglingWe know what it is really, don’t we Darling?

RobinWe should do, it has cost enough money buying meal worms for mum and dad.

Unfortunately the light isn’t good enough this morning for photography purposes but it is good enough to show you what’s going on.

LightBirds are what’s going on, hundreds of them while I wait for another chance at the Robin.

Blue Tit Fledgling

Blue Tit Fledgeling

This one won’t bring her babies. Female Great Spotted Woodppecker

Female Great Spotted Woodppecker

Female Great Spotted Woodppecker

There he is! Quick , focus!Robin FledglingDamn, there is just not enough light. It’s a Robin but it is not a sharp one.

Oh look a fledged Chaffinch.

Chaffinch Fledgling

Chaffinch FledglingIt is all happening and the sky is just getting darker and darker.

Does anybody know what a Goldfinch fledgling looks like? We ought to have them here.



Female House SparrowWho ate all the worms?

BlackbirdYes actually, you are annoying me a bit. Do you have to gather every single one?

BlackbirdFizz! Fetch me my Blackbird gun. What do you mean, we’ve run out of bullets?

I am going to take Fizz to the fields and play ball with her for an hour or two. When I get back it would be nice if the sunshine and the birds would play ball with me.

You are not annoying me, you take what you need.

House SparrowsI like the little brown ones.

Robin Fledgling


I was up early this morning just to watch the back garden. Yesterday I had seen a rabbit in the garden and they are pretty sedentary so I figured they must be regular visitors that I had just missed.

I didn’t see any Rabbits but I did see a Fox. Too quick for me to photograph but just before I took this picture he crossed this orchard.

05.14That was taken at 05:14 and the light was still very poor for taking pictures. What was cool was the way that the sheep didn’t pay any attention to the Fox, if it had been a Dog they would have been very nervous so they obviously know the difference.

As the morning progresses I keep taking pictures, just to see what sort of quality I am getting and whether there is enough light yet.

05:19 and it looks like it is not just the Blue Tits who are having a spring moult.

05.1905:23 Two days ago I was convinced that I had seen a Bullfinch in the garden. I only caught a fleeting glimpse of it and knew what it was straight away, I reached for my camera and as I turned back it had gone. I watched the garden for three hours then but nothing. I had to accept that it was almost certainly a Chaffinch that I had seen they can look very similar when you see them head on.

Pity, I can’t remember the last time that I saw a Bullfinch.

05.2305:25 and I am just checking. No light yet but it is good to watch the birds getting their breakfast.

05.25At 05:42 sunshine is creeping toward the orchard. We have a clear blue sky and it looks like it is going to be a lovely day.

05.4206:32 No sunshine in the garden yet but the light is getting better just when I might need it.

06.3206:33 It had been a fruitless morning, there was nothing that I couldn’t have photographed better in the daylight and I was just wondering if it was too late to crawl back into bed for an hour and then…..

Oh good, good, good. This bird wouldn’t play ball with me and pose for a picture but what I did get was good enough to leave me in no doubt to species. This is not a Chaffinch.

06.33.15 06.33.16 06.33.17 06.33.24 06.33.28 06.33.34 06.33.36 06.33.37

That is a male Bullfinch breakfasting on Common Groundsel and he has been here for at least two days, I am sure now. There is almost certainly a less obvious female close by. I do hope they are nesters.

Any pictures that I didn’t get today I will get tomorrow. What a beautiful bird.


Feeding the birds provides me with a lot of entertainment and interest and I think that it is very good value for what it costs.

I won’t be long.

Hungry BirdsIt seems like a funny time of year to be moulting.

Moulting Blue TitMy coconut went down well and now I am improvising another one.

Coconut CoconutOkay. Dinners ready!

Great TitGreat Spotted WoodpeckerRobinHouse SparrowPied WagtailRobinChaffinchGoldfinchGreat TitBlackbirdBlue TitCollared DoveGreat Spotted Woodpecker

EEEK! Sparrowhawk

P1170134What do you like to eat?

I live on a farm. I rent a flat there which is really just a part of the farmer’s house, so we live on top of each other and we get along okay. Apart from paying the rent, I help him out with his computer and I walk his dog and in turn he shows me around and introduces me to people. We both have a fondness for birds and he has a bird feeder just below my kitchen window, which I help him with.


He had a peanut feeder and a seed feeder and he had a little empty tray at the bottom and almost as soon as I moved here I noticed the Robins, so I started to put meal worms out for them.


The Robins were a great success but adding sunflower hearts into the mix brought us Goldfinches.


Pretty soon the garden was as charming as could be.


All of this activity inevitably caught the eye of a predator.


We have no shortage of predators around here. Buzzards circle above us and Peregrines are often seen here too. This is a young Sparrowhawk. One of last years chicks it has yet to develop it’s adult plumage. We can’t tell if it is male or female yet but I am advised from the size of the bird that it is probably male.

It is lovely to see such a beautiful bird up close but it’s presence in the garden did raise a bit of a problem. Fortunately it’s hunting technique wasn’t very successful.


The song birds recognised the hawk and understood it’s intention. I knew when the hawk was around even if I couldn’t see it because the garden was empty of any other birds.

Excuse the quality of this next picture, I took it because I had just seen the Sparrowhawk fly into that bush beside the feeder. He is waiting in ambush and I am up above watching the drama unfold.


The hawk waited there for about twenty minutes and no birds came down so he emerged from his hideout and flew up into a tree. Shortly after I saw him fly off. Another forty minutes passed before a Robin lit down and I knew then that the drama was over.

I am writing this in retrospect, all of this happened a couple of weeks ago now. The hawk stayed with us for two days and he didn’t make a kill. A bird can only spend so much time on a hunt and this one moved on to easier hunting grounds.

So why is our garden Sparrowhawk proof? I think it is because it is so open. the garden is backed by pasture with a fairly open orchard on one side.


The Sparrowhawk is a woodland bird and an exceptionally good ambush predator. It likes confined, tight spaces with plenty of cover and few escape routes. Our garden just didn’t work for him because everyone knew the moment he arrived on the scene, they took cover and they stayed hidden until they were sure he had gone.


Typically town gardens do a very good job of mimicking his woodland habitat. They are generally quite small with plenty of cover and bird feeders to attract the food items and Sparrowhawks get a lot of their prey there, we are just lucky that conditions were not right for him here.


Since his visit I have been hunting the local woodlands and hedgerows for signs of sparrowhawk kills. They are messy eaters, they have to pluck their prey before they can get to the flesh. When an animal with teeth kills, a Fox for instance, it rips it’s prey apart breaking the feathers in the process. So you can recognise a hawks kill by looking at the ends of the feathers that are left.


Smooth tips like this indicate that the feathers were carefully plucked and that would be by a Sparrowhawk. I am not finding many kills around here.



A lovely bird but I am glad that it has gone.

Everything has gone back to normal.