Saturday, 27 September 2008

New kids on the block

No… I’m not talking about the ‘award-winning American pop group that enjoyed success in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a boy band’. It has been a long time coming, but I’m back to talking once again about the birds that visit my garden.

The truth is that with the lush foliage plants in my garden these last few months I can’t actually see the birds quite so well - nor have I had the time when it hasn't been raining to get any photos or video. I do miss properly seeing the blackbirds as they run along the ground and around my plants at this time of year. Ah… but it is not the blackbirds I want to chat about either – although they are one of my favourites that visit my Scottish garden.



The new kids on the block that are catching my attention at the moment are the absolutely charming, ever so endearing, extra speedy and tiny (drum roll please) …. Coal tits (Parus ater). The video above, taken a couple of days ago, gives you a tiny idea of their speedy visits to one of my feeders - the processing can't keep up with them!. This bird is definitely my favourite at the moment zipping through the branches, trees, shrubs and even looking for food in my hanging basket. Shh... don't tell them but they are about to get a surprise soon as I am about to change this feeder – it should be in the mail as I type this. I have a strong feeling they will approve of this new one when it arrives.

The coal tit is very much, in appearance, like the American Chickadee which I have posted on previously. I saw three coal tits visit yesterday. Mm... perhaps it is time I did a Sunday morning bird count to see if there are any more. I also wonder what the species count in the garden is at the moment too as we are about to go into October. Oh yes.. I also wonder what visitors I may be missing glimpses of. I did spot a few starlings the other day so I expect the feeders are going to get quite busy shortly.

I do apologise for my lack of bird postings over the summer months but as winter beckons this will all change as my focus once again will be on watching and feeding the birds. Mm... I'm not the only one taking a keen interest in my visiting garden birds! A neighbour's cat (not Edmund of hedgehog fame) has been seen hiding below my hedge in wait, near the feeders, then darting out in the hope of catching a closer encounter with one. I do have a plan to put a stop to this stalking opportunity over the weekend. As activity at the bird feeders increases at this time of year so do cat visits - you can understand why I know.

Blog visits and postings, I have noticed, do start to increase at this time of year too. I guess many of us have been too busy enjoying our gardens or out and about throughout the summer months and really that is the way it should be! What do you love about visiting garden and wildlife blogs?


For me, it’s the current stories and photos of the plants, garden birds and wildlife. In many blogs these photos are really quite stunning. How generous people are in allowing us to see these images from across the world. Let’s have another drum roll please ….. without further adieu I would like to introduce another new kid on the block!

Joe, a teenager from Buckinghamshire in England, began a wildlife blog back in June this year writing about the birds and wildlife that visits his garden. His enthusiasm shines through in his postings and I have very much enjoyed our email exchanges. I would like to wish him well with both his blog and with his GCSE exams. Joe also likes to capture videos of his garden visitors and is now getting interested in plants, plans to build a pond and hopes to get a Nestbox with a camera in it soon. Welcome to the blogging community Joe!

Okay, so I’ve another reason for mentioning Joe today. I came across a wonderful book in town last night that I thought he might like to add to his Christmas wish list. Sorry Amazon, but this book was on a great offer in the shop! The RSPB Wildlife of Britainis an inspiring photographic reference book and I am certain enthusiasts like Joe would love it. Flicking through its photos I did find myself cringing at the beetles and invertebrates, however, another image caught my eye that made me smile.


The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland was one place I always wanted to visit one day. Looking at the stunning evening shot in the book reminded my of the photos I took there on a very special visit last July. I have spread some through this posting. It was a cool and windy July day but the atmosphere of this magical place will forever stay with me.


If you are considering visiting The Giants Causeway I should point out that many images you see suggest that these fantastic six sided, stepping stone, columns of rocks (molten lava) are on a huge scale. Oh yes... the numbers of them certainly are but the top face that you step on (demonstrated by my daughter’s boots below) are much smaller than I imagined. However, this is a this is very special place indeed - so impressive as a geographical feature too that back in 1986 it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and added to the list.


Mm… sorry I seem to have stepped off topic somewhat! Back to the new kids and other garden visitors like the hedgehog. I haven’t seen the hedgehog about recently. Perhaps someone, on their evening route, is putting cat food out for them which I am guessing must be much more tempting than the peanuts and sultanas that I offer. Nope… can’t bring myself to put cat food out! I am sure the hedgehogs will return with the colder nights.

What ‘new kids’ are visiting or returning to your garden at the moment? I spotted a very bold wren the other day bobbing up and down as it does. It was on the roof of the bird table! Enjoy your garden at the moment with all that it brings – oh yes and have a great weekend!

The photos above were all taken on July 10th 2007. The video above was taken on September 25th 2008.

10 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What do I love about visiting wildlife blog? These blogs fill a need I have to see a be with wildlife. I cna't be outside all the time. and it can get boring being in the same garden day in and day out. Reading blogs from around the world gives me glimpses into places I will probably never get to see. Your Scottish garden wildlife is one of those places. It is fun to connect with people that love nature as much as I do.

Reading that you think the Coal Tits look like our Carolina Chickadees is exactly what I was thinking.

I will check out Joe's blog. It is wonderful that a youngster is into wildlife enough to make a blog about it. Especially when you read how the youth of the world is becoming disconnected with nature, which is a scary prospect.

Mike - Fenphotography said...

Coal tits must have had a good year this year, I have about 4 or 5 visiting at the moment with only 2 or 3 blutits, a couple of years ago it would have been 7 to 1 in the Blue tits favour. They are nice birds to photograph, but are hard to get right. Giants causeway is definately on my list of places to visit, the rock formations always look amazing, it must be a strange place on frst sight. Nice post Mike.

garden girl said...

What sweet little birds they are Shirl!

Thanks for the heads-up about Joe's blog. I'll definitely pay him a visit.

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

Thanks a bunch for promoting my blog. I am very grateful for it and I can't tell you how much it means to me. It will be nice to get some more visitors to my blog. I have also seen the RSPB Wildlife of Britain book and it looks fantastic. You obviously know my taste when it comes to books.

Hmm... we seem to have a lot of coal tits in our garden too, but they are very brief when feeding so well done for getting that video capture.

Giants Causeway looks stunning. I must pay a visit there one day. Good photos too.

Thank you
Best Wishes, Joe

shirl said...

Hi again Lisa, Mike, Garden girl and Joe :-)

Lisa – I agree, it is great to see what is going on in gardens outside your own – especially in other parts of the world. Thanks, I enjoy reading what goes on in your garden too. Reading your posts on floods, storm etc makes News items we see here far more real too. I love the coal tits and chickadees – it’s great to think we have similar birds visiting our gardens across the miles. I see you have visited Joe’s blog already! He approached me, way back when he started, asking if I would link to him. I was particularly happy to give my support to a young person blogging about wildlife! I can see already that he is getting more and more into it with each post – excellent :-D

Mike – I agree completely. I have the same going on in my garden but the ratio could be 50:50. I actually meant to add that to my post but I got side tracked! The speed of this little bird does make it tricky to photograph but I am sure you have captured a few excellent shots from your garden :-D Ah yes… the Giants Causeway is quite a powerful place to visit. I hope you visit one day. Thanks :-D

Garden girl – I agree they really are delightful! You are welcome – I always like to add new links and Joe is doing a great job with his blog. I see you too have visited him already :-D

Joe – you are very welcome!! I am delighted that you have had a couple of new visitors already :-D I am just thrilled that in some way I can help promote your blog even just a little. You are doing a great job!! Excellent, I had a feeling you would like the book I mentioned. Thanks, the speed of the coal tit does make it tricky to catch on any kind of film – its fun trying though. I am hoping to get better shots with my new feeder that should be delivered next week. Ah… the Giants Causeway was stunning and I do hope you will visit there one day just as I hope to follow in your footsteps with a visit to the Eden Project. Keep up the good work - I hope you will inspire other young people to enjoy nature more :-D

Good Acres said...

Shirl -- Lookiing forward to more from your nest box camera this fall and winter! -- Good Acres

Mo said...

We had a great visit to Northern Ireland last September - fantastic weather and visited the Giants Causeway. It was a bit overrun with tourists though. I'd love to go back when it was quiet.

Great photos.

nancybond said...

Your bird videos, as always, are charming. I had never seen a coal tit before -- I would have guessed it was a chickadee. Your scenery photos are so ruggedly beautiful. My younger daughter spend two years in Ireland and has photos of a visit to the Giant's Causeway...most impressive. :)

Cheryl said...

Hi Shirl.....how do I envy you....coal tits, so beautiful...

And the story of Joe.....lovely to hear of someone so young getting involved with wildlife......

Hhhmmm new garden visitors not yet.....but I am preparing for the Redwings and Fieldfare that arrive in the autumn......my haws are waiting for them, and its a good year.....fingers crossed......

Great photography by the way.....

shirl said...

Hi again Good Acres, Mo, Nancy and Cheryl :-)

Good Acres – Yes, so am I – fingers crossed for a rooster in it again :-D

Mo – I know what you mean although as it was a cold and breezy day for our visit it wasn’t too bad – when we got into the car park that is! We had a lovely late lunch in front of an open fire first and then walked down. It was quieter that way too. It was our Silver Wedding Day so in our case a second visit wouldn’t be quite as special. I hope you get a chance for a revisit :-D

Nancy – Thank-you, I’m so glad you enjoy them. Yes, the coal tit and chickadee are quite alike - I had no idea myself until then. It was very easy to get rugged shots that day as the weather was quite rugged! I am sure your daughter enjoyed her visit too and her two years in the beautiful emerald isle that is Ireland :-D

Cheryl – I have to say that I am thrilled that we can see the coal tit visit! Ah Joe… I have been waiting a little while to tell his story. I wanted to wait until he had enough back posts to let everyone see how much a young person can enjoy wildlife. He has exams ahead and his studies will take up his time but I’m sure he’ll manage a few posts as he is definitely enjoying blogging now too! Oh… sounds like you have some interesting visitors ahead – I don’t see these birds so I’ll have to pop over and see yours. I was so sorry to read about the loss of your dog Polly. I expect your garden, home and life won’t be the same without her.