Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Back from holidays and it must be summer!

Summer's arrived and the swallows have just started feeding their young

Mum & Dad are kept busy with the various mouths to feed

Waiting for more insects while catching the afternoon sun

This one seems to get all the attention . . . and the food!

We managed to avoid the worst of the downpours and floods while we were away in sunny Portugal but we came back to a garden that resembled a jungle! The combination of wet and warm weather had accelerated the growth of weeds as well a the plants though.

We were surprised and delighted by the appearance of about 20 swallows and laughed at the unsteadiness of the youngsters as the landed on the telephone lines. It was such a pleasure watching them but they were only here for two days and disappeared as suddenly as they had arrived.

Jay on the arch ready to grab some peanuts to feed its youngsters

The jays have also started bringing their brood to the garden, much to the annoyance of the magpies which also had youngsters to feed. The aerial battles and harsh cries made for interesting viewing.

Grab shot of a blackbird through the kitchen window

The male blackbird is quite happy to use the pond but the female is much more discreet and hides under the acer tree. We were amazed to see a her gather a huge beak-full of nesting material from dead leaves and grasses and fly off with it to a tall tree. I didn't think birds built nests so late in the season but perhaps she's making up for time lost due to bad weather. With her glossy brown feathers and the massive amount of dead grasses drooping from her beak she looked for all the world like a Mexican bandit with a moustache to be proud of.

We were surprised to see a lone duckling on Saturday evening. It had attached itself to some adult mallards but none of them seemed to want it and it looked more like the young of a tufted duck. Two massive crows swooped down to take it and it dived for cover but I don't suppose it lasted too long. Perhaps, if the blackbirds are nesting again, the ducks will have yet another attempt this year and we'll finally see some ducklings make it to adulthood?

One other surprise this week was the sight of a goldfinch in the garden. It spent time gathering insects and then came down to the pond for a drink. Typically, the camera wasn't to hand at the time so I'm hoping it will return.

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