18 August 2014


I’m just not quick enough with my camera, although to be fair I can’t sit around all day on the off chance I might get a shot of the unusual.

My latest regret is not capturing the scruffy baby blackbird or the two-tone baby robin, both of whom came and went in a couple of blinks of an eye. The Blackbird looked hilarious, half adult and half baby. Head and wings sleek black while the tail end was adorned with the brownish speckled feathers he was born with. The robin looked slightly tidier although with a mix of red and baby brown feathers. It is so interesting watching the development of the babies.

photo courtesy of
Another missed opportunity was the first visit, or rather the first sighting, of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We saw them in the garden of our last house but never at this one. He was too far away to photograph but we watched through binoculars. He had landed on the wooden bird table which is now situated on the lawn, but he was on the upright stem, as if he had landed on a tree, rather than the feeding platform. He kept looking up as if trying to decide how to get on the platform and it was the next day that I found out that he was really doing what his name implies, pecking wood. Yes, as later investigation showed, there’s been a whole lot of pecking been done in that area. I guess he’s not called a Woodpecker for nothing.

When we were visited by Woodpeckers before (the Great Spotted and the Green) I used to smear meat fat in the tree bark in wintertime. They loved it. I have tried it in our present garden but never seen who ate it, presuming as always that it was the squirrel. Now I feel I owe the squirrel an apology since I blamed him/them for the state of the bird table!

Isn’t that the second time I’ve felt like apologising to the squirrel?

Prior to posting this the bird came again and we were able to watch for some time while he dug into the wood in different places, after which he had a rest before flying off to pastures new...or should I say trees, or maybe some garden chairs?

Well, I've decided ... tomorrow's dinner will be bacon so that I can get some fat to smear on the bird's feeding table! Isn't that what a true 'birder' would do?

To end this wildlife post, I'll tell you about the baby woodpigeon I found loitering by the patio. He was there all day and seemed reluctant to move far. It was obvious he'd been hurt by something but I couldn't see any wounds. His feet seemed okay and he could fly the short distance from ground to birdbath; other than that his movements were slow and deliberate. He didn't mind me taking the photograph ... I think he felt safe tucked away by the bush. 

Maybe he was stunned or attacked by a predator in which case I thought he might be okay after a good rest. He took bread from me and had a drink of water but not much. It was awful that I couldn't help him further. 

I was finishing this little tale and thinking he might be gone by morning, when Joe called me to have another look at the bird. By the time I got to the garden the poor thing was on his back struggling to right himself. I picked him up and turned him over but his head drooped and his eyes closed. It was obvious the bird was dying. I felt so sad and useless as I laid him to rest on a bed of ivy, at the same time hoping I'd given the poor creature a measure of comfort on his last day on this earth.  

It's a sad note to end on but as the experts say ... that's life!


  1. Poor little thing but as you say, that is life. Your sightings were very interesting Valerie.

  2. I love your bird and garden posts. I am to slow to get pictures as well. Our baby cardinals are maturing the same as your birds, the males are not as big and red as their Dads.

  3. "as I laid him to rest on a bed of ivy, at the same time hoping I'd given the poor creature a measure of comfort on his last day on this earth."

    That's beautiful, Valerie. And I agree, you gave him much comfort and love on his last day on this earth. I remember something like this happening to me while I was still living in Florida, however, it was involving a poor little frog who was dying.

    "I used to smear meat fat in the tree bark in wintertime."

    Wow, I had no idea about that. You taught me something!

    I love the sound a woodpecker makes when they peck wood. I will sometimes see and hear them in one of the parks I visit.

    Have a super Monday, dear lady!

    X to you and Joe!

  4. Denise, I'm a sucker for wildlife and can't bear seeing them suffer. Thank goodness it doesn't happen often.

  5. BC, I would be in my element if I had cardinals in the garden. I'd probably camp out side to try and get a picture.

  6. Ron, bird food companies actually sell fat for birds but it's costly. Much easier to do your own and if really keen you can add birdseed to it.

    I hope I gave the woodpigeon some comfort... but it upset me to see him dying. I actually shed some tears. Joe moved the body today.

    Happy Monday to you x

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  8. at least you were able to give hima last meal...hopefully he did not run into a window...that will def break a neck...

  9. Brian, I know it's a strange thing to say but I think this bird was suffering with something more serious than an injury caused by hitting a window. Good to see you back blogging again.

  10. Poor little guy. You did all you could. Sometimes, nature just has to take its course.

  11. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just wait for the right moment to take those memorable shots all the time?

    Your photos are wonderful, Val.

    I got a bit teary-eyed reading about the bird's last meal. S/He at least was in the hands of a loving person before death. That's all any of us can hope for. Hugs to you.

  12. Aw poor little bird. I remember years ago one of the neighbours children bringing me a blackbird that had be jumped on by their cat asking me to do something. I hadn't a clue what to do but thought it was probably in shock, so I got her to hold it's beak open and I put a drop of brandy in it's mouth. Within seconds it was fluffing up it's feathers and then flew off!

  13. Pam, I still feel teary eyed although now I am dedicating my attention to the live birds. Maybe more photographs will be taken ... if and when ... smiles.

    Pearl, that was a nice tale. I remember trying that remedy on young son who never slept. A friend gave me the idea and it worked. Mind you it was only a drop of brandy...honest!


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