This is my third image from my encounter with this dear little blackcap. After feeding and cleaning it’s beak, it hopped up into the branches of the shrubs, in the the riverside hedgerow, to preen. Some of those feathers are still quite downy and the gape (oral flanges) in the corners of the beak are clear to see. I have no idea exactly how old this fledgeling is but it certainly seems to be fending for itself well! The brambles were providing a feast for bees, butterflies and birds. My mum might just have sneaked a few ripe berries for herself too!
I’m sharing this second image of the juvenile blackcap, that I encountered yesterday, for today’s Fotospeed challenge. I haven’t had to crop these images much at all. I was so close to my subject I could hardly believe it! The blackcap was very aware of me and the numerous passers-by on the Thames Path, but was completely unfazed, gorging itself of the bountiful berries before hopping further up into the brambles to clean it’s blackberry-stained beak. I loved the way the light caught it’s face as it turned and stared straight down my lens!
Last week brought so many fantastic photography opportunities, but the ones that I most want to share in this weeks Monday photo-challenges are among the last few images that I captured yesterday in the late afternoon. I was with my parents at The Weir in Walton, on the banks of the Thames, near Sunbury Lock. There was an abundance of wildlife in the brambles and trees along the river path. I almost missed this juvenile blackcap picking blackberries. It’s often the song that first alerts me to the presence of a bird but this little one was being very quiet. It’s efforts to pick the blackberries where rather clumsy though and the sight of a shaking bramble bush gave the game away! I took a closer look and a shaft of sunlight caught upon this cheeky little face. I was pretty sure the youngster was a blackcap having seen an adult male in the vicinity earlier on. It’s perfect habitat for them as they feed on both berries and insects! I’m sharing this first image for Wex Mondays. More to follow!
While a young coot chick might look pretty bald, this is not actually the origins of the phrase. It’s in reference to the white frontal shield of the adult coot (see image below). This similarly applies to the name of the Bald Eagle, which has a fine head of white feathers. Bald also appears in the word Piebald, referring to horses, birds and other animals that are black and white. So where does this word for white actually come from? Annabel Rushton sheds some light on this in the RSPB community blog:
You often hear the phrase ‘bald as a coot’, but as you can see from the photo, they are covered in feathers. Even the chick, though a little sparse on its head, has a flame of red and orange down. So where has the saying come from? Well the word ‘bald’ is actually derived from an old English word ‘bala’ which means ‘white patch’. If you look at a coot, they have a white patch above their beak known as a ‘knob’ or a ‘frontal shield’. It is this that has given rise to the term ‘bald as a coot’, rather than because they are featherless.
Coot and chick at Claremont Landscape Gardens
The Idioms website adds:
A coot is a water bird which has marking on its head that gives it an appearance of being bald. It does have feathers on his head but it is the way it looks from a distance that gives this expression its shape.
This phrase has been in existence since several centuries with the first literary use being in 1430 in ‘Chronicle of Troy’ written by John Lydgate.
My little brother got married on Saturday! I have a new sister and she’s lovely. There’s really nothing else that comes close to this as a photo-of-the-week for me. That includes photos of birds and butterflies, I’ll have you know! All of them truly beautiful but THIS is the beautiful moment that I HAVE to share with you all this Monday, the looks of love and happiness as they shared their first dance. What more can I say really! Just that I’m so thrilled for you, Robin and Mo, I’m still buzzing from your wonderful WedFest and very happy that our family has grown once again.