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Blue Monday : Banquet For Blue Tits

Banquet For Blue Tits

Blue Monday : Banquet For Blue Tits

The bountiful berries of the Cornus kousa, a flowering dogwood, make a fine banquet for the diminutive blue tits in the Autumn. It’s a feast for the eyes to watch them! There are a number of kousa trees around the grounds at RHS Wisley Gardens, but the best fruiting and most visited ones are just at the bottom of the rose garden. While other birds have to forage below the trees for fallen fruit, the blue tit appears to be the only visitor light enough to feed directly from the fruit ripening on the tree. Occasionally even these lightweights accidentally pick a berry that can’t quite support them and they tumble down through the leaves. I’m yet to catch that amusing sight on camera! My lead image really captures how adept they are at feeding from the berries, so I’m entering it into today’s ShareMondays2018 and Fotospeed challenges. I’ll keep on trying to photograph one their epic fails!

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Blue Monday: Signs Of Spring

Blue Tit and budding Spring leaves

Blue Monday: Signs Of Spring

I returned to the carpark at RHS Wisley Gardens on Sunday morning after the snow had all melted. The fieldfare had all gone, presumably back to the orchard fields on the exposed hillside. Hardly any fruit remained on the trees out by the main entrance so most of the birds were around the side of the shop where staff have a number of feeders out. The blue tits were out in force and I really enjoyed watching them flitting in and out of the shrubs. After the recent cold, I was reminded that it is now meteorological Spring by the sight of fresh green leaves and buds on the branches. Hopefully this will be a bright contrast to many snow images in this week’s Fotospeed challenge!

Chaffinch

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Blue Monday: Big Garden Birdwatch

Blue Tit

Blue Monday: Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a citizen science project that has been running for almost fourty years and helps provide a “snapshot” of bird numbers across the UK. The data collected helps inform the RSPB of any problems in bird numbers. Steps can then be taken to identify the reasons for these problems and find resolutions. The data collected over the years can also provide us with some great success stories. Since the start of Birdwatch, blue tit numbers have actually increased by twenty percent!

On Saturday morning I joined a group of wildlife enthusiasts at RHS Wisley Gardens for a tour of the grounds, identifying different bird species, led by experts from the North West Surrey branch of the RSPB. The highlight of the morning for me was a flock of siskin found near the bottom of  Battleston Hill. They were very silhouetted againgst the morning skies but I finally managed to get a shot of one to show you the wonderful yellow colourings. We estimated there were around fourty birds in the flock.

Siskin

Siskin

On our way up to the orchards we saw a mistle thrush in the oaks. I shall be looking out for it in the area as I couldn’t get a close enough view for a photograph. The flocks of fieldfare and redwing were also keeping their distance from us in the orchards but we witnessed them swooping and diving to outwit the local buzzard. Quite a sight! There are more flocks of redwing feeding on the lawn areas at Seven Acres and around the lakes. Recent rainfall has turned the ground marsh-like, bringing up plenty of insects and worms for these hungry winter visitors. Among the flocks are other thrush, robins and blackbirds all taking advantage of this feast. I was delighted to see the Egyptian Geese have returned to the lake again! Hopefully they will have their goslings at Wisley again this year.

Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese

We finished our birdwatch at the birdhide situated at the far end of the Pinetum, on the banks of the Wey. With so many of us in the group it was hard for me to get many photographs but we were all delighted to see the nuthatch, chaffinches, robins, parakeets, ducks, moorhens and very healthy numbers of tits. There were great, blue and coal tits all visiting the feeders and flitting around in the trees and scrub. I’m putting one of my shots of a blue tit, with absolutely wonderful colouring, into this week’s Fotospeed challenge. A perfect example of a citizen science success story!

Many thanks to Amy from RHS Wisley for organising the workshops and educational events at the gardens, and to NW Surrey RSPB for leading the event and providing some great information and close-up views with their spotting scopes.

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Blue Monday: Portrait Of A Blue Tit

Blue Tit painted in Topaz Studio

Blue Monday: Portrait Of A Blue Tit

Thanks to my wonderful hubby, I now have a computer that can access all of my Topaz Software! I truly feel like I can paint again. This blue tit portrait was created from a photograph taken in Shropshire over the Christmas period and processed using tools in Topaz Studio and Photoshop. This is my entry for the first Wex Mondays challenge of the year.

Original edit:

Blue Tit in Shropshire

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Blue Monday: Caught In The Light

Blue Tit in bright autumn light

Blue Monday: Caught In The Light

A pretty blue tit, caught in the bright light of a chilly autumn afternoon, at RHS Wisley Gardens yesterday, for this week’s Fotospeed challenge.

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Blue Monday: Fruitful

Blue Tit and Bountiful Berries (Cornus kousa var. chinensis)

Blue Monday: Fruitful

My offering for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge is an image taken on a short but fruitful visit to RHS Wisley Gardens last week. I only had about an hour and a half before closing time but I had really needed a bit of time-out! It was perfect. Sunshine, song birds and solitude. Well it was quiet enough that the only other person I came into contact with was another local visitor, and keen photographer, also enjoying the tranquility. After the warm and sunny Spring this year the fruiting trees are absolutely laden with produce! Much of this will be food for the Wisley wildlife as we head into the winter months. There’s a well stocked larder waiting for the migrating birds that will soon be heading our way. For now, our garden birds are having a fabulous feast all to themselves! I love this particular Dogwood (Cornus kousa var. chinensis) that can be found at the bottom of the rose garden near Weather Hill Cottage. Covered in white flowers in Spring and these fabulous red and orange fruits in Autumn. There are a number of these dogwoods around these parts of the garden but this one in particular is always spectacular. I spotted quite a number of blue tits flitting in and out of the small tree. I then spent a rather glorious half an hour sat near the tree, watching the birds going to and fro, the tree seeming to quake as they busied themselves under the dense foliage. Occasionally one would pop out between leaves to feed on one the visible fruits allowing me to get just a few photos. They were so fixated on feeding that they seemed to forget about my silent presence after a while. I had birds flying so close that I could feel the wind from their wing-beats around my head! Much of the time I just kept still, leaving the camera be and enjoying the precious time with nature. Today’s image is one of only a few taken while I was there. You’ll just have to pay the gardens a visit, while there’s still fruit on the trees, to experience this encounter with nature for yourselves!