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Watch The Birdies!

Green and Gold

Watch The Birdies!

For me it’s one of the best tonics ever, watching the birds. It was my one request to my long-suffering hubby at the end of the weekend, as I started to feel a bit better following a nasty infection. Take me out to watch the birds. I still didn’t feel up to doing much more than sitting quietly in the birdhide, watching and listening to my feathered friends. Simon’s not quite as obsessed with birds (I think it bores him unless it’s birds of prey!) as I am so this was such a sweet gesture from him! There was only a fleeting visit by a couple of parakeets. They’re enjoying the sweet chestnut trees so much at the moment I don’t think they can be bothered with the feeders near the hide! There were lots of blue tits, great tits, chaffinches and dunnocks. I was really pleased to see the nuthatch and a pair of coal tits too. Several robins were feeding on the ground beneath the feeders and I caught sight of a couple of wrens in the undergrowth, moving far too fast to photograph! I’m putting the parakeet into Wex Mondays this week as I loved the glow of the late sun against the still-green leaves and the greens of the parakeet itself. It was uplifting!

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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!

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Angels Above Me

Tern Triptych

Angels Above Me

I have been watching these beautiful terns at Thorpe Lake, where I do my open water swimming, from the shore and from the waters, wanting to capture their beauty and elegance in flight. I decided that the best way to achieve my goals was to take my toughened Olympus out swimming with me! This pair are nesting on one of the pontoons that divides areas of the lakes. Over the last few weeks I have seen them take to the air whenever a swimmer, or the other lake residents, come anywhere close to the pontoon. I have absolutely reveled in these aerial acrobatics, performed right above me as I glide through the waters. A couple of times I have turned onto my back and floated, gazing up at these angels. To capture these images last week I trod water for a while so that I could turn more easily and track their flight with both hands on the camera. I can’t tread water for long without using up all my energy, so it actually helped that terns fly fast and low! I ended up with three images, that had both male and female in the frame, and just couldn’t pick a favourite to enter into this week’s Wex Mondays challenge, so I created a tern triptych. I will post all three of the images for you to check out individually. Perhaps you will have a favourite?

Common Terns in flightCommon Terns in flightCommon Terns in flight

I’m also posting this as part of the WPC: Ooh, Shiny! Pretty much anything with wings distracts me, as those of you who follow my work, or come out on photography trips with me, know already 😉

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Blue Monday: Grebe On A Glassy Lake

Great Crested Grebe

Blue Monday: Grebe On A Glassy Lake

I took this photo of one of the grebes at Thorpe Lake before my swim there last week. The reflections of the sky were so beautiful. Open water swimming is just the best physical and mental exercise there is! I get to watch these glorious birds, along with all the other residents of the lakeside, while I swim through those smooth waters every week. The simple pleasures in life are the best. I shall share this pleasure with everyone as part of Wex Mondays this week. Good luck to everyone entering!

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Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatch

Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatches are wonderful birds to watch! It’s not often I can get close enough to show you the detail of their feathers and the beautiful slate-grey and blue colouring. I spotted this one clinging to the trunk of one of the trees near the birdhide at RHS Wisley Gardens. First came the panicked retrieval of my long lens and actually fitting it to the camera body. Then I had to try to creep down the stairs to get closer. Stairs and I don’t get on well at the best of times!! The whole time I was whispering, “Just hang on a minute!” and he did. He actually clung to the trunk for quite a while, watching the other birds coming and going from the feeders. Look closely at the image and you can see the really long toes and claws of this expert climber! I love the texture of the bark on this trunk. It’s a feature that helps the nuthatch make really good use of this tree for climbing and feeding on insects within the crevices of the bark. Among all my wonderful wildlife finds last week, this image really stands out for me so I’m putting it into the Wex Mondays challenge this week. Good luck to all those entering!

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Pretty Little Things

Cygnets

Pretty Little Things

It’s lovely seeing cygnets on the Basingstoke Canal again! The swans on the Byfleet and New Haw stretch have four cygnets this year. I couldn’t resist this shot of two of the babies seeming to be admiring their reflections, or in a conversation with each other. I think it would make a rather lovely print so I’m entering it into this week’s Fotospeed challenge.