She has seen adders in that location before. Adders are probably my favourite snakes. L and I once saw a black adder on Canada common. In fact I would have trodden on him if L, aged about 6 at the time and blessed with incredibly sharp eyes and equally sharp powers of observation, hadn't seen it and shouted a warning. He was lovely, just lying there basking in the sun quietly minding his own business.
Anyway, I think these eggs are amazing don't you? Each one has a tiny hole where the baby snake has wriggled out and they measure approx. 2.5cm long by 1.5cm wide.
We had a disaster with our male Blackcap on Monday evening. I was talking to M who had just got home from work when we heard a horrid bone-chilling thud from upstairs and the next thing I knew a small body plummeted down out of the sky and landed heavily on the flagstones outside. Our male Blackcap had smashed into our bedroom window and I honestly thought he was a goner. I couldn't believe it. He lay on his side as he'd landed, feet in the air, twitching and breathing very heavily for five minutes, then managed to get his feet under him although he still had his head down and to one side. He remained there unmoving for another 15 mins and I don't think I breathed the whole time, then finally he managed to sit up and started to look around. 5 more mins and he hopped into cover, 15 mins after that and he'd flown off. I saw him on the feeders an hour later looking none the worse. Phew! Just shows if a bird hits a window don't interfere - leave them for half an hour or more because they may well just be severely stunned and the shock of human contact in such conditions could be enough to carry them off.
Anyway, the very next day I spotted another Blackcap on the feeder, this is a different male - he is far skinnier than our sleek first boy and also more nervous and reactive to my movements. I've seen both of them at the same time since so we definitely have two. I'm assuming he's just arrived from the migration as he's spending all his time stuffing himself on the feeders. I haven't seen a second female yet but am keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully there is a good chance.
I've finally managed to get some shots of the original Blackcap pair feeding together. They are very sweet with one another, feed close together, squash up next to one another and frequently fly off in the same direction. She is becoming quite brave and this morning sat on the fence near me while I was eating lunch outside. It gave me a great opportunity to have a closer look at her. They're both possessive feeders and see the blue tits off in no uncertain terms. Compared to the new arrival they are decidedly podgy, but this has to be good news for nesting.
I'm not aware of any other pair of birds in the garden who spend as much time together as these two do. I am keeping everything crossed that they stay and hatch blackcaplets and bring them into the garden to show me.
The other pair who turned up unexpectedly yesterday (I haven't seen hide nor hair of them for a good few weeks) were the Siskins. Apologies for the blurry pics- M had knocked my nyger seed feeder over during a particularly robust exchange of croquet with F at the weekend and broken it, so it was sitting on the wall outside the kitchen window at an awkward angle for photographing. I didn't want to let the moment slip away without getting a snap or two. They are such beautiful birds, and again the female was much braver than her husband when it came to the camera...
I've replaced the nyger seed feeder and I'm not sure the goldfinches are all that impressed. On the one hand the new model boasts a "tray" to catch the seeds and they did seem to approve of that, but on the other it is decidedly less "smart" and to be honest looks a bit cheap and plasticky (the old one had a gold metallic top and bottom), and I'm not sure how well it works (or indeed how long it will last). The jury's out at present.....
The sparrows are still busy carting off nesting material suitable or otherwise from the garden at a time when I'm pretty sure nearly everyone else is already sitting on eggs. I frequently see either or both of them with beaks stuffed full of other people's feathers and bits of garden debris. By late yesterday afternoon he was in pensive mood sitting on the top of the hedge looking out across the garden, perhaps reflecting on what is presumably his wife's fussiness over nest preparation. If he's anything like my husband he'll be thinking: I've made it functional what more does she want???
The other two photos were taken last week- amazing how much the hedge has come out since then.
Here's another blurry picture I have to apologise for the quality of but we so rarely get Jay's in the garden I was rather excited to see him and it was worth a twiggy picture....
We went into the forest on Sunday to check on the wild bee's nest and I am pleased to say they had all gone, which I hope means they've survived the winter. There was a chunk of nest loose so we bought it home. The perfect symmetry of the shapes really astonishes me. Very clever people bees- and great news this week that the EU has voted to ban the pesticides that are thought to be affecting their central nervous system with such dire results. Let's hope it's a significant step in the right direction and their numbers can start to recover.
I'll end this rather long and rambling post with a photo of our new Head Robin, who is so far nameless. Our previous Head Robin, Blackberry, sadly died ten days ago and it has taken the new boy all that time to muster the courage to claim the Head Robin's Chief Singing Position (on the top branch of the tree that has last year's abandoned magpie nest in it- another female who scolded her husband whenever he tried to lay a twig down). This is him singing on the elder tree outside the kitchen window a couple of days ago....
Enjoy the sun!