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We have had some warm periods of weather at last, after a long, cold spring.  Spring flowers have rushed to bloom and set seed before summer arrives and the trees have clothed themselves in delicate green leaves.

Any warm days we had in early spring were quickly followed by much cooler and wetter weather and the returning birds were confused, I am sure.  I saw a couple of vanguard male Swallows (Hirundo rustica) at the beginning of April but the ensuing wet and windy weather must have sent them back south because I didn’t see them again until mid May!

Two Swallows on the electric cable above our garden in April

Swallow number 1

Swallow number 2

We are pleased to say that the Greylags (Anser anser) did arrive in our garden, a little later than usual and spent a couple of hours a day inspecting the place…..

Greylag male and female

…..until they were ready to set up home here for the duration.  A nest was built on the island and the female began to sit on her eggs at the end of March.

The geese taking up residence.

The island

The goose on her nest. She lowers her head to become less noticeable.

The gander patrols the water…..

….but often went off elsewhere to eat and meet his friends, though was within calling range.

The goose sat and sat and sat, only leaving the nest for a couple of minutes in the morning and evening to snatch a quick bite to eat.

Eventually, right at the end of April the goslings hatched.  There are four of them but I have had great difficulty photographing them.

Retreating Greylag family

As the goslings have grown the parents have become a little more relaxed but still beat a hasty retreat if anyone gets too close.

Gander on the lookout

Four fat babies eating our grass

These photos were taken at dusk and with my zoom at full stretch!  The goslings are on the move all the time and it is very difficult to get them in focus.

This photo was taken a few days later from Elinor’s bedroom window

I managed to get the whole family in this one!

While the goose was still sitting on her nest we had some surprise and unexpected visitors in the garden.

Barnacle Geese! (Branta leucopsis)   They had the cheek to land on the Greylags’ island while the goose was on her nest!

They appeared to want to set up home there too.

Richard saw them visit a few days later when the Greylag goose decided she didn’t want them there any longer.  She called her mate who arrived very quickly and saw them off.  These photos were taken from Elinor’s bedroom window again.

The pond has also had many visits from Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula).  There have often been two pairs of them swimming together.

Male and female Tufted Ducks

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) male and female

Mallard drake

A pair of Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus)

The Moorhens again; one displaying its white feathers under its tail.

Before the leaves appeared on the Ash tree we had frequent flocks of Starlings visit in the evening

Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)

We also had Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) and Redwings (Turdus iliacus) congregate in that same tree before they flew north and east to their breeding grounds.

Once the winter birds had left, Spring decided it ought to do some catching up.  Flowers appeared, summer birds arrived despite the cool temperatures and I took this rather shaky video of our pond, mainly to record the birdsong (and the lambs!)

I managed to photograph a Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) in our Rowan tree.

Blue Tit. There is also a crescent moon behind the tree

The next photo is a bit sad.  Sad in one sense that it shows a dead bird and sad in another that I am strange enough to want to photograph a dead bird!  I apologise to anyone who is upset at seeing these photos which were taken to record the presence of the bird in the area.  I buried the bird as soon as I had finished looking at it.

A Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus).

I found this poor bird in the flowerbed under one of our windows and I assume it had flown into the glass and killed itself.

It is a tiny bird as you can see when compared with my hand.

Here is a link with information about Firecrests

We get Goldcrests in our garden but this is the first time I have seen a Firecrest here and am sorry that it had died.  It proves though, that there are probably other Firecrests about so I must be more observant.

A Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) singing at dusk

I also made another poor video of this lovely bird singing.  I had to balance on one leg while peering round the corner of our house to make the video which is my excuse for the poor quality.  The video is dedicated to Richard Sutton of A Listening Heart blog who lamented in a recent post that he hadn’t heard a Song Thrush for a while.  Please do visit Richard’s blog.  He writes beautifully about the countryside where he lives and about poets and writers too.