A Tale of Two Birds

Sycamore flowers turning into samaras

Dear Readers, every morning since the lockdown began, my husband and I have gone out for a walk before work. Our usual destination is Coldfall Wood, followed by a brisk trot around the Playing Fields. I have written the fields off as a nature destination in previous visits, but goodness there is a lot to see if I pay attention! Having remarked on the beauty of the sycamore flowers, I am now impressed with the way that each blossom is turning into a samara, one of nature’s helicopters. How I used to love playing with them when I was a child, but I had never noticed the way that they emerged from the flowers before.

And then there is the sunlight through the leaves. What a delight!

The cow parsley is in full flower and the hogweed is just getting started. I love how the flowers burst through those closed-fists of buds.

Hogweed opening

I love how the umbellifers follow one another, with the cow parsley, then the hogweed, then the wild carrot – there’s something for hoverflies to feed on for months on end.

But one big delight has been the single male blackcap that I’ve heard singing from an ash tree every single morning, except this one when I had my camera. I love these slate-grey birds with their black Beatles-style ‘haircuts’. I’ve had one visit my garden in winter very occasionally, but I’ve never heard one in full song before. Here’s a recording (sadly not by me):

Photo One by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Male blackcap (Sylvia atripicilla) (Photo One)

As I passed the ash tree I looked up and listened hard, but no luck. And then, twenty metres away, I heard him singing from the depths of a sycamore. Hopefully he’ll be a bit less bashful tomorrow.

The Japanese knotweed has grown into an impassable thicket, and my favourite dock is now almost up to my shoulder.

There has been some excitement on the Playing Fields this week because, after many, many months of waiting, the council are coming to try do something about the quagmire that appears at the entrance every year. The wood and the fields have had drainage problems for as long as I’ve been visiting: there are a number of streams and rivulets that water the woods, the fields and the cemetery, sometimes with rather too much enthusiasm. However, today there is a van, and an earth-mover, and the start of what could be a very fine hole, so fingers crossed that it all works.

And then I’m at home, and sitting at my desk, listening to a conference call, when something catches my eye. Look at this little beauty sitting on the buddleia outside.


A pair of them have been sitting just outside my window for most of the day, flitting in and out and apparently munching up all the aphids. They have been singing and preening one another, and have been most excellent companions, even when I had four hours of User Acceptance Testing for a new system and thought that I would lose the will to live. It’s always a treat when nature comes to you, rather than you having to go out and find it.

2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Birds

  1. Anne

    It adds depth to one’s day if there is action beyond your window: my son sends me pictures sometimes of the sunbirds feeding on nectar in the wild honeysuckle in this garden or a Bokmakierie perched on his windowsill. He sometimes even sees donkeys or part of the Urban Herd, all of which lifts the tedium of working in isolation from home. I thoroughly enjoy your description of the goldfinches.


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