Six on Saturday -29/12/2018

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Last six of the year. Taking inspiration from Jane’s king parrots last week I have been trying to take pictures of garden birds. We hang a couple of feeders of sunflower seeds out for them and mostly get flocks of goldfinches hoovering them up from dawn to dusk. I started taking pictures from the house, through slightly grubby glass. Not great, the feeders are a bit too far away. So I decamped to the glasshouse, sat frozen on a stool with the door open a crack. Too low down, photographing birds in silhouette against the sky. Then I focussed on the other feeder, which had a better background, but meant I was wedged at a funny angle and had to be dead still until the birds started coming in, which was 5 or 10 minutes and seemed like hours. I couldn’t be a wildlife photographer, I don’t have the patience.

One. Birds.
While I was watching with my camera, maybe three hours total, the feeders were visited by goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch, house sparrow, siskin, starling, collared dove, bluetit, coal tit, great tit and blackcap. Hanging about nearby but not going to the feeder were blackbirds and a robin. Goldfinches totally dominate, with four or more on both feeders for long periods. Occasionally a few starlings call in and everything else leaves, then they start to get brave and come back.
There are usually starlings in the trees at both sides of the garden, sometimes dozens of them, so their chatterings are the soundtrack to the garden; they’re not bothered by me going out there.
Twenty years ago it was mostly greenfinches with the occasional chaffinch; we never saw goldfinches at all.


Two.
Camellias. I brought my young potted plant of Camellia grijsii into the conservatory when it started flowering. It’s now as good as it’s going to get and is beautifully fragrant sometimes. I don’t know whether it’s time of day, temperature or my nose but sometimes I open the door to a blast of perfume, sometimes there is nothing.

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Out in the garden I have another plant of it which is just beginning to bloom. I couldn’t detect any fragrance but it is pretty cold today. Also in the garden, and with a bit of fragrance, is Camellia ‘Koto-no-kaori’, which the Camellia Register translates as “Perfume of Ancient Capital”. I hope their ancient capital smelt better than ours is reputed to have done. This is a spring flowering variety that will start very early if it’s mild and like C. grijsii, has a proper sweet perfume, very different from the autumn flowering sasanquas. This is its first winter in the ground, so far so good. My worry is that it may start into growth way too early and get damaged by frost, a problem I’ve had with another plant of similar parentage.

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And there I will leave it for this week, indeed for this year. I know it’s only two things but it seems like the equivalent of six and I don’t want to push my luck. Then again, new years only come round once a year…..

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Now, that’s a bird table.

OK, enough frivolity. I need to go buy paint, I have decorating to do. No doubt our host The Propagator will have the portion control in his six better sorted, not to mention having the links to all the other sixes. Happy New Year everyone.

 

28 thoughts on “Six on Saturday -29/12/2018

      1. Interestingly, in William Ackerman’s book “Beyond the Camellia Belt”, he talks about an informal group of people in various cold areas who called themselves the Polar Bear Camellia Club and who he corresponded with about growing camellias, indeed he supplied them with seeds of his most cold hardy species. It all started with some people in Toronto, in an area where the temps were moderated by being near Lake Ontario. There was another man attempting to grow camellias in Hayward, Wisconsin; Zone 3. So long as he got good snow cover they survived, without it even the hardiest died. None flowered.

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      2. Ah…very interesting!…the lack of deep snow cover here would be an issue i think. We often have a January thaw, all the snow melts, and it gets bitterly cold again with little protection. The County juts out into Lake Ontario which moderates our temps a bit but we’re not normally in a snow belt, like the Niagara area, where camellias might survive.

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  1. Wonderful photos Jim! I think we have the same birds here. The difference is that you succeeded in taking pictures of them. Blue tits and a green chaffinch are the ones I took so far … Yesterday I missed a green woodpecker in my apple tree …

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  2. Nice photos. I’ve not seen a siskin in years. Goldfinches polish off most of the sunflower hearts on our feeders. We had 3 blackcaps in our garden last week, 2 males and a female. I think the female blackcap comes top of the pecking order. She sees off everything.

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    1. I’ve had a female blackcap on the feeder quite a bit. She isn’t scared off by the other birds but nor does she chase them away. Her mate was skulking in the bushes once or twice but I only saw him nip in once, snatch a seed and away. We get up to six siskins at a time, usually a lot less.

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    1. It’s a good thing someone invented digital cameras, one reasonable shot for every hundred taken wouldn’t cut it on film. I’m experimenting with setting up the camera and controlling it remotely from my iPad. I get to sit in a comfy chair with a coffee and touch the screen now and then to take a picture. The birds prefer it too.

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      1. I’m impressed and jealous. 🙂 I’m not technically-minded so how you can set up a camera to be operated from your iPad… . I love to photograph wildlife, but between shaky hands and size 10 feet it’s more luck than judgement.

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    1. I was out there today appraising the setup. What I need is a bird table with a perch a few inches away so I get the bird looking like it’s on a twig with a nice background. Then somewhere quite close but where I’m hidden. Watch this space. Happy New Year to you too.

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  3. Wow! That is a LOT of flowers for that little camellia. Although the name sounds familiar, I do not think we had one in the collection. Most of ours were stock plants of what we grew, which were common landscape types. We had a few tea camellias, but never did anything with them because there did not seem to be a demand for them. There was one that looked like yours, and had a similar name, but I can not remember what it was. It certainly did not bloom as prolifically. It really needed better growing conditions. We brought it inside for the winter with the tea camellias, but it just stayed potted in the collection. It really deserved something better.

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      1. There were a few semi tropical plants that I brought with me from Beverly Hills (in the region of Los Angeles) decades ago, believing that I would eventually move to a home with a spot that was sheltered enough from the frost for them. In my first year, we experienced the worst frost in recorded history. Everything at my home survived inside, but many were eventually given to better homes closer to the coast. I should be pleased to see them happier in other gardens.

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      2. We have frost forecast for later this week. It’ll see me scurrying around setting up heaters and moving things around. I hope it’s short lived. The roots of camellias are very vulnerable and I have a lot in pots, outdoors and in my unseated tunnel.

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  4. Great bird pics Jim. I like the soud of your remote control for the camera. Maybe it’s time i upgraded from my basic and aged Nikon D40. Before i do any of that i should up my game with the bird feeders, don’t have any at the moment.

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    1. The remote control thing is good in that it avoids disturbance but limits control of the camera; I can’t point it where I want and focus accurately. A crude hide is on my mind. I made the mistake of starting decorating on Christmas day, the end is not yet in sight. It can be hard to justify getting things like new cameras when you don’t get to use it a great deal and the one on the phone is pretty good anyway. We’re surrounded by countryside but the birds come into gardens to feed in winter, then disappear in spring to nest away from the cats. Even in Cornwall farmland doesn’t offer wildlife very much.

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