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.
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.
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.
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.
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…..
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.