Monday, 6 April 2015

Eurasian Magpie

This Eurasian Magpie has been visiting Mother-In-Law's garden here in East Anglia, in the UK for a few days now for a snack.

The Eurasian Magpie also known as European Magpie or Common Magpie, belongs to the Crow family.  It is resident throughout Europe, much of Asia and Northwest Africa.  It's feathers are a deep, glossy black in colour with a metallic green and violet sheen.  Its belly is pure white and its wings are black glossed with green or purple.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Today At Townsend Wood, Fordham, Cambs, UK

On a typical March day in the UK, over cast and still slightly misty after a very foggy night we had a walk to Townsend Wood to see what signs of spring it has to offer.

Townsend Wood tucked away in Fordham is currently managed by the Woodland Trust.  The wood was originally part of a much larger garden at the rear of Shrubland House, which was built for George Townsend who was a nursery man and had a nursery and seed growing establishment.  The house was built in 1893 and some of the trees in the wood date back to this time.  The current area of wood covers 1 hectare (2.5 acres) and consists of mixed deciduous and conifer trees.

Because of a mild winter there seems to be a lot of blossom around at the moment.  The Mirabelle bushes are showing lots of white blossom, the flowers are made up of five white petals with long white stamen with little yellow pin heads on the end.

There is quite a lot of holly about, but none of them seemed to have berries.

There are a lot of Yew Trees around, some of them are very old, the needles look lovely with a little glint of sunshine on them.  Yes although it is a grey day, there is the occasional glint of sunshine.

When we saw that something had been having a nibble at this branch of wood, which was close to the ground, we thought of rabbits, although we had seen no other evidence of rabbits.  However, not long after seeing this I suddenly spotted the legs and tail of a Muntjac Deer, a small deer also known as Barking Deer or Mastreani Deer.  These Deer have become increasingly common in this area.  We tried to get a better view of it, but it was too fast for us and the last spotting we had was of it darting through the fence.

I am not sure if this leaf has rotted away or been eaten, but it looks interesting with just the veins remaining.

I think this fungus growing on this branch is a form of Beefsteak Fungus, these are an unusual form of Bracket Fungus.  It is commonly found in Britain, North America, Australia, North Africa and Europe.

I only took this one shot of the views around the wood as I only had my telephoto lens to take shots out of the reach of my normal lens.

This vibrant yellow blossom belongs to Cornus mas or Cornelian Cherry a medium to large deciduous bush or small tree, belonging to the Dogwood family.  During mid to late summer the plant produces bright red or yellow berries.

I think this may be a clump of Honey Fungus or Armillaria.

These lovely heart shaped leaves with black blotches belong to the Arum Lily.  The Arum Lily is native to South Africa but are now widespread across Europe.

These Arum Lily leaves do not have the black blotches.  Both varieties have strange looking flowers in late summer, which are made up of a single straight stalk with red berry like flowers making up the flowers that go up the stalk.

We very briefly caught sight of a Grey Squirrel tail disappearing into a clump of ivy, gowing up a tree.  Here we can see more evidence of the Squirrels, with this pine cone which has had all of its seeds picked clean.

These are some very unusual looking cones on this pine tree, they are very long and thin.

Here you can see the a bit more of the branch, as yet I have not been able to identify the type of pine tree.

There were large carpets of these green leaves, as yet I cannot see any flower heads appearing so I am not sure what plants these leaves belong too.

These leaf buds look like they are very close to bursting open.

These white, five petalled, blossom with a pink circle enclosing the white stamen with the yellow pin heads on the end look like Almond Blossom.

The distinctive catkins of the Hazel Tree.  Hazel is a deciduous tree or large shrub native to the temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere.  The Hazel tree produces Hazelnuts

I think these lovely pink flowers belong too the Witch Hazel, as with most of the trees that have flowers at the moment, there are no leaves out yet.

Again this blossom appears to be a Witch Hazel.  I wonder if some of these are ornamental plants dating back to when the wood was owned by the Townsend family.

The pink blossom of the Ornamental Cherry Tree, these trees when in blossom seem very exotic.

There's a large nesting box in the tree above me, I am not sure if it is for Squirrels or Owls, nothing was about to give me a clue.

Walking back home we still came across evidence of spring.  Peeping over one of the garden walls was this bush with this unusual flower.

We have to cross the River Snail which runs through the centre of Fordham, there was a border of bright yellow Daffodils growing along the bank.

There were three lovely male Mallard Ducks cruising around on the river.

Love this shot of the Mallards appearing to have a conversation with a Moor Hen on the river bank.

We came across the remains of an egg shell, it looked fairly fresh as it was still wet inside.  I think it could be a Collard Dove egg as there are a lot of Collard Doves around here.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Busy Honey Bee

Today the sun was shining down the beach and this lone Honey Bee was busy collecting pollen from some of the rocket plants that had gone to seed, here in Turkey.  You can see the Honey Bees legs are already laden with pollen.


A lone Buttercup (Ranunculus) plant flowering in the February sunshine down at the beach today, here in Turkey.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

First Signs of Spring Here In Turkey

A couple of days ago I was out with my camera capturing some of the first signs of spring.  Today we are being battered with some particularly cold blustery wind after snow fell yesterday around the Aegean Coast of Turkey.

The Almond was looking particularly beautiful against the backdrop of the blue sky, and the insects were having a field day buzzing around collecting nectar.

This Japanese Quince bush was looking like the plant was struggling, however it had still managed to push out some lovely looking blooms.

I think this was a female Chaffinch having a stretch.

The bright yellow of the Primrose Jasmine looks striking in the spring sunshine.

A Pied Wagtail on a mission hunting out bugs for lunch.

25th February - After a couple of weeks of more cold, miserable weather I managed to get out with my camera again today and found some more signs of spring.

The Skimmia Japonica bushes are still flush with bright red berries.  These plants are native to China, Japan and South East Asia.  The female plants produce the berries after they have flowered.

Some beautiful Cherry Blossom, still hanging in there after some very cold winds and rain.

Today was the first time I had noticed baby Pine Cones growing in a Pine Tree, they were only about the size of a Walnut.

Growing along side the baby Pine Cones were the flowers of the Pine Trees, swelling up nicely to disperse their pollen later in the spring.  For the first few years that we lived in Turkey we could not work out where all the fine green dust was coming from that covers everywhere outside during the late spring.  The one day while we sat in the garden having a coffee, we noticed as the wind blew, a plume of fine green dust coming from the flowers of the Pine Tree.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

A Peregrine Falcon Flying Over The Garden

I just about managed to get this shot of a Peregrine Falcon flying over head today, it is not brilliant as I was way beyond the extent of my lens and the bird was travelling quite fast.  I have seen a few birds of prey flying over the valley in front of the house here in Turkey, but very few come close enough to get a decent shot to identify them.

The Peregrine Falcon is a bird of prey, about the size of a Crow and is widespread throughout the world.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Little Owl Strut

It was another cold, windy, day today, Little Owl was sitting on its favourite window sill in the sunshine.  At one point it looked like it was having a dance with some fancy footwork, trying to preen your feathers when it is windy is not easy.