Wednesday, 14 August 2019

So Tiny, So Beautiful

I need to return to a topic I wrote about a short while ago - Skye's wild flowers. I was bemoaning the fact that there seemed to be fewer wild flowers blooming year-by-year. Maybe I was a little hasty with that post, as we have had a wonderful summer of colourful roadsides, with, currently, the knapweed, doing spectacularly well.

I will add, though, that I saw only a couple of common spotted orchids this spring, and I've only seen one single spear thistle locally, to the chagrin of our chaffinches, who love to eat the seeds. They are not exactly rare elsewhere however!

My daily morning dog-walk takes me along a mile or so of the local road. While the moors, which are grazed by only a thin scattering of nomadic sheep, are all but bare of our common wild flowers, the roadside verges are akin to a wildflower nature reserve. Here is the road just along from the Barn - look at all that knapweed...

... and the grasses are shoulder-high.
(Cupar looks a bit bored). 
Today, I decided to take a closer look at some of the flowers. The delicacy and daintiness of the most common of flowers is quite spectacular. Being tiny is clearly of massive importance of these plants. Maybe there is a lesson for us all there somewhere? Forget the bigger picture, it's small things that matter most.

Just one knapweed flower - of thousands!

Ever taken a close look at a roadside flower?

How dainty is the meadowsweet - and it smells wonderful too!

Friday, 2 August 2019

Roskhill Birds

My last post here was largely negative, so I thought this time I would be a bit more cheerful. Here's a post about the bird and baby bird situation in and around Roskhill.

My desk (and computer) stand just inside a ground floor window, with, only a few feet outside, our bird feeders hanging on the branches of a tree. The tree provides safe cover for a multitude of garden birds, and we keep the feeders stocked with peanuts and fat balls.

We don't attract any rare or unusual species, but the feeders are extremely busy, and our visitor list is quite long. I'm not a twitcher, so may miss a few, but at various times of the year, in the garden, we see:

  • house sparrow
  • dunnock
  • wren
  • starling
  • blackbird
  • song thrush
  • chaffinch
  • greenfinch
  • goldfinch
  • blue tit
  • great tit
  • coal tit
  • robin
  • siskin
  • blackcap
  • wagtail
  • collared dove
  • rock dove

Locally, but almost never in the garden, other birds we often see include:

  • meadow pipit
  • sedge warbler
  • wheatear
  • redwing
  • mistle thrush
  • swallow
  • cuckoo
  • snipe
  • curlew
  • lapwing
  • heron
  • jackdaw
  • hooded crow
  • raven
  • buzzard
  • sparrowhawk
  • various seabirds (I'm not good at identifying seabirds...)!

...and vary occasionally a golden eagle or sea eagle will overfly. Just a couple of times, I have seen a hen harrier over the Roskhill moorland.

Now as for nesting birds - our garden has a number of shrubs and trees. Then we have two nest boxes which are favoured by great tits, and the Barn has various holes and gaps in the roof and soffits. These locations all provide good homes, and this year in particular we have been delighted to see a big increase in numbers of breeding house sparrows. The starlings, blackbirds and great tits have been very successful too, and the robins have done especially well (three different families managed to tolerate each other to bring off broods at the same time).

It is not difficult to spend too much time looking out of the window...

Just one on this occasion - a blue tit.
 Often there are at least half a dozen birds at this feeder at the same time.