Monday, 28 March 2011
As a child of the 60s, my primary school seemed blessed (it was Catholic!) with a library of wildlife books, especially ornithological guides. They had 3 inch hard-backed spines weighing more than I could carry back to my desk. Furthermore, they were difficult to hide under my standard size text books, away from the roving eyes of my teacher nuns, unmoved to share my interest - and ready to punish at any time.
I remember these books as being formal productions, not child friendly at all. Many had memorable, beautiful colour plates illustrating grand images that told ther own stories, Golden Eagles speeding down snow-covered mountains, hunting a white mountain Hare with a startled Ptarmigan near by. Less epic, were the illustrations of garden birds. These featured homily snow-covered gardens, not in the suburbs, but backing onto countryside (looking suspiciously like my garden now), and containing homely looking bird tables decorated with such old-fashioned bird food as unshelled monkey nuts and upturned coconuts shells. The bird tables would feature a snow covered roof, large enough to shelter a Wood Pigeon (no Collared Doves in those days), and typical common birds such as Robin, Song Thrush and House Sparrow. I say common, but that wasn't true, because fluttering in the snow on the bird table paintings would be at least one Brambling, a striking, boldy coloured finch that I'd never seen in my garden at all. As I got older, time passed by. Snow-filled gardens were to become even scarcer and those childhood memories of garden Bramblings were to remain covered in dust in school library. Still, four decades of patience and white winters are back with us, and just occasionally, real live Bramblings too. The old books were right!
Just a few years ago, in late March, we had a stunning flock of Brambling in near summer plumage, visit the garden for just a few days. This year, the individual pictured has been visiting our garden for about a month. Always in the company of a small flock of Chaffinches, I had hoped that now I've finally photographed our Scandanavian friend, that it would have a nicer more advanced glossy summer plumage. But I must be grateful for its visit and the colour it has brought to the garden before its imminent migration to upland northern Europe.
Posted by Nick Green at 9:53 pm