Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Startling Starling!

This little fella, a baby starling, ricocheted with a loud bang into my window this afternoon.

Stunned baby starling after face-planting at 40 mph into my window!

His little beak took the full impact. Naturally he was totally stunned. He spent the next ten minutes on the ground, twitching in various awkward positions. I went out for a while to stroke him very gently so he would stop struggling and made sure he was out of the open where our local Sparrowhawk wouldn't spot him for a ready meal!

Gasping and blinking, he clung onto my finger with his foot, so I knew he had a little life and fight still in him! There was just a tiny drop of blood at the tip of his beak, where it had hit the glass, but no other signs of damage.

Eventually, he righted himself and tentatively tried to fly, first skittering against the fence, then bumping the glass again, but he soon got his bearings and flew under the nearby hedge. Here he rested for a while longer before flying away to join his many brothers and sisters who have been noisily pestering their parents for food for the last few days.

I don't know if I'll recognise him among their number in the future. If he can learn to feed properly with that sore beak-end, he should do just fine! A few of my local starlings have similar minor infirmities like bent feet and legs, but they adapt, move forward with their little lives and survive as well as the next.

I hope the best for little Beaky, too.

Maybe he'll now be wiser about glass than all his siblings! Maybe deep in his being, he'll remember that somewhere out in this bewildering blue dome of threats and struggles, one big strange featherless creature soothed his ruffled feathers with a touch as tender as the breeze, and whispered reassurances; that when his universe turned upside down with a smack and left him shellshocked and stranded on earth, another presence wished him well and stayed nearby till he was safe and strong enough to fly away to freedom.

But little creatures are often more a blessing to us than we can be to them. I'll remember him long after he's forgotten his adventure in my garden today. There's the joy of having a privileged glimpse into God's amazing universe of miracles!

Monday, 30 May 2011

On the dullest days - a splash of colour

 Golden Gerbera from a friend

Poppies smiling through the rain showers

Heads heavy, hearts light

Petunias starting to radiate joy

Wild Geranium having a purple patch

♪♫♪♫"See my baby Chive" ! ♪♫♪♫

A petunia that thinks its name's Scarlet O'Hara!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

You're game birds - not garden birds!

He's back! For a second year running!
Only this time, Mr Pheasant's got company on my back lawn...
Who's that girl?
Don't be shy! It's Mrs Pheasant!
They spent a few hours feeding on what other legit garden birds had dropped from the feeders
Explored every corner of the property at their leisure...
Is this my best profile?
Or this? Did you get my crest thingummy and earflaps?
Enjoying their cheap away day from the fields...
Have I missed a bit of that seed?
Time to whirr off back home. Till next time.

Photos star a brace of Yorkshire-dwelling Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) in the middle of May, in a suburban back garden close to rural woods, fields and farmland.

Photos taken on an old Nikon Coolpix 3700 3.2 Mega pixels 3x optical zoom camera, hand held through a Barr & Stroud Sahara 15-45x spotting scope by the author. Yes, I know there's a lot of focus issues and "vignetting" in these shots. Still really hope you enjoy meeting these characters that brightened up my afternoon!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Strepsil Emergency!

Spectacular dumbing down from Reckitt Benckiser?
Since 2010 they've been the biggest selling product to help with sore throats on the planet. That's a pretty impressive success story for Nottingham-based pharmaceutical company Reckitt Benckiser.

The've been with us in one form or another since 1958, soothing our inflamed gullets with their unique trademark brand of amylmetacresol and 2,4-dichlorobenzyl alcohol. Mine came diabetically-friendly sugar-free. Strawberry flavoured, or at least fruity enough to disguise their basic medicinal twang!

Today, though, for some reason, I read the blurb on the inner instruction sheet which normally finds its way into the recycling bag before being perused in any detail.

As I sucked sorely on my first pink lozenge, my eye fell on the instructions for taking them, should such directives be required by anybody with fingers, a mouth and a brain suitably attached.

How to take Strepsils Strawberry Sugar-free lozenges:

1. Remove one lozenge from the foil blister packaging.

2.Replace the foil blister back into the cardboard carton.

3.Place lozenge into the mouth allowing it to dissolve slowly. 

 I freely confess, I had indeed popped one into my mouth absent-mindedly before reading these oh-so-essential instructions telling me I needed to perform No 2 before No 3! I had jumped the gun! Would the package now self-destruct? Would I?

Seriously though. What are people thinking these days? Do we need to be told how to wash our hands and wipe our noses once we are competent enough to flush the loo or be giddy in charge of an electric toothbrush? 

The leaflet circumspectly advised its readership to:

'Read all of this leaflet carefully because it contains important information for you'

Yes, there's the odd pearl of wisdom there, but these are throat lozenges, for crying out loud! 

'If you take more of this product than you should
You may experience stomach discomfort
Do not take any more of this product and consult your doctor or pharmacist.'

Stomach discomfort? It'll only be the laxative effect of the maltitol, just like you find if you binge on some sugar-free sweets and candies! It's hardly a flipping overdose, is it? Consult your doctor? Have you tried making an appointment with your GP, particularly a non-urgent one? In two and half week's time or whatever the local appointment waiting time is, might you not discover you have, in fact, survived the pernicious effects of overdosing on said throat pastilles?


Now I really DO need a lie down!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

I want to thank you for putting me back in my snail shell!

This cute little snail crawled across my patio yesterday afternoon.

I jokingly called to it "Watch out, there are thrushes about!"

It continued to crawl across the concrete as blackbirds, starlings, dunnocks, robins and sparrows swarmed to the scattered bird food, ignoring the snail's slow progrss among them.

That made me want to Google what predators the snail actually has to look out for in its life, depending on what species it is or where it lives. I was amazed how many creatures actually kill snails!

Top of the list, not surprisingly, the human race. Killing them. Cooking them. Eating them. Stepping on them. Crushing them. Killing them with pellets. Poisoning them. Murdering them.

Then there's the animals who eat different varieties of snail to survive:

Beetles, Leeches, Caterpillars, Frogs, Snakes, Toads, Hedgehogs, Field Mice, some fish (Trout for example), Firefly larvae (Glowworms), Turtles, Spiders, other Snails,  Cats and Dogs (who often kill them by playing with them rather than for food), Red Fox, Moles, Shrews, Squirrels,  and many birds, including the Thrush (who uses a handy stone as an anvil to hammer the shell till it gets to the juicy bits!) Blackbirds (who will steal the juicy bits once the Song Thrush has cracked the shell open),  Ducks, Geese, Chickens, Ravens, Gulls, Doves, Pigeons, Grouse, Jays, Crows, Falcons and other birds of prey, Storks and other waders.

Snail is the ultimate fast food if you've got the right can-opener!

Thank goodness that snails can breed so abundantly! They mate quite frequently all through the year and can lay as many as 100 eggs at a time! That means they can not only survive as a species but also provide nutrition and survival for other creatures.

But we need to watch where we're putting our clodhopping feet, all the same!

Quote in title is from the song  'Snail Shell' by They Might Be Giants. Their song is metaphorically using the idea of the snail to express how put-downs from those who try to crush us make us withdraw sometimes into our own inner 'Snail Shell'.