By CleanSteve

'I can't sing – I've got a mouthful'

I made tea for us both early as dawn was illuminating the landscape. I looked out on the back garden and spotted a heron resting high up on the ash tree once again. I did take a few silhouette shots of it and of ti flying away down the valley.

Helena went off to the market again but I din't need to take her, which was just as well as I have been feeling a bit rough with a sore throat and cough. So I could hang about all day and watch the birds milling around the feeders outside the back door. The weather has been mostly fine with patches of good sunshine to brighten our moods on the day after the Winter Solstice.

I watched several goldfinches, blue tits, coal tits and long-tailed tits milling about amongst each other. At one point the regular bullfinches were joined by others so that at one moment five male and three female bullfinches were all on or flying around the feeders at the same time. A grand sight.

But I was most pleased to photograph the blackcaps once again. They have been absent for most of the summer months and only returned a few weeks ago. There are two pairs of blackcaps and this male has been the most attentive to the feeding station and becoming bolder as the days go by.

Sometimes it would look for food that had been dropped by other birds, particularly the finches who are very messy feeders when they sit crunching sunflower seeds in their beaks. I buy shelled sunflowers but I think they squash them in their beaks out of habit, as if trying to break down the hard shells.

This blackcap gathered food from beneath the feeders and then perched on the trellis to eat it. Then it flew up to the suet feeder and when it grabbed a pellet in its beak I managed to photograph it in its mouth just before it swallowed.

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