Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Other people's gardens

June is a bad month to live in a top floor flat with no access to a garden. Luckily, I have some friends who do have gardens, and who don't mind me going over and taking hundreds of photos of their garden wildlife with an obscenely large lens.

Sue's garden in Pembury is a cracker, very long and with several mature trees as well as a wild 'meadow' area which is currently full of flowers. Among them are some Oxeye Daisies, aka 'Marguerites', looking very good at the moment and irresistably photogenic.

With no clue as to size, you could easily mistake this for an ordinary Common Daisy, but those have proportionately longer and narrower white petals (or 'ray florets' if you want me to get all botanical), with a smaller and less sticky-out cluster of disc florets (or 'yellow bit in the middle' if you've had enough of me being all botanical).

The Foxgloves are also looking great at the moment, and their flowers are drawing in the bees, like this Buff-tailed Bumblebee. The Foxglove flower has an enticing trail of spots leading into the tube (which apparently looks even better in UV light as seen by the bee), and its stamens and stigma tip are along the 'ceiling' so they brush the bee's fluffy back as it squeezes up to where the nectar is. Sue's got her eye on some white Foxgloves growing in the verge opposite the house - if the bees do their job and pollinate them there should be some seeds to collect in autumn.

This quartet of adorable Blue Tit fledglings were making short work of Sue's fat balls. Though perfectly capable of feeding themselves, they still stopped what they were doing and begged furiously whenever their careworn-looking parent came to the feeder.

The feeder fun was abruptly curtailed when this raucous Magpie family flew over, scattering the tits. The Magpies landed in a big dense conifer, and then decamped to next door's roof where they indulged in some juvenile horseplay.

 Michele's mum's garden is a smaller affair but still attracts a range of birds. This Goldfinch was singing cheerfully almost the whole time I was there but didn't come any closer than a neighbour's roof.

I contented myself by photographing the pair of Blackbirds that were bouncing around in the garden. I now have pics of them drinking from a terracotta saucer, taking a rest atop an ornamental stone hedgehog and exploring the outdoor furniture. Next time I'm asked if I have any photos of Blackbirds 'obviously in a garden' I'll be able to answer with a confident 'yes'.

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