Spatzenbaden

We do not feed the birds in the summer but there is an old baking tray among the bonsai trees that we fill with clean water once every few days, especially in this heat. Today I managed to take a few pictures of sparrows frolicking in the water.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

Grey Heron

Avalus has encountered this dapper beauty and managed to snap a few pictures for us. It is a long time since I have seen a live heron. Decades, in fact, since the nearest water reservoir where they at least occasionally occur is more than an hour’s worth of brisk walk from my home. It seemed closer when I was a kid.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© avalus, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Mighty Kites

For me, a true sign of coming spring – a red kite sitting on the huge ash tree behind my house. They are magnificent beasts and I do wish they would sit still long enough to get really up close and in focus pictures.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I have realized that I have not posted any bird pictures for a looong time. Unfortunately, there are very few birds around lately and even fewer opportunities to take pictures.

Midsummer Afternoon – Part 1 – Visit to Harakka Island

Guest posts by Ice Swimmer


It was a hot afternoon just after Midsummer. I went to downtown Helsinki to take some photos.

In the first photo, you can see a jackdaw walking at the Market Square tram stop. I took the picture while waiting for the tram.

A jackdaw walks by © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The second photo is an “aerial photo” of a family of mute swans, two adults,

and five little cygnets. I’m on the shore end of the pier, from which the boat to Harakka picks up passengers.

I think the leftmost cygnet has some Cladophora around the base of the neck, at least I’m hoping it’s that and not plastic (I noticed the green stuff when looking at the edited photo). The green algae, which has a Finnish name ahdinparta, beard (parta) of the old Finnish god of the sea Ahti, is rather ubiquitous in shallow waters here and there’s a lot of it on the underwater stones in the picture.

Swan family dinner. © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I took the boat to Harakka. The digitalis was in bloom and there were wild strawberries. It could be that when the Imperial Russian army was using the island before Finnish independence, they planted strawberries and other berries, as I’ve heard stories that it was their way to prevent the soldiers in fortress islands from having scurvy.

Digitalis and strategical strawberries.  © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

This red-leaved rose was growing in a forested area on Harakka. I like how simple and unpretentious it looks.

Red-leaved rose with green leaves. © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Most of Harakka is ruled by dinosaurs in the summer. This gull seemed to be above any ergonomic considerations.

Common gull forming an animal puddle. © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

My visit to Harakka was cut a bit short by the low battery charge level of my phone. I had neglected to take an emergency charger (“sähköpossu”/”electricity piggybank” as I like to call them) with me.

Having come back to the mainland from Harakka, I saw these crows on a sign (warning about the underwater cable AFAIR) on the pier. They were “singing”. There’s a Finnish saying “Äänellään se variskin laulaa.”, which could be translated as: “Even the crow will sing with its own voice.”

Crows singing with their own voices. © Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I did take more than these pictures on Harakka and there could be material for further posts.

Kyoot Kestrels

Yesterday evening when watering my citruses in the greenhouse, I heard the typical cry from a nearby oak tree and when I looked there, I saw these two cuties sitting atop of it. They were kind enough to wait for me to go inside and fetch the camera, but not long enough for me to get the exposition settings right for the crappy lighting – I only got one shot and they whooshed.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

In case you are wondering, the tree is living, but it was struck by a lightning a few years ago and it has one dead branch on the very top and a strip of deadwood down to the earth since then. Right next to it is an ash tree with a dead branch on which I have photographed kites a few times.

Raptors like to sit on dead branches, I guess they provide them with a good view.

Lost And Found Birdies

Today, I’m sharing 2 beautiful photos that were taken by Emily Davis, in La Jolla, during March of 2019. They were submitted by her mother, Anne, Cranky Cat Lady, in that same month and, upon receipt, I carefully filed them away in the wrong place! Then, I promptly forgot all about them until a few days ago, when I found them while I was looking for something else. So, here, at last, are two very pretty birds.

American Robin, ©Emily Davis, 2019

Hooded Oriole, ©Emily Davis, March 2019.

Goldfinches Come for a Visit

This year I planted some cornflowers that grew in front of the window. They were planned as degu treats, but with one thing and another, I didn’t get around to harvesting and drying them. They do look pretty sad to human eyes now, but they look damn delicious to the goldfinches. I rarely get to see them, so I was all the more surprised to find them within 30 cm of my nose, happily munching the seeds.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved This one’s grainy because I took it with my phone

Milan Royal – Magnifique!

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Last week this magnificent bird sat on a dead branch of a nearby ash tree. It is their favorite spot and I have gotten some pictures of kites sitting there already, but this time It was later in the day, so the sun was at a much better angle. And the bird obliged staying in one place long enough for me to actually run with the camera outside.

It is a bit of pity that there seems to be some dirt stuck to the corner of its beak. Really, no sense of style whatsoever. One would expect a model to show to a photoshoot well groomed and clean and not with bits of food stuck to the corner of their mouths.

Still, what a magnificent bird. I shall definitively make a kite-themed knife. Soon.

High as a Kite and Higher

There is a pair of kites flying around every day and I hear their typical cries from morning until evening, so they are probably nesting somewhere close-ish. I hope they do and I also hope they will help with local water vole population, i.e. massacre it.

Unfortunately, I did not manage to get both into good focus, so a blurry picture must do.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I did manage to get a few decent pictures of one of them though, from different angles.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The pictures are of suboptimal quality because they fly very, very high. Even finding them through the camera lens is a challenge, and to take focus and press the trigger button on a moving target that high is a bugger, that much I can tell ya.

But no matter how high a kite flies, there was something even higher that day around her. I could not find it in my bird atlas so the species is not determined. If you know it, let me know in the comments.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

 

Kestrel Maneuvre

Unfortunately, I was taking these pictures against the sun and I did not have too much time to get the exposition settings right. The little bugger hovered in one place exactly as long as it took me to take a focus and press the trigger button. So this is the “whoosh” sequence.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Grumpy Redstart

It is very rare that I get an opportunity to take a picture of male black redstart. I see them all the time, but they are restless and they never come to the feeder. This one was moving around the feeder, although he did not eat the seeds – he used the surroundings for vantage points to spot insects in the grass. And he stayed a few times in one place long enough for me to take a picture.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size

That last picture gives me the impression of an old grampa looking disapprovingly at me. Something about the line between the black and grey feathers above the eyes gives him that look.