Wednesday 22 January 2020

Bird Cottage

Some time ago I was approached by Pushkin Press to review a new book called Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer. I was intrigued because it is about the life of Len (Gwendolen) Howard, the author of “Living with Birds” and “Birds as Individuals”, which were best sellers in the 1950s. I read one of these in the 70s and lent it to Margaret, my mother-in-law, who used to feed the garden birds and was fascinated by their behaviours. She thoroughly enjoyed it.
Great Tit, Parus major
  Eva gets inside the head of Len Howard and writes as Len after reading her books, unpublished manuscripts and hearing the memories of people who knew her. Bird Cottage is well researched and written and should be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in the behaviour of garden birds. Len was a talented ethologist, untutored and therefore untainted by the prejudices of the biological science of the time. She observed the different personalities of birds and maintained detailed records.
Robin, Erithacus rubecula
  We live by the Sussex coast, and pass through Ditchling, Len’s village, regularly. We used to visit Ditchling Museum and I recall seeing a pottery exhibition there. We also purchased a painting by Charles Knight, a Ditchling resident, from the art gallery there, which closed some time ago. Ditchling Common has become a regular haunt for me during the Black Hairstreak season. This rare butterfly was recently discovered there and enthusiasts now visit from all over the country to see it.
  I don’t devote much time to reading these days and this is the first book I have completed in ages and I have no hesitation in recommending it. Len Howard was a professional violinist and a legacy enabled her to retire to Ditchling and follow a passion for birds which was nurtured in her childhood.

Saturday 11 January 2020

Bearded Tits at Farlington Marshes

Yesterday morning I visited Farlington Marshes to see the Bearded Tits. The flock started feeding on the far side of the reed bed, too far for my lens. Later we were rewarded when a flock of about 20 birds moved to the reed bed 10 metres from the fence. The next 23 minutes was a Bearded Tit fest. A huge flock of Brent Geese landed on the lake and then took off. A Wren, a Reed Bunting and a Little Egret also appeared.

Bearded Tit, Panurus biarmicus female

Bearded Tit female

Bearded Tit female

Bearded Tit, Panurus biarmicus male

Bearded Tits on far side of the reed bed

Brent Geese, Branta bernicla

Brent Geese

reed beds

Little Egret, Egretta garzetta

Little Egret with eel

many Teal
Reed Bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus

Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting

Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes