Jack O'Leaf

Jack O'Leaf

I was pleased to capture this image this morning just using my mobile phone camera. Halloween might be over, but this looks like a Jack O’Leaf to me. It was a frosty, sunny morning in the woods today, which can mean good photos if you can find a subject. There is little foliage left on the trees after the rain and wind over the weekend (not as bad as predicted).

The view from my office is of my back garden, and of the three trees I can see there are perhaps half a dozen leaves hanging on grimly to the stark branches. I’ve begun putting out peanuts in feeders for the local birds again, and currently there is a lot of colour and activity in the feeding tree.

Every now and again I spy on them with my small binoculars for entertainment. They swoop into the tree with blinding speed, somehow always avoiding a crash with one of their feathered buddies. These feeders are best for the smaller birds, and I see a variety of tits (no tittering!), finches and robins the most. Other avian visitors to my garden are: thrushes, blackbirds, woodpigeons, wrens, willy wagtails and the usual corvid interlopers: magpies (most common), rooks, hooded crows and jackdaws. During the summer we have starlings and swallows too, and in autumn geese fly overhead sometimes, honking to each other.

I also hear owls at night sometimes, as well as bats (not a bird of course!). Once, a pheasant strutted down my driveway and into my back garden to hop the wall into the neighbouring field: a handy short-cut for him.

The bigger birds sometimes bully in and try to steal an entire chunk of food, which is why I like to keep it to peanuts or seeds. If I ever leave out a feeding ball in a net (comprised of seeds and nuts held together by fat) a clever rook or sharp magpie is likely to spend some time extracting it from the net so it can carry the whole thing away.

While I salute the corvids’ smarts, it’s not so fair on the little birds.

Sometimes, when I open the back door to my garden my dog Minnie spots a band of birds hopping through the grass under the tree picking up leftovers. She bullets over to the spot and the birds shoot up into the air to alight and stare down at her from the safety of high branches. Minnie restlessly sniffs and paces under the tree, until she is called back inside.

They are always too quick for her, but she gives chase anyway, with hope in her heart.


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