• Barbara Copperthwaite

A touch of the exotic

The sky was a brilliant blue, the bright green of the leaves standing out against it, while the grass’s own green was peppered with clover flowers bursting forth. Two siskins flitted across from one tree to another in front of me, but just as I reached for my camera I was distracted by the call of a Ring-Necked Parakeet nearby.

Immediately, I turned, lifting my camera, hoping… I often see these exotic birds in Highbury Park but have failed to get a single photograph of them – even a blurry one. I have mentioned in my blog before that they now have several breeding colonies in London but outside that city they only have two other strongholds, both in the Midlands. Highbury Park is one of those places. Would today be the day I succeeded in snapping them?

Squinting upwards into the massive Scots pine, I tried to locate exactly where the call was coming from. Zoomed in…and got some lovely shots of the Ringed-Necked Parakeet. Hurray – take a look for yourself!

Just a little further down the path is a pond, and that’s where I had taken the picture the other day of the Moorhen hiding on her nest with a chick. Well, it turned out she and her partner actually have three chicks to look after. While I watched, they swam eagerly after their parents, who had large chunks of vegetation in their mouths to feed them. Afterwards, the chicks stood on some lily pads and cleaned themselves off. The whole thing was caught on camera, please check the photos out by clicking here.

Something else caught my attention then though; a sliver of brilliant blue flashed across the pond. Several flashes, in fact, now I looked closer. It was four or five Common Blue Damselflies. I absolutely love dragonflies and damselflies, I think they are fascinating – and I hope you like the picture I managed to get of one at rest on a leaf.

While they are delicate and lovely, at the other end of the scale the Canada Geese's goslings have reached the ugly duckling phase. No long cute balls of yellow and grey fluff, they have grown swiftly into muscular birds which are half their full size but still retain almost the same feathers. As you can see from the photos, it gives them an ungainly look, but they will soon grow out of it!

Incidentally, I must just mention that the mystery of the identity of the wild bees I have spotted, which have made a hive in the hollow of an old branch, still rumbles on. The other day a new member of the Birmingham Beekeepers’ Association offered to have a look and see if he could identify the type, but sadly all he could say with certainty is that they aren’t honey bees.

For what it’s worth, my money is on a type of bumblebee that was only found in the UK for the first time in 2001 – the ‘Tree bumblebee’ (bombus hypnorum). Bumblebees usually nest at ground level, but these enterprising bumbles prefer to be much higher. To learn more about them read a fascinating article by beekeeper Clive Hill, just click here. In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to get a decent photo of the suspects for proper identification…

#ringneckedparakeet #moorhen #damselfly

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