Red isn’t the commonest colour in nature – but here are just a few examples. Firstly the Red Admiral butterfly – more brown and black than red, but still a striking beauty.
Secondly, a goldfinch. Not exactly gold – why it wasn’t called a red faced finch I do not know as that is one of it’s most striking characteristics. These finches come to the bird feeders only a couple of times a day. Which is probably just as well as they are feisty little fellows, and they try and keep the other birds away while they are there.
Next our cheeky robin friend. Here in Ireland robin’s are sometimes called Robin Red Breasts.
This is a sundew. A tiny, but extraordinary plant that grows in our bogs. Those sticky leaves, traps insects and then digest them!
And finally Robin’s pincushion. Nothing to do with robins, it is in fact a rose bedeguar gall, formed when a gall wasp lays her eggs, usually on a wild rose stem. When the grubs hatch they produce a chemical which produces this abnormal growth.
Today, while out re-planting some spring bulbs (something had dug or pulled them up – I suspect a blackbird) I noticed a small bird upside down on the ground. Initially, I thought it was dead, but on closer inspection realised it was still alive. I gently turned it upright and it sat for a few brief moments on my gloved finger. It was a goldfinch. It is so amazing to see tiny birds up close, the patterns and rich colouring of their feathers are so exquisite. I assumed the poor thing had crashed into one of our kitchen windows, a not irregular occurrence and one that has resulted in a few casualties over the years. The bird was obviously a bit traumatized. I looked for a safe and dry spot to place it, also hoping that I may get a chance to take a photograph before it flew off. I tried to encourage it from my finger onto the little gate post next to the house but instead it flew off and landed a short distance away on a rock.
I went to get the camera and managed to get a few reasonable photos. I did feel guilty taking it’s picture while it was obviously still distressed and my presence was probably not helping matters.
I checked on it a while later with the kids and it was still there. I like the kids getting a close view of any wildlife and was reminded of a quote from book I am currently reading called Field Notes from a Hidden City: An Urban Nature Diary by Ester Woolfson. In the book, she quotes the English philosopher John Locke from a treatise he wrote in 1692, “Ithink that people should be accustomed, from their cradles, to be tender to all sensible creatures, and to spoil or waste nothing at all.” While the City of Aberdeen is the urban backdrop to her book, Ms Woolfson examines our relationship with nature, particularly with some of animals that are ‘looked down upon’ by the majority of the human race like rats, slugs and pigeons.It’s a well written and engaging read and I would encourage anyone to read it.
I am glad to report that the goldfinch did later fly away. I hope it survives. Goldfinches, along with chaffinches and greenfinches are all regular visitors to our bird feeders in the winter, though their natural diet is grass and other seeds.