Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


Goldfinches on Two Sides of the Pond

After seeing my Mystery Bird post last week, a fellow blogger sent me photos of finches he had visiting at his location. It was interesting to compare the different colour patterns.

My goldfinch was the American version on the North American side of the pond. Here are the two blurry pictures I was able to manage to capture of these flighty birds.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, in the UK, my blogging friend Jeff Grant took these pictures of the European version of the goldfinch.

They are often hard to photograph. These birds don’t want to hang around long enough for zooming or focusing, but isn’t it amazing to find so many of them (at least 14) together in one place.

Thank you for these photos, Jeff.

I wanted to show the colour differences between the two variations – the European and the American goldfinches – but they are too far away to see the colours clearly. Concerned about copyright violations, I didn’t want to use an Internet photo, so I did a daring thing. I sketched a bird and coloured it in my own amateur way, trusting that my blogging friends would forgive my lack of artistic talent and concentrate on the colours that identify the European goldfinch.

Here is my effort at avoiding copyright violation with my own drawing.

European Goldfinch

I would love to see these goldfinches in such numbers where I live. That would be so amazing.


Mystery Bird

A short time ago I had a mystery beetle to identify, but this week, it’s a mystery bird. We don’t often get brightly coloured songbirds here, so when this yellow bird landed on the fencing of my garden, I rushed to get the camera. I barely had time to find the bird in my viewfinder when it took off. Hence the blurry photo.

Later it came back and, again, I rushed to get the camera. Again it was a blurry photo, and the bird immediately flew away.

I snapped wildly in the general direction of the bird’s flight and thought, at first, that I had missed it. But when I zoomed in on the photo, I found it in the top right-hand corner. It’s too tiny to see what it is, so I saved a zoomed photo of that part that I circled below.

It’s still blurry, but it was enough that I could see the colours of the back and the wing markings.

I’ve determined that it is an American goldfinch.

If it ever sits still for longer than a few seconds, I might someday get a clearer picture of it. Meanwhile, it sang to me:


I heard that your birdfeeder has some good seeds,

They’re oh so delicious for filling my needs.

You want to take pictures of me in your yard,

But sitting still long is quite risky  and hard.


I’ve seen that big hawk that is hanging around,

I make it my mission that I won’t be found.

It’s why I’m so  nervous and seem to be flighty,

But when I sit still long, the danger is mighty.


So snap away quickly before I must leave,

I know, if I’m dead, just how much you will grieve.

I’ll fly away happy and singing a song,

I’ll say hello quickly and then I am gone.


Golden-Crowned Sparrow

The sun came out today. It was a big deal. The golden-crowned sparrows decided that it was time for their spring bath.

“So who’s in first?”

“Oh no! Don’t start with that ‘Who’s on first?’ thing again!”

“I’ll go in,” says Gordie, “and I’ll test the depth and make sure it’s safe for you, Goldie.  Ahh … yes, it feels so good. Just look at those droplets flying. Lovely! Come on in, Goldie.”

“I’m in, Gordie, but I’m not so sure I like where the droplets are flying. Have you no consideration for others? Stop splashing me. You’re getting me all wet.” Goldie sighs. “Ohhhhh, I’m getting out!”

“Aw … I’m sorry Goldie.”

“Nope! She’s not in a forgiving mood. Sheesh!  Worried about getting wet in the bath. Go figure!”

“You didn’t have to take offense right away. Hmpf! SO … sensitive!”

“Never mind, Gordie. You just go ahead and enjoy that bath ALL by yourself. I’ll just wait here on the post while you do your thing.”

“Oh, what the heck! I’m gonna go for it. Here I go. Bluddle-uddle-uddle-uddle-um-dum-dum.”

“Well, he got that right,” Goldie whispers under her breath. “The last part. The Dum-dum part.”

“Meh! I don’t care what she says, folks. Turn on your sound and watch this short video of me having my bath – with the whole tub to myself!”


Waiting for Spring

Where, oh where has springtime gone?

Where can springtime be?

Say I’m not the only one,

Who’s making poetry.

Spring, you say? Where did it go?

Peek around that corner,

Squirrel is looking,  doesn’t know,

Logs can roll, I’ll warn her.

Spring, beneath me, do come out,

Hiding snug in there,

Listen to my warrior shout,

How’s that for a scare?


Nope, it’s not beneath the logs.

Maybe there’s no spring,

Anyway, I see no frogs,

Croaking, trying to sing.


With no insects to digest,

Stuck with eau de sweet,

When it warms, the gnats are best,

They’ll be such a treat.

Goodness me! What do I see?

Spring has brought a pest,

Who has asked him in for tea?

Awful ratty guest.

Yummy! Yummy! For my tummy,

Lovely sunflower seeds,

Eat them quick before they’re hummy,

Just what Ratty needs.

Wind and soggy rain we’ve seen,

Why are days not warmer?

Where, oh where has springtime been?

Look around the corner.


Daffy, dilly, daffy dolls,

Harbingers of spring,

Cheering brightly, each one calls,

Happiness we bring.


Not to be outdone in show,

Tulips stand up tall,

Wanting all the world to know,

Who’s the best of all.


Mother! Look! The spring is here,

Sunshine, and those flowers,

Come let’s sing and give a cheer,

In between the showers.



Quentin Quail Is Alive and Well

Remember Quentin, sole survivor of a flock of over forty quails that used to wander through the yard? It has been a few years since the flock has dwindled due to predators, chemical lawns, and habitat encroachment.

Quentin has been lonely, coming each spring to look for what he must have thought was a kindred spirit looking back at him through the window by our front door.

It has been a brutal winter. Really brutal. I thought for sure Quentin did not survive this one.

What a surprise I had when I saw him  at our front door, trying in vain to look through the smudged glass for his reflection buddy.

I take no responsibility for the messy window. It’s all Emma’s fault. Whenever the Captain leaves in his truck, Emma runs to the window to watch him leave and her spaniel noseprints are forever on the bottom part of the window.

So, sorry, Quentin, you are out of luck if you had hoped to see anything in the window.

He flies up onto the railing to think about it. He saw his lady love in that very window last year but she didn’t want to come out to play. Now she’s not even there. What to do?

Quentin turns to face me as I take his picture, showing off a perfect white collar that frames his face.

But I have no answers for him in his quest for a mate.

“I might as well go look elsewhere,” he mutters. “Maybe I’ll grab a few seeds from under the birdfeeder first, but what a downer. I was sure she’d be here.”

“You’d think she’d wait for me by the window. I know she lives in there. (Sigh….) Well, maybe after dinner … or tomorrow morning….”


Dinner Guests

Hanging feeders for the birds,

I had not expected herds,

Bandits coming in the night,

Gobbling food with all their might.

Table manners, not so good,

Faces masked, but without hood,

Swinging on the feeder tube,

Like a common country rube.


One sat on the table top,

One beneath ate what might drop.

Cleaning up left over scraps,

Without worries about traps.


To watch the video, you have to be very quick. It’s only about 4 seconds long. You may have to replay it a few times to see the top raccoon stuffing his face, with the feeder at an angle so the seeds fall out better, and the other raccoon sitting underneath him, cleaning up.

I should be thankful that they clean up after themselves.


Spring is in the Air

These common mergansers feel that spring is in the air.

“Ooh! La! La!” Miss Mergie croons.

(Hope these guys are not buffoons.)

“Are ya lookin’ fer some fun?

Do ya care, my hair’s not done?”



“See you boys have on yer suits,

Least ya don’t look like those coots,

Y’all look fine, all dressed up nice,

Looking fer a little spice?”

“Shoulda known they’d take a hike,

After taking what they like,

Now I’m busy night and day,

Keeping predators at bay.”


“Still, it’s worth it, when I see,

Baby ducklings just like me,

Such a cutie, stay near Mom,

Don’t go doing something dumb.”




My Laziness Pays Off

These chickadees and the nuthatch at the feeders were not there today. This picture was taken on another day. It is perhaps lucky that I’ve been lazy about refilling the feeder these past three sunny days. With the feeders empty today, there were no birds nearby when the visitor swooped in like a harrier jet this afternoon.

Except he was not a harrier; he was a Cooper’s hawk. He sat on the fence, wondering why there were no birds at the feeder.

Maybe they’re hiding in the shrubbery below the feeder.

Disappointed, he flew away to check out the neighbours’ birdfeeders.


Drumming Up Business

This flicker likes my chimney. It’s a perfect drum for establishing territory, possibly for protecting nearby nesting areas. She was here doing the same thing a year ago. How do I know it’s a “she”? The male red-shafted flickers have a red moustache slash. The females do not.

She hears another flicker and answers the call and then drums to assert her right to the territory.



And speaking of drumming up business, please visit my other blog site, annelisplace for everything related to books, reading, and writing. https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2023/03/28/say-youll-come/


When the Swallows Come Back…

This is the time of year when the swallows come back to Capistrano. The Mission San Juan Capistrano has been a destination for a migration of cliff swallows since the early 1800s.

These swallows winter in Argentina and then migrate north about 6000 miles to California or even farther, but the Mission San Juan Capistrano being the tallest building around that area in those early days, was a destination for the swallows who were looking for a place to make their mud nests.

When I was in Mexico in February of 2007, I saw these swallows sitting on the overhead wires. I’m not sure if they are the cliff swallows that were enroute to California (the timing would have been right) or if they are barn swallows. They look very similar, and of course it was dark when I took these pictures.

The sidewalk below, was a dangerous place to walk, as I found out when I reached my rented bungalow and took off my blue velour jacket which was now covered with whitish splats. I seem to remember having to wash my hair too.

But look at these guys! They’re all facing the same way, except one or two. There is always one who travels to a different drum (second wire down).  I see another one on the bottom wire. Just above him is a little guy who was trying to tell him to turn around, and nearly lost his balance himself.

But the most unlucky fellow was the owner of this vehicle who had made the mistake of parking under the wires. Thankfully, it’s not mine.

He’d be looking for a car wash in the morning.