Monday, 23 September 2013

The little things in life

I quite often find myself surprised how little things in life can provide an inordinate amount of pleasure.  It might be a particularly memorable meal or the scent of sweet peas as one strolls through the garden in the early morning.  I well remember the pleasure I felt as a young man when a girl and I ran down a hill hand in hand.  I don't really remember the girl, but I remember running down Box Hill with her.

One of those little things occurred on Saturday morning.  I was standing at the kitchen sink washing up a few things after breakfast when my attention was drawn to a yellowish, greenish bird in the tamarisk.  As I watched, I saw that there was not just the one bird, there was a pair.  Now, although I take delight in recognising all the birds we see regularly in the garden, I am certainly not an avid twitcher, not even a keen ornithologist.  I was not able to immediately identify these two, although I guessed they were either willow warblers or chiffchaffs.  It was not easy to see them clearly enough to distinguish whether or not they had a stripe through the eye - which I seemed to remember was how to tell the difference - or the colour of the legs.  Eventually I decided that there was an eye stripe and the legs were dark.  Whichever they were - willow warblers or chiffchaffs - they had presumably stopped off for breakfast on their journey to Africa or wherever they prefer to spend the winter.  This was the first time I had seen either breed in the garden and it gave me great pleasure to watch them flittering in and out of the tamarisk for a couple of minutes.

Afterwards, I found the bird book to look up which they were.  Both have eye stripes, but the willow warbler has pale legs, the chiffchaff dark - although it also says that some willow warblers have dark legs and the leg colour should not be relied on for identification. They can be identified by their song.  But neither sings at this time of the year.  I eventually decided they were willow warblers on account of their size, the smaller of the two by 3/4"!

I didn't see them again that day or yesterday, but they were back this morning - with some more!  There was a small flock of four.

As I said, a small thing, but very pleasing.


That picture of St George's church that I posted the other day reminded me another phot of a church I took in New England - Craftsbury Common, Vermont, to be exact.


The Broad said...

When I saw the picture on my blogroll I knew it was Vermont! :-)(What's a chiffchaff -- great name!)

Brighton Pensioner said...

Chiffchaff: A small olive-brown warbler which actively flits through trees and shrubs, with a distinctive tail-wagging movement. Less bright than the similar willow warbler and readily distinguished by its song, from where it gets its name. Picks insects from trees and also flies out to snap them up in flight. Summer visitor.