Sunday, June 26, 2016

Parakeet eating young conifer shoots

In late June 2015, a group of noisy parakeets appeared in trees in my area in London every evening for about 2 weeks. They chattered noisily for some time before all flying off in loud noisy groups of up to 40 birds. This process seems to be repeating this June 2016.

On 24 June 2016 I filmed this bird in the tree opposite my window, eating a late supper of young shoots from a conifer tree.

My earlier blog on the parakeets, the photos were taken in Dec 2014.

Jays eating peanuts in the sleet

On 26 April 2016 there was a shower of sleet in London. I had put out some peanuts for the squirrels and when I looked to watch the sleet, I noticed 2 jays were eating the peanuts. Jays are members of the crow family. They are quite attractive birds, with blue wing flashes and a conspicuous white rump. They are the most colourful of the crow family.

The jay is a woodland species and feeds mainly on acorns, nuts, seeds and insects, but also eats nestlings of other birds and small mammals.They  have a screeching call.

photo from RSPB

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer solstice and full moon

June 20th was the summer solstice, at 23.34 BST. It's the longest day of the year with about 17 hours of daylight. This year the solstice coincides with a full moon. This moon is also known as a strawberry moon as it is the start of the strawberry season. The 2 events coincide once every 50 years, the last one was 1967.

Many people think the solstice signifies the start of summer.

The name solstice comes from the Latin solstitium meaning “sun stands still”. It happens because the sun stops heading north at the Tropic of Cancer and then returns back southwards.In the northern hemisphere this means the days begin to get shorter.

Many pagans congregate at Stonehenge for the solstice. "Crowds who gathered at Stonehenge at dawn to mark the summer solstice were down by about half this year, English Heritage said.
It said about 12,000 people attended the neolithic site in Wiltshire to watch the sun rise at 04:52 BST" [21 June]. [BBC]


Midsummer, also known as St John's Day, is the period of time centred upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the Northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures.
Although it is a pagan festival, the Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the observance of St John's Day begins the evening before, known as St John's Eve. (from Wikipedia)