Bullies Of The Feeders

This morning I was distracted from my reading by activity on the bird feeders.

Goldfinches, as usual, spilled more seed than they consumed;

they had to wait their turn on the sunflower seeds

as did dunnocks on the suet balls, where, until recently, with sparrows, they had ruled the roost.

Now the starlings, with their fluid speckled iridescence,

are the dominant bullies of the feeders.

On this chilly, dull, afternoon, Jackie worked at clearing the Oval Bed which contains this plant interred last year that has lost its label to the winds;

and placing pansies in the iron urn. This container was full of vine weevils which she had to extract before adding fresh compost and pansies. The additional flora she would normally have included at this time are unavailable because they are dying in closed garden centres on account of coronavirus regulations. Many of these outlets will not survive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s rustic chicken and vegetable soup followed by her delicious

amber dried fruit lattice pie and custard.




  1. I had to look up vine weevil as I hadn’t heard of it before – we don’t have it here I’m glad to say. We do have the garden weevil which came via Australia from South Africa and dwells in the warmer parts of this country, which luckily isn’t down here in the Riviera of Antarctica 🙂 The fruit pie looks delicious!

    1. Thanks very much, Pauline. I suppose that is some consolation for living in that particular riviera. Jackie bought a packet of dried fruit, softened the lot, and made lots of crumble as well as the pie.

  2. As pretty as they might be, there is no denying that the starlings are bullies and lack even the most basic manners.

  3. Derrick, I would like to return all the starlings (and mute swans) that were imported from Europe. Can you direct me to where I can print a return address label. 🙂

    The starlings have been destroying the suet cakes in my feeder – a fact appreciated by the squirrels who scoop up the fallen chunks. We have English house sparrows, too, but they’re polite.

    1. Everyone seems to have a bird nemesis. Mine is the house sparrow. They have a long history of tormenting my precious bluebirds. Their actions have brought me to tears on many occasions.

      1. Oh, they are so pretty – such a beautiful shade of blue and a rust colored tummy. And their song is so sweet! We have a lot of woods and fields around here, so they are here.

  4. I have got to stop reading your posts before dinner, Derrick. My mouth is watering over Jackie’s meal. I loved your bird photos! For me, watching the birds is a great stress reliever.

  5. I enjoyed seeing the feeder activity, and those are some handsome starlings! I am sorry for the garden centers that will probably go under, and all those lost plants.

  6. You’ve captured the starlings feathers perfectly. It’s late and I nearly said ‘their foliage’ – perhaps you’d have known what I meant! The pie looks just up my street.

  7. I love your goldfinches (and ours) – although they are completely different birds.

    So sad to think of all the garden centers with lovely plants that no one can buy. It’s such an odd time – everything needs rethinking. I suspect (hope) that we will all come out of this kinder and wiser.

  8. Ah the poor birds have their bullies too. Starlings are awful and kind of greasy looking. I’ve tried to impute good to them and I can’t. Ah, well, your stellar meal was unaffected. I think I am going to make my Aunt Zelma’s chocolate pie to quell my sweet tooth.

    1. Quite so, Ivor. Our son and daughter-in-law have a village shop which relies heavily on the café which they have had to close. Thanks very much.

  9. I’m sad about the plants dying at the garden centers. The least they could do is put them outside to take their chances. But your garden and birds are certainly well cared for. We do what we can.

      1. Good idea! An honesty box could inspire people. It wouldn’t hurt to make the suggestion. If it’s not too late.

        1. We have just heard that a young employee of an outlet is canvassing to learn if there would be any takers for a home delivery service. Jackie has responded with enthusiasm.

  10. Sparrows are the gentlest of fighters who shun the ring easily. I feel like turning into a fluid speckled iridescent being to the amber dried fruit lattice pie and custard!

  11. Starlings, Sparrows and Goldfinches are everywhere here – just more of the many European animal that were brought to Australia and became pests.
    Regarding plant nurseries – my sister works in one which is closed for the duration, but she goes in everyday for about an hour to water everything.

  12. Bird watching is a fascinating activity and especially when waiting for the perfect shot to appear.
    Supper sounded delicious.

  13. We’re very lucky that our best garden shop still is open. There are reduced hours, and they’ve changed some of their procedures, but I think I might make a trip over there to purchase a plant or two for my patio, and help them out. They’re quite knowledgeable about native plants, particularly, and I’ve used their organic landscape soil for years — every plant I know likes to wiggle its toes down into it! Here it is. If you’d like a quick overview, click on “view gallery” on the home page.

  14. Life goes on in BirdWorld! And I’m so glad! Great photos! 🙂
    We are enjoying watching the birds around our home and the bunnies in the yard. Even saw a baby lizard on a walk yesterday. I wonder if he would like to eat some vine weevils. ??? 🙂
    I’m so glad nature is “feeding” us emotionally these trying days.
    Jackie is keeping you well fed! 😉 🙂
    That pie! Oh, my! 😮 😀
    (((HUGS))) and eat a slice of pie for me! 🙂

  15. Starlings might be bullies, but they are beautiful. And, oh, that pie! I could have a piece right now. I’m thinking it’s time to make some cinnamon pie-dough knots. Jackie has inspired me. Maybe this afternoon.

  16. Nice to see starlings, they are getting rarer. This, I know, is little compensation for them chasing everything off. Those pansies are a wonderful colour combination.

    I feel sorry for the family-run garden centres but have less sympathy for the gift shops with flowers that many of the big chains have now become.

    1. Agreed. A young man in Chichester is asking whether people would like a home delivery service for bedding plants. Jackie has responded with enthusiasm.. Thanks a lot, Quercus.

      1. That’s a nice delivery service. Market traders in Nottingham are offering deliveries too. Julia is going to order some from the plantsman. So much better than the impersonal supermarket services, which let us down when we needed them. Gardeners, it seems, will always find a way. 🙂

  17. Oooh, pie! The starling’s speckled plumage is just beautiful, but my favorite out of this group is the black-and-white. What an arresting image!

  18. I really like starlings, despite them being bullies. We are over-run by wood-pigeons and are overlooked by a rookery. Both those groups of birds cause much more trouble to us than the now rare starling.
    We have been wondering why the garden centres can’t put their stock out in their car-parks for us to buy. As everyone is being encouraged to stay at home, what else is there for us garden-owners to do other than garden? I would say that growing our own fruit and veg was a necessary job and buying compost etc was therefore also necessary. However, we have heard that one of our local garden centres has started deliveries and we are going to phone in an order. Beautiful photos as ever, Derrick!

  19. What a splendid photo of the starling facing you with a seed in its mouth. You also included a black and white that works very well. You must have an eye for it, because you seem to choose so well for the B&W. I am somewhat frustrated at the lack of access to nurseries. I need to replace a fruit tree, but can’t. Well, that is what we call over here #firstworldproblems

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