Friday 2 December 2011

ABC Wednesday T is for Thrush and Titmice and Tomatoes

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
The Song Thrush or Throstle has a loud rich song of musical repeated phrases. It is slightly smaller than the Blackbird (Turdus merula) and shyer, often being chased off by its larger cousin.

It is a partial migrant, some birds moving to lower ground in winter, some flying to southern Europe, many staying put. It suffers badly in harsh winters - in 1963 its numbers declined by 60%.

Despite its fabled habit of smashing snails on stone 'anvils' I have seen this only once in our garden. More frequently I see them pulling worms from the ground but they also find handy meals on the bird table and the feeders.
Blue tit (Parus caeruleus)
Of the seven tit species only four visit our garden. The blue tit is the one we see most frequently. Blue tits are acrobatic little birds, a joy to watch as they hang upside down on feeders or delicate plants. They feed on insects, caterpillars, seeds and nuts and any scraps that are put out for them. Blue tits often frighten away their smaller relatives, the coal tits.
Coal tit (Parus ater)
Coal tit with blue tits
The coal tit is the smallest true tit. It eats beetles, moths, flies and bugs in all their forms, from egg through larvae to adult and also spiders. It also eats seeds and small nuts. 

Like the blue tit it nests in holes in trees and makes a cup-shaped nest lined with moss and feathers. It will also nest in holes in banks or walls.
Great tit (Parus major)
Blue tit and great tit
The great tit is the largest tit, and, like the other tits here, widely seen throughout the UK, absent only from the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland. It can be aggressive with smaller tits at feeders.
 Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)  
Long-tailed tits with blue tit
The long-tailed tit always reminds me of a shuttlecock. Its tail is longer than its body.It's a pretty little bird, rarely seen singly, more often in small groups of four or five. The nest it builds is lined with two thousand feathers. Long-tailed tits are very susceptible to cold because they are so small. In hard winters 80% of the population may be lost. Flocking and huddling together helps to alleviate this.
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) 
We try every year to grow this sweet tasty member of the nightshade family. We don't have much success so we really appreciate the fruits that do manage to ripen.
Tulip (Tulipa) 'Queen of the Night'
We have much greater success with tulips and this one, 'Queen of the Night', is a particular favourite.

To see more tantalising Ts click here


  1. So many "t's" in the natural world. Again, an interesting compilation! (Hope you finished your novel.)r

  2. I'd love to hear the song of a thrush someday! I bet it's beautiful. The coal tit reminds me so much of our little mountain chickadees! It saddens me to see how much both species suffer in a hard winter. I hope they're able to stay warm enough this year!

    We always had a tough time growing tomatoes up on the mountain, no matter how "early" the early variety we tried was. Our growing season was just too short. Maybe we'll try them again down here at our lower altitude, because I do love me some vine-ripened tomatoes!

    Your tulip is gorgeous! What a color!

  3. Hi Janice .. love the throstle - gorgeous colours, and great to see the varieties of tits .. tomatoes - good for you that you're growing and then the tulip - beautiful colour ..

    Lovely ABC Wednesday T day ... thank you - Hilary

  4. @Mary - thank you! Yes, I finished and now I have to edit and expand and rewrite . . .
    @Laloofah - I think we really should grow tomatoes under cover, or at least start them. Maybe we will next year.
    @Hilary - thank you! Throstle sounds such a nice name, doesn't it? It's called Mavis in some areas, I discovered - that doesn't have quite the same ring about it, to me, anyway.

  5. The long tailed tit variety is my favourite. You can hear them from far when they are tumbling around in the pine trees in our garden. Lovely photos. It's not easy to get good shots of these hippity hoppity tumbling birds ;-)
    And the photo of the tulip is gorgeous!

  6. I'm starting bird watching again so your bird posts are very interesting to me. I think I'll copy the pics and print them out for myself. I do have a bird book, but having all these together is helpful. The color of the tulip is amazing.

  7. It must be the time of year, as yours is the second blog I've seen today with coal tits and blue tits, Janice, but the first photo I've ever seen of a long-tailed tit. It's so lovely, and I hate the thought of such a large percentage of the population being lost in a bad winter.
    -- K

  8. I wonder how a titmouse got its name; doesn't LOOK like a mouse!

  9. What a lovely selection of bird information! And that tulip is absolutely gogeous!

  10. Here we have tufted and black crested titmice. Thanks for showing us the kind you have. A lovely species. Cute little birds but very aggressive.

  11. I don't think we had any tits in Chicago and I sure haven't heard of any here. They sure are cute little birds.

  12. I agree - what a fantastic selection - i am currently watching a blue tit who is chomping away at the feed I hung out - well worth it to watch such a lovely welcome little chap.

  13. Thank you, folks.
    @Roger, titmouse means small passerine.

  14. The Queen of the Night tulip is gorgeous. I'm going to have to look for some of those bulbs for my garden.

    Not being much of a birder I thought there was only one variety of titmice. The coal tit reminds me a little of our Black-eyed juncos. The little blue tit is just adorable.

  15. time for a cuppa after all those Ts I reckon

  16. Wonderful photos! Some quite delicious looking too.

  17. What a lovely collection of pictures! U really are lucky to be living in the midst of nature, Janice...everything is so colourful and fresh and lively and happy...

    CONGRATS!Can't wait to read your novel.When do we get to?

  18. Thank you all:-)
    Geeta, I wish it were that simple . . .

  19. Very pretty photos Janice, and I always enjoy the information. Thank you so much.

  20. Gorgeous photos! Sadly I don't see a large variety of bird in central London. Except for pigeons! :)

  21. All in all, a pretty accurate description of what I find in my garden.


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