ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
A spring flower display, above. I've never had the time, money or inclination to see the real Birds of Paradise in New Guinea so I'm more than happy to view them via the TV screen, without the real life adventure of deep jungle, creepy crawlies, biting flies, native guides, or the uncertainty of catching a glimpse of them at all. I'll leave that to the most dedicated birders and the professionals but I have found over the decades that taking a basic interest in the wildlife, the insects, the flowers, plants, trees, mosses and fungi encountered outdoors only adds to any walk. It also occurred to me that our own UK bird population can be just as colourful as any exotic species so here's a selection.
A Shelduck. The largest of the UK ducks and a colourful one. Found around the British coastal margins.
A goldfinch. The bright splash of gold on the wings is hidden here by the greenery. My father, as a boy, had a caged one, which was fairly common then, along with linnets and yellowhammers- similar to budgies during my own childhood, when many families had one stuck in a cage in the corner of a room. In fact when I saw budgies flying wild in Australia in large groups for the first time as a twenty something walker over there I was so conditioned to seeing them indoors and alone, static in a cage, it came as something of a shock to appreciate this was how they should be in the wild and how unnatural they must feel, closed in and single. Up until that point I hadn't properly realized how cruel captivity might be for this particular species as they appeared lightning fast in flight outdoors, capable of flying large distances across any semi desert region, and never alone, constantly chattering to their numerous companions. You wouldn't dream of keeping a swift or swallow in a small cage yet growing up with budgies all around me, in various friend's living rooms, as a child, that seemed perfectly normal in the 1960s and exactly where they should be residing. A good lesson in slavery.
A larger cousin to the budgie. Green parakeets in a park. Big and powerful enough to survive our own UK birds attacking them.
Same bird spotting a juicy nut on the ground I'd just placed there. "Who is a clever boy then?"
A red legged partridge. First one I'd seen close up in 45 years of hill-walking. Found on the much drier east coast hills- never seen in the soggy west.
Think this is a mallard duck but with a less common purple/blue head and wing stripe.
Eider ducks. The bobbing 'sea pigeons' of the Scottish coast where little rafts of them can be spotted along the shores, often heard first due to a soft cooing noise, floating over the water to reach ears on land.
Canada Goose reflection shot. A bird I've often seen in my kayak in numerous lochs and slow moving rivers.
Great Crested Grebe with a fish.
Bullfinch. One of the largest UK finches.
Kestrel on tree top.
Teal. Duck. Common as a paint colour in DIY stores but the very first one I've seen in Scotland. More widespread along the English coasts I believe.
Woodpecker. Another bird that's hard to capture close up unless you spend time on it deliberately, waiting patiently for hours or reached/stalked with a giant zoom. Lucky in this instance it was above me just long enough to get the photo.
A large thrush.
Two pigeons in love. Even these everyday birds have a neckband of green iridescence that sparkles in sunlight.
Wheatear. A small bird of heath, moorland, and mountain slopes. This is a personal selection of a few of my own efforts.
Beautiful colours of a male Pheasant.
Another version walking along a wall.
Grey Partridge. A field in Fife.
Rather annoyed Grey Squirrel. " Hey, Get me in here as well ! Where's my ******** selfie!? Nae mair photos o' they parakeets. They buggers are invasive species in the UK. No like me. I'm pure 100% Scotch so I is. I belong here, born and bred. No like them buggers that belong back in a cage or on a plate. It's no natural so it's no, having them flying aboot, enjoying themselves ootside. It's no real!!!"
The other reason for this title was something I found out several years ago. Who is the most prolific songwriter of the last 30 years and sits third ( after Lennon and McCartney) with the most no 1 singles in the charts? (23 no 1s in total.) He is Swedish- you might never have heard of him and his initials are M.M. Give Up?
Hence the alternative title I was considering for this post " I kissed/loved several girls... then found out it might have been a man!"
You will have heard of the long list of Birds of Paradise that have flocked though his studio doors however for his magic touch on their careers. Including Britney Spears, Pink, Katy Perry, Jessie J, Taylor Swift and many, many others. You could call him 'The Starmaker.' as he specializes in great catchy melodies and thumping pop tunes.