Saturday, 29 August 2009

Of Sunflowers and Goldfinches

While I was still on auto-pilot early yesterday morning I glanced at two small Sunflowers and thought - what has happened to the centre of each? As the brain cleared I could make out that each Sunflower had its own visitor - a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly busily topping up with nectar.

Sunflower Visitors

Sunflower Visitor

Fortunately they stayed long enough for me to grab the camera and creep outside to get a closer look.

When I filled up the new larger Niger / Thistle seed feeder I bought on Thursday I moved the old one. The next morning there were no Goldfinches in sight! Later in the day I put the old one back in its regular spot and hung the new one next to it. At one stage this morning there were four Goldfinches on the old feeder and one brave bird on the new feeder. I think the Goldies have got so used to the landing pad on the old feeder. They like to stand on that and reach to pick out the seeds. Also over the past couple of days some of the Chaffinches have been landing on that pad. They never take seeds from the slots in the feeder but pick up any seeds which have fallen out or been dropped by the Goldfinches.

I wonder what is in that ugly looking yellow thing?

It is most unusual, here anyway, to see a Goldfinch on the ground but this youngster was spotted rummaging in the grass I laughingly call a lawn.

I wish his nibs would get the mower out!
Young Goldfinch


  1. great photos of the small tortoiseshells on the sunflowers. I going to have to try a niger seed feeder in my garden - see if I can attract to goldfinches

  2. Thank you Neil. I never used to get any Goldfinches until I put up the Niger feeder. It took a few months for them to find it but now they are daily visitors. Well worth the wait.

  3. Agreed about the Niger feeder..a must if you want to atract and keep the Goldies. Beautiful shots of the butterflies on the sunflowers.

  4. What a lovely early morning surprise that was John, flutters on the cheery faces of the Sunflowers are enough to bring a smile to anyone's face.

    Love the captions on the Goldfinch photos :) Although I have a Niger seed feeder and they do use it they have always preferred the Sunflower hearts here. I really need to order some more of the kibbles though as they are so wasteful with the whole hearts, I can only get the kibbles on line though and sometimes it is easier just to buy the hearts locally, ordering on line is a Round Tuit task ;) When I was using the kibbles I was also slightly concerned that they were not staying as fresh in storage as the whole hearts but that was around the time the storage bin was letting wet without my at first realising!

    Great photos again John, the Goldfinch really is looking quizzically at the new feeder.

  5. Hi Jan. Those Sunflowers looked like two black eyes at a first bleary glance. I had to look twice to see what was going on.

    I get most of my seed by mail order these days - garden centres should be offering second mortgages the prices they charge for the small packs they sell.

    The local Goldies do use the other feeders occasionally but spend most of the time on the Niger feeder. I have a big square greenhouse type tray under the feeders to catch the bits they drop and each morning I empty that on the ground feeder.

    I mix some kibbled seed in with the main mix which has hearts so there is something for everybody.

    Have a relaxing Bank Holiday.

  6. Thank you to The Watcher for your comment. It was a surprise to see the butterflies on both Sunflowers at the same time.

  7. Oh my goodness....that second photo really struck me. Gorgeous sunflower and beautiful butterfly--doesn't get any happier than that!

  8. That is true, Kelly. A sunflower is like having a piece of the Sun in the garden. Even in dull weather they look bright and cheerful.

  9. Those sunflowers are stunners John, plus the added bonus of butterfly.

  10. Lovely Sunflower shots with the Small Tortoiseshell.
    Top notch.

  11. It has been such a great year for butterflies this year! Stunning photo again John, that colour is spot on. That would make a lovely greetings card!

  12. Stunning pictures John and so cheery!

  13. The photos of the sunflowers are especially beautiful.

  14. John birds are like people...they don't like change. I found that out when I bought better feeders to replace the old. Took them a long time to accept the new addition..funny I would love something new go figure. Oh and I love the second shot of your sunflower with the butterfly on it...stunning!!

  15. Thank you Keith. I was disappointed at first when I saw the size of the small Sunflowers but the flowers are such a brilliant yellow I forgave them.

  16. Thank you John. The two seem to compliment each other nicely.

  17. It certainly has, Matron. I can't remember a time when the garden has been so full of flutters brightening up what has been a fairly disappointing Summer.

  18. Very true, Crista. The only birds that don't get put off for more than a few seconds here are the flocks of Starlings.

  19. Thank you Tricia. I must remember which seeds I used for those small Sunflowers as I think they look even more cheerful than the giant ones.

  20. Thank you Mick. Sunflowers always manage to look so cheerful with their brilliant yellow.

  21. John

    I think that the butterflies on the sunflowers has to be one of my favourites this year. excellent work as usual.

    Does anything else eat the Niger seeds?

  22. Thank you Terry. I think the butterflies looked great on the smaller Sunflower heads. They looked lost on the giant variety.

    According to a list of which birds prefer what on the CJ Wildlife site three birds which like Nyjer seeds are:

    I also found that Chaffinches will eat dropped seeds on the platform on my old feeder.

    Their list is at:

    CJ Wildlife is where I buy all the seeds I order by post - always very efficient and normally delivered next day by courier.

    Enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend.

  23. Lovely images John. I particularly like the second Small Tortoiseshell on the sunflower, brilliant clarity.

  24. Thank you Roy. Early morning Sunlight was directly on the flowers, which always helps.


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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