Sunday, 26th May 2002, West Yorkshire
The bird table may not be the lifeline it was in the winter for hungry birds but it's almost constanly in use by the increasinlgy bedraggled looking blue tit parents who are running a shuttle sevice of insect food - mainly green looper caterpillars - from the oak trees in the wood to their nestbox on the house wall.
A blackbird - I'm not sure whether it's one of this year's grown up young or a female - perches there after taking a bath in the garden pond. It fluffs out and preens its feathers. As it does so the structure of its plumage becomes obvious. What normally appears as a smooth patch on its rump and upper tail coverts (to give them their correct name) is actually made up of hundreds of small, soft, round-ended feathers.
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