Saturday 17 September 2011

News from the Paulownia Tree

All you can see from the ground.
The other day when Alex came to mow the orchard I suddenly noticed a tiny nest on the end of a branch of the Paulownia tree we were standing under. My friend Tim advises that it is most likely a Goldfinch nest.

I had been picking apples from a ladder,
so took the opportunity to take a closer look.
The Goldfinches certainly spend a lot of time in the Paulownia. They like the seeds and can regularly be heard scraping away at the pods. French Goldfinches are obviously a more roughty-toughty bunch than those in the UK. In the UK garden bird lovers are advised to grow Teasels and buy a special seed dispenser for a type of thistle seed called niger. This is because thin little Goldfinch beaks supposedly can't cope with sunflowers (unless you buy the shelled ones). Here in the Touraine, where all the farmers grow sunflowers, no one bothers with that palaver. The goldfinches get unshelled sunflowers on bird tables and love them.

Les boutons duveteux.
Paulownias are native to the Orient, and like many Chinese plants, have become very hardy and popular European garden additions. Our Paulownia is a large shade tree in the corner of the orchard. This year it didn't flower. The flower buds normally start forming in the autumn of the previous year and I see it is now covered in tan felt bobbles, gearing up for next spring. I guess now it has rained, and in fact, the late summer has been rather wet, so the tree is responding to the stimulus of warm weather and adequate moisture. I don't know if its failure to flower in May this year was due to the dry spring, the extremely cold December or perhaps the squirrel ate the buds. I'll have to pay more attention!


For other blog owners who don't like the lightbox thing on their photos, there is a script
 <script type='text/javascript'>  
function killLightbox() {
var images = document.getElementsByTagName('img');
for (var i = 0 ; i < images.length ; ++i) {
images[i].onmouseover=function() {
var html = this.parentNode.innerHTML;
this.parentNode.innerHTML = html;
this.onmouseover = null;
if (window.addEventListener) {
} else {

To use it, go to blog design, edit HTML, and insert immediately after the [head} tag in the "edit template" box. It may be wise to use the "download full template funtion first, just in case.

I can't take any credit for the code, but it does work.



Niall & Antoinette said...

Thanks, the script worked a treat. Didin't like that lightbox thingy at all.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Simon, thanks so much. Like N & A, no problem inserting the script in my template. Works like a charm.

Colin and Elizabeth said...

Simon Thanks for publishing. It appears to work OK.

Sheila said...

Here in the Texas Hill Country, we
are being inundated this year with
lesser goldfinches (they are about
the size of two hummingbirds
combined). We have the net sock
feeders with the niger seed for them, but can hardly keep with the
demand, they arrive in flocks and
hang in thick clusters on the socks.

Must be because of the drought;
even the thistles didn't last
long enough to bloom and go to
seed. We've been entertained by
their antics and beauty, as they
are just outside our dining

Tim said...

Yes... I would now say definate Goldfinch nest... ticks all the boxes.

Simon... I've saved the lightbox code for future use. My reason for mentioning target="blank" was that, when I looked at your source code for the page I couldn't see it anywhere... had the Lightbox widget code stripped it out?
My reason for asking that is that I've occasionally entered the code in the wrong position in the HTML and Blogger has moved it to the right placing!! There's some seriously heavy software cleaniing up code there... try putting a spurious bit in... Blogger strips it out, Wordpress just tells you you've coded it wrong and lets you find out where!!
Hope you're enjoying Paris.

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