Nantwich Square.

The new Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is Architecture.

I thought a quick tour of the centre of my home town would be in order. One of its claims to fame is having one of the highest concentrations of listed buildings in England. The settlement dates back to Roman times when it produced salt for the Roman garrisons at Chester and Stoke-on-trent.

St Mary’s Church stands to the east of the town square. The oldest surviving building in the town, it dates back to the 14th century. One of the few buildings to survive a fire in December 1583 which destroyed most of the town to the east of the River Weaver.

The front of St Mary’s Church.

St Mary's Church front.

The Nantwich War Memorial on the town square with St Mary’s Church in the background.

Nantwich War Memorial.

Part of the square and some of the old buildings around it. St Mary’s Church is on the left side of the photo.

Town Square, Nantwich, Cheshire.

Mistle Thrush eating a windfall apple.

Throwback Thursday continues a recent theme of birds eating windfall apples in the winter.

This is a Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) eating a windfall apple in an orchard. The Mistle Thrush gets its name from its liking of Mistletoe berries. Apparently Mistle is an old English name for the plant.

This individual was photographed in Cheshire, England in the late 1980s. In the U.K. they are a year round resident.

A Mistle Thrush in an orchard.

Female Blackcap in winter.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Cheshire in the early 1990s. This is a female Blackcap feeding on a windfall apple in the winter. Sometimes known as the Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) it is a member of the Warbler family. The male Blackcap has a black cap on its head, the female a brown cap.

They were traditionally a summer visitor, arriving in the U.K. to breed. However, in the 1980s a few birds were being recorded in gardens in the winter. In the early 1990s when this photo was taken they were still uncommon in the winter. A few years later they were becoming common. If I recall correctly this bird was reported to the county recorder for inclusion in that years county bird report.

Since then numbers have continued to increase. Research has shown that the winter birds are different than the ones that breed in the U.K. in the summer. The wintering Blackcaps arrived from Germany. Isotope analysis has also shown that the German birds wintering in the U.K. tend to mate with other Blackcaps that wintered in the U.K. when back in Germany for the summer.

Another interesting point is that Blackcaps prefer mature deciduous woodland for breeding in the summer while the birds that arrive from Germany to spend the winter prefer gardens. It’s thought that the birds started wintering in the U.K. because of the milder winters and the availability of food with people feeding birds in their gardens.

Wintering female Blackcap.