European Greenfinch - Carduelis chloris in silver birch tree

Breeding season begins for the European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris), in April.
The mail greenfinch takes on its colorful breeding plumage and begins its elegant, undulating flight, part of the courtship behavior.

I've spotted a pair of European Greenfinch perched high on the silver birch tree, in front of my window. I rushed to fetch my camera but the female was already gone.
European Greenfinch mail - Carduelis chloris

Appearance - display

The plumage of the adult male greenfinch in breeding season is olive-green washed yellow over its underparts and its face. Its upper-wings are darker grey with a bright yellow leading edge on its wing primaries. The same bright yellow feathers are visible on its undertail.
Greenfinch mail in breeding plumage - Carduelis chloris
The head of the greenfinch is olive-green with a pale grey patch on head-sides, and a pale grey collar on the foreneck. It has a powerful, conical bill and dark brown eyes. Legs and feet are pinkish with relative long, curved claws. The hen is duller, with a browner overall coloration.


This bird is widespread throughout Europe, north Africa and south west Asia.
Green finch mail - side view showing yellow underpart
The common, sparrow size bird is a regular garden visitor in rural and urban gardens, in parks and in orchards, being adapted to human presence.


These birds are mainly seed eaters, the favorite ingredient of their menu being the sunflower seeds. They also take fat seeds of several other plants, berries and small insects for their babies, during the nesting period.
European Greenfinch and house sparrows in a tree

Courtship rituals

During the breeding season the male displays a specific flight with slow wing beats alternated with glides with closed wings.
To attract a mate, the greenfinch mail repeats continuously its sharp twittering and wheezing song, very similar to that of a canary.

Click to listen to the greenfinch call!
The mail's song could be a warning off competition as well. This silver birch is sparrow territory, but now, with the greenfinch on top of the tree, the noisy sparrows are sitting quietly on lowers branches.

Have a look at three new House Martin baby birds in the nest.

Pink climbing rose bushes-rose photos

I always admire these wonderful, pink climbing rose bushes at the front entrance of this old house, down the street. Besides the spectacular floral display welcoming everyone, this arch or roses is a discrete solution for creating privacy for the owners.
Pink climbing rose bushes arching before the entrance
These fragrant roses are repeat flowering. The long, flexible canes are all covered with flowers during the summer and than again, later in the season.
Climbing rose bush arch at the front entrance
These old garden roses are a perfect match for the old architecture of this cozy little house.
Bunch of pink roses on a climbing rose


Marzipan fruits-almond paste recipe

Modeling marzipan for the holidays is an old tradition in many European countries, during many religious celebrations.
Marzipan, also known as almond paste, can be molded into any shape, limited only by your own artistic skills.

Many marzipan sweets are shaped and colored as to resemble real fruits, like oranges, pears, apples and prickly pears.
Marzipan fruits can be used for decorating cakes and dinner tables.
Prickly pears-Marzipan fruitsMarzipan pears

Marzipan sweets are very healthy holiday treats packed with a lot of nutrients and a small amount of carbohydrate.
These ones from the pictures are ready made, I just bought them for Easter.
Marzipan orangesMarzipan fruits-apples

Hand making marzipan is not difficult to do and is a fun family activity to make with kids, though time consuming.
If you want to try homemade marzipan, here is a marzipan recipe from my old cookbook:

Marzipan-almond paste recipe

  • 200g (8oz) ground almonds - from your local grocery
  • 200g (8oz) caster sugar (very fine sugar)
  • 200g (8oz) confectioners sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • almond essence
  • Step 1. Pass the sugars through a sieve, into a bowl to avoid any lumps. Add the ground almonds and stir together.
  • Step 2. Break the eggs into a bowl, add a few drops of almond essence and beat.
  • Step 3. Add them to the mixture with the ground almonds and sugar. Mix well until it forms a paste.
  • Step 4. Tip out onto a board sprinkled with icing sugar and knead it until is is smooth.
Now your homemade marzipan is ready. It can be used immediately or refrigerate it for later use.
You can use it to cover a cake or color the marzipan paste and use it to shape little marzipan fruits, flowers or sweets of any shape.

To color the marzipan, divide the almond paste into as many pieces as colors needed.
Add a drop of food coloring to each piece and knead until evenly colored. If you want a more intense color, add another drop of coloring but be careful, you can't take it out once you drop to much color.

Almonds are said to lower cholesterol levels, which is very welcome especially during the holiday season when we can't (don't want to) avoid all our traditional, delicious but fattening and unhealthy foods.
Check out this homemade cake with marzipan decoration and grated fruits.

Franciscan Church Cluj-Baroque style interior photos

The church in the background of the first picture is a Roman-Catholic church, the Franciscan Church.
It was built between 1260 and 1290 and is on of the oldest buildings of Cluj-Napoca (my town). It may not tell much from the outside but it does from the inside.
Franciscan Church in Cluj
In 1390, the Benedictine monks extended the church by building a small Gothic cloister near it.
It is the red painted building near the church, which is hosting a music school these days.
Franciscan Church in Cluj-Biserica Franciscana
The monastery was built in Gothic style with the support of Hunyadi János (Iancu de Hunedoara-Romanian) the Voivode of Transylvania (1440–1456), and father of the Hungarian king, Matthias Corvinus.
It has a heritage consisting of various objects used in liturgy, altars, series of old manuscripts and a library.
The Roman-Catholic church was reconstructed in Baroque style in the early 18th century (1728-1745).

Passing by, I can often hear the old organ playing, a sound that slows you down even when you are in a hurry and invites you inside the church.
That's how I managed to take some photos of the beautiful, Baroque style interior which is not always an easy task, with people praying inside.
The organ-Franciscan Church Cluj
Detail of the main altar

Main altar-detail-Franciscan Church Cluj
See more interior photos in this slideshow:

This old church building, like everything else in my town is very neglected, no restorations were made in the last decades.
The bright side of this is that I was able to take some puddle shots, reflecting the church building.

Search for photos, macro photos or paintings.

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