Thursday, 21 April 2016

LAST WEEK THE SWALLOWS RETURN, THIS WEEK NEST BUILDING IS IN FULL FLOW

The wildlife certainly thinks spring is on the way as nest building is in full flow in the blue tit nest box.

It appears the house sparrows have decided to use the triple sparrow nest box, now that one of the three boxes has been vacated by the second camera.

They were happy to use the ones without the camera as soon as the nest box was erected, but after two years of no interest in the box with the camera, the ‘secret eyes’ were moved to a new nest box designed for blue tits – they have yet to show interest after a couple of years nesting outside the garden.

The original blue tit nest box has once again got a nest, having had one every year since being put up in 2007 – making it the tenth year in a row.

Unfortunately the camera signal was not working when I put this post up, but I’ll be checking daily from now on to ensure the next post has a couple of images.

The nest builders are a pair of great tits, and the nest is well on its way to being complete.

The garden will see a limited vegetable number this summer, with broad beans, chillis, tomatoes and a new one for this year – cauliflower.

Seeds will be planted this week and it is hoped the sunshine and warmth will continue, not only for the seedling growth, but the fauna.

While the current weather conditions are favourable, the outlook for the weekend is not good for growth and wildlife breeding.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

THE SWALLOWS ARE BACK – 11 DAYS EARLIER THAN LAST YEAR

In the midst of some typically heavy April showers a rainbow appeared very near the garden. Rushing to get the camera to capture the moment, the noise carrying across the breeze sounded very familiar.

Looking up towards the rainbow, a familiar silhouette appeared against the darkened sky – a pair of swallows on the telegraph wire.


Their appearance is 11 days earlier than 2015 and nine days compared to 2014. Whether this earlier arrival is due to anything associated with the ‘global warming’ debacle is much too soon to tell.

It would also appear that the house sparrows are busy building nests in the triple nest box, although I have only evidence that one of the boxes is being used, I suspect at least one of the other two is too.

Unfortunately the two next boxes with the cameras in have so far proved empty of any activity, but with spring sunshine beginning to warm the air, there is renewed hope the two nest boxes will soon be filled by great and blue tits.

The small trees and bushes are also showing signs of spring life, with new leaves appearing. This is also providing cover for the small birds as they carry out courtships within the confines of the increasing amount of cover.

The cat issue continues with nightly fights being heard. I do wonder if some people think moving to the country means they can just bring in as many ‘pets’ as possible, and they will form part of the ‘natural countryside’.

It would appear this is the case because there are eight houses, six without pets, while two have at least six cats between them. There are also dogs, but they are not destructive to wildlife in the way cats are.

Time will tell, but I really hope this year’s young birds are decimated by the cats, in the same way the vole and mouse population appears to have been.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

LIGHTER NIGHTS, BUT NOT WARMER DAYS

The clocks may have sprung forward, making the nights lighter for longer, but the warming up of the daytime is yet to take place.

The spring blossom is slowly disappearing from the fruit trees, but there are no signs of the garden birds starting to nest.

Neither of the nest box cameras have shown any activity, or have even been used by anyone roosting overnight.

The garden is acting like it is a trance, with flora and fauna waiting for the warmth to properly kick everything into life.

Only today has there been any significant sound of spring, with chiffchaffs singing their unmistakable song almost everywhere. It’s s lovely song to hear and ensures everyone knows spring is coming.

There has been no sign of any caterpillars recently, and the general insect life appears to below in numbers; again the spring warmth will surely bring many out.

A bee has been spotted on this lovely flower, taking a rest or possibly just struggling to get enough energy to enjoy the spring sunshine.


The long tailed tits are still making daily visits to the bird feeders, with the fat snacks proving to be the most popular.

When they stop coming to the garden will be the time I know they’ve gone to nest and spring should be firmly with us.

Until then I think everyone in the natural world will be hoping to see more of the sun and less of the grey clouds bringing rain.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

NEW BIRD SPOTTED AS SPRING STARTS SLOWLY

An amazing sight from the garden has meant the lack of activity in the nest boxes and delay in spring taking a proper grip has not been too bad.

The small brook that almost borders the garden, had signs of life last summer with a small shoal of small fish.

It was presumed that they would go or not survive, but it appears this is not the case. And the presence of these small fish has not gone unnoticed!

The amazing sight of a kingfisher perched on a branch of a small tree overhanging the brook has been brilliant.

I don’t expect it to be a common visitor or even see it again, but just the one glimpse is enough.

Of course spring is not in ‘full bloom’ yet and I hope this is the reason why birds are not spending time in the nest boxes. It is unusual though that not one bird has spent a night in either nest box.

Time will tell, but with an Easter weekend of strong wind and heavy rain, I don’t expect things to change much as we approach April.

And April should herald the arrival of my favourite bird – the swallow.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

SNOW THEN SPRING SUNSHINE BRINGS THE BEES OUT

The cold and snowy weather seemed to be quickly followed by some spring sunshine, which in turn has led to the natural world emerging from its many hideaways.

The blossom on the fruit tree in the garden, and beyond, attracted a number of bees in the last few days, which was a welcome sight.

The birds are still not using the nest boxes, which is quite frustrating. I’m sure they eventually will, and hopefully it’ll be the signal for spring to start properly. Otherwise it could be that they are sensing winter is going to return with a vengeance.

The flora is producing a range of colours now as the borders fill with crocus, daffodils, snowdrops and tulips, but there is a slight concern that the flowerings are half-hearted, as if something negative is going to happen to them if they show too much, too soon.

I’ve not noticed the cats around the garden recently, although they can be heard every night fighting. Hopefully a couple of knockout blows each night mean they stay indoor during the day and leave the garden birds alone.

The long tailed tits have paid the odd visit to the garden since the last post. I sense it’s because the natural food supplies are still not returning to levels at which they feel comfortable not to visit the garden.

So as we await the big spring start, I wonder just how many small mammals and birds will fall victim to all these cats – none if I have my way!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

SNOW IN THE GARDEN IN MARCH – AS PREDICTED!

Within a few days of my last post about snow in the garden in March, it snowed in the garden. The first snow it has seen this winter.

It wasn’t exactly a snowstorm and didn’t last that long before it melted away, but it certainly brought a sense of reality to the wildlife.

 The long tailed tits have been spending much more time in the garden in the last week, making use of the bird feeders. But they are often bullied at the feeders, so were left pinching bits of scraps as the blackbirds, robins, great tits and sparrows gorged themselves.

Another caterpillar found it’s way in to the house via the front door, but I suspect it’s the same bright green one I saw a few weeks ago. The Butterfly Conversation kindly told me on twitter that is was an Angle Shades caterpillar.

The other darker caterpillar was/is an Old Lady. Both are moths and the sightings are not unusual at this time of year.

The Angle Shades caterpillar might even emerge as an adult in the coming weeks, whereas the Old Lady is usually seen as an adult in the summer.

Neither nest boxes have had any overnight ‘guests’ this week, which is a bit surprising as this time last year at least one had some nest building occurring. 

I’ve kept the smaller hole on the new nest box as I’d like blue tits to take it over, but I might have to rethink that and put the bigger one on, if nothing uses it this year.

More cold and wintry weather is forecast, so it’ll be interesting to see how the wildlife reacts as we head towards Easter.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

WILL THE GARDEN SEE SNOW IN MARCH?

Recent overnight frosts have not appeared to be too damaging to the flora that has emerged a little earlier than usual.

Indeed plenty of blossom and traditional spring flowers were out before the first snowdrops appeared.

I had wondered whether any birds had started nesting, but after a check up on all the nest boxes I have seen no evidence of any nesting material.

It meant good news for installing a new camera to replace the one in the triple sparrow nest box, which had been broken thanks to a mouse that hadn’t taken to kindly to it being in a place it was sleeping.

The camera was obviously putting off the birds nesting, as the other two boxes sections have been used since it was first erected. The mouse and a new nest box (with roof space for the camera) have meant a change of camera location.

The new camera installation has taken three sections of work, but is now fully operational as the images below demonstrates. The first one is the new nest box, the second one the original one.

Now there will be a lot of finger crossing as human eyes will be firmly focused on both cameras to check for any movement.

The new nest box has a smaller entrance as I’m hoping to bring back the blue tits, as they have not nested in the garden for a number of years – mainly sue to the house sparrows, tree sparrows and great tits.

There has been no sign of the caterpillars and I suspect they have crawled away to hide from the recent overnight frosts and prepare for warmer spell before emerging again.

Finally, the long tailed tits have been visiting regularly in recent days. It’s lovely to see and hear these birds in close proximity to the house although as there were only two of them I do wonder if the previously seen larger group has disbanded ahead of the breeding season, or these are two outcasts.