Sunday, 22 November 2015
After a very mild autumn, the first signs of winter have led to frosts, cold winds and even snow in places.
There’s not been any snow, or very little sign of frost, in the garden, but the small birds have been flocking to the feeders.
The flock of house sparrows seems to be increasing in numbers, while the blue tits and great tits are spending more time in and around the peanut feeder.
I’ve also noticed a robin spending plenty of time on selected perches around the garden, sometimes singing, but mainly watching out for other robins and opportunities for grabbing some food from the feeders.
The temporary greenhouse was blown over in the recent and while moving it to the garage for winter storage, I found a huge number of slugs and snails seemingly trying to hide out the cold.
I safely moved them to the green waste bin so they can spend the winter somewhere else and not spend next spring and summer munching on the garden plants and vegetables.
Each day brings more leaves from the trees and it’s now much easier to spot the birds on the branches, but the down side is there’s not much daylight to be able to do this.
I’m hoping that as we go in to December and the weather gets colder, we start to see the likes of fieldfares, redwings and the now more common jays in the garden
This should increase the chances of the local sparrowhawks entering the airspace above the garden and the battle for survival in the coldest and darkest time of the year.
Thursday, 12 November 2015
The autumn warmth is showing little sign of fading, which could help make this year’s autumn one if the warmest on record.
Fog, mild nights and the odd wet and windy day have all served to delay migrating birds and the arrival of birds in the garden to feast on the offerings.
The latter because there is seemingly plenty of natural food in the surrounding countryside, which is good to know.
Despite reports of flocks of goldfinch being seen in increasing numbers in garden around the country, the garden in front of the house has hardly seen any.
I know they’re close by because I see small flocks when down the lane, but the amount of forays into the garden is minimal. Perhaps when the colder weather arrives it’ll signal the arrival of more goldfinches in the garden – I’m hoping so!
The hedgehog has still not made an appearance and I doubt we’ll see it again, but I do hope it’s found an area to forage and keep warm.
One thing the weather has brought this autumn is all the leaves from the trees and bushes. It’s good news for the garden as it provides food for worms and other small animals, along with nourishing natural food for next year’s growing flora.
One day last week a sparrowhawk was chastened by a group of jackdaws, before taking shelter in the garden.
It’s wonderful to see such a beautiful bird near the house, natural behaviour of other birds towards it, while appreciating the terror an bird of prey causes smaller birds.
Sunday, 25 October 2015
It’s definitely autumn, but someone might remind the season itself as the usually autumnal weather isn’t really taking affect.
The worms in the garden are finding the leaves blown to the ground, on the odd windy day, quite useful, but we’re nearly in November and the traditional conditions of strong winds and heavy rain have stayed away.
It does mean that while the summer visitors (swifts, swallows and house martins etc.) have long gone, the autumnal migrants – both to the UK and the garden – are not exactly here in big numbers.
Perhaps the new series of BBC’s Autumnwatch will herald the arrival of normal autumnal weather.
The garden is looking fairly bare in terms of bird numbers and variety; even the blackbirds, robins and tits (great and blue) are infrequently seen.
The house and tree sparrows are hardly in the garden at all, which has all meant the bird feeders do not have to be topped up very often.
Snow and ice are ‘predicted’ by some weather forecasters, but this seems to be the case every year.
If it does come true (that’s a very big IF) then the garden and the feeders could see the odd unusual visitor.
Three birds are on the list to be seen this winter – long tailed tit, redwing and fieldfare. The former usually visits in flocks every winter, but the other two have never been seen in the garden.
They have been spotted nearby, so this year there will be some keen eyes focused on the red berries and fat snacks, just in case.
Finally, Spike the hedgehog has still not been spotted, although it’s too early to put up ‘dead or alive’ posters.
Sunday, 11 October 2015
The swifts, swallows and house martins have all gone long since, but autumn appears to be still holding a candle for summer; well it certainly feels like that with the recent warm weather
Ok, so the sunny days have been replaced by the occasional cool night, but it’s still good to see the sun, rather than the wind and rain we usually associate with autumn.
I know, it’ll be wet and windy soon enough, but for now let’s be happy with the current conditions.
In the garden it’s a similar theme, with birds stalling in their feeding habits, preferring the open countryside and hedgerows, to the comforts of garden hand-outs.
The garden has mainly seen small flocks of house sparrows, with the occasional tree sparrow, great tit, blue tit and dunnock present at the fat snack and peanut feeder.
But in general these visits are frequent or for very long, with robins, blackbirds and magpies hardly ever seen.
The garden will only become a ‘real’ food station when it is visited by a flock of long tailed tits, and not one had been seen since very early in the year.
The food supplies are now stocked up, so when colder weather does hit and the birds come calling, there will be plenty to go around.
Until then I’m sure everyone is happy with the current climate.
Saturday, 3 October 2015
If only this sunny and settled weather had happened a few weeks ago we’d have all been basking in some late summer warmth, instead we’re left with cool and misty mornings, warm(ish) days and cool nights.
The sort in Indian summer has meant visitors to the garden have been rare this week, as the small birds seem to be finding plenty of food out in the countryside.
I have seen small flocks of house sparrows, the odd tree sparrow and some great tits and blue tits, but not much else.
They are taking some of the food I’m leaving out, but not much.
The explosion of crane flies has seemingly come to an end, as I’ve not seen any for quite a few days.
But what has exploded has been the number of very large house spiders shooting across the floor, seemingly chasing each other.
I know this happens most years, but this year there seems to be a huge amount of them and they all seem very amorous!
The cooler nights has obviously indicated to them that the best chance of creating the next generation is to congregate in the warmth of our house.
When one landed on my shoulder after jumping 15ft from the ceiling, it was the last straw and that night saw ‘evictions’ of these spiders reach double figures.
I had hoped the masses of bright red berries on the pyracantha would attract fieldfares and redwing, but no such luck so far, and I expect that my wait might not be rewarded this year.
Perhaps next year when the bush has grown in size again it’ll help provide a bigger attraction for passing migrants.
Sunday, 20 September 2015
The first early morning mists that epitomise autumn have already arrived. This time last year the weather was warm and sunny, with temperatures more like mid summer, now it’s typical autumnal weather.
Despite the cooler, darker evenings there have been no sightings of the hedgehog that was introduced to the garden in June. In fact he hasn’t been seen since the evening he was released, so although I’m concerned, I still have hope he’s still around.
The hedgehog will hopefully be getting ready for hibernation, but the swallows have finally all departed on their way to warmer climes and a winter in Africa.
I think and hope this year has been a bumper breeding year for my favourite bird; judging by the number of birds on the telephone wires I’m pretty confident it has been
Of course the cooler weather is now gradually bringing the garden birds back into the garden, if that makes sense.
There are a number of blue tits now devouring peanuts as they, along with great tits, wait for the sunflowers to make available their seeds.
I’m looking forward to more birds coming back, with a slight hope that the increasing number of berries on the pyracantha will attract the odd redwing and/or fieldfare; neither bird have ever been seen in or near the garden.
Sunday, 13 September 2015
I think one of the house sparrow nests has another batch of eggs, or even young chicks. I thought the adult birds had finished for the season, but I’ve noticed frequent entries and exits over the last few days, which suggest they’ve not finished breeding yet.
Another bird I’m surprised to hear and see is the swallow. Another large group has appeared in recent days and I’m wondering if this is a group that’s stopping off for a refuel, or a local crowd who have yet to start the migration to warmer climes.
The garden is now becoming a lot more cluttered with small birds now, with blue tits, great tits, robins and dunnocks all popping along for food or song a number of times a day.
One of the robins from this year’s broods has been taking up a prominent position around the garden of the last couple of months, particularly when I, or my family, are in the garden.
It thinks nothing of coming to within inches of me when I’m working or sat on the garden furniture.
And now it is proudly showing of the first signs of the traditional red breast, which I expect will be in full colour within weeks.
I really enjoy it when a robin calls my patch his home and I hope he/she is able to keep this territory and raise a family if their own next year.
One thing that has been unusual is the amount of crane flies or daddy long legs as some call them. I’ve seen hundreds around the garden and at night, when a window or door is open, there can be more than 20 individuals in one room alone.
I don’t know why this year has been very good for numbers, but it’s certainly helped some of the spiders as they’ve gobbled up quite a few.
With wet and windy weather predicated for the next week, I expect this number to decrease rapidly.