Sunday, 21 December 2014

FEED THE BIRDS, LET THEM KNOW IT'S FEEDING TIME...

Despite a few frosty nights at low altitude and some briefly snowy ones at higher levels, the start of winter has generally followed the pattern in autumn, with fairly mild conditions.

I know winter has been mild because the long tailed tits have only been seen a couple of times and when it’s cold they come in to the garden a few times a day.

Another clue has been in the flora, with a number of plants still growing. The roses were still flowering last week, while I still had a few red tomatoes in the first week of December.

But in the last few days the pyracantha bush (see below images) has spawned a number of flowers and new leaves. I’ve never seen this before and wonder if it will continue to do so throughout winter.

 
 
According to the latest reports we’re heading for a very cold winter, but I’m not yet convinced because just when a cold spell starts, a mild spell of weather is waiting around the corner to come in.

While it’s not always good for some, a cold winter with a prolonged spell of freezing weather will help us and our wildlife. It’ll kill off lots of bugs and leave a healthy population of wildlife ready for the breeding season

So if it starts to get cold again I hope many people will ‘feed the birds’. Perhaps Bob Geldof would like to release a new version of his ‘famous’ song? Then again he’ll probably say bo!!*@ks to it…

Have a good Christmas.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

FIRST STORM OF THE WINTER, BUT NO SNOW

The first winter storm didn’t hit as hard as was predicted in the garden, though I know it was particularly vicious across Scotland.

Although it has been followed by colder weather, the predicted snow didn’t materialise for the wildlife around the house, though it is quite rare to see here.

Birds of prey have been seen with increased regularity in recent weeks, in the form of buzzards and a kestrel. The latter even landed on a neighbour’s window ledge while it scoured the gardens for a meal. It didn’t appear to be successful, but it shows how more birds are using gardens for a source of food.

Even the buzzards, I know there is more than one as I’ve seen two within sight of the garden at once, are flying low over the gardens almost daily. A few years ago one even landed in the garden!

The great spotted woodpecker has also been back a few times in the last week, while a couple of jays have also been spotted regularly and the long tailed tits are now using the garden as a ‘winter stop off’ for food. I know it’s cold and there’s a lack of food when they come into the garden

Obviously those three aren’t as regular as the daily visitors – blue tits, great tits, blackbirds, wrens, robins, dunnocks, house sparrows and tree sparrows.

I’ve seen goldfinches up and down the lane recently, but not yet in the garden.

With colder temperatures set to continue, despite a potential brief ‘warmer’ spell in midweek, I expect I’ll have to fill the bird feeders with increased frequency.

Snow anyone?

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

WINTER IS HERE

Winter has started to bite this week and my peanut feeder has been constantly surrounded by a large flock of house and tree sparrows, with the odd blue and great tit.

A male and female blackbird have been seen mopping up any scraps dropped on the floor, while the resident robin is also hanging around, trying to mimic the tits but hanging onto the feeders.

While all this is happening in the front garden, out the back, which is an outbuilding and track to the manor house, the resident robin is singing and continually standing on a particular branch of a small tree overlooking the residency.

I’m not sure if there’s a suitable nesting site nearby, but I’ll keep an eye out and see if I can spot any nest building in spring.

Meanwhile I’m occasionally seeing a wren around the rear robin’s residency. It’s not around for a long time, but flits in and out of little crevices picking up little bits of food.

The great spotted woodpecker is also back, taking a keen interest in the fat snacks. It’s a male and I’m wondering if it’s the same one that has been spotted regularly in the garden over the last couple of years.

So, as the winter chill continues I’ll be keeping an eye out for all the wildlife in the garden, to see who is struggling and who is making the most of my handouts.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

WHEN WILL AUTUMN TURN TO WINTER?

After a few months away due to illness, the wildlife blog is back as we approach winter and the shortest daylight hours of the year.

The weather has so far been kind to the wildlife in the garden, although I’m sure it will soon change and make the offerings I put out for the birds even more vital.

I’ve not been able to fix the broken power cable to the nest box camera, but I hope it can be fixed before the box becomes a roosting place for one or more of the small garden birds.

The six regular visitors over the last couple of weeks have been; blue tit, great tit, robin, blackbird, tree sparrow and house sparrow.

I’ve also seen magpies taking some of the fat snacks, but one visitor I didn’t expect was a kestrel, which caused consternation among the garden birds, although non fell prey to its claws.

I’m now starting to feed the birds regularly and once the colder weather grips expect to see a few more types of birds – and hopefully the great spotted woodpecker.

The local tawny owl population has been decorating the long dark nights with calls, although I’m yet to see any of them in the day time.

Now I’m off for another walk down the lane to see what animals are out and about.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

LOOKING BACK AT SPRING CHANGES

This week, with the weather turning towards settled, warm and dry conditions I’m going to look at the transformation the garden makes during spring.

In a series of images I’ll be looking at what happened in March and April this year. In later blog posts I’ll show the summer, autumn and winter changes, some of which will be quite spectacular.

Before that the swallows are starting to gather in big numbers on the local telephone wires and have spent the last couple of nights feasting on the variety of flying insects that are taking to the skies now the evenings are warming up a little.

Although some have already gone, I suspect many of the ones that are still here might stay for this week at least, as the food supply appears to be here in large numbers.

I’m still getting the usual garden visitors, although mainly the blue tits, great tits, house sparrows and tree sparrows. The robins, blackbirds, dunnocks and wrens appear to be still enjoying the wider expanse of the fields and hedgerows beyond the garden.

March





 
April


 

Monday, 25 August 2014

IS AUGUST THE 'NEW' START TO AUTUMN?

It certainly looks like summer is now over and autumn has started to talk us on the long journey to winter.

Although Bank Holiday weekends are notorious for poor weather, this particular one comes on the back of over a week of cold and wet conditions.

The number of small birds in the garden has increased rapidly, with many chicks from this year clearly visible. The peanuts and fat snacks are disappearing at a faster rate than during January!

Two major things I’ve noticed during this inclement weather are the swallows gathering in large numbers, before seemingly moving away and starting the journey to Africa.

The other is the lack of butterflies and other insects –although that’s not really a surprise because if I were them I’d be hiding somewhere warm and dry.

When the sun shines through it can quickly get warm and then some insects do appear, only for more rain to come along and them to quickly search for the nearest cover.

I think the weather has certainly stopped the seemingly unstoppable breeding power of the tree and house sparrows. Both parents appear to have settled on four broods this year.

This gives me the chance to take down the nest boxes, clean them, but most importantly confirm the problem that blighted the viewing of the house sparrows’ prolific breeding.

News from that next time, while I’m looking at doing a season series of images showcasing life in the garden. The first images will be from March and I will continue until the end of February next year to give an image of life in a small countryside garden.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

TIME FOR A SUMMER STORM?

Is the summer finally over? It would appear that the forecasted ‘summer storm’ is signalling the early start of autumn, although I live in hope that the remainder of August will bring sunshine and warmth.

The cooler (not cold) weather is certainly good for the gardens and crop growers, but now we’ll need to see some sunny weather to help the final crops reach their maximum potential.

While the numbers of insects, butterflies and bees has slowed somewhat, there are still plenty about when the sun comes out.

What is proving remarkable is the tree and house sparrow parents appear to be raising a fourth brood!

I heard today the first faint cries from newly hatched chicks, which I’m amazed at – although slightly frustrated because of the failure of both nest box cameras to deliver footage of these chicks.

The garden has started to fill up with families of small birds recently, as the parents appear to be completing their annual moult and showing their offspring which gardens are good to visit for food.

I only wish the garden was bigger so I could provide more nesting sites, but maybe one day that will be the case.

The next blog post will be in the aftermath of this storm that is meant to be arriving this weekend, the remnants of Hurricane Bertha.