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.

Monday, 31 August 2015


The swallows have started to drastically reduce in number, with only a few visible now in the surrounding countryside.

I suspect given the weather forecast for the week ahead that we’ll have none left by next weekend.

On a positive note it should signal the return of the traditional garden birds soon.

The great tits have now made occasional forays into the garden, while the robins and blackbirds are now daily visitors.

I suspect that when the sunflowers show their seeds, many more birds will take advantage of the bounty.

But for now it looks like there’s enough food in the surrounding countryside to satisfy all hungry beaks.

The harvest in the garden isn’t good this year, with not one tomato having ripened yet. I’m still holding out hope for a couple to ripen soon, despite the weather forecast.

So now we face the prospect of darker mornings and nights, along with much cooler, even colder weather, until the spring and summer cycle starts again.

Time to prepare food for all garden visitors, particularly those who require help throughout the winter.

Finally there have still not been any signs of the hedgehog, in our garden or any of the neighbours’. I hope he’s ok and managed to find a safe refuge. Perhaps the darker nights will help us see him, although I’m not holding out much hope.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


It looks like summer is about to end with a whimper, although nature doesn’t appear to be complaining too much. 

The house sparrows have had seven broods between them so far, with the most recent batch fledging in the last few days.

There must be a flock of 25-30 now hanging around the garden, most of which are youngsters learning feeding technics from adults.

The robins are appearing dishevelled, with the odd youngster scouring the garden for tiny morsels while the adults skulk in the bushes, barely recognisable with their red breasts looking very dull.

One or two young blackbirds are now see two or three times a day, picking up plenty of worms and the odd slug, which they thrash around the garden, wiping off the slim.

The odd great tit is now putting in an appearance, but blue tits are scarce. I expect both will be back soon in numbers after they finish their moult.

Finally the swallows have signalled their own end to the summer season by starting to gather on telegraph wires.

I counted nearly 30 this week, which is certainly up there with previous record years, and with many more flying around I’m hoping the local population will show an increase in parents next year.

I’ll be sad when they finally go for their warm winter ‘holiday’ as they are such an elegant bird with a beautiful voice.

But I know they’ll be back next year and perhaps I’ll be able to provide a nest site suitable. I’ll be working over the winter to build one and see how they react next April.

Sunday, 16 August 2015


Is summer going to offer us one more blast of heat before fading into autumn? I’m hoping the warmth continues into September just like 2014, although I’m not holding out much hope.

The swallows certainly don’t seem to be taking any chances and have been gathering in large numbers on nearby wiring, and I suspect the deluge we experienced at the end of this week might have been the final straw.

I think they’ve had two broods this year, which is another successful breeding season. I just hope most of them return in the years to come.

The local swift population seems to have already packed their bags and headed for warmer climes, while the local residents are probably hoping for a trip to southern Europe as they try and replenish feathers and health from their breeding season.

The garden has seen plenty of young robins and blackbirds recently, although the parents are looking rather dishevelled.

Harvesting is nearing an end in the surrounding fields, but the garden is only halfway through its harvest season, with only the broad beans having been picked.

The tomatoes might not be ready until September, but I’m hopeful of a small yield.

Sunflowers are in low numbers, but one or two are now flowering, although none will reach heights above ten feet. Still ate least they will provide an autumn feast for many local birds, particularly the blue and great tits.

Finally the battle between the house sparrows seems to have been won by the triple nest box , as they have their fourth brood of the year, while the blue tit nest box family seem to have stopped at three broods.

That’s said, if we have a warm September it might re-open the game.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


The heat wave has now come and gone, but it has left behind some warm weather albeit with plenty of rain, particularly forecast for the week ahead.

There’s still been no sight of Spikey and I’m concerned now as I don’t think he’s been eating much of the cat food or mealworms that I’ve been handing out.

Indeed there seems to be a family of magpies that have been raiding the garden for my mealworms and the cat food, although how much of the cat food is left by dawn is something I don’t know.

I’m going to check the house sparrow nest boxes out this week as I’m not sure if another clutch of eggs has been laid yet, or indeed if there will be another brood this year; I’d be surprised if there wasn’t.

All of the plants are now out of the greenhouse, apart from the three ‘resident’ tomato plants, and most are surviving well outside.

The runner beans have flowered and the first signs of beans are now coming through, while the broad beans have flowered and some will soon be ready for picking and eating.

They’ve all been visited by plenty of bees and this year has seen the biggest number of bees in the garden for nearly a decade.

Every day the bees have visited the garden in huge numbers, with many varieties of honey and bumble bees.

As more and more flowers come into bloom it seems the supply of pollen and nectar will continue for the foreseeable future.

Currently the sweetpea plants are flowering and soon it’ll be the tomatoes, before the sunflowers continue the supply.

Of course all this means there’s plenty of colour in the garden.

The swallows appear to be in very big numbers this year and I’m predicting the count will exceed 40 when they start to prepare for the journey to their winter home and gather on the telephone wires.

Until then I’m going to enjoy their aerobatic displays and beautiful voices as the glide and swoop in and around the garden.

Next week I’ll bring news of a song thrush that has taken to singing loudly and at length around the garden.