Thursday, 29 September 2016

SUMMER BIDS A FINAL FAREWELL FOR 2016

While summer appears to be fighting the onset of autumn, the battle is slowly being lost.

Darker mornings and evenings, along with cooler nights are slowly taking over, puncturing through warmer spells of autumnal weather.

The swallows appear to have mainly gone, although one or two can still be heard and seen, while the onset of cooler weather is diminishing the numbers of crane flies trying to access the house.

Families of house sparrows have selected the garden as a roost site with about 30 staying overnight in the wall climbing plants.

Unfortunately this won’t last for long as the plants will soon lose their leaves and provide little shelter.

Of course the birds may choose to roost in the garden’s next boxes once the current roost becomes inhospitable, so the cameras will need to be checked.

The garden birds are only slowly coming back, as the bounty of natural food keeps them away in the surrounding countryside.

The local population of cats, which is continuing to be extremely excessive, does seem to be having an affect on the birds coming into the garden.

They are aggressively chased away, but for some this needs reminding quite often, others don’t dare come back and can be seen giving the garden a wide berth.

Yet again another prediction of a cold and snowy winter, which will have an affect on the local wildlife population but, as these predictions happen every year with little accuracy, the chances of it happening must be remote.

The search is now on for the most unusual visitor to the garden during winter once again a waxwing would be the best.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

SEPTEMBER WARMTH LENGTHENS SWALLOWS’ STAY

The sudden warmth of September delivered the hottest day of 2016, which was good news for the thousands of insects that seemed to come out of nowhere and into people’s homes.

It also meant the local swallows extended their stay in the UK, although in the last 24 hours they have been seen gathering on the telephone wires again.

This is a sure sign that they will soon head for their wintering grounds of sunny and warm Africa, many for the first time.

Judging by the amount of youngsters seen in the local skies, it would appear to be another good year for swallow fledglings, so many people will be hoping to see even more next year.

They are beautiful birds and one that many link directly with the return of warmer weather and, when they leave, the signal to darker nights and colder days.

The roosting sparrows seem to have outgrown their site next door and some are now in the small amount of wall climbing plants on the house.

A couple of birds are roosting about six inches from the door and appear to be quite happy even when human eyes are gazing at them.

The next box cameras haven’t been checked for a while, so with autumn starting to make it’s presence known they will be checked and cleaned to provide roosting opportunities for cold birds this winter.

Once again the crane flies are out in big numbers this month, just like last year, which has provided a feast for some.

The snail and slug ‘explosion’ prior to the recent warm weather appears to have dropped off, presumably because of the heat.

They are sure to make a comeback soon, although we’ll probably only be able to tell when we hear that tell tale crunching sounds while walking in the garden in the darker evenings.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A MUGGY START TO SEPTEMBER

It’s been a while since the last blog post, so much so that summer left, autumn arrived and now summer is back – 19c at night!

Let’s get the bad news out of the way; the harvest of crops has been very poor this year, with even the sunflowers disappointed. I don’t think it helped being away for a couple of weeks and no-one watering the garden.

I have harvested absolutely nothing from the broad bean plants, tomatoes or cauliflowers. Next year I might just concentrate on fewer plants, probably just tomatoes, broad beans and sunflowers.

The birds have made use of the few sunflowers that flowered well, and they are now returning to the garden in bigger numbers after the summer moult.

Indeed a large flock of house sparrows is roosting in the ivy and other climbing wall plants that cover a small section of the house, but most of next door’s front facing wall.

I don’t know if any other small birds are in the same roost yet, but perhaps this will become a regular haunt for them, as long as next door don’t chop it all down!

Young robins, some with red breast feather emerging, blue tits, great tits and dunnocks are all now coming back in to the garden, although blackbird visits are few and far between.

There does seem to be a number of big slugs that venture in the garden on damp nights, some much bigger than I ever thought they would get.

I presume these are some of the new type of slugs being found in increasing numbers in the UK, so I’m hoping some hungry hedgehogs are close by.

NO AUGUST HEATWAVE AGAIN?

Summer is definitely here in meteorological terms, but the actual weather is not living up to what the calendar says.

Apart from the odd few days of warmth it’s been fairly mediocre and often cloudy and damp.

The garden hasn’t been growing as quickly as normal, particularly the tomatoes and sunflowers – the latter suffering some damage in the strong winds recently.

The birds are not regular visitors, with only the odd dishevelled looking adult robin, fledgling robin chick, blackbird or swopping swallow seen.

They will be expected to ‘improve’ their attendance in the coming weeks, as the adults finish their moulting.

It feels as if autumn is waiting in the wings and summer knows this, and has given up on delivering something like summer weather.

Only time will tell, but time is running out for some proper sunny and warm weather.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

WILL THE SUMMER HEAT COME BACK AGAIN?

So summer has finally arrived, well at least for 48 hours anyway.

It felt like the heat of mid summer in Cyprus had hit us, but it’s gone again and left us with a tantalising glimpse of what our summers can be like.

The wildlife being seen in the garden is mainly insects, with an increasing amount of butterflies – some of which are making straight for the growing cauliflowers leaves!

The fruit from the greengage tree is ripening and falling everywhere, while flies occupy any bare human flesh causing irritation, which the wildlife must be feeling too.

Young robins and blackbirds are being seen with a little more frequency in the garden, while the numbers of swallows is increasing every day.

The youngsters are definitely learning how to manoeuvre in the skies and they’re hopefully going to start having an impact on the number of small flies that are annoying everyone.

There are no tomatoes yet, but plenty of flowers, while the broad beans probably only need a few more weeks before they can be harvested.

One thing that hasn’t done too well this year is the batch of sunflowers. Only one is taller than six foot and some are even flowering at less than two feet.

Perhaps it’s the new seeds bought in spring, or perhaps it’s the weather. Final conclusions can be drawn in August when they have all flowered.


Until then let’s wait, and hope, the summer heat comes back again soon!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

A VERY GREEN GARDEN IN WET JUNE

Activity in the garden has been mainly limited to the flora, with plenty of growth in many plants including the cauliflower and broad beans.

There has been a favourite sight this week with a visit from a couple of newly fledged robin chicks.

They spent quite a while in the garden, watching from various posts and pouncing on the odd invertebrate.

Apart from the off visit from blue tit chicks and flocks of house sparrows, the main visitors have been swooping swallows.

It’s great to see and hear them, particularly the newly fledged youngsters who are constantly chattering to the adults as they chase their insect food.

Sadly they’ll all be gone in a few months and the slow process of summer turning into autumn will begin.

Until then we can enjoy them and hopefully some summer sunshine, which has been particularly lacking following a thoroughly wet June.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

MOULTING BIRDS GET ALL SHY

It’s been quiet in the garden recently, with only the swallows and great tit chicks being heard.

In fact not many garden birds are being seen either, with the odd blackbird and occasional feeding foray from the house sparrow clans.

The weather hasn’t been ideal for fledglings, with heavy rain and seemingly unfriendly conditions for young birds to feed and explore their surroundings.

What has been helped by the weather has been the flora, with the many flowers and vegetables growing quickly.

None are ready for harvesting, but at least it’s a good start to the summer growing season.

What the growing flora is doing is attracting plenty of bees, both bumble and honey, to the strong nectar presence.

The nest box cameras aren’t producing the images I had hoped, with one completely not working and the other, which has had no nesting activity, beaming a clear video feed.

Considering the same thing happened last year and I’m beginning to think the birds are wanting a bit of privacy after me looking into their nesting activities for the last five years.

I’ll be looking at whether the cameras are in the right nest boxes over the autumn, and hope next year will be more successful!

Until then I’ll be hoping the birds come back soon, after their moulting, and start introducing their youngsters to the garden and its benefits.