Sunday, 29 March 2015

AUTUMN OR SPRING?

I get the feeling we’ve bypassed spring and summer, and gone straight to autumn. The weather is great for the growing flora, we even hit 15c today, but without much sunshine, growth will be slow.

The blue tit nest box is still being occupied overnight by the female house sparrow and is being slowly added to during the day, with a mixture of dried grasses and feathers.
 

In the sparrow nest box I’ve not managed to see any birds, but they must be going in because the material spread in the box is changing place each day.

 
I’m still not convinced it will see any full nesting action, but I hope that at least some birds are now able to understand that the camera isn’t a threat and they can build a nest and raise the next generation without fear.

I get the distinct feeling that the wildlife is in limbo, waiting for the warmer weather before starting to raise a family.

I have noticed a number of magpie nests nearby, which are obvious in the bare branches of trees and open to attack and piracy from crows.

So it looks like we’ll have to wait until April before the breeding season starts in earnest, but the wildlife in the garden certainly appears ready for it. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

IS WINTER STILL DICTATING OUR WEATHER?

This weekend has certainly brought some lovely sunshine and provided some great conditions for wildlife to prepare for spring and summer breeding seasons.

But the temperatures are still not providing much ‘spring warmth’ and the birds are not rushing to complete their nest and bring the next generation into the world.

The house sparrows in the blue tit nest box are still adding to the nest every day, but it’s not about to be completed any time soon.

I still have no idea who has added nesting material to the triple house sparrow nest box that has a camera in it.

The focus of the camera has been ‘changed’ because of the amount of dried grasses and small twigs that have been placed inside the box.

I still cannot make out if a bird is roosting in there at night, but the female house sparrow is definitely in the blue tit nest box every night.

Given the activity and frequency of the visits from a variety of birds, I suspect all are currently in the midst of building nest, bit waiting for nature to bring warmer weather before completing the nests and laying eggs.

There has been plenty of flying insects this weekend and that is something the summer bird visitors to the UK will be very interested in.

It also makes me think of my favourite bird, the swallow, and how I’m now counting does the days until the family that regularly nest within a few yards if the garden, is back again.

That’s when I and the rest of wildlife will know that spring has finally arrived.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

SPRING STIFLED BY TAIL END OF WINTER

Winter is stalling spring’s ‘grand entrance’ as the initial sunshine and warm temperatures that greeted the start of the month have faded away.

It hasn’t stopped the house sparrows continuing the build process on their nest, but it’s still a slow process and it’s probably only halfway there.

 
The other nest box camera (in the sparrow nest box) has also shown signs of nesting activity, although the screen is now quite blurred from a couple of bits of what looks like nesting material.

 
I suspect only the blackbirds have fully built nests, and I’m quite confident they are on eggs as only the male has been showing himself recently.

The robin duo have been seen together in the garden so they are obviously not on eggs, but I don’t think it’ll be long.

Flowering in the borders and rockery is still increasing with daffodils now almost in full bloom.

The blossom on the fruit tree is very visible and when heavy rain or strong winds pass through, it looks like there’s been a dusting of snow.

I was even dive-bombed by a bee this weekend, so surely the warming weather of spring is around the corner.

I know the wildlife is hoping so.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

SPRING SUNSHINE INCREASES BUILD WORK FOR THE HOUSE SPARROWS

Following another cold spell of winter weather, spring is certainly starting to stamp its presence and the flora and fauna are taking advantage.

The flower beds are becoming awash with colour from daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses and tulips.

This image may not do just to the previous sentence, so I’ll be taking more in the coming weeks as the number of flowers blooming starts to increase. The first one is from January.
 

 
The fruit tree has been the fastest reactor to the warmer weather in the last few days, with the branches now adorned with pinky white blossom. It looks like someone has dipped the tree in glue and then stuck thousands of pieces of cotton wool to it.

Of course the fauna is also making the most of spring appearing, with the female house sparrow having a few days rest from the aggressive male, to build up the nest – see below.

 
I’ve not seen the male inside the nest for a few days, so perhaps he’s been issued with the sparrow equivalent of an ASBO.

The robins and blackbirds are not frequenting the garden as much, certainly only the male blackbird is visible, while I can only assume that the lone robin is also the male.

While I think it’s too early to talk about eggs being laid, it wouldn’t surprise me. The only problem is finding the nest!

I’ll try to check out previous nest sites in the next couple of weeks and relay any positive news on here.

Until then I’ll be keeping a close eye on both nest box cameras and also movement in the garden. 
 

Saturday, 28 February 2015

WILL SPRING BRING DOMESTIC BLISS FOR THE HOUSE SPARROWS?

We’ve had a few quiet nights in the occupied nest box, with just the female house sparrow roosting.


Of course it was all very different at the start of the week when the male house sparrow was being quiet vicious to the female.


As you can see from the images, this was more like cage fighting than wrestling, although the female did fight back once or twice. They even managed to start fighting again while still asleep, after nodding off.

 
I’m still unsure as to whether the female and male are partners, of if this is an unattached male bird trying to steal the nest box or the female.

As for the nest, it’s a very slow process so I’m presuming that warm spring days are still a few weeks away.
 

There are now plenty of bulbs coming through, adding a touch of colour to certain areas of the garden. As you can see below the difference a couple of weeks makes is quite something.



The weather has helped recently, with the odd mild early spring day. But cooler, or even colder, weather appears to be still capable of unleashing itself on us.

And this time of year the odd Atlantic storm can also cause major problems for wildlife and humans. Even sedentary garden birds can be affected, so not just those who make journeys to breed.

In general the same birds are visiting the garden, with very few unusual visitors. I think this means there’s enough food away from my handouts to keep them going.

Friday, 20 February 2015

DOES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EXIST IN HOUSE SPARROWS?

The spring bulbs are finally starting to show en masse , with snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils about to burst in to bloom when the weather warms up just a couple more degrees.

Of course this week has seen winter hold back spring a little, with this weekend potentially providing some snow again; though mainly for mountains.

Perhaps next week I’ll have images of the bulbs bursting through in colour.

One thing that has been proving very interesting is the behaviour of the make house sparrow. He has been regularly seen in the nest box during the day and when he is in there with the female, has been carrying out acts of ‘domestic violence’.

The female has been fighting back a little bit, but has taken some hefty pecks to the head and body. I’m wondering if this is normal behaviour in courting house sparrows, or is the make trying to usurp the female from the nest box, but doesn’t have a female to mate with yet?
 
 
 
 

 
The nest itself has been coming along slowly, as the images below show. They are of a ten day period up to the 17th February.

I’m definitely seeing more birds in pairs now and there’s plenty of bird song about during the day.

It won’t be long before spring is fully underway, but I suspect that the wildlife will anticipate it before the weather presenters. The house sparrows will probably be a good indicator, because when nest building quickens up, it’ll be a sure sign that temperatures and sunshine hours will increase very soon.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

WINTER HOLDING ON AS WEATHER STAGNATES

No major news from the garden wildlife this week as the winter weather takes a rather mundane turn.

Fog has gripped the garden for a couple of nights and the day time temperatures have struggled to rise above a few degrees Celsius.

This has led to a flurry of visitors and the large flock of sparrows making an increased number of appearances.

A pair of blue tits has been spotted getting cosy with each other, with other notable pairings of robin, great tit and dunnock also showing signs of togetherness ahead of the spring breeding season.

The female house sparrow is still roosting in the original tit nest box and has added a little bit of material (mainly dried grass) to the bottom of the nest box.

Nest building is definitely on hold, but at least the extra few bits give a little more insulation against the cold.

Unfortunately with the huge increase in cats in the area, mainly thanks to two small houses having eight cats between them, the birds are regularly heard giving out warning calls.

I’ve had to chase a cat out of our garden at least once a day recently, although I’m hoping my scare tactics will soon deter them from coming in our garden, stalking the feeders and defecating in the borders.

If I wanted that to happen I’d get a cat! Rant over and back to watching the wildlife flourish when spring arrives and seeing new arrivals on the nest box cameras.