Monday, 21 November 2016

THE LONG ROAD THROUGH WINTER BEGINS

Autumn has managed to get through most of the season with mild weather, but the road to cold winter weather is well underway.

Snow has been seen in some parts of the country and in the last few days further reports of snow are being made.

But now overnight frosts are now becoming the norm and the wildlife is taking more refuge in and around the garden.

The bird feeders are being visited by more and more birds, and I’m sure a number of small mammals are nicking a few peanuts at night.

It’s hard to see which birds are coming along, with the dark mornings and evenings, so the weekend is the only time they can be counted and seen.

Will the garden be visited by fieldfares, redwings or waxwings? A hope remains, but given the scarcity in recent winters, it’s not too high.

There is probably more hope of seeing snow, which would prove more popular in the house (with the children) than the wildlife outside.

However it’ll be much easier to see which animals are visiting the garden!


Sunday, 6 November 2016

WINTER COLD INSTEAD OF AUTUMNAL STORMS

Finding a suitably warm and safe place to roost during the long, cold winter nights is something small birds in particular need to find.

The small number of house sparrows that have been roosting above the front door for weeks now, and despite the leaves falling off they appear to be sticking it out.

Most are now congregating around the outflow pipe from the bathroom, which must offer some warmth because of the heat from baths and showers.

They’ll probably be forced to find another roost site suitable for the depths of winter, but perhaps the conifer hedge, just a few feet away will afford the right warmth and protection form the nuisance local cats.

It’s expected that the garden will start to fill with more birds in the coming weeks, as the lure of ‘free’ food becomes too much, particularly as natural supplies diminish.

The usual winter visits from the long tailed tits must surely be coming soon, and the elusive redwings, fieldfares and the even more elusive waxwings are still to be sighted in the garden in a decade.

Next weekend the nest boxes will be checked, cleaned and the cameras given a quick look over, ready for the potential winter roosting birds.

Fingers crossed the birds don’t block the cameras up or technology fails and delivers infrequent or no video feed.

Then there’s the added problem of birds being sensitive to the cameras and only nesting in boxes with out cameras.

Until then it’ll be interesting to see who all wildlife in the garden will cope with the onset of the cold winter conditions, that is until an autumnal storm comes along.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

AUTUMN TAKES HOLD AS THE COUNTRYSIDE CHANGES COLOUR

The beautiful autumnal colours are starting to show and, combined with the lower level of the sun, are producing some exceptional colouring of the countryside.

Of course it’s the time of year when we start seeing winter visitors coming to these shores, the summer visitors have mostly left for warmer climes and those who stay start seeking warm and safe places to sleep.

The house sparrows are still roosting above the front door and kitchen window, although the leaves of the climbing plant are now starting to leave the site a little bit exposed, so I expect they’ll be finding somewhere new soon.


It’s this time of year that we have more chance of seeing the badgers and foxes out on the lane, although only the local rabbits and squirrels have been spotted so far.

The garden visitors are mainly confined to the house sparrow families. The blackbirds and robins have not been around for a few weeks, while the blue tits, great tits and dunnocks are seen a few times a week.

This time of year can be quite quiet in the garden, so it’ll be a few weeks before it’ll be tidied up and ready for winter.

Some areas will be carefully managed to support wildlife over the coldest season, but others will be prepared for spring when early insects will need a supply of early flowers and nectar to sustain them.

Talking of insects the crane flies have stopped invading the house and left it to the wasps, who are looking for a warm and cosy home for the winter.

In recent years ladybirds and butterflies have used the house as a winter refuge, it remains to be seen if that will happen again this year.

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.