Monday, 23 May 2016

NEW LIFE IN THE GARDEN

There seems to be new life everywhere in the garden, with caterpillars being very much appreciated by the newly hatched great tit chicks.

The chicks hatched earlier this week and have been fed very well by the parents, who are both bringing in a plethora of young bugs, many of them caterpillars.

The chicks are growing quickly, although the camera is still not working properly and progress is being calculated by the increased level of the chirping from the youngsters.

I’m not going to try and fix the camera until the breeding season has finished, but I’ve lost hope of the other nest box with a camera being occupied.

Ironically that camera is providing some clear live video. It’s similar to last year, when the only section of the triple sparrow nest box that was not occupied, had a camera in it.

It would seem that the birds are camera shy in this garden!

A number of sunflowers and broad bean plants have been planted outside, with a defence in place against the numerous snails and slugs – still no sign of the hedgehog from last year.

The skies are being filled with the songs of two particular birds – the swallow and chiffchaff.

I can’t work out if there has been a fledging of swallow chicks already, or if the fields around the house are a good feeding ground for swallows from around the area. I suspect it’s the latter.

Either way it’s a lovely sound to hear.

It’s the same with the chiffchaffs and the odd male blackbird calling in the evening from regular posts.

If only the weather could be as nice as the songs carried over the airwaves.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

WINTER, SUMMER, NOW AUTUMN?

The last few weeks have seemingly brought three seasons in just a few days. The hailstones and frosts gave way to temperatures in the high 20s, before cold northerly winds brought temperatures, and matching weather, reminiscent of autumn.

How has the wildlife fared? Probably about the same as humans – managing through it all.

The swallows have been in good song and, apart from when it’s been really wet, showing off their aerobatic skills.

Chiffchaffs have also been in full voice, while magpies are now regularly being seen on their own, suggesting it’s partner is on eggs in the nest.

The great tits are definitely on eggs, but with a change in the TV situation in the house, images are not currently available.

Not a single piece of nesting material is in the new nest box, so the camera is wasted in there. Is it because the triple sparrow nest box above it is occupied? I have my suspicions.

No sign of the house sparrow families feeding youngster in the three nest, but I suspect it’ll only be a matter of time before we hear some noisy chicks.

The main focus recently have been on planting and now the temporary greenhouse is almost completely full of emerging chillis, tomatoes, sunflowers and cauliflowers.

The snails and slugs have so far been kept at bay, but I sense it’s only time before at least one plant succumb to the molluscs.

The defence barrier it there, so I’m hoping it holds out, unlike the continuing battle with the cats. More of that next time!


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A COLD BLAST OF WINTER SHOCKS THE WILDLIFE

I’m sure the swallows are having second thoughts about coming back from a warm Africa, particularly given the cold, snowy and icy week of weather we’ve had.

The regular hailstone storms and overnight frosts have meant a battering for the flora, with at least two tulips having all their petals ripped away and left in tatters on the garden lawn.

The swallows have been witnessed gathering mud for nest building, and while the weather has helped create plenty of mud creating facilities, it’s not been helpful for the purposes of the a nest – rearing young.

Of course an update on this blog wouldn’t be complete without a comment about the cats coming into the garden.

The first, and only, lot of seeds have been planted this year, mainly indoor, but with a few directly outdoors. Poppies and parsnips have been planted outside, but the soil in which they have been planted has once again been desecrated by cats using it as a toilet.

If anyone has ideas on making these cats leave the garden alone and finding alternative toilets, please let me know.

Inside, the seeds of sunflowers, tomatoes, cauliflowers, chillies and broad beans have been planted. The cauliflowers are already showing a couple of green shoots, while the sunflowers are emerging in their pots too.

Of course the seedlings will stay indoors until the weather gets warmer, and they are a lot bigger.

Finally, the great tits have almost completed the nest, but the camera is playing up again so visual images of the inside of the nest box are still not available.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

LAST WEEK THE SWALLOWS RETURN, THIS WEEK NEST BUILDING IS IN FULL FLOW

The wildlife certainly thinks spring is on the way as nest building is in full flow in the blue tit nest box.

It appears the house sparrows have decided to use the triple sparrow nest box, now that one of the three boxes has been vacated by the second camera.

They were happy to use the ones without the camera as soon as the nest box was erected, but after two years of no interest in the box with the camera, the ‘secret eyes’ were moved to a new nest box designed for blue tits – they have yet to show interest after a couple of years nesting outside the garden.

The original blue tit nest box has once again got a nest, having had one every year since being put up in 2007 – making it the tenth year in a row.

Unfortunately the camera signal was not working when I put this post up, but I’ll be checking daily from now on to ensure the next post has a couple of images.

The nest builders are a pair of great tits, and the nest is well on its way to being complete.

The garden will see a limited vegetable number this summer, with broad beans, chillis, tomatoes and a new one for this year – cauliflower.

Seeds will be planted this week and it is hoped the sunshine and warmth will continue, not only for the seedling growth, but the fauna.

While the current weather conditions are favourable, the outlook for the weekend is not good for growth and wildlife breeding.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

THE SWALLOWS ARE BACK – 11 DAYS EARLIER THAN LAST YEAR

In the midst of some typically heavy April showers a rainbow appeared very near the garden. Rushing to get the camera to capture the moment, the noise carrying across the breeze sounded very familiar.

Looking up towards the rainbow, a familiar silhouette appeared against the darkened sky – a pair of swallows on the telegraph wire.


Their appearance is 11 days earlier than 2015 and nine days compared to 2014. Whether this earlier arrival is due to anything associated with the ‘global warming’ debacle is much too soon to tell.

It would also appear that the house sparrows are busy building nests in the triple nest box, although I have only evidence that one of the boxes is being used, I suspect at least one of the other two is too.

Unfortunately the two next boxes with the cameras in have so far proved empty of any activity, but with spring sunshine beginning to warm the air, there is renewed hope the two nest boxes will soon be filled by great and blue tits.

The small trees and bushes are also showing signs of spring life, with new leaves appearing. This is also providing cover for the small birds as they carry out courtships within the confines of the increasing amount of cover.

The cat issue continues with nightly fights being heard. I do wonder if some people think moving to the country means they can just bring in as many ‘pets’ as possible, and they will form part of the ‘natural countryside’.

It would appear this is the case because there are eight houses, six without pets, while two have at least six cats between them. There are also dogs, but they are not destructive to wildlife in the way cats are.

Time will tell, but I really hope this year’s young birds are decimated by the cats, in the same way the vole and mouse population appears to have been.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

LIGHTER NIGHTS, BUT NOT WARMER DAYS

The clocks may have sprung forward, making the nights lighter for longer, but the warming up of the daytime is yet to take place.

The spring blossom is slowly disappearing from the fruit trees, but there are no signs of the garden birds starting to nest.

Neither of the nest box cameras have shown any activity, or have even been used by anyone roosting overnight.

The garden is acting like it is a trance, with flora and fauna waiting for the warmth to properly kick everything into life.

Only today has there been any significant sound of spring, with chiffchaffs singing their unmistakable song almost everywhere. It’s s lovely song to hear and ensures everyone knows spring is coming.

There has been no sign of any caterpillars recently, and the general insect life appears to below in numbers; again the spring warmth will surely bring many out.

A bee has been spotted on this lovely flower, taking a rest or possibly just struggling to get enough energy to enjoy the spring sunshine.


The long tailed tits are still making daily visits to the bird feeders, with the fat snacks proving to be the most popular.

When they stop coming to the garden will be the time I know they’ve gone to nest and spring should be firmly with us.

Until then I think everyone in the natural world will be hoping to see more of the sun and less of the grey clouds bringing rain.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

NEW BIRD SPOTTED AS SPRING STARTS SLOWLY

An amazing sight from the garden has meant the lack of activity in the nest boxes and delay in spring taking a proper grip has not been too bad.

The small brook that almost borders the garden, had signs of life last summer with a small shoal of small fish.

It was presumed that they would go or not survive, but it appears this is not the case. And the presence of these small fish has not gone unnoticed!

The amazing sight of a kingfisher perched on a branch of a small tree overhanging the brook has been brilliant.

I don’t expect it to be a common visitor or even see it again, but just the one glimpse is enough.

Of course spring is not in ‘full bloom’ yet and I hope this is the reason why birds are not spending time in the nest boxes. It is unusual though that not one bird has spent a night in either nest box.

Time will tell, but with an Easter weekend of strong wind and heavy rain, I don’t expect things to change much as we approach April.

And April should herald the arrival of my favourite bird – the swallow.