Sunday, 25 January 2015

THE NESTBOX CAMERA IS BACK - WITH EXCITING NEWS

The cold weather looks like abating after this weekend, with milder conditions set to take hold.

It’s good news for the wildlife that has survived the cold snap, but I’m sure there’ll be a few more before winter it out.

Before I get on to the big news from my garden, the signs of spring are certainly showing with numerous bulbs showing.

I’ll use images to showcase the change in one area of the garden’s flowerbed, to see which bulbs come up first and how quickly they do so.

OK, the nestbox camera that was cut off just as the first nest was being built last year, IS BACK.

I fitted a new cable this week and already there has been some action. When I inspected the nestbox last week it had bird droppings in it, so I knew some roosting had been occurring.

When the camera went live a female house sparrow roosted in for the night and today, just two days after it went live again, it started nest building with a male house sparrow.

 
 
 
I also noticed that a pair of tree sparrows is now paying close attention to one of the three boxes in the sparrow nestbox, but nothing has gone into the one with the camera in it.

 
There appears to have been something occurring inside the nestbox during the winter, but I’m not confident that a nest will appear.

Perhaps we’ll have a nearly completed nest by next week, which will be much earlier than last year.

Finally, today I took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Nothing too unusual although the female great spotted woodpecker did put in an appearance.
 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

WINTER IS IN FULL SWING, BUT SIGNS OF SPRING ARE ALL AROUND

Before I go on to the changes in the garden from August to October, there’s been some turbulent weather recently, with storms bringing mild and very cold weather within days of each other.

I’ve certainly noticed changes in the garden with larger flocks of the smaller birds spending more time in the garden, while I have now chartered three robin territories on either side of the house, including the favourite singing posts.

The colder weather has certainly brought about a change in the natural food supplies for small birds and it’s even meant the female great spotted woodpecker is now a daily, if skittish, visitor.

I’m trying to get the broken camera working again as I’ve spotted that birds are now using it to roost in, not sure which ones, but the camera should be up and running again next week so watch this space.

Finally, before the pictures, I’ve noticed a number of bulbs popping up around the garden. Can’t say which ones yet, but tulips, crocuses, daffodils and snowdrops have all been planted, and by the size of the protrusions from the ground, I’d say a mixture of all four are coming through.

Anyway here are the pictures of how the garden transformed in October and November, but to give context for the first October image, I’ve included the last one I was able to take before I was taken ‘elsewhere’ for nearly two months. The last one is from the end of August. You can see just how well the triple sparrow nextbox is camouflaged.


October


 


November





Friday, 9 January 2015

HOW SUMMER CHANGED THE GARDEN

So here’s how the garden looked in the summer months of July and August.

The tree and house sparrows continued to fledge broods and the full effect of the summer sun in July and the rain in August can clearly be seen.

Next week I’ll look at October and November, with a seven week gap between the last one of August and first one in October – due to a stay in hospital.

In other news the female great spotted woodpecker has been seen feeding on the fat snack in the garden on most days, while a few female chaffinches have been seen around the garden.

On the lane there’s already been construction started on a number of nests, so I’ll mark where they are and monitor progress as the leaves return and bring camouflage.

Finally a number of bulbs are starting to sprout, so I’ll get some pics and bring news on here later this month.

July



 
 

 


August

  



 

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A RELFECTION OF CHANGES IN THE GARDEN DURING 2014

In August I started to share images of how the garden changed during the months of the year, but only got as far as March and April due to a sudden serious illness.

It’s probably a little late but here’s how the garden changed during May and June. You’ll see a significant change in May.

In June I trimmed the climbing plant as it was pulling at the guttering, but made sure that it didn't affect the birds nesting.

In these three months there were two broods hatched and fledged from the two nest boxes you can see.
 
The single one on the right had house sparrows in, while the nest box on the left had tree sparrows nesting in the segment on the left.
 
May 
 






June




Wednesday, 31 December 2014

WINTER GRIPS WITH FROST AND SNOW

There’s been a few very cold nights recently and with the heavy frosts and snow, it’s meant our wildlife is facing up to the depths of our winter.

The garden has seen a layer of snow, which has now turned very icy and some areas of the lawn are inaccessible for the birds and small mammals.

I’ve noticed that the bird feeders are quickly being eaten, while the food that inadvertently drops on the floor is quickly being hoovered up, by a combination of birds, mice and voles.

The long tailed tits are now spending regular time in the garden and I can hear them coming well before they arrive.

A couple of robins are now singing a number of times a day as they defend their territory ready for the breeding season.

As 2015 approaches we’re heading for a mild spell of weather, but I suspect another very cold snap will soon be with us, once again testing the resilience of our wildlife.

One of the first jobs of 2015 will be to fit the new power cable to the original nest box camera and monitor both for winter roosting and early signs of nesting.

Nest building in 2014 started in late February, was delayed by a cold snap, before recommencing in the middle of March.

The first chicks were heard in the middle of April and a total of four broods in both the blue tit nest box and sparrow nest box, but both for sparrows, house and tree.

The swallows first appeared on 16th April, so will they be earlier or later in 2015? As they are my favourite bird, joint first with the peregrine falcon, I hope it’s earlier.

So here’s to a wildlife friendly 2015 and both of my bird nest box cameras working!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

FEED THE BIRDS, LET THEM KNOW IT'S FEEDING TIME...

Despite a few frosty nights at low altitude and some briefly snowy ones at higher levels, the start of winter has generally followed the pattern in autumn, with fairly mild conditions.

I know winter has been mild because the long tailed tits have only been seen a couple of times and when it’s cold they come in to the garden a few times a day.

Another clue has been in the flora, with a number of plants still growing. The roses were still flowering last week, while I still had a few red tomatoes in the first week of December.

But in the last few days the pyracantha bush (see below images) has spawned a number of flowers and new leaves. I’ve never seen this before and wonder if it will continue to do so throughout winter.

 
 
According to the latest reports we’re heading for a very cold winter, but I’m not yet convinced because just when a cold spell starts, a mild spell of weather is waiting around the corner to come in.

While it’s not always good for some, a cold winter with a prolonged spell of freezing weather will help us and our wildlife. It’ll kill off lots of bugs and leave a healthy population of wildlife ready for the breeding season

So if it starts to get cold again I hope many people will ‘feed the birds’. Perhaps Bob Geldof would like to release a new version of his ‘famous’ song? Then again he’ll probably say bo!!*@ks to it…

Have a good Christmas.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

FIRST STORM OF THE WINTER, BUT NO SNOW

The first winter storm didn’t hit as hard as was predicted in the garden, though I know it was particularly vicious across Scotland.

Although it has been followed by colder weather, the predicted snow didn’t materialise for the wildlife around the house, though it is quite rare to see here.

Birds of prey have been seen with increased regularity in recent weeks, in the form of buzzards and a kestrel. The latter even landed on a neighbour’s window ledge while it scoured the gardens for a meal. It didn’t appear to be successful, but it shows how more birds are using gardens for a source of food.

Even the buzzards, I know there is more than one as I’ve seen two within sight of the garden at once, are flying low over the gardens almost daily. A few years ago one even landed in the garden!

The great spotted woodpecker has also been back a few times in the last week, while a couple of jays have also been spotted regularly and the long tailed tits are now using the garden as a ‘winter stop off’ for food. I know it’s cold and there’s a lack of food when they come into the garden

Obviously those three aren’t as regular as the daily visitors – blue tits, great tits, blackbirds, wrens, robins, dunnocks, house sparrows and tree sparrows.

I’ve seen goldfinches up and down the lane recently, but not yet in the garden.

With colder temperatures set to continue, despite a potential brief ‘warmer’ spell in midweek, I expect I’ll have to fill the bird feeders with increased frequency.

Snow anyone?