Sunday, 19 March 2017


The garden has seen very little in the way of nesting behaviour so far, although some signs of courtship among the local bird population has been noted.

Near to the garden numerous magpies are collecting sticks for nesting, while some have even almost completed nests.

However the nest boxes have seen absolutely nothing, which is unusual because in previous years, at least one nest box would have already been taken – indeed in some years they’re taken in January.

The weather is certainly becoming cooler again and while numerous blue and great tits have been seen to inspect the emerging bulbs on trees and bushes, it may be that it’s not quite right to start building a nest yet.

It’s not a convincing theory, but one this garden is hoping is true, otherwise it’ll be the first year no nests have been recorded here in a decade.

Are the cats, who are continuing to use the garden as a toilet, to blame? If so then action will be taken to combat this trend.

Locally the smaller trees are slowly starting to turn green and bring some colour to the area, while the birds are always excited when the bird feeders in the trees are filled up.

Indeed they are on the feeders within seconds of them being hung up again, full of peanuts and seeds.

Saturday, 11 March 2017


A couple of weeks ago it was all about winter storms, now spring is very much in the air.

Birds are singing, blossom is blowing wistfully in the light breeze and the sun is being supporting by warm winds to bring a little bit of heat to the land.

The daffodils are one of many plants providing colour to the garden. 

Unfortunately it hasn’t led to any activity in either of the nest boxes with cameras in, which probably means that neither will be used this year.

Of course it might mean that the birds know of a forthcoming blast of winter is around the corner and don’t want to jump the gun on the breeding season – it’s not something many people will be betting on though!

The cats are seemingly waging war on one of the garden’s borders, despite an influx of plants and shrubs.

Just today, a week after the last ‘collection’, another six ‘deposits’ had to be removed, before young fingers got hold of them.

There will only be one winner, and it won’t be the cats, but it looks like there will be many battles ahead before they are defeated.

I do wonder if the cats are making the birds nervous about nesting near the house and it’s something that is very disappointing if true.

Cat owners need to do everything they can to stop their pets killing and negatively affecting local wildlife. It is NOT the way of nature for domestic cats to ravage local populations of small wildlife.

Humans putting too many cats in a small area can be negative for the cats as well as the wildlife, so if any cat owners read this, please take note.

Now it’s time to cross those fingers that the cats stop leaving poo in the garden and the birds start the process of nest building.

Sunday, 26 February 2017


In the last post it mentioned ‘non-stormy winter’, well that certainly isn’t true now! A pretty ferocious storm has passed and another one, with less ferociousness, is currently running across most of the UK.

The first one had a big impact on the garden and surrounding area, with trees down, bushes bent over and one of the birds feeders being blown into oblivion – never to be seen again.

Three others survived in situ and have been a welcome supply of food for the birds after they had to spend many hours hunkered down away from the wind and rain.

The two nest box cameras are working, albeit only one is able to translate night images, but both have revealed no activity at all, which is very unusual for this late in February.

One nest box designed for tits, which has never been used, has been redesigned to suit robins, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one of the locally resident birds use it.

It’s been semi covered with rose and ivy, so time will tell if that’s enough cover for them.

The blossom on the trees that emerged last week following the mild weather has been scattered over a wide area, so it may mean a depleted crop of fruit this year.

Cats are still a big problem and I wonder if them being in our garden is making the birds nervous and causing them to look for nest sites elsewhere.

The cat patrol has been stepped up and all cats near the garden are being firmly chased away.

Will it work? The birds will benefit if it does.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


After a relatively non-stormy autumn and warm winter, so far, the forecast is set for a spell of colder weather, which will invariably have an impact on our wildlife.

In recent weeks the garden has been a regular feeding place for long tailed tits, a sure sign that nature’s bounty of food is bordering on empty.

This is a signal for help with extra food, particularly fat-based snacks, for birds and wildlife in general, and with easterly winds making for some very cold wind-chill temperatures, now is the time to make sure those feeders are regularly topped up.

While the garden fills with small bird flocks, overhead many groups of birds fly to daytime feeding grounds from overnight roosts.

The marshes near the garden provide many birds with food and safe roosting sites, particularly waders. This in turn means predators including the peregrine falcon, short-eared owl and marsh harrier are about, albeit it much smaller numbers.

It’s great to see flocks of redwing and fieldfare, along with passings from curlew, lapwing and various ducks and gulls. They all make use of the fields around the garden for feeding, while feeding and roosting around the marshes.

The cold weather will affect them all, but with saltwater in abundance around the marshes, it will need a prolonged spell of cold weather to mean the waders and shore birds will suffer from a food shortage.

Meanwhile it’s up to people to help the smaller garden birds with helpings of peanuts and fat snacks, to help them until spring brings warmth and insects.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017


Once again the garden was under surveillance for an hour over the weekend as three pairs of eyes scanned for bird life.

With two feeders placed on a recently trimmed tree, an upstairs window gave the perfect vantage point to spot incoming birds.

As two children under the age of seven were involved, it proved slightly more ‘interesting’ than just one adult, but it was great to see the young eyes getting excited about seeing a bird and then being able to tell what it was.

One person was in charge of the scoring chart, and the other two had binoculars to confirm the visitors and number.

In line with what is known about bird visitors to the garden from the last nine years of watching, the results weren’t too unsurprising.

House sparrows came out top of the pile, closely followed by great tits and blackbirds.

Blue tits were next on the list, followed by magpies, long tailed tits, dunnocks, woodpigeons, goldfinches and tree sparrows.

One thing that wasn’t included in the birdwatch survey was a tawny owl, and no sooner had I mentioned about not hearing or seeing any for a while, than one was heard calling late one evening last week.

It was hunting over one particular nearby field, but hasn’t been heard of since during the evening and was gone after a short time.

The nest box cameras haven’t seen much action, but one of them (the older one) is seemingly unable to record at night now. The next thing on the list will be a new camera, but I think the birds are not using the nest boxes for roosting because of the relatively warm winter, so far.

Time will tell, but I hope that both cameras will be able to see some action this year, particularly as I’ve changed the opening slot to the newest camera box.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


As usual when plenty of the country experiences snowfall, the garden and surrounding countryside sees just rain, with the odd bit of sleet.

If it snows in the garden then there’s going to be pretty significant falls of the white stuff in many parts of the country.

The winter storm, which did deliver some strong winds and plenty of rain recently, hasn’t been enough to drive to many new visitors to the garden feeders.

A tempting glimpse of a flock of long tailed tits did briefly pass over, although only one ventured in the garden to feed on a fat snack.

The feeders close to the house are not being used very much at the moment, and I blame the neighbour’s cats for using the nearby bushes as a hiding place to stalk them.

He pyracantha bush is being trained to grow around the feeders to offer more protection and an old feeding tray has been strategically placed to guard the feeders, but it hasn’t given the birds too much confidence to return.

It’s such a shame that people who come and live in the countryside should ruin it for those who are getting away from daily hustle and bustle, to embrace wildlife, only to have it snuffed out by too many cats driving wildlife away.

There used to be barn owls, tawny owls, little owls, kestrels, foxes and badgers seen regularly in the area just outside the garden, but now there haven’t been any owl sightings or sounds for a couple of years, the kestrels are seen in the very far distance once a month or so, while foxes and badgers are an annual occurrence.

The seven or eight cats (I can’t keep count) are far too much for this area and the population of mice, voles and rats, that the predators I’ve mentioned feed on, are seemingly running out.

If only people would think about what having so many pets is doing to the natural wildlife, maybe it would help restore once thriving wildlife areas.

Until then wildlife will simply move on, depriving those of us who moved to certain areas to embrace the natural world.

Friday, 6 January 2017


Autumn didn’t really bring the any stormy conditions, or any real autumnal chills, and so far this winter it seems that we’re only experiencing autumnal weather.

Is the wildlife around the garden thinking it’s ‘still’ autumn, or do they simply carry on with life according to the daylight hours?

It must be said that real winter conditions are mostly confined to January and February, although March and even April have generally seen more snow than December.

Snow is a great indicator of what’s been in the garden at night, when we’re mainly sleeping, so we’re currently relying on daylight for visitor spotting.

A walk down one of the lanes near the house with my eldest daughter did reveal a couple of interesting local visitors to the area.

A flock of goldfinch seemed to keep one step ahead of the walk, while a small flock of curlew flew a few feet over our heads after being disturbed in the field within a hundred yards of the garden.

It’s great to now these specialist birds are finding winter sanctuary just yards from the general area round house and garden where the tits, sparrows, robins and blackbirds all spend much of their time year round.

More winter walks beckon and it’s hoped that waxwings are spotted after a friend saw a small flock nearby.

In other news the nest boxes have been cleared out and only one of the five had a nest in – old faithful being occupied for the ninth consecutive year.

One egg was left in the nest, and although I’m sure a pair of house sparrows nested in there at first, the egg looks very much like a blue tit. Have a look for yourself though and let me know if you think any differently to me.

It leads to the conclusion that a pair of blue tits used the nest after the house sparrows and failed to lay more than one egg to left the nest, were disturbed during egg laying or brooding, or fledged chicks but left a dud egg.

Personally I think it was one of the first too.

The nest was made of moss and the top layer contained many horse hairs, presumably from the two horses kept in one of the fields near the house.

So, will 2017 see more nesting? I hope so and I’ll be changing the entrance hole of one of the new nest boxes (with a new camera in) to a slightly wider fitting, to hopefully give more birds a chance to use it.

Both cameras are seemingly working, at the moment, so now we’ll be looking for any roosting birds.