Saturday, 25 June 2016

MOULTING BIRDS GET ALL SHY



It’s been quiet in the garden recently, with only the swallows and great tit chicks being heard.

In fact not many garden birds are being seen either, with the odd blackbird and occasional feeding foray from the house sparrow clans.

The weather hasn’t been ideal for fledglings, with heavy rain and seemingly unfriendly conditions for young birds to feed and explore their surroundings.

What has been helped by the weather has been the flora, with the many flowers and vegetables growing quickly.

None are ready for harvesting, but at least it’s a good start to the summer growing season.

What the growing flora is doing is attracting plenty of bees, both bumble and honey, to the strong nectar presence.

The nest box cameras aren’t producing the images I had hoped, with one completely not working and the other, which has had no nesting activity, beaming a clear video feed.

Considering the same thing happened last year and I’m beginning to think the birds are wanting a bit of privacy after me looking into their nesting activities for the last five years.

I’ll be looking at whether the cameras are in the right nest boxes over the autumn, and hope next year will be more successful!

Until then I’ll be hoping the birds come back soon, after their moulting, and start introducing their youngsters to the garden and its benefits.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

GARDEN GROWTH SURGE

The weather in June has led to a a particularly high rate of growth of the flora in the garden.

Poppies, cauliflowers, broad beans, sunflowers and the tomato plants have all benefited from the humid and often damp conditions.

The planting out session of plants from the greenhouse has been completed and what's left inside there will hopefully have enough space to grow and produce some good crops.

Tomatoes, cauliflowers and one chilli pepper plant remain.

Bird news is mainly around the return of the great tit chicks to feed in and around the garden, mainly due to the hard work of the parents.

There is constant chirping in the tress and bushes from the little ones, and when they are joined by the house sparrows and their chicks, the noise is pretty loud.

I suspect a couple of the great tit chicks have already been lost to the local sparrowhawk, but that's nature.

The season now needs some dry weather to help the flora and fauna in producing the  next generation.

It'll also allow us humans to be outside and enjoy the constantly changing colour and noise in our gardens.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

FLEDGLINGS IN THE GARDEN

The birds in the garden have got a new source of food, and they’re making the most of the bounty at a crucial time for their young.

While the mealworms aren’t a natural resource found in the garden, they are a natural food for birds, which is why I buy them at this time of year.

It gives the birds a boost when they need it, particularly when the parents are exhausted while trying to feed their young.

The parents get a readily available food source and the chicks valuable nourishment, meaning parents are less tired and youngsters are well fed.

They are only available in the morning and evening, and even then only a small amount are provided; this is so the parents still forage for food and provide the chicks with a ‘balanced diet’.

The house sparrows, great tits and blackbirds are the birds currently making the most of the mealworms.

One female blackbird keeps on trying to fill her beak with more and more mealworms. Unfortunately every time one drops out of her beak she faces the marauding house sparrows that pick them off the ground quicker than the female can stuff them back in her crammed beak.

The blackbird then goes back for more, only to lose a couple to the house sparrows again, before flying off back to her nearby nest to feed her growing young.

The great tits aren’t far off fledging, but they have been beaten to it by the house sparrows; I have so far seen three youngsters begging for food from parents, in the garden.

The warmer weather has certainly helped the birds and there does seem to be a plethora of caterpillars this year.

I wonder if we’re going to see multiple broods from many birds this year. I guess only time and probably a review in September will tell,



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.