Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Winter prep - birds

Today I put up a couple of roosting pockets to keep some birds warm over the cold and windy days ahead. I have never tried this before so I am looking forward to seeing if they get used. I have sited them on my pergola, nestled amongst a sulphur heart ivy. The leaves of this ivy are a good size so I do not expect them to tangle their way into the pockets.

In early March
this year we put up a nesting box for sparrows – it was a terrace of three, with each being self contained. Within a day, honestly it was quite a surprise, blue tits started showing interest. I have to point out here that although I have always enjoyed watching the birds in my garden this was a step up from filling a couple of small bird tables!

The blue tits continued to show interest although they were a bit prone to chasing prospective neighbours away. Nest building began. In the beginning it was clear there were at least two different blue tits busy building. I did hang up a basket, nesting egg, with nesting material nearby but don’t believe much was used. The result was that we had one hardy little blue tit building in all three! By the time May came it was quite clear that we had some chicks in the centre box, as food was spotted going in. I believe the chicks fled the nest during the first week in June but disappointingly we missed them go. I would take a guess at the five very young blue tits spotted at the feeders around this time came from our nesting box.

We have recently opened our nest box, as you will see above, in order to clean it out and prevent parasites from killing young next year. Should we be so lucky again? We only had a look with the intention of cleaning it out another day. Since then a young blue tit appears to be showing interest in the centre box!

Now, it’s not time to nest yet – so is our interested blue tit looking for shelter? Hence the roosting pockets. I have however chosen to site the pockets away from this nest box and the feeders, the question will be can he find them. It isn't that cold here yet so I am confused as to what is going on. Suffice to say this weekend we get it cleaned out.

The robin is regarded as ‘the gardener’s friend’ as it follows you as you turn the soil – he is of course looking for worms and other tasty bites. He has followed me and perched above me on a pillar of my pergola singing his little heart out! Singing for his supper perhaps? There aren’t many earthworms to be had for him in my garden though, after I discovered New Zealand flatworms approx 10 years ago.

It would be lovely to have a robin nesting in our garden, I have never seen its young. Two weeks ago we put up a half-open nest box which is suited to robins and spotted flycatchers. We had to cut back a small leafed scrambling ivy to put the box on one of our pergola pillars. I plan to allow the ivy to regrow around the box for the safety of its prospective occupants. I wonder who will show interest………..

For more details on the New Zealand Flatworm see the links and .

Site Intro

Scotland is a beautiful place to live in with some breathtaking scenery that could match any other in the world. Yes, it can be cold and wet with sunshine not always guaranteed but its people have a warmth that more than makes up for that. No, I don’t work for the tourist board! I never tire of the scenery we have and embrace each season with great expectation. I personally would actually find it dull if I woke every morning to a promise of another hot sunny day. I genuinely enjoy our variable weather – but not all do!

In search of the sun, and the different lifestyle that goes with it, many Scots choose to emigrate. Australia is a strong favourite – this is where my friend has lived for many years. Not surprisingly for all the sunshine she has now, she still misses Scotland!

Britain’s national favourite, in the bird kingdom, the Robin is one thing she misses. Yes, not particularly Scottish I hear you say. I had sent her a very small movie file showing a blue tit and greenfinch munching into sunflower hearts at my feeders. I was experimenting with video footage. She returned mail telling me of her love of robins and how it would make her year, far less her day if I could send her footage of them. I’m working on that, but they do seem to sense the second I set the video camera to record!

‘Enjoy the sheer beauty of a Scottish winter …………….. you lucky people enjoy, every minute of it’ is how she ended her last mail. It made me think about how I could share it with her now. Hence the Blog idea, introduced to me by my husband.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Garden Intro

My garden has, on two sides, a 10ft leylandii hedge as a boundary which affords us great privacy. It is a beast of a thing to keep in check but acts as a great backdrop for my plants and is home and shelter to wildlife.

Small birds use this hedge for shelter - although the sparrowhawk has been spotted going through it in chase of them. A ginger cat has also been spotted 3/4 of the way up inside this hedge attempting acrobatics trying to catch them. I cannot imagine what the birds thought when, like me, they spotted a ginger head emerging out of the hedge closely followed by a wary paw stretching out!

I have sited my bird tables, as you can see above, within and surrounded by plants to offer the visiting birds some protection from stalking cats and sparrowhawks. I love to watch them spring out on the bamboo canes. I also planted up a dying acer tree, which had a lovely shape, in a pot. This acer gives us a great opportunity to see the birds as they arrive. The birds use the acer to drop down to the feed at the tables and also to drop again through the shrubs below and down to the ground. Recently I added plants for berries and winter colour at ground level in this area and look forward to seeing the birds eat from these.

The Cherry tree above, belonging to my neighbour, is on the other side of my hedge and affords the birds a great view of my garden and it's many feeders. This pic above was taken, Oct 20, to show the Robin in the centre who was singing his little heart out. See close-up below.