This morning is the third morning in a row that I have awoken to a seriously hard frost covering my entire garden. So my gardening once again has stopped for the moment. It is 8am as I begin this post and here in my garden in Scotland the day is just beginning – it is not yet dawn.
I can see white frost clothing my bamboo against the dark background of my hedge. I can just make out the blackbirds as they sit or run along the top of my hedge, my trellis and arch before they jump down and run along the ground. I am guessing that the sunflower hearts will be frozen so I will just go and throw some fresh ones out on the ground through my window.
I can also just make out the distinctive shape of the robin as it bobs back and forth at the small feeder tray in my Acer. One blackbird has been watching me and has found the fresh sunflower hearts so before long the others will follow and some fighting amongst them is likely. If I have time this is my most favourite part of the day watching the early birds visit my garden as light comes up.
On Thursday I went out into my garden with my camera to get photos of the frosted plants but it was the frosted spider’s webs that caught my attention! How beautiful they all looked dripping all over my garden. All along my hedge webs could be seen, hanging from the edges of my shed, pergola, arches and many plants too. I walked around with my camera and mostly just admired them – I took a few photos.
As Friday morning had an even harder frost my garden was seriously gripped by winter now. I went out with my video camera to film the plants and frozen spider’s webs. I set up my tripod for this and as I stood behind it adjusting height etc my attention was drawn to activity at my apple obelisk.
The apples I put out on this obelisk have continued to be extremely popular with birds feeding from it for most of the day! As I look out now I can see a male blackbird pecking away – I expect the apples will be frozen too. However it was a smaller bird I saw at the apples as I looked across from behind my tripod – it wasn’t a blue tit either. It was a darker bird. I then realised what I was looking at – the return of the Blackcap to my garden and I had my camera! I quickly switched it on and hit record.
A female Blackcap was eating apple from my obelisk. I had been hoping we might see them return in January as they came last year at this time. Some blackcaps, I understand, have started visiting Scottish gardens the last few years – not a usual place for them to be during winter. I have never seen them in the summer. I was really thrilled to see it again. It was the fatcake that they enjoyed the last time but as the Starlings did too I believe this bird probably didn’t get enough peace in my garden and left after a week! I wonder if it will stay longer this time.
I cannot believe how quickly the blackcap finds its way around my garden. I have just seen her drink from the waters edge of my small pond (I’ll go out and break the ice soon). As I look out now she is eating sunflower hearts from my small feeder hidden in my Acer tree. For a bird that has great navigation skills I wonder why it has found its way to my garden rather than those in Spain or Africa where it should be!
So far, I have only seen the female blackcap and I am not certain but there could be two. Unless you see the chestnut brown cap on the head they can at a quick glance look like the female chaffinch. The male has, not surprisingly, a black cap on its head and really is quite noticeable in the garden. It can also be quite a bossy boots chasing off the other birds – except of course for the starlings! I wonder if we will see it visit today.
The female blackbirds however, are still the most dominant at my apple obelisk but yesterday it shared time about with the female blackcap. I have noticed two apples get eaten at the same time. Perhaps if the ground gets softer I will put out another obelisk and place two apples on each and see what happens then.
Looking out my window again I have just seen a young male blackbird chase off the female blackbird – I can see this feeding experiment is going to be the favourite winter feeding station of my garden. On a cold winter’s day what better to enjoy our winter gardens is there than to look out the window and watch the birds visit. Enjoy your garden this weekend – whatever the weather.
Finally, I would like to wish all my visitors both regular and new a Merry Christmas and Health and Happiness in 2008. I am looking forward to another year in my garden and I wonder what new visitors 2008 will bring! I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing moments from my garden and would like to thank-you all for joining me.
The photos above were taken in my garden on 19th and 20th December 2007. The videos above were taken in my garden on 20th December 2007.