Friday, 30 November 2007

CONTENTS – November 2007

My blog contains a mixture of posts on garden plants, visiting birds and wildlife. I have resisted the temptation to write separate blogs. However, I fully understand that new readers to my blog may browse and miss posts that may be of interest. If you are browsing I hope the lists below will help given a full flavour of what has gone on in my gardenwatch during this month. All posts include photos and some also include short videos.

PLANTS:

  • The colour blue in the garden - November 26, 2007

  • Plants in flower during the middle of the month - Nov 15, 2007

  • Dividing Heucheras - November 6, 2007


  • BIRDS:
  • Starlings, Blackbirds and Geese - November 29, 2007

  • The Coal and Chickadee (video) - November 28, 2007

  • Feeding experiment result (video) - November 16, 2007

  • Photo of Wren - November 11, 2007

  • Feeding experiment - November 9, 2007

  • Update on Roosting Blue Tit - November 1, 2007


  • WILDLIFE:
  • More Wildlife links to other Blogs - November 24, 2007

  • Wildlife links to other Blogs - November 23, 2007

  • Juvenile Hedgehog visits (video) - November 12, 2007

  • Links page to my wildlife videos - November 12, 2007

  • BBC Aututmnwatch looks for videos (video) - November 3, 2007

  • Homemade Hedgehog House - November 1, 2007


  • OTHER:
  • Fellow Blogger completes first year - November 30, 2007

  • Shirls Gardenwatch completes first year (video) - Nov 19, 2007

  • Our Little Corner of Paradise

    It's Friday and a good day for a party don't you think! I've got the cake, balloons and food so now all we need now are the guests and the birthday girl herself!

    Wildlife Gardener at Our Little Corner of Paradise celebrates her first blogging birthday today and I for one would like to thank her for all her generous comments on my blog. She visits many blogs so I am sure I'm not the only one who has appreciated her visits. I have enjoyed reading about how she has been creating a garden for wildlife and seeing her photos and videos and would like to wish her a very Happy 1st Blogging Birthday!

    Thursday, 29 November 2007

    The frantic and the serene

    Today I managed to get out into the garden for a little while to do some tidying up. It was a lovely day to be out in the garden and we even had some sunshine in the morning! Just before I put on my gardening boots I stood at my back door with my camera, inspired by Mike’s photos, to see if I could catch the Starlings that have started visiting my garden in groups once again.

    Frantic behaviour can be seen when they drop down at speed to the feeders. The other birds scramble about trying to get out of their way but at the same time trying to hold their ground too! The young groups of Starlings squabble frantically amongst each other – as if the food would disappear in front of their eyes. They are tricky to catch with the camera when they visit like this and although not a perfect capture I loved the photo above showing three Starlings just before they scoffed the sunflower hearts below!

    Serene though was the Blackbird in comparison as you can see in the photo below. It takes longer to assess the situation at the feeders and will feed with the Starlings. It even looked at me for a moment and I do believe it was making some sort of gentle call – perhaps to a mate?


    Louder calls were then heard overhead and I looked up to see a group of geese possibly en route to my local nature reserve or perhaps coming from there heading to the fields for feeding. I can never decide if they look serene or frantic! I was surprised to see this group as thousands have flown across my garden but I haven’t noticed many recently. They really are quite a sight to see when they fill the sky in their hundreds but I have noticed that the smaller groups like today do fly quite low which now makes me think that they were looking for food.

    The photos shown above were taken in and from my garden on November 29th 2007.

    Wednesday, 28 November 2007

    The Coal Tit and Chickadee

    Thanks to garden bloggers in America I am discovering new birds that visit gardens there and how similar some are to our European birds. I have to say I have found this very interesting. The Carolina Chickadee was brought to my attention after I published a post with photos of our Coal Tit taken in my garden shown in the first photo below. You can see the likeness yourself...






    The Carolina Chickadee shown in the second photo above was taken from Wikipedia and as in the public domain. You can read more about the Chickadee here .

    Today has been very wet and typically it is a day that the bird feeders are busy in my garden. However, I have noticed a lot of interest at my pond recently too. Although I have two standing bird baths and a ground saucer with pebbles often the birds bounce down from the rocks to the log bridge I put in my pond so they could drink from it. I always smile when I see them use it.

    Over a week ago I set up my video camera, inside at a window, positioned to catch the wrens that have been visiting the edges of my pond. I left it running but never spotted the wren visit. However surprise, surprise I saw the Coal Tit not once but twice coming down for a drink. I don’t usually see it do this and it did look out of scale especially when you see it with the Blackbird in the second clip below.


    Coal tit at pond, video 0:19 with background music, try 480p quality.


    Garden birds at pond, video 0:24 with background music, try 480p quality.


    I didn’t have time then to look through my tape but again, surprise, surprise when I did I found I actually caught the wren too! Now this is a tiny bird and it does disappear below the branch to either drink or find food. If you watch closely it almost plays peek-a-boo with the camera before it jumps up on to the rock and flies off again. You can see why I have difficulty catching it with my camera – it is so very quick and shy.


    Wren feed at pond, video 0:23 with background music, try 480p quality.


    Tomorrow is predicted to be our only dry day of the week so I might place my video camera outside and at a different angle and zoomed in to see if I could catch the wren visiting the branch at my pond. I also need to get some planting and tidying up done!

    I haven’t been out in the garden in what seems like ages. I had a look at my marmalade heucheras today (the ones that I divided) and I am pleased to say that for the moment they are looking quite happy and appear to be growing well. I’ll try and get some photos tomorrow. I should really try to capture more of the garden tomorrow both in stills and video as although we are almost into December it is still looking quite interesting.


    The videos shown above were taken in my garden on November 12th 2007.

    Monday, 26 November 2007

    The Blues

    At this time of year with the colour fast disappearing from our gardens I thought I would celebrate my favourite colour in the garden, after green, which is blue. There are many shades of blue flowers but as many have a hint of violet in them true blues are actually harder to find. However this is not going to be a botanical lesson. I am just going to share the blues I have had in my Scottish garden at a time when the plant catalogues are arriving on our doorsteps!


    Only one remaining blue Borage flower, shown top left, could be spotted in my garden today but they have given a long show of flowers this year. The beautifully regal flowers of the Meconopsis, second set of photos, back in May and June will always be one of my favourites of the garden. My two large vibrant blue ceramic pots always remind me of these very special flowers. I also have a green-blue ceramic ball too which adds a softer splash of colour amidst ferns and grasses.

    The paler blues of the Allium, Brunnera and Ceanothus complete the set of photos above. The allium was from a mixed set of bulbs and only one appeared! It was a nice surprise. Brunnera Jack Frost is new to me and had a few stems of forget-me-not type flowers which were very pretty indeed. The larger shrub Ceanothus is no longer with us - it never really properly blossomed and I was a bit disappointed with it. There are other varieties but I never replaced it.


    Pebbles and slate are other ways of bringing grey-blue into the garden which you can see in the first trio of photos above. I have had these pebbles for many years now and they add a great splash of colour through the winter months. They also look great with rain on them too! A good feature when you live in Scotland perhaps. I have them in trickling rivers around plants and across the gravel in my front garden.

    Foliage is another way of introducing green-blues and grey-blues into the garden with Euphorbia, Festuca grass, Hebe and Dianthus all fitting this category. The Euphorbia is great all year through and also attracts insects for the Blue Tits to feed their young chicks.

    Bulbs are also another good way of adding blue to the garden and top of that list for both scent and vibrancy for me has to be the Hyacinth shown in the larger photo of the last set above. Bluebells are another and last Friday I picked up some in a garden centre at half price. Naturally, as you do, I bought two packs! I also bought plastic baskets to plant them in and I intend to plant them in front of my largest blue ceramic pot and amongst a low growing Euyonomus. I will try to make this planting look natural and I am really looking forward to seeing how this will look in the spring. Again this is another plant that will attract insects and I intend to look up my gardening books for a few more. Finally, the ground covering Ajuga also has refreshing blue flowers emerging from it as you can see in the last photo of the set above.

    If I had one plant I would recommend as a true blue flower it without doubt would be from the gentian family. They have a wide range of blues flowering in the Spring and in September. Gentiana sino-ornata was the very first gentian I ever grew and my first ever true blue flower in my garden. I think it perhaps is time to reintroduce it. Yes, next year I think I'll add more blue into my garden. Just another thought - I wonder if it is too late to plant delft blue Hyacinths?

    All photos above were taken in my garden.

    Saturday, 24 November 2007

    Talking Wildlife some more

    Based on comments yesterday about wildlife photos I thought I’d highlight a few more Blogs that I enjoy visiting. I have links to them all on the right column of my blog but I know these lists can look daunting to browse and it can be tricky to spot ones that may be of interest to you. So here I am sharing what I have enjoyed in these Blogs which will give you a little flavour of them.

    Richard at Wildlife Photographic Journals was the first blog I found with stunning wildlife photos. Richard began posting photos in September 2006 - Happy belated Blogday to you Rich! I was absolutely thrilled to discover his blog in July – what stunning photos he has! He has lots of bird photos but it was the early morning hare shots with those beautiful brown eyes that I will always associate with him and the goldfinches caught in flight! You will these in his July 2007 posts. I am certain that all those who enjoyed Mike’s blog will spend some time on this site! I am particularly looking forward to seeing photos from a new feeding station he has set up. He also has photos taken at Zoos which is another excellent way to capture wildlife photos. Thanks Rich – please don’t stop posting. Thanks also for showing me your latest photos and allowing me to use your photo of the fox vixen above!

    Gardening Blogs are another way to discover wildlife photos but unless you discover one showing wildlife on first viewing you don’t always know it is there. Many garden Blogs use labels which is a good way to find particular posts. I regularly visit my Gardening Blog links which are not restricted to the UK – in fact most in this category are from America. I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing my birds and wildlife with them, in particular the hedgehogs which is only found in pet shops there.

    Robin at Robin's Nesting Place in Central Indiana USA, like myself, enjoys taking photos from her garden. I love to see her photos and it is here I have also discovered different species of our European birds for example our Coal Tit is similar to the American Chickadee. By browsing her label for Butterflies you will Painted Ladies, Monarchs, Black Swallowtails and chrysalis photos. Robin also enjoys feeding the birds in her garden and has also tried experiments with feeding the birds. I’ll let you browse to discover what she uses! She also shows photos of the American Robin and Goldfinches. More recently Robin is experimenting with methods for storing and showing her photos and is posting on her experience with this.

    Videos too are a great way to show and share wildlife and I’ll come back to the UK to share two sites I have discovered with these. These sites also have photos too.

    Wildlife Gardener at Our Little Corner of Paradise in Scotland writes about her making of a garden for wildlife. On the right column she has links to videos from her garden where you will see butterflies and a morning frog chorus.

    Jane at Urban Extension in Dorset, England I only discovered last night through comments on my last post. Although I have only had a brief look through her site I have to say that it too has captured my interest. I enjoyed her videos of bees and butterflies and look forward to browsing more.

    Finally, I would like to ask for a little help. Jane, mentioned above, has mailed me asking me how to get better quality of videos on the internet. I too would like to know the answer on that one.

    I am guessing that with the millions of videos that are uploaded to the internet that file space is an issue and it is necessary for files to be compressed. I have found that not filming when there is too much movement i.e. on windy days does improve the chances. Also I’ve got a thought that greens don’t process too well – based on my attempts with plants. Maybe I am off the mark with that one!

    I have over 70 videos online and some that I feel should be okay are processed very poorly. Others that could be in doubt come out fine – there is no way to know what you will get. These videos still capture the moment and it is fantastic that we can share them online but it is still very disappointing indeed when you know how the original looks.


    If anyone has any tips with this please add them in my comments or email me – it would be greatly appreciated by all who do this.

    The photo of the fox vixen shown above was not taken by me nor in my garden. It was taken by Richard Steel at Wildlife Photographic Journals who kindly permitted me to use it.

    Friday, 23 November 2007

    Talking Wildlife

    I really am a novice when it comes to wildlife but undoubtedly television programmes like BBC’s Autumnwatch and Springwatch have helped raise the profile of watching wildlife here in the UK. We get a burst of 'full on' stories for two weeks following action like the survival of newly born seal pups in extreme weather to the introduction of beavers into the UK. These programmes do get a strong following and many people join the online Message Boardto discuss the stories shown and any other wildlife issues of their own. It certainly gets people talking – that’s good isn’t it?

    Sadly, I have to say in this case – Not always! I don’t plan to join this Message Board the next time this programme is on. Why? Well, naively I joined thinking that all the people using it cared about nature! Instead I found many posts continually discussing the presenters often in a derogatory fashion. I did however enjoy a number of message exchanges and was able to share stories of our hedgehog visits and Camera Nestbox. I also found it a great way to hear of other sites and discovered two interesting ones that I would like to share.

    Mike at Fen Photography has some fantastic wildlife photos and has recently started a Wildlife Blog . I was particularly pleased to discover this site as I love to discover wildlife photos in a blog - especially ones I will never get in my own garden. I absolutely love one of his red squirrel photos shown here on the fence . It completely transports me back to my childhood when I used to see them cheekily darting about in the woods.

    Friends of Nature is a Wildlife Forum which you can browse through reading the comments but if you wish to make comments yourself you would need to join. I joined this one as I wanted to continue talking about wildlife and have found the members and moderators very friendly and helpful. Only last night I asked questions about our visiting juvenile hedgehogs and was given advice by a hedgehog carer – thank-you. I met a few of the members here on the Autumnwatch Message Board and they invited me to join.

    Please note the photograph of the red squirrel shown above was not taken by me nor was it taken in my garden. This photograph originally came from Wikipedia and is in the public domain.

    Monday, 19 November 2007

    Happy Blogday - One Today!

    Well here I am one year on and still writing this online garden diary. Like many other gardeners I have tried keeping up diaries or notebooks with photos of what I have done in the garden and how it looked in particular months. Intentions are always good but you know how it is. However, without a shadow of doubt I would say that writing a garden blog is the answer - especially if you have a digital camera. Oh yes, and chatting to people about what is going on in the garden from around the UK and indeed the world is a huge bonus too!

    So looking back, what have been the highlights? Well, this is tricky as I don’t want this post to ramble on too much. Firstly, I would like to mention the digital SLR camera my husband persuaded me to get for my birthday earlier this year. I had no idea that I would have used it so much or the quality of photos I had the potential of getting. I really need to learn more about how to use it to get better results and I think possibly it is time for me to attend a class. So next year you may see more experimental shots from my garden!

    Photos from my garden - sometimes it has been hard choosing which photos to use in some posts and in ocassions like this rather than not include them I pass them over to my plantphotos or birdphotos blogs with a link from the original post or in the case of the wild flowers where I wanted to make a bigger feature out of them. My intention is always to use these blogs as a support to my main one and they will always be linked.

    My favourite three in the categories, plants, birds and wildlife have to be the Japanese Anemone, the Blue Tit Juvenile and the Bumblebee shown below. The sunlight beaming across the flower, the texture of the Blue Tit feathers and the detail of the bee all give me quite a surprise when I uploaded them on to my PC.


    Videos from my garden – I don’t have many of my garden plants as they don’t process as well with the many shades of green and movement. However I have quite a list of garden birds on video and a number from my Camera Nestbox not forgetting a few of visiting hedgehogs.

    My favourite garden bird video was taken on the first day of this year when we saw a Blackcap visit for the very first time. It wasn’t until the female came with her chestnut brown cap that I was sure of what it was - I had never seen one before!



    My favourite Camera Nestbox video has to be the first visit by a Blue Tit pair which we witnessed 'Live' just two days after we put it up.



    My favourite wildlife video was surprisingly not my first video of a hedgehog in my garden but of it eating noisily and licking its lips as it left.



    My favourite post – well that is a tricky one I really have too many in this category! However, there are two posts that stick out and not just because of their content but because I worked with others on them.

    One would be the wild flower posting in August where I linked to lots of photos on my plantphotos blog and I asked for help in identifying them. Thanks again go to Celia at Purple Podded Peas and to Sara at Farming Friends .

    The other was my posting on ornamental grasses with Layanee at Ledge and Gardens where between us we tried to get other garden blogs to post on their ornament grasses over a weekend in September. Both of these posts although time consuming were very enjoyable to do.

    Sorry, I’m in serious danger of rambling on here! I would like to take this opportunity to say some thanks here. Yes ….. I would. I’ll try to make this brief, honestly, don’t go yet …….

    Thanks initially must go to all the blogs that have kindly exchanged links with me and to any that I don’t know of that have added my link. Initially they came from the birders as in the beginning many posts were of my visiting garden birds. Taking videos of garden birds, especially the Robin, is in fact how my blog actually started.

    Comments on my postings are greatly appreciated too and once I started posting on my plants and began exchanging links with garden blogs the comments started coming in. In a very short time I found I had regular visitors and began to embrace the whole blog experience – corny perhaps but very true. More comments and emails came about my photos and videos especially over the time of activity in our camera Nestbox. Others would be sharing their Nestbox experience with me too!

    Please accept my very warm thanks to everyone who has kindly left comments on my postings and emailed me. I appreciate that everyone has taken the time to do this. I always try to answer these comments as quickly as I can and I apologise if I have missed any. Getting feedback in these comments actually helps shape the way I write my blog.

    Last but by no means least, sounds like a speech now, I would like to thank my family! My husband is completely responsible for all the technical stuff that goes on in the background. I get ideas - he tells me if they are practical or not. He then shows me what I need to do. Yesterday he helped me experiment with a change of background colour which I wanted to do to mark the end of my first blog year! Once I finished that he then spent some time changing it for me – there was much more to my colour change than just a colour fill. Between us we also produced an entry page to my blog that most who come directly here will never have seen. To see it go to www.shirlsgardenwatch.co.uk note there are links from some of the photos. That was a fun project to do and in the future we are planning a revamp there too. I love the creative stuff and he enjoys the technical challenge – we make a good team!

    Sorry, nearly there! I would also like to acknowledge the ‘relative’ patience of my teenager daughters when I tell them ‘I will just be there in ten minutes once I finish this post’ and they get my attention perhaps an hour later! Thank-you girls!!

    I have also enjoyed printing my blog at the end of each month and giving this copy to my parents so they can read it too as they don’t have a PC. I thoroughly enjoy binding it and delivering it to them. I would also like to thank them for their feedback too and that of their neighbours who also like to read it!

    So how did I celebrate
    being ‘One Today’? Well today was a wet day so I haven’t been out in my garden except to fill up the feeders with more sunflower hearts in the morning. There are always lots of birds on wet days. However, I bought two fat cakes to mark today with the birds. I tied one to a branch of my small Acer. It is near the ground so the blackbirds will get that and any other birds that discover it! The other I put inside my fat cake guardian hanging in place of the seed feeder in my coral bark Acer. In theory the little birds will get peace with that one although I have seen starlings get in it! However, it can take a few days before the birds get used to a different food or feeder. I wonder if the fat cake will bring in new visitors again. Recently I have noticed an increase in the numbers of goldfinches and greenfinches visiting my garden and this morning I spotted a siskin male too! I will just have to keep on watching………

    So that’s all folks…. except to say that if you are reading this on Monday 19th of November – a special thanks for visiting today!

    Friday, 16 November 2007

    Apples on Obelisks – a result!

    Yesterday I posted on my flowering plants. As I said in that post there are only a few flowers in my garden at the moment. However last Friday I had a bit of fun adding splashes of seasonal colour by putting apples out for the birds. You can read about that on my post . Apples Grow on Obelisks .

    So one week on – what happened? I had now idea if I would have anything to report at all. However after only two days I saw evidence that someone had taken a nibble at an apple from the tree and the obelisk. It was to be a few days later before I actually saw an apple being eaten.

    I moved my obelisk to a different location beside my cotoneaster tree where the blackbirds were beginning to help themselves to the berries. I planted that tree beside my feeders especially for the birds so I enjoy seeing them take the berries. By moving my obelisk I was working on the theory that the birds that enjoyed the berries may also enjoy the apples! You can see in the photos below that this indeed worked.



    So who have I seen eat the apples. Yep, the blackbirds as I might have guessed but what I didn’t expect to see was a blue tit having a taste too! Yesterday in the lunchtime sun I caught a blackbird eating the apples with my video camera which you can see below – that was an extra result!


    Blackbird video, 58 seconds with background music, try 480p quality.


    Unfortunately the film doesn’t look quite as clear as my original but I thought it was such a nice piece of film especially when the blackbird turns the apple round. I am delighted to report success with this experiment. I think it was the location of my obelisk that did it. Mmm I wonder what I can try next.

    The photos and video shown above were taken in my garden on November 15th 2007.

    Thursday, 15 November 2007

    Garden Bloom Day November 2007

    The birds and wildlife in my garden have rather dominated my posts recently. However today it is time once again to post on what is in flower in my garden at the moment. Well, I have to say that many of the same flowers of the last few months are still in flower albeit in fewer numbers. It was getting dark as I took my photos today so the flash was used in them all. I thought it would make a change. To see more flowering plants in other gardens go to May Dreams Gardens and browse the gardens in the comments of Carol's November post .

    Photos above from top: Thistle flowers of Cirsium, coral trumpets of Penstemon, Sea Holly, pink Asters, Verbena Bonariensis, orange Osteospermum, pink crane's bill geranium and white Borage.

    Finally, I have to point out here that although the above plants are still in flower they really are in very small numbers now. They appear as little dots of colour through a tapestry of foliage. I should also add that my Japanese Anemones, Nepata, Polygala and Calendula still have a few flowers left too. I enjoy my foliage plants at this time of year and as more plants die down for winter I am able to see the structural plants of my garden once again. Ah yes, and perhaps it is time to start thinking about next year's garden.

    The photos above were taken in my garden on November15th 2007.

    Monday, 12 November 2007

    Hedgehog Juvenile visit

    Last night was a very cold night in my garden and worryingly it had to be the first night we saw a juvenile hedgehog! It was spotted heading for the sultanas I leave out for any visiting hedgehogs but was startled and ran at speed into the garden. That would have been okay if it had kept on going but it didn’t. Our outside light was on and we could see it very clearly – I ran for my camera!




    The photo above
    shows our visiting juvenile sitting slightly under an ornamental grass in my border. There wasn’t much cover or warmth for it there. We watched - it didn’t move. I moved the grass back to see how small it was – it didn’t move. I touched it – yep it didn’t move! I had expected it to be very prickly and go into a ball - but it didn’t. I took a couple of photos (with flash) – it didn’t move.

    I am very aware from wildlife forums, websites and the News that there are lots more juveniles this year and that if our juvenile was under 600g it would not be able to survive hibernation. So okay, how do you tell by just looking at a hedgehog juvenile, for the first time, if it is too small? Well, if you are one of the many Carers’ of hedgehogs you may have a good idea – but we didn’t. However, we couldn’t leave it there without finding out if it was too small. We had to find out its weight. It was nearly 11pm and we were all cold outside too.

    Gardening gloves were called for, kitchen scales and kitchen roll! I have no experience in handling animals (no cats or dogs) except since March when my daughter got two guinea pigs for her birthday. Okay, guinea pigs and hedgehogs are roughly the same shape – I could do this. I put my gardening gloves on and picked up the young hedgehog and guess what – it still didn’t move. I could see it gently breathing and although it wasn’t in a ball it was curled up slightly so we could only see a bit of its nose and two feet!

    The kitchen scales were now on the ground. I carefully laid it down on the scales on its side – it didn’t move. The scales read 430g and we knew this was not heavy enough for winter hibernation. Sorry, never thought to photograph it on the scales - we were concerned now. I picked it up – it still didn’t move. What should I do with it now? It was too late to phone a Carer. If you are reading this with some experience of this I would welcome comments – you can do this anonymously or if you prefer you could email me.

    Should I have returned the hedgehog to where I lifted it? It found its way to the sultanas it could perhaps find its way back to its nest. Perhaps it has time to put on weight before hibernation – I didn’t know the answer to that.

    Should I have put it in a covered box with leaves and shredded paper and place it in my shed or garage for the night? I didn’t like that idea as perhaps the family would come looking for it. Perhaps I would disorientate it doing this and it wouldn’t find its nest the next day.

    Should I have put it in the small carrying case for our guinea pigs with straw and paper? I could then have taken it to a Carer or Rescue Centre the next day. Perhaps it was sick – I had no way of knowing.




    What did I do? Well, none of the above. If you are a regular visitor to my blog then you will know I built a hedgehog house recently. I carried the hedgehog to the path that leads to this house and laid it amongst the leaves there, which you can see in the photo above.

    I scattered some sultanas around the ground near the entrance. My thinking was that if it needed shelter for a while, or indeed the night, it could go into my house – but it could also leave and find its way to its own nest. I am guessing it will be able to find its way from my garden pond which is near the usual supply of sultanas. I have a small amount of running water at my pond so I would guess that with its better hearing than sight the hedgehog would easily find its way to the pond.

    So, I haven’t intervened this time – was that the right thing to do? I was very aware that even at 11pm the leaves were crunching underfoot with the cold of the night. For the next hour I regularly checked, with a torch, the young hedgehog to see if it moved at all. I also set up my video camera to see what it did – if anything! Guess what – it finally moved and I caught this on film.


    Young hedghog out in November, video 1:03 with background music, try 480p quality.

    I captured a lovely piece of film, which you can see above, with the hedgehog turning round and heading for the sultanas! I would normally be absolutely delighted with a piece of film like this but it just highlights the plight of these small animals and their survival at this time of year. This morning saw the ground very frosty in this area – it was -1.5 deg C at 8.45pm.

    Today at lunchtime I checked out our hedgehog house, with my video camera at the entrance, and found it to be empty. I also noticed that the entrance of the plastic box had narrowed with the weight of the grass turf above. I altered the entrance once again – you can see the before and after photos below. That should do it now.

    As I looked at the large stone on the left of the entrance to this path I am now thinking it could perhaps be a good place to put sultanas too. Hedgehogs are supposed to be good climbers so I don’t expect this stone would be too much of a challenge to them!






    Finally, I phoned my nearest Wildlife Centre tonight just before 5.30pm, when they close, to ask if I had done the right thing with our juvenile hedgehog last night. I felt happier after speaking to them.

    As expected 430g is too small for our hedgehog to survive hibernation. I was advised to continue feeding the hedgehogs but if I saw one out during the day I should take it to the Wildlife Centre. Also if we had a number of very cold nights and a young, under 600g, hedgehog was seen at night I again should lift it and take it to the Wildlife Centre.

    When I asked if last night’s hedgehog had time to put on enough weight, I was told that it is possible but it is the weather that is most likely to determine that. If we get it milder again the hedgehog will go back to foraging and could be okay.

    Update November 15th: Through comments on this post and concerns myself over what I should have done with our juvenile I contacted the British Hedgehog Preservation Society today. I spoke initially on the phone and shortly after received the mail below after this post was read. I would like to thank Fay for her quick response and advice and I hope this also helps anyone else who has been in the same position. The area where my video was taken was uneven. My email read:

    "Having looked at the blog pics and videos, it is a really tough call to make. The minimum a hedgehog in the wild can hibernate successfully at is 450gms so he isn't far off it. I think the 600gms comes from the weight they can be released at after being in care as they initially lose weight on release. If he looks and eats well and is just out at night I would be inclined to leave him where he is for now, but act at the first sign or trouble.

    "Wobbling is a classic sign of hypothermia (they walk as if they are drunk) and I'm not sure from the video clip if he is wobbling or if it's just that the ground is uneven? Do keep an eye on that as it is something small hedgehogs commonly suffer from and if he is hypothermic he will need help. Lethargy is another symptom so it could be that's why he was so still for so long?

    "To answer your other question, hedgehogs are very solitary and don't generally live in family groups (except Mum and babies for first 8 weeks of babies lives). This one at that weight shouldn't have a family group.

    "I hope this helps, but if you, or anyone else needs more guidance please call for advice or see our website at www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk

    Thanks, Fay Vass, Chief Executive, British Hedgehog Preservation Society.


    The video shown above and first two photos were taken in my garden on November 11th, 2007. The last two photos were taken in my garden on November 12th, 2007.

    Wildlife - Videos & Links

    I never started out as a wildlife gardener but without a doubt by growing a wide variety of plants wildlife has found its way to my garden. Since writing this gardenwatch blog I have began to appreciate garden birds more and through feeding them we now have hedgehogs visiting the garden too. Now I appreciate all the wildlife that visits the garden and find myself interested in learning more about it.

    My wildlife videos can be viewed through the links below to my original postings in my main diary. As postings on hedgehogs are very popular you can see a complete list at Hedgehog visits and links where you will see photos too.

    Most of my videos shown have been taken in my garden but some have been taken at reserves too. I really enjoy taking and editing them with music is great fun too!

    BATS:

  • Bats flying around garden at dusk - Sep 3, 2008

  • Bats at Berlin Zoo taken July 2004 - Dec 7, 2007


  • Bat Conservation Trust - UK
    Bat Conservation International



    BUTTERFLIES:

  • Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Ringlet, Peacock, Essex Skipper and Gatekeeper (photos only) - Norwich Jul 2008

  • Painted Lady feeding on Verbena Bonariensis - Sept 19, 2007


  • Butterfly Conservation - UK


    HEDGEHOG:

  • Hedgehog and cat - September 1, 2008

  • Hedgehog Juvenile visits - November 12, 2007

  • Hedgehog eating noisily - September 12, 2007

  • Hedgehog eating peanuts - September 3, 2007

  • Hedgehog goes in feeding station box - August 24, 2007

  • First sighting of hedgehog - August 18, 2007


  • PINE MARTEN:

  • Pine Martens at Wildife Reserve (3 videos) - Oct 29, 2008



  • SQUIRREL:
  • Grey squirrel visits garden (video & pics) - Jun 18, 2008

  • Red Squirrels at Wildife Reserve - Nov 23, 2008

  • Red Squirrel eating peanuts at Wildlife Reserve - Jul, 2008

  • Squirrel obstacle course (not my video) - Dec 14, 2007

  • Grey squirrel eating and hiding peanuts - Dec 6, 2007
  • Sunday, 11 November 2007

    Wren rests a moment

    For the last week I have seen tiny Wrens visit the waters edge of my tiny pond and the area around it. They are so very quick to catch with the camera that I was thinking I would be better to use my video camera to catch them on film.


    The wren rested on a branch of my pine tree long enough to get the photo above through my window today. Although out of focus I am delighted with it as I have been trying for some time to get a photo from my garden and it shows the shape of the wren very well. I will set up my video camera another day and see what I can capture.

    Just before 11pm tonight we spotted a hedgehog visit again - I caught this one with my camera and video camera. I will post on this tomorrow - I have a very special piece of video this time!

    The photo above was taken in my garden on November 11th 2007.

    Saturday, 10 November 2007

    ‘It worked!’ cont

    Every now and again I mail a column in a local newspaper, The Courier, to share current stories of what’s happening in my garden. My garden is not unique and I know many of its readers are likely to have the same activity in their gardens. I would like to welcome these readers to my garden diary/blog. You will find my post mentioned in the ‘Craigie’ column today here . I hope you enjoy your visit and are enjoying your gardens and visiting wildlife too.

    The photo above was taken in my Camera Nestbox on November 5th, 2007. I wonder if the Blue Tit was waiting for the fireworks to start!

    Friday, 9 November 2007

    Apples grow on Obelisks

    It’s Friday and I thought I’d have a bit of fun feeding the birds. I do enjoy feeding the birds that visit my garden with different foods to see who tries them and if these foods will bring in new species of birds. I am pretty sure it was a Fat Cake that brought in a male Blackcap on New Years Day this year – what a surprise that was! A female was seen a week later but they weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the Fat Cake and the invasions of Starlings that followed probably cost us the Blackcaps as they left at the same time.

    Yesterday, I began some tidying in my front garden and removed an obelisk from my border. I put it away into my shed expecting not to use it until next year. Today I bought some fresh apples. My fruit basket had a few apples that were starting to go past their best so I decided not to mix them. I could probably have used the best bits of the older apples for a fruit salad but instead I decided to be a bit more creative with them! Can you see where this is going?


    Why on earth did I do this? Well, this is just a variation on a theme really. Many birds do enjoy apples that drop from trees when they are left on the ground and begin to go rotten. A couple of years ago I tried something that I saw in a gardening magazine, Gardener’s World I think. They suggested making a garland of apples and hang it out for the birds who would eat them when they began to go soft. You used thick wire and threaded the apples through it to make the garland.

    The garland didn’t get the interest of my visiting birds at that time. However, now I have many a wide variety of birds visiting my garden. My daughter also spotted a squirrel two days ago although I only put out peanuts at night for the hedgehogs so I don’t know if the squirrel got any food or it was just following the birds to investigate my garden. So will anyone be interested in the apples this time?

    Perhaps, the birds will just ignore them as they aren’t on the ground or on a tree. I have sited my obelisk next to shrubs and beside a tree so the birds can see them from there. I cored all the apples and expect they will go soft quite quickly – this also made it easy to push them on to my obelisk. I also put another three apples through small branches of my small Acer tree just under the canopy. You can see the small feeding tray here too. This feeder is deliberately away from the others – a secret quite feeder used by Dunnocks, Blackbirds a robin and the occasional Blue Tit.

    Finally, I have to add I have absolutely no intention in attracting rats – although I don’t actually know if they would be interested in fruit. I will not leave these apples until they are very rotten – before that point I will lift them and put them in my compost bin. Do I feel lucky with this experiment? Mmm not sure really but it is fun to look out on to and hey, it adds a bit of colour to the garden! If any bird did show interest I would take a guess that it would be one of the many blackbirds that visit my garden.

    The photos above were taken in my garden on November 9th, 2007.

    Tuesday, 6 November 2007

    Spreading marmalade

    Last year at the 'Gardening Scotland 2006' show I was drawn to the displays of heucheras. The newer varieties had such unusual colours and wonderful names. I wonder how the nurserymen choose names for new plants. Marmalade was the name of one of the varieties I came home with that day and today I went out into my garden to spread it around a little more!

    Sunlight through the leaves looks wonderful as you can see above and you could almost see it as a jar of marmalade. However, today it was dull as I gardened under the threat of rain at times and my photos below don't truely reflect the lovely colours of this plant.

    My intention today was to divide my heuchera to increase my stock of this lovely plant. I have successfully done this with other heucheras many times. My plant was a good size as you can see in the photo top right above. Although sometimes when you lift the plant the roots are bunched quite tightly as you can see in the larger photo above, left.

    My plant did put up a fight! It was tricky to pull apart, but I finished what I had started and got six plants out of it. Now, I have to say here this may not be completely successful this time as some plants didn't have a lot of root - although two should definitely be fine. I am forever an optimist when it comes to making new plants and enjoy trying anyway.

    I took photos of some of the plants that caught my eye at the show which you can see below. As well as Marmalade I bought the beautiful dark Obsidian. I am not certain, until I find the labels, but I think I also bought Caramel and Peach Flambé. The final four plants are on my wish list - now what gardener wouldn't be tempted by these plants!


    The photos of dividing Heuchera Marmalade were taken in my garden on November 6th 2007.

    Saturday, 3 November 2007

    Wildlife videos

    AUTUMNWATCH 2007

    Returns to BBC TWO - next week Mon-Thurs 8pm
    Join Bill, Kate and Simon to see current wildlife action across the UK.

    They are also keen to know what interesting wildlife you've caught on film around the UK and ask:

    "Have you got video of an unusual wild visitor to your garden or local area? Or maybe you've filmed some truly extraordinary animal behaviour. Do you know of fence-climbing badgers? What about hares swimming in the sea?"



    I don't feel have anything unique to send in but if you feel you have something special look at the details here . Thinking about all the pieces of video I have taken in my garden, in the last year, the one that I found the most entertaining was of the Blue Tit female falling in the nesting material basket shown above. I think there a fair bit of luck in catching wildlife on film and a lot of patience!

    The video shown above was taken in my garden on April 27th 2007.

    Thursday, 1 November 2007

    Hedgehog House for Rent

    It has been a little while since I have mentioned hedgehog visits in my garden. I have continued to put food and water out but it hasn't always been taken. The nights are getting colder and I am very aware that our hedgehog may be preparing to hibernate for the winter. We had planned to make a hedgehog house but our time has been limited over the last couple of weekends.

    Today I looked at a Hedgehog House in a pet shop but I couldn't bring myself to buy it - I still wanted to make our own. If we couldn't build one with wood I wanted to use materials already in my garden and had an idea how it could work. I am delighted to say that today I managed to do exactly that and I am absolutely thrilled with the finished result. Naturally, I hope any passing hedgehogs will be too!

    Step 1 : The hedgehog would need to keep dry over the winter so why not use the plastic box I used as a feeding station. You can see in the photo above, taken on September 25th, that the hedgehog is happy to go in it. I am guessing there should be enough room for it to make a warm space to hibernate.

    Step 2 : The Hedgehog needs to keep warm so I swept up dried leaves and tucked them around the sides of the box as a layer to trap air as you can see in the photos above. I also chose a sheltered spot so harsh winter winds shouldn't cool the box. I tucked it along to the end of a very small path leading into the original rockery of my garden. I originally made this path for my children to explore when they were toddlers! The large keystone at the front on the left was intended for them to sit on. I will guess that any passing hedgehogs will climb over it!

    The photo below, taken in 2000, shows the layout of this area although the planting is a lot different now with small yak rhododendrons, grasses, penstemons, euphorbia, hostas, a pine tree, ferns and a lush ground covering of alpines. You can still see how the hedgehog could explore or climb over and along the edges. You can also see the hedge were it will get cover and too the wilder area in the background behind the trellis - this is where my Gunnera grows.

    Step 3 : The fun part! I love being creative in my garden and although I want to encourage wildlife I do not want a totally wild garden. I like to create spaces that look interesting too - well at least to me anyway! The hedgehog won't be very fussy anyway as it doesn't have such good eyesight.

    The top photo below shows my finished Hedgehog House. Not exactly a design I have seen in any books but I am really thrilled with how it blends into this area of my garden. I never planned to leave my box exposed and I had a spare strip of turf in need of a good home which I knew would make a great looking natural roof for my Hedgehog House. It would also keep the box warm.

    I finally covered my box with three layers of turf and expect that the top layer will grow perfectly well. I let some pieces drape over the entrance and added two mossy rocks at either side of the entrance to lead the hedgehog in. I also added branches over the entrance to give it a bit of extra protection. I had one final thing to add - a generous scattering of sultanas at the entrance!


    Extension required - well not exactly an extension but more of a porch. The last photo above was taken six days later when I added a tunnel to the entrance of my hedgehog house. I already had stones at the entrance then added a brick on the right side to hold a much larger flatter rock across the entrance. Why did I do this? Well, on reading my comments on this post about cats perhaps using my house I thought this was a worthwhile precaution. I also scattered lots more leaves around so now the hedgehog will have a bit of search to find it - may it will be more successful that way!

    I have absolutely no idea if we will get any hedgehogs looking for a home now - perhaps they are already sorted. However it has been fun creating this area and I am certain some kind of wildlife will find its way in - I just hope it will be a hedgehog!

    All photos above, unless otherwise stated, were taken in my garden on November 1st 2007.

    Tucked in for the night

    This is a just a short post just to say that we still have our Blue Tit roosting in our Camera Nestbox. I missed it come in tonight but we checked our Nestbox via torchlight at 7pm and captured the photo below. As the photo shows more clearly the head tucked in I thought I would share it. Note our Blue Tit is trying and different corner tonight!