Thursday, 27 November 2008

Pensthorpe birds

Do you look out for new plants at garden centres, new bird sightings in the garden or on the beach or how about trying to spot camouflaged wildlife out in the wild? When I began this blog I guess I could honestly only answer ‘Yes’ to the plants. I knew some birds visited my garden but I guess I just took these visits for granted.

My bookshelf now has Bird and Wildlife books joining the Gardening and Plants ones. My interests have increased and I do hope I have passed on some of my enthusiasm for learning more about what visits our gardens too. When on holiday I am always drawn to visit new gardens but now I also look up wildlife reserves too.

The trip of the year for me (ticking all boxes) has to be Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in July where I found a fantastic garden by Piet Oudolf as a bonus! I didn’t go there for the plants though. This was a trip to see birds. However, my bird recognition was really minimal so with my camera I snapped what caught my eye not knowing if these birds were special or not.

Firstly, it was the shear numbers of birds that really took me by surprise. They were everywhere from the water to the paths we walked on.

Next it was the variety of shapes, colour and plumage that we could see (I’m getting the lingo now). We were also being followed… thanks to my daughter having a bag of seed (bought when we arrived) in her pocket. We took refuge in one of the enclosures and discovered that some birds are not quite as pretty as others and I was feeling a little uncomfortable taking my photos.

Ducks, ducks, were every where on the water as my daughter dropped seed from the wooden walkways to feed them. Some birds spun around and round on the same spot like dodgem cars at the Fairground.

It was funny to watch. They made quite a noise too but one bird really caught my eye there – quite a thug it was too. The coot (seen in first montage with white beak) was being quite aggressive towards the other birds really making its presence known in the crowd!

We followed paths to other areas which went from woodland out to a waters edge once again. It was a warm day and many birds were now preening and sunbathing too.

I found it amusing to see oyster catchers on floating gravel decks. Oyster catchers quite commonly nest on roofs of schools in Scotland and feeding their young coincides with exam time giving the pupils a little extra stress with the noise they make then!

So have I any favourite bird sightings from Pensthorpe? Well, funnily enough I do have a couple and not ones I would have expected. I am guessing they are both waders and I do believe both juveniles too.

I have seen photos of waders in many other blogs but I have to admit they have never really caught my attention before this visit. However, the Ruff in the photo below I found completely enchanting seeing it walk around the shallow water.

The Black-necked Stilt also caught my eye and what a noisy little thing it was too! You will hear it in my short video. This clip is a bit wobbly as I was trying to take it out of the way of other visitors.

I have also dropped the sound at one point as there were people talking around me too. It gives you an idea of how it moves about and me a great memory of this day too.

One of the first birds I noticed when we walked out on to the reserve were the young Moorhens running around looking for parents to follow. Funnily enough they were also the last as I left through another gate.

The video clip below was taken in the butterfly garden and there were no other birds around. I didn’t spot any butterflies either! However, the ‘parent’ Moorhen found something to feed the young from the Astilbes!

There is background music in this video.

Once again, I had to cut the sound out as I was not the only one who spotted the young Moorhen in the shallow water. My clip was being narrated by other visitors also delighted to see it. I moved to the other side of the water to get a closer (not clearer) view of this lovely moment. I nice surprise end to my visit.

Seeing birds at a Reserve really is a great way to see birds most of us would never see otherwise. However, I suppose it is a little like going to a Zoo for birds. Then again, just like Zoo’s, conservation is also a big issue for birds and reserves play a huge part with that too.

The birds we saw definitely looked at home there that is for sure. Reserves are also a place for food and shelter for any passing or migratory birds and I would imagine they, just like me in my garden, will be delighted to see new birds arrive.

There are many, many blogs that post on ‘birding’ days out where people like Tricia or Lisa head to an area that they have perhaps seen birds before or have heard will be there. My hat goes off to them and anyone else for their patience in watching for, trying to photograph and then posting on the birds they see – quite, quite different from my visit to Pensthorpe.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Pensthorpe seeing the plants, birds and wildlife there. I have one ‘small’ extra posting in mind yet. I should perhaps say I have posted larger individual photos of the birds in my montages to support this posting if anyone is interested in ID's.

Finally, I would like to say a huge thank-you to the members of the Birdforum who helped me out with my ID’s. I would never have known where to start with some of them.

All photos and video shown above were taken at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk, England in July 2008.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wordless Wednesday Nov '08

Views at Bridge of Orchy, Angus & Bute, Scotland.

Photos above taken by Shirl on October 5th 2008 – just under a two hour drive from my garden.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Updates galore

Let’s start with the plants. Well, as you can see below they have a small covering of snow. It had been forecasted to fall overnight but it was still a surprise to open blinds this morning and see it covering the garden. I love to see the look of this sort of amount – not too little and not too much!

A bird count had been planned for this morning but after watching them a little while I was more drawn to get outside and take some photos. I stood for a while watching the one feeder for the coal tits – they just have to be the birds of the garden for November. They are often seen hiding snflower hearts too in moss, borders and in the lawn. How funny they are too watch - I wonder if the similar looking American Chickadee does this too. We have three regularly visiting chasing each other and other birds away from the feeders.

Ah… I nearly forgot about this – the possible new bird sighting! I saw it only the once - the day my daughter went into hospital. Then for a number of days I was nowhere near the windows I watch the garden from. It may have come back but it was the cheeky Coal Tits that chased it away that day. I am not certain, I have no photos but by the way it moved around my small pine tree, the buff colouring of its underside and its size and shape – I do believe for a fleeting moment I saw a Goldcrest visiting my garden!

What was visiting this weekend then? Well, as they say, the usual suspects. I did do a bird count on Saturday from 10-11am but I knew this time was likely to show fewer numbers but a fuller variety of species. I must highlight two woodpigeons here, before I list numbers, which simply watched each other and moved around as if they were playing a game of chess! They never took food from any feeder in the whole hour.

Blackbirds, including one partial albino, took the top slot for my count with eight. The Chaffinches were next with six, and then there were three Coal tits and three House sparrows. Two Blue tits, Great tits, Dunnocks and Greenfinches were followed by one Robin, Goldfinch and one solitary Starling. Now, I do wonder if this Starling was a scout for a group. It did not return after a failed attempt and getting food from a caged feeder with fat balls inside. It wasn’t the only one that failed with that feeder either…

Next, to the wildlife in the garden… what has been going on in ‘Hedgehog Manor’ and are hedgehogs still visiting the garden at the moment? The video below shows visits to the ‘Evening Buffet’ available at Hedgehog Manor last week. The first clip shows it was a wet night and really what respectable hedgehog would dine Al Fresco when there is an alternative?

The second clip was taken the evening we made the two hour drive to A&E. I don’t remember much about it now except that I was testing my newer night camera shortly before at around 6.30pm. It looks like the hedgehog (I am guessing the resident one at that time) was at the buffet when someone went outside. Legs go by, outside lights were on and go off again - notice the hedgehog just hides its head and doesn’t go into a ball. It must feel safe in there.

Ah… but is it? Mm... the hedgehog was not the only wildlife visitor to be seen visiting that day! Earlier on, this Thursday the 13th, at around 9am the garden saw the return of a not so popular visitor to gardens. I was joined for breakfast by a grey squirrel - the most curious one I have ever seen in my garden. I opened the window as it went from the food under the small Acer tree to the house wall. As I opened the window and peeked out at it, it moved right up to the window and looked closely back at me! I quickly shut the window again.

Well, at first it appeared to do a recognisance of the garden ending with a very cheeky thump with its claws on the window where I sat watching what it was going to do next. It clearly meant it for me. What thumps it gave the glass and what a fright it gave me!

Next, it really used my garden like it was an adventure playground. There was nothing that it didn’t jump off or run along! It paused a moment to take food from the feeder under the Acer tree once again and the Blackbirds and Dunnocks weren’t really sure what to make of it but some moved warily towards food nearby.

Ah… but they weren’t the only ones watching what it was up to. The Blue Tit roosting in our Arch Nestbox quickly claimed its home. The squirrel came quite close too as the blue tit watched it from the entrance hole. Was anyone safe? A jump down on to my hanging basket, a run along the trellis and of to the main feeders it went. This time it meant business. The roof of the bird table was wet so it slid off down into the shrub below. Next to the hanging feeders. Ah... but the caged feeders stood up to the test!

Back to the ground feeder it went as you can see in the video below. As you will also see it did try to get food from a wire peanut feeder but then it took another walk by me at the window. Where was it going next? Fortunately I still had a night camera sitting outside. I switched it on to see the first of a number of visits to the buffet at Hedgehog Manor! A window table Sir?

I have to say, I just had to watch as I was concerned if I tried to scare it away it might go into the back where a hedgehog was. I watched it move towards this area but fortunately I didn’t see it exploring there. It did however jump up on and off the bricks inside a number of times – it was a very, very curious squirrel. I wasn’t at home until later the next evening. My younger daughter saw it the next day. Then I saw it briefly the next. It hasn’t been seen since. I had this last year in December where we had visits by one squirrel for a few days and this has been the first sighting in my garden of a squirrel since then. Maybe others have seen this too?

So are hedgehogs still out and about at the moment? Well, that I am not sure of. A few nights ago I put food outside Hedgehog Manor (in addition to the buffet inside) for any passers by but it was only taken by birds the next morning. However the night before my blog was ‘Two’ I did put out my video camera (set on the 0lux setting) on a very low tripod and captured the video below. I am delighted with this capture but wonder if I will get any more sightings now.

So does Hedgehog Manor have a hedgehog in residence hibernating? Again, I haven’t been too sure – until tonight. The photo capture below shows there is condensation inside (the white marks). It is a cold night so this would suggest to me there is something inside generating heat. I went out to take a closer look and noticed some food had been taken. Perhaps another hedgehog came inside to the buffet but I am wondering now if our resident has woken up, eaten and then headed back to sleep. I hadn’t seen this condensation for quite a few nights now and did consider something had happened with the squirrel and it had left. I am now pleased to say it looks like all is well and yes we have a hedgehog in residence!

So what about the unexpected email? Well, I am absolutely chuffed to little bits that BBC Countryfile Magazine has chosen shirls gardenwatch for their ‘Blog of the month’ for their January issue. Urban Extension was chosen for their December issue too – congrats Jane. I had no idea that this magazine did this – what a great idea.

Almost done now, however I would like to add a wildlife sighting ‘first’ to this post. Not in my garden, but on the streets of Aberdeen between 2-3 am in the morning as we looked for somewhere to stay following our A&E dash to see our daughter. Driving up to a junction we took a second look as we spotted a fox just casually walking along the pavement like it owned it! It didn’t run away or hide. It clearly knew exactly where it was going and walked on by! I have never had such a clear view of a fox and what a fine looking animal this one was. What a beautiful colour too. This fox, in all honesty, looked like a well looked after dog. I wonder how many foxes live in cities - I bet they all don't look like this one.

Finally, I would thank everyone for their kind wishes towards my daughter’s recovery. She is making some progress now I am glad to say.

All photos and videos shown above were taken in my garden between November 12th-24th 2008.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

It started with a Robin video

One, two and tomorrow sees the start of year three! Today is my 2nd Blogaversary and I would like to say a HUGE thank-you to all visitors to shirls gardenwatch over the last two years – including the birds and wildlife for without whom I would not be sitting here writing this tonight!

All comments and emails really are very much appreciated. I know these take time and I know I am not known for short replies – sorry to all those on the receiving end! I have loved the exchange of stories from garden to garden like an email I received last weekend ‘… and would like to tell you about my garden visitors (Sunday 16/11/08). A small flock of waxwings (20+) landed on an old rowan tree in open ground next to my house…’.

I had plans for today - a few changes to mark two years but time available in the last week has not allowed this. For the moment this is just a brief posting to mark this day. Although, I would like to add that receiving one unexpected email today has also marked the day but I will keep you waiting on that one!

So how did I celebrate my 2nd Blogiversary? Quietly at home with my daughter, just out of hospital, who gave us quite a scare last Thursday evening after being rushed to A&E. We are so thankful to have her home.

The photo above was taken in my garden on the evening of November 19th 2008.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Is there anything in there?

Ironing… perhaps not a way you would expect to watch for wildlife. For the last two evenings I have been almost glued to the computer screen after an unexpected turn of events. Sorry… no emails no browsing, no blogging. Any guesses on what has been going on? Mm… I am still at the speculation point with this myself. However, I can tell you the story so far…

Monday’s 7 deg C wasn’t that cold but the gusty wind made it feel freezing. Not a gardening day. However at 5pm, in the dark, it was finally time to lift my Cosmos plants and get them in my greenhouse for the winter – I hope I got them in time. Next, a quick fill up of the hedgehog dish and some fresh water. Leaves were spinning along the ground going in all directions towards my feeding station and I have wondered before now about turning it the other way around. Instead I thought of something else…

Recycling items in the garden in different seasons definitely saves on shed and garage storage - like obelisks being used as bird feeders. This year it is the hedgehogs that have been given the challenge! My daughter has two pet guinea pigs – can you see where this is going?

From October to April the guinea pigs come indoors as they won’t survive outside then. Many people may take their hutches into garages or sheds. We don’t, but instead have a different indoor hutch which we keep in our utility room where there is no heat. They do enjoy this spot by a window where they can still watch the birds – it’s not just cats that do this! This year the guinea pigs had a lift up the property ladder into a new two story wooden hutch. We still have the first, single story, plastic moulded one…

Who in their right minds would use a guinea pig/rabbit hutch as a wind break? Well, it made sense to me and that is all I intended using it for if the feeding station box fitted inside. It did – perfect! There was a metal divider between the sleeping side of the hutch and the feeding area. I guessed the hedgehog would be happier walking past a brick wall so I stacked up a couple bricks (idle in another part of the garden) in front of it. All I needed now was to entice the hedgehogs in.

A trail of sultanas or crushed peanuts usually does the trick but some hedgehogs will still go past that straight into the feeding station. This might be a tricky challenge. There is a small ledge the hedgehogs had to climb over to get in but I thought that would be fine. The floor surface was good enough for the pads of the guinea pig feet so no problem there either. What about the sleeping side? Rather than leave it bare I ‘borrowed’ some of the guinea pig’s hay which they love to eat. I threw a couple of handfuls in case a hedgehog might like a nap – just a short nap!! Can you see perhaps where this has gone now?

Approximately 15 minutes later I went outside again to show my husband my latest ‘attraction’ for the garden! Gosh… he spotted a hedgehog running off away under the Acer tree nearby. My biggest surprise was that it was out and about at just after 6pm – although it was dark. We quickly looked at the hutch and returned inside.

My original night camera was already positioned in this area so I quickly switched it on. Less than five mins later the hedgehog came back and ate the food outside the hutch. It considered going over the ledge inside but walked away. I quickly went back out and put a paving brick outside as a step and placed some sultanas on it. Back to the computer screen to see what would happen next. Oh yes… and tea went in the oven!

Back came the hedgehog! It took food from the step but walked away again but only for less than a minute this time – it was keen. This time it got on the step, then off, walked the other way then straight all the way in. Great, now there was a trail of food from there into the feeding station box. It finally made its way in and went straight to the water dish. It drank for a while, ate a little more and then went exploring…

It had a look at the hay area as I watched the clock on the camera. Almost a minute past and out it came again. It ate some more, drank some more and then… went back to the hay area again! Oh yes… I hear you all saying: 'of course, now well fed and watered it needs a nap to sleep it all off'. I watched the clock as a few minutes past. Ten minutes past. Our meal was ready. We ate.

An hour past and it still didn’t come out. Ah… I was getting concerned now. Could it actually be suitable for hibernating in there? What are the chances of it being occupied in an hour? I have to stress here that there was only a little hay on the floor – surely it was still just sleeping? It would need to go and collect material if was to consider hibernating would it not? Do some decorating at the very least. I was worried now that I had inadvertently caused a problem.

Gingerly, armed with a large bowl of hay I opened up the door to this area. I have to stress here that if you think a hedgehog is hibernating you MUST NOT open the box and take a look or add any material. In this case the hedgehog had been asleep for at the very most one hour and it really only had to be sleeping and not hibernating.

The slowly opened door revealed the most surreal image for me. The hedgehog was lying at the front corner of this area on top of the hay just as our darker guinea pig has done so many times. The moment had to be quick though. I placed the hay in a large clump to the other side. The hedgehog would do its own thing with it I was pretty sure.

Some time later… another hedgehog appears near the entrance. What will happen now? Well, it began eating some food still left outside but then its nose went quickly in the air and I did wonder if it could smell the hedgehog inside as it ran away. Maybe something else scared it off. Now we know that there are at least two hedgehogs passing through our garden.

Time, like this story, went on. I decided to get my ironing out and continued to watch. Three hours after I opened the door to add more hay the hedgehog reappeared and with a stretch, a scratch and after a few more nibbles on the way past at just after 10pm out into the night it went. Phew… it was okay and now we officially had a hedgehog hutch into the bargain! However this really wasn't my plan at all. Mm... I am not the night animal that the hedgehog is so I have no idea if it returned to this new fully furnished accommodation during the early hours of the next morning.

In the light of day I decided to reconsider the layout inside the feeding area of the hutch. Perhaps a new front to stop any unwelcome guests with an entrance hole could replace the feeding box and give more room for manoeuvring inside – clear Perspex would allow me to keep an eye on what was going on. Air would get in but there would still be protection from wind and rain too. That might work. But was there anyone sleeping inside? That I couldn’t tell.

Not quite recycling but more a case of ‘new use’ was my next plan. As regular visitors to my blog will know we have a Nestbox with a camera in my garden. We also have a Nestbox without a camera which has a rooster and this Nestbox is still seeing many visits during the day. I had a small camera sitting in its box unopened. We intended putting this camera into an extension for this second Nestbox. This was going to be my next project. Can you see where this is going?

Recycling the small clip-over hay feeder for the hutch I attached this small camera to it using cable ties to secure it. The connectors for picture and sound were then loosely placed inside it – no hay for this feeder now. I cut out an extra hole in front panel for the wire to come out and then it was a case of just opening the door once more to quickly hang it over the dividing wall. All I could see was hay and that is also all I can see through the camera at the moment too.

The hedgehog really needs to be out of the hutch before I can adjust the position and focus of the camera. When it goes out it is likely to be away for a few hours. Last night we never saw it leave so no changes have been made. We did see a hedgehog come in for food but I don’t think it was the one from the previous night as it didn’t know its way around. You can tell the ones that have visited before. I continued to use my original camera outside for comparison photos.

The clear front of the main feeding area looked like it could have condensation on the inside last night. I intended taking a photo of this but I wasn’t able to watch the screen as long last night. One time I looked the image was showing white (infra red cameras can do this) where the condensation was and we could only see in half this area. The next time I looked it was clear again. Now at a guess this could perhaps suggest heat inside. Maybe a hedgehog was sleeping inside and then went out. My inside camera, for the moment, cannot help there.

What I can see this morning is that only the food on the ground has been eaten. Perhaps I need to return the feeding area to the layout of the the first night with the new front. Hedgehogs don’t have good sight but do follow edges and some are perhaps too familiar with the feeding box.

The biggest priority and my original plan was to ensure that hedgehogs passing through my garden get extra food to help build them up for to survive winter hibernation. If a hedgehog also hibernates in the hutch then that is a bonus but I also have to think of others passing through too. Gosh… I had no idea what I was letting myself in for when I decided to encourage the birds and wildlife into my garden. I find myself drawn to learning more and in all honesty find it weird to think this has probably always been going on and we have been missing it.

Studying the images from still cameras and screen shots from video is a great way to compare not only birds like the blue tits but whether food has been taken or a nest has changed. When something new is going on in the garden this is how I approach it - comparing patterns in many cases.

The photo above is not the first from inside the hedgehog hutch but I am thrilled to be able to share it. Taken today this image shows the tiniest differences from the image I took last night. This now confirms something did move below this pile of hay between last night and today! I wonder what tonight will bring…

All photos above were taken in my garden between November 9th-12th 2008.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Sunday morning birds

Today my garden definitely had a buzz about it! This morning from 8.30-9.30am I sat at my window observing the birds for a morning bird count and I saw quite a change. Ah yes… I have noticed that different times of the day show different species of birds coming into the garden so I already had an idea of who might visit.

Mike and Joe have already mentioned numbers have been low in their gardens today. Perhaps it has been warmer in their respective parts of England but this morning in my slightly cold, wet and windy Scottish garden I noticed a serious increase in bird visitors.

It is difficult to count birds when they arrive en masse. I really don’t know how they do it at reserves! In my garden today the finches (including Chaffinches shown above) saw their first serious increase in numbers for this time of year. So much so that I wasn’t sure at all if I managed to count them all accurately as I had my camera in hand at the same time! In the photos here you can see how popular the feeder in my Acer tree is with them and the Robin, Blue tit and Dunnock - even the Blackbirds jump up there too.

My bird feeders are spaced around a relatively small area so when the birds do arrive in numbers I really cannot count them. I have said on many occasions that my garden is small but yet I really have a wonderful variety of birds visiting it. Today the foods on offer were sunflower hearts, peanuts, a sunflower heart and seed mix, fat balls, and finally apples thrown to the ground and on an obelisk. I must stock up on more peanuts and sultanas for the ground feeders and the hedgehog bowls. There were also berries on a cotoneaster and holly.

How small is small? I guess that is relative but perhaps the video below will give you a better lay of the land in my garden. My boundary hedge (Leylandii) breaks the force of winds and acts as a place for the birds to hide in too - especially on windy days like today. It really is funny to see them pop out in pockets all over it before they buzz down to the feeders!

Drum roll please… Chaffinches stole the top spot today. I am guessing that there were around ten today. Next month I expect that number will triple. They seem to me to be quite clumsy birds as they arrive at feeders always struggling to land. However, they are very comfortable at landing on my small, low, domed Acer. I had so many photo opportunities this morning but the minute I got my camera on them they bounced through the branches to the feeder below sitting in this tree. They really were fun to watch – the top photos above show the male then a female on the branches then a couple of males at the feeder.

Robins, Dunnocks and Blackbirds find this a popular spot too but, as you will have seen in my video above, at this time of year I cannot see many of my feeders clearly at ground level. However, I am still able to see the action on the ground where Blackbirds chase each other and the Robin chases the Dunnock. Today, I had company with my bird watch and it isn’t a species you would perhaps expect.

At a guess, eighty percent of the time in my ‘hours count’ a Dunnock sat under the Acer beside my pond. It was there when other birds were spooked with gusts of wind and it was clear it was happy there with the plants and rocks as cover. I was able to see it so clearly from my window spot but I guess any swooping visits from a Sparrowhawk would miss it. Funnily enough on one gust of wind only a confused looking Woodpigeon and two ‘not bothered looking’ goldfinches remained.

Numbers? Okay, Chaffinches ten, Greenfinches seven plus one with Trichomoniasis – will need to clean the feeders now. Blackbirds six, House Sparrows five, Blue tits three including one going in a Nestbox. One Great tit and one Coal tit although three coal tits are regularly visiting at the moment. One Robin and Woodpigeon plus two late entries of Goldfinches. Oh yes… and a flock of Geese that flew over (pink footed I’d guess heading to fields to feed from a local reserve) which I know I shouldn’t include but I will.

I was hoping I’d see some of the partial albino Blackbirds that visit my garden but instead saw one with white tail feather only and another young male in its first year that just might have white feathers to appear on the top of its head. Not sure on that one yet. So yes, a busy morning and by the end of my count the rain stopped and although the wind picked up the sun came out a little too.

What birds visited your garden today? Oh yes... and I wonder what went on in Joe’s garden.

The photos above were all taken in my garden, through a window, on November 9th 2008. On my Bird photos blog you can see more images of the Blackbird and Dunnock taken this morning.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Is there anything out there?

Some things shouldn’t be and others? Well, I’m really not sure... Today, I actually planned to save ‘The Cosmos’. Oh dear... that is going to have to wait until tomorrow now! Ah… the ‘to do list’ in the garden that just grows at this time of year.

Autumn, really is quite a mysterious season don’t you think? The strong vibrant colours just holding on some plants/trees are being diffused on frosty and misty mornings. Almost like a cloak. Yet a drive into the heart of the countryside reveals a picture book world that no artist or photographer could truly capture the moment of.

Capturing moments in wildlife can be both mysterious (you don’t know what you will get) and magical (when it is something quite rare like the pine marten in my last posting) as I have discovered through writing this garden diary. As a gardener I have entered the world of wildlife and what a discovery this has been.

A wildlife camera helps of course, especially when it’s dark. I especially like to see what I can capture in the dark. Don’t ask me why – no I’m not really looking for anything out there! What I am looking for here is a link to this camera that I am experimenting with from Handykam .

The photos above show that we can now see a wider area in the garden. There is quite a difference in the black/white tones too. This new camera has more infra-red lights so it reduces the very strong white localised lights of our original camera. As my garden is small and heavily planted I perhaps should get a little more experimental on how I can make full use of this camera. Mm… the thinking cap must go on here.

But what is in here? Nothing it appears! The photo above was taken with our new camera earlier this week looking into the hedgehog house I made last year. I am guessing that it wasn’t used then or is at the moment either. Oh well… it doesn’t always work out that ‘if you build it they will come’. However I was delighted with the clear image inside.

Recently, I read somewhere that you shouldn’t open a hedgehog house at this time of year to find out if it is being used but instead you should put a branch/twig across the entrance and if it is moved you will know something may have passed in/out. Good idea I thought. I’ll give that a try but I doubt it will be used now.

So is there anything out there? Yep, in my garden I have ‘The Cosmos’ to save. Well three plants to be exact - of the chocolate variety! I plan to lift them, pot them up and store them for the winter in my small unheated greenhouse. I also have some penstemon cuttings to take that although may be on the late side I am going to try anyway. Today, I did a little light pruning of past penstemon flowers and hope to see more come back later this month and perhaps into December.

Looking towards next year the shelf in my shed holds numerous packets of bulbs waiting to be planted. I really became a fan of the tulips and crocus this year. A few are already planted but I may pot the rest up and place them in my greenhouse as I did last year – it was really great fun to plant them all out in the spring. Yes, I think I will do it that way again.

What else is out there? Leaves, weeds and seed heads. I should get the camera out and capture it all before they ‘leave’ us for this year – sorry I couldn’t resist the pun! A tidy-up of the ground will follow and then consideration will be given to what I prune back and what I will leave for winter interest.

One final question - should hedgehogs be out there? I really don’t know if they have left us and gone into hibernation yet. We did have a cold snap last week but it has been much milder since. I’ll be keeping a watchful eye out for any underweight hedgehogs this year. I’ll also continue putting food out for them for the moment and use my night cameras regularly in the evenings to see if we can see them still visiting. The photo above was taken on October 19th with our original camera - you can see the difference in colour and picture.

Whatever is ‘out there’ in your garden do enjoy it this weekend!

Unless otherwise stated the photos above were taken with my new night camera earlier this week.