Wednesday, 31 December 2008

What will you see?

As 2008 comes to a close I wonder what you will see in and around your gardens in 2009. This past year I have found myself enjoying more aspects of birds and wildlife than I expected. Highlights? Mm… tricky. Favourite visit of the year has to be Pensthorpe for the birds, butterflies & damselflies – not forgetting the Piet Oudolf Garden! Mm… on second thoughts that has to share top spot with sitting in the dark at a Nature Reserve Centre with 20 others waiting to get a glimpse of the Pine Marten which I was thrilled to see!

Long-tailed tits (seen again this past week) take the top spot for bird visitor to the garden for me and the hedgehog continued to delight both me and my blog visitors – especially those from outside the UK. I wonder if we will get a female nesting in ‘Hedgehog Manor’ in 2009. I also wonder if we will finally see a successful brood of blue tits fledge our camera nestbox. Mm… but this year is not quite finished yet!

Bulbs, especially crocus have been the plant group that I have found myself warming to this year. Snowdrops I will go a-looking for again during the Snowdrop Festival here in Scotland during February and March. I have also planted more crocus bulbs in my lawn - although there are still some to plant yet! Tulip bulbs still in my shed will now be potted up into pots and placed in my greenhouse for planting in the spring – its fun to do them that way too.

Ah… but the most fun I have with my blog is taking, editing and sharing videos of the plants, birds and wildlife. I have been unwell since Christmas so I’ve had to sit on some new and final footage from 2008 which I’d now like to share. The first piece below was a most unexpected capture – a pair of Jackdaws in a tree.




Isn’t that sweet? But let’s take a look at some photos…


A bit further perhaps, this pair are on the right…


They were not alone…

The count looks like eight pairs with two singles and there were even more! I have to say this was a most unusual sighting from my garden. I have never seen such a large flock of Jackdaws flying over it. Actually I have never seen more than a couple! I firstly assumed they were rooks as they can be seen passing over and using this tree - but not in this number either. The grey colouring told me they were Jackdaws. Flocks can be seen in huge numbers in the evenings to roost but not in this tree and definitely not at 1pm.

But look… remember the tree above in a very hard frost. My cheap and cheerful video camera managed to zoom in on these birds from inside my lounge window when I spotted them land on the tree. Ah… I do like a bit of technology! This tree has to be about 200 yds away too.

No technology is really needed for counting the birds that visit our gardens. A piece of paper and a pen will do. Perhaps you might like to count the species you see when outside the garden too. Some bloggers have been busy counting for the Quicksilver Christmas Challenge and will be posting this weekend. My contribution will be minimal as I haven’t been out and about except for one brief visit to my favourite Scottish Wildlife Reserve.

Our visit was later on in the afternoon and the light was going down. We were the only visitors and the outside lighting was on just as it had been to see the pine martens. We were told that at this time of night the Treecreeper could be seen at one of the feeders which are attached to the trees. One tree had come down in strong winds but fortunately missed the centre! We didn’t need to wait long and up and along the Treecreeper went. Gosh it was as fast and tricky to follow in the half dark. Once you spotted its white underside though it was much easier to spot. I slowed the end clip right down.



Back to spotting what visits our gardens and the RSPB BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH 09 on 24th-25 January. I wonder how many tree creepers will be spotted. I know one garden that enjoys visits from them. The Treecreeper isn’t on the suggested list but you can still add it to your tally if you see it.

You can start practising for your count now too if you want by printing off the counting sheet. You may well find during different parts of the day you will see more or less birds. If you browse the website you will get tips on how to do this and how to take part. I do know that by offering varied foods in the feeders you will get a bigger variety of birds coming into the garden. Oh yes… and Congrats to the RSPB as 2009 sees the 30th count!

Okay, so why the photo above? You’ll not see a robin like this in your garden. Well, this was just a gimmick photo to promote the Birdwatch last year. I wonder though, if you have ever seen a purple squirrel. Yes, not ordinary grey not the rarer red but a peculiar purple squirrel. I just had to share this link passed on from ShySongbird. I initially thought it was a tampered photo but it really appears to be in school uniform – at least until it moults! Paint is suspected and is probably quite likely.

This year we had white footprints around our garden and I had originally suspected a cat had walked in white paint and never posted on it. Then one night I saw a new trail of footprints and considered that based on the route, like the trail disappearing under my shed, it had to be from a hedgehog! I wonder how many more wildlife sightings via paint incidents have been seen around gardens.

Sorry, this is a particularly chatty post. I’ve had a throat virus thing going on and have had difficulty chatting in the ‘real world’ and I am making up for that tonight now that I am feeling a little better. You really wouldn’t want a narrated video from me at the moment!


This morning when I began looking at this post I went searching for links on the RSPB BIRDWATCH and discovered some fun features on their site like the interactive bird identifier. It uses Javascript. The site says: “If you have disabled Javascript in your browser settings, you will need to re-enable it for the bird identifier to work. If you have not changed your browser settings, it should work fine. Try it and see.” I tried as you can see in the image above and a fine image I got two!

The image above is not a montage this time it is a screen grab from my new widescreen monitor and what a new experience in blogging terms, photo work and searches this will be! I’ll be able to have two blogs up at the same time for adding and answering comments – ever so handy when you’re on the chatty side like me! Thanks go to my OH for his love of technology on this one – his Christmas parcel to me this year. He keeps asking me… Yes, I love it!

Okay, I am almost chatted out now and I do wonder how many have read to the end on this one! There lies a few questions too. I have added a poll on the top of my right column if you would like to take a look. This is a particularly long post but I do wonder what works best for you when browsing blogs. Perhaps if the subject is interesting to you it doesn’t matter how long the posting is. I would be interested to hear what you think. You can make more than one selection if you'd like. I see now that some votes have come in I have a problem with the background colour. I'll look into that.

Well it hadn’t to happen didn’t it? Many of my postings do go past midnight and I have been known to alter the time slightly but tonight it is probably fitting that I just post real time – after all I am now into the last day of 2008!

“HAPPY HOGMANAY” and all my very best wishes for 2009!

The photos and video shown above were taken on December 27th 2007.

21 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a wonderful chatty post Shirl. I just love your videos and enjoy all the reports from your lovely garden.

I too have been puny through out the christmas holiday. Like you I am also feeling better now.

I do hope you have a Happy Healthy New Year.

The Black Rabbit said...

Wannae see a weird Robin?
Check out the homepage of BG!
Lovely "last post" Shirl - have a great Hogmanay, and see you in 2009!
Doug and Anna

Little Brown Job said...

Love the video of the Tree Creeper, that's something I've never thought of trying before, I'll have to give it a go next year (tomorrow lol).

Happy New Year!

Paul.

shirl said...

Hi again Lisa, Doug & Paul :-)

Lisa – Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the feedback, I just wanted to sample what everyone liked. Oh… sorry to hear you’ve been unwell too and glad you are on the mend. Yes, definitely, it is a wish for good heath in 2009!

Doug – Great stuff!! I’ll have to look in to that program some time. LOL at the “Last Post” as this morning after coughing practically the whole night it feels like it could have been ;-) Yep… Cheers and see you in 2009 :-D

Paul – Glad you enjoyed it! Hope everyone is able to see it as I know it is on the dark side. It may take me a little while to fully set the colours for the screen of my new monitor. Yes, I’d definitely recommend trying videos. I really have great fun with them. I have even been known to narrate some too ;-) Cheers… and a Happy New Year to you too :-D

patientgardener said...

I too have some long tailed tits visiting my garden and was thrilled to see a Nuthatch for the first time this winter. Another unusual visitor for us was a Yellow Wagtail who seemed to be enjoying my pond. This year I also had a heron land in the back garden which made me realise just how big they are and a Buzzard sit in my tree which wasnt really big enough. Am looking forward to Birdwatch - it will be our 4th year this year.

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Happy New Year to You too Shirl. So sorry to hear that you have been unwell - it seems some really horrid bugs have done the rounds this Christmas.
I have cast my vote on your poll
Warm regards
K

ShySongbird said...

Hi Shirl,

Thanks, a lovely blog, the Jackdaws were charming and I loved the Treecreeper too. Don't ever worry about being too chatty I love it!

A Happy and Healthy New Year.

Frances said...

Hi Shirl, and a happy hogmanay to you too! Discovering your wonderful blog was one of the highlights of my year! The hedgehog visits and the snowdrop festival stand out too. I do wish you a happy 2009, may it be the happiest year for you and yours!
Frances

Susan Tomlinson said...

I'm glad you are feeling better. I've enjoyed your blog--especially the bird posts, and so had been looking for its return. Thanks for a wonderful, chatty post.

Happy new year!

Mike - Fenphotography said...

Hi Shirl, I'm looking forward to 2009s posts, best wishes and Happy New Year. Mike.

Cinj said...

It seems that sickness has been going around. I'm glad to hear that you're feeling better. Chat away, it's nice to be able to express yourself!

Those blue tits still haven't managed to have a successful brood? Poor things! Our blue birds did very well,I think that all of them made it though I don't have a way to be 100% certain. I like the idea of a nest box, but that would require money.

shirl said...

Hi again Helen, Karen, ShySongbird, Frances, Susan, Mike and Cinj :-)

Helen – Wow… to see both what a thrill! I’d love to see a Nuthatch but they don’t usual get this far North. Wow… a yellow wagtail too – another I have never seen. I’d love to see your list for the Birdwatch :-) I have only ever seen a Heron fly over my garden and they are big. LOL… I can just imagine a Buzzard on a small tree! Enjoy your 4th count and all the best for 2009 :-D

Karen – Thank-you! Ah… it has been a pest but at least I feel slightly human now. Yes, there is a lot going about. Thanks for being the first to cast a vote! I see that there is a problem with the text on white I will need to sort that. All my best wishes to you for 2009 :-D

ShySongbird – I am delighted you enjoyed the videos and my posting. Thanks for the feedback – I do worry about this at times but sometimes I just want to add one more thing and… Thanks-you and my best wishes to you for 2009 :-D

Frances – Why, thank-you ;-) You are always so generous with your comments, Frances! Yes, more snowdrop display visits have to be on the cards for 2009 and wouldn’t it be fantastic to see baby hedgehogs! Thank-you, may 2009 be one of the happiest of ones for you too! Yes, and Happy New year to you once again :-D

Susan – Thank-you, I am so glad to hear your preferences on postings too. I do try to mix my posts but sometimes there can be a bias to one aspect of the garden or visitors. I like not being too predictable with my postings but do want to make sure my regular visitors get to see what they enjoy visiting for! I am glad you enjoyed the chat too! Thanks, wishing you a Happy new year too :-D

Mike – Thanks, and I look forward to yours too! You have some fantastic bird photos on your blog! Thanks, wishing you a Happy new year too :-D

Cinj – It certainly seems to be and I look forward to throwing mine off completely – hopefully soon. Yep… so good health to all in 2009! Nope… we have still to see blue tit chicks fledge. Great to hear you are having more success with blue birds! Perhaps you could build your own nest box in 2009… we are considering adapting our one that has no camera at present. A New Year project! Wishing you all the best for 2009 :-D

urbanextension said...

Love the videos and pictures and you rabbiting on... loved it! Happy New Year to you and all your family. Jane

Brian said...

Great stuff! I'm sure I've never seen a Treecreeper at a feeder before. It's a very rare visitor to my garden in any case.

All the best for 2009.

Tricia said...

Thanks for such great entertainment Shirl and a very Happy New Year to you.

Border Reiver said...

All the best Shirl, I hope you're back to rude health soon and out there streaming those videos. Happy New Year and I'm looking forward to your contibution to the challenge. That SWT reserve looks good, don't know it, just may have to visit in 2009

easygardener said...

Chat away as much as you like Shirl!
The Jackdaw video was amusing - do they pair for life? I can't see the relationship lasting - what with one of them being so annoying :-)

Patsi said...

So glad to find someone else who enjoys watching the birds.
The video of the pair of Jackdaws in a tree is sooo sweet!
Never tried videos yet.
Happy New Year,
Patsi

shirl said...

Hi again Jane, Brian, Tricia, Border, easygardener and hello Patsi :-)

Jane – Excellent, I’ll remember that ;-) Thank-you, wishing you and all your family ‘All the best’ for 2009 too :-D

Brian – Oh yes.. the Treecreeper was a treat. Apparently it is a regular visitor at this feeder as it gets dark. The video wasn’t taken in my garden though but at a nature reserve whilst we looked through the viewing window. Imagine if one did come to a garden feeder!

Tricia – Delighted you enjoyed it. Thank-you, and a good New Year to you too :-D

Border – Thank-you – so do, so do I. My thoughts go out to those unwell day in, day out, especially at this time of year. Thank-you and a good New Year to you too! I’m off to sort my contribution now. I just love the atmosphere at this SWT Reserve. It is tiny really. It has a visitor centre with a viewing window and three hides next to each other at the side of the Loch with virtually no walking apart from the short walk from the car park. Ah… but it has cameras at the osprey nest streaming live/recorded footage on a screen inside the centre. You can however, follow a path to/from Dunkeld which seems to be popular. Have a great 2009 where ever you go a wandering :-D

easygardener – Thank-you, I always worry long chatty posts put visitors off. I agree the Jackdaws were amusing and its funny you should ask about them pairing for life as that thought occurred to me too! I looked it up at the time (meant to add it to the post) and it appears that they do. I’ve also a sneaking feeling they may return to the same nesting areas too. From my garden I can see them stuff all sorts into the chimney of a neighbour’s bungalow for a few years now. Two Spring’s ago one discovered a small ‘nest egg’ filled with soft material I had hung up (quite low and discrete) for the blue tits using our camera nestbox. It helped itself to most of it and one returned looking for it last year in the same place - before I put one out again. No sooner was it filled and hanging... along came the Jackdaw!

Patsi – I agree, it is and I am glad you popped by as now I’ve had a chance to discover your blog! I look forward to following your visitors in 2009. Oh… yes do have a try at the videos – they are great fun to do and offer a little more into the character of the birds than still photos can generally do. Happy bird watching in 2009 :-D

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

A wonderful and interesting post. We don't get Jackdaws here at all. Happy New Year. I'm sorry you were feeling poorly. I hope you're much better.~~Dee

shirl said...

Hi there Dee :-)

Thank-you, I’m glad you enjoyed it :-) Ah… I didn’t realise that. I find it interesting to hear what birds we have in common (or not) across the sea.

Thank-you, and a very Happy New Year to you too :-D Thanks, I’m starting to. I’m one of these people who don’t pick up most things but when I do… I get a good dose! I’m lucky I guess ;-)

All the best for 2009 :-D