Monday, 19 January 2009

Plant & Bird Challenges

Snow was falling over my garden this morning making a Desert Island Plant Challenge definitely one for the imagination. Yes, I'll suggest no limits to growing conditions whatsoever in this challenge! Purely for fun this one. Let's assume that there is food on the Island - will that make it easier I wonder.

Would you like to join me on Thursday? I’ll set up a link list for you to leave the URL of your posting on mine so we can share in our choices. I will try to invite as many bloggers as I can but if you could help me by passing the word around that would be great. Feel free to copy my photo below. No problem if you don’t have a blog either you can still take part by adding your choices as a comment to my posting - the more the merrier. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's plant selections and I am guessing at a few too!

Seals on Kinshaldy beach (near St Andrews) during Sept 2004


Perhaps you’d like a Bird Challenge? This weekend sees the 30th RSPB BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH. Wow… Congratulations are in order here! I have to confess pre blog I had no idea this even existed. The RSPB is delighted: It may be our 30th birthday but we're only celebrating because everyone taking part has helped make the event such a huge success. It suggests: So go on, spend time with friends, family and children, put on your party hat, have a bit of birthday cake and enjoy yourself.

This sounds like fun to me too. However, on a more serious note our garden counts really can help the RSPB with their records here in the UK. It will highlight species in decline and on the increase. Taking part is easy too.

The RSPB goes on: For the last 30 years, the way we do the survey has remained exactly the same – watch the birds in your garden for an hour and record the maximum number of each species you see at one time. You really don't need to be an expert to take part. Whether you're young or old, an 'expert' or a beginner, there really is no better place to start than our Big Garden Birdwatch. I’d have to agree with that. It does also help having more than one pair of eyes when you are counting!

You could consider when you do your bird count but don’t worry if you don’t see as many birds as you usually do. The RSPB says that with the huge amount of data they get it all evens out. However, I do appreciate it can be disappointing if you feel it doesn’t fully reflect the birds you usually see. We had a Sparrowhawk visit last year during ours and it may well do again this year. I plan to do my count between 11.30-12.30am. Any earlier and I may not see the numbers of finches I can see on a cold snowy day like today so I am giving my count a chance to be accurate.

The RSPB gives tips on their website and from there you can print a counting sheet which is very helpful too. Submitting counts can be done online which the RSPB encourages to keep costs down. However, you can also pick up the leaflet shown above. Overleaf you will find an address card to fill in and post to receive a Big Garden Birdwatch pack. Time is running out if you want to send away for one. Oh… but you might want to attend one of the events organised by the RSPB being held throughout the country. I am sure you will enjoy taking part. Oh... one last thing - you don't count birds flying over.

Finally, if you can't see the online form on the website don't worry as they will open on 24 January 2009 for you to enter your 2009 counts. The RSPB will collate and publish the results in March 2009. From memory I think the results are out near the end of the month. Enjoy counting your birds or choosing your plants! I'm looking forward to hearing all about them. Once again if anyone from outside the UK wants to join in with a bird count too please add them to my Birdcount posting. Have fun!

I am guessing you may recognise the bird in the photo above taken in my garden at lunchtime today! Yes, the Starling can be a bit of a bully at the feeders but here in the UK there are worries about its decline in numbers. I am guessing my blogging friends in America will once again offer to send some our way :-)

26 comments:

Frances said...

Good deal, Shirl. I will send a few notes to people too.

Frances

tina said...

Frances sent me the word, so count me in! She is a real gem for bloggers!!! This is too funny too, because I had prepared a similar post, but not for food only. Can't wait to see the entries! I'll come back Thursday and post the url.

nancybond said...

This requires some thought. :) I'll be back Thursday!

gardenerprogress said...

Sounds fun!

Anna said...

I have passed the word on Shirl. Now back to the hard part of decision making :)

shirl said...

Hi there Frances, Tina, Nancy, gardenerprogress and Anna :-)

Frances – Thanks so much, I see Tina has found her way here thanks to you! Excellent.. I’m trying to guess what you would take ;-)

Tina – Welcome, delighted to have you join us! Yes, Frances is a gem :-) Wow.. great although I hope I’ve not spoiled yours now. Food, funnily enough, was queried by Frances when I first mentioned this. By all means include food plants but we are assuming this Island has plenty of food already. See you on Thursday :-D

Nancy – Excellent, see you then :-D

gardenerprogress – Yes, to me too! Funnily enough this more happened than was planned. I do enjoy posting this way by just going with the moment :-D

Anna – Excellent… so I see! Thank-you. sorry if the colours are a bit weird. I altered them deliberately to make it look more imaginative. It is tricky when everyone has different colour schemes. Having just met you I am wondering what your three plants will tell me about you :-D

urbanextension said...

I will be trying to do the bird count but will need to give you my desert island plants now:

1. Gunnera - I've always wanted one of these gorgeous plants, with their big hairy leaves. There would have to be lots of water as well... so lots of frogs/toads and newts hiding under it as well!

2. Ancient Oak Tree. If I could have an ancient oak tree on the island I could look for birds, fungi, bats, spiders and insects all day long on/in it's trunk and branches and I (and the mammals) could shade under it's dappled leaves.

3. Orchid. Perhaps I could get it to grow on my oak tree? The beautiful flowers would keep me smiling for months on end.

That took more thinking than I expected! Jane x

shirl said...

Hi again Jane, excellent choices :-D

I definitely would have guessed you’d have chosen an Ancient Oak and for all the reasons you have given :-D

The Gunnera, based on comments on mine, I am guessing will be on a number of lists. The flowers will be the ones that will vary the most I’d think. An Orchid growing under an oak tree – what a picture that would be :-D

Thanks so much for joining in. Enjoy your bird count, looking forward to hearing what visits yuor garden then :-D

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Hi Shirl,
I'll come back on Thursday!

shirl said...

Hi again Jan, look forward to seeing you then :-D

Patsi said...

Will visit RSPB.
We also use same suet food. But you said you use a "suet feeder" that deters Starlings. That's what I need !!!
Will go out today and see what I can find.
Thanks,
Patsi

Cheryl said...

Hi Shirl....I do the RSPB bird count every year. It really is important as you say. It shows them which species are increasing and which are in decline.
They do a lot of good work....I am a keen supporter of theirs.....

shirl said...

Hi again Patsi and Cheryl :-)

Patsi – I’m sure you’ll find a visit to the RSPB interesting. You can see videos and hear audio of our birds here in the UK. Now, as for the feeders I ordered mine from a company here in the UK. It looks like they may deliver to you in the USA but I’m not sure of the costs. You need to sign in and say which country you are in – therefore I don’t see the costs in dollars. For your interest anyway this is my feeder and this is the one I think you might be interested in. Perhaps it is not a practical option to order from the UK but I thought I’d let you see them as perhaps they are sold somewhere in the USA too. They are made in China so it is quite possible :-D

Cheryl – Yes, the RSPB are very lucky that so many people support them. Enjoy your count this weekend :-D

Tony said...

Hi Shirl, with my, err,`official' RSPB hat on, thanks for covering the Big Garden Birdwatch, its looking good for a big turn out this weekend. I'm just hoping our bullfinches put in an appearance.

Tony

My Mother's Garden said...

Hi Shirl~
What a fun idea! I am going to post your picture on my blog today! Now...I've got to get to thinking on what my 3 plants will be.

See you Thursday!

Karrita

A wildlife gardener said...

Happy New Year, Shirl. Happy birdwatching and happy gardening :)

I like all of the info you posted about the RSPB count this wknd...very helpful to everyone :)

I'll join you on Thursday...with me the problem is cutting my favourites down to three! I'm such a plantaholic :)

I'm about to go around blogland, so I'll let as many people know as I can :)

Sylvia (England) said...

Shirl, I thought I would never be able to narrow this down to three. Then I thought desert island - what about the plants I can't grow! So a visit to Meems at Hoe and Shovel, Florida and I have my three: Caladiums for the lovely big leaves; some Rain Lilies, I can't imagine not having rain regularly and lastly a Hibiscus. Now don't ask tomorrow it will all have changed!

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

tina said...

Very interesting Sylvia! Looking to see the other posts, the word is getting out.

Joe said...

Hi Shirl,

My plant post is ready to be posted tomorrow. I wonder what everyone else will choose. I guess (with me knowing less plants) that my job will have been easier than yours. I hope all goes well!

Joe

Q said...

Dear Shirl,
A Wildlife Gardenr invited me!
I shall come back tomorrow with my link!
Thank you for hostessing this event.
Sherry

shirl said...

Hi again Tony, Karrita, Wildlife Gardener, Sylvia, Tina, Joe and Sherry :-)

Tony – No problem, I knew many of my visitors would be interested and with so many blogs mentioning it now it all has to help. Hope your bullfinches make it in time! I just hope our female Sparrowhawk doesn’t! Enjoy your weekend, I expect it will be busy work wise with all the events :-D

Karrita – I’m glad you like it. Thanks so much for helping pass the word too. It’s a great community we have here. Nice to meet you :-) I’ll look forward to your choices :-D

Wildlife Gardener – Thank-you and to you too! I hope it’s a good one for you. Thanks, I hoped it would. Look forward to seeing your choices – it is so very hard with so few! Thanks for passing the word, it is fun seeing how far word will spread too as we all have different visitors. Great stuff :-D

Sylvia – Good choices! LOL… I have wondered about that too now my list is up :-D

Tina – Yes, this fun isn’t it :-D

Joe – Excellent Joe! All you do is add your name and the link of your posting (not your whole blog) and people will get straight to it. I am particularly interested in which plants you have chosen! Thanks, I hope we get lots so you will discover some new blogs too :-D

Sherry – Excellent, she’s a star! Look forward to seeing your choices. It is definitely tricky! Thank-you, I am looking forward to it :-D

urbanextension said...

Shirl. Could you move my comment from here to your Thursday post... thanks. Jane

patientgardener said...

Hi Shirl - I have done my post here http://patientgardener.wordpress.com/2009/01/22/my-desert-island-plants/

This was good fun and caused me alot of head scratching

GardenJoy4Me said...

Hi Shirl .. it is Joy from Kingston. I really like this challenge and have posted on it.
I'm here
http://gardenjoy4.blogspot.com/
I was looking to where to link up but I must have missed it.
Hope this is OK with you ?
Thanks for the fun girl !
Joy

Kathleen said...

Hi Shirl! I have been reading about your Desert Island Plant challenge on so many blogs, I had to pop over and tell you what a great idea it is and that I want to play along too! I will post tomorrow (Friday, Jan 23rd). Do you think it will be any easier having overnight to ponder which three?!!! Thank you so much.

Megan said...

I saw this on people's blogs yesterday, good idea. I'll join in late, posting today, but what fun to think about.