Friday, 9 January 2009

A quiet night in

Tomorrow I hope to finish off some bulb planting (crocus) in my lawn. I have noticed that some in another area are starting to appear through already! I have a few overdue gardening jobs. Bird feeder cleaning is also on the cards. I don’t know if anyone has put up new feeders recently and had little interest in them. The birds do take time to discover them – they tend to go to the ones they know first especially on a cold or windy day.

The apples are still very popular on my obelisks although there have been no more sightings of the female blackcap. Perhaps she will come back, I do hope so. It hasn’t been so cold lately – maybe that is the trigger that brings her into gardens.





The female blackbird in the video above really has the knack of getting the fruit. Notice how she removes fruit from inside the skin. She works pretty quickly so I’ve had to slow down this clip so you can see more clearly how she eats the apple. Notice how she keeps alert for any threats too.

Male blackbirds have been enjoying the peanuts from the feeder hanging on my small pine tree although they don’t seem to have the knack or speed that the female above has. Notice how they queue to get at the feeder in the video below.

The original feeder has been replaced with one that has a top the fits properly. I’ve secured it via two small black plastic cable ties (threaded through the back) to the trunk of the tree. The feeder is positioned higher than it was before with a break of four branches at its base which allows the larger birds like the blackbird to get at the peanuts. It needs to be secure for the force of the larger birds but I will need to check on the trunk regularly to make sure the cable ties don’t cut into the trunk of the tree. Perhaps I’ll replace them with a softer material.

Andrew at Quicksilverbirds metioned the distinctive eye of the male blackbird. He said: 'Next time you look at a male blackbird look at it's eye, if it has a yellow ring, it's a UK bird, fit for purpose, and showing off to a lady. If it hasn't got one, chances are it's a Continental bird, and won't go into breeding colour for a few more week when it returns to foreign climes.' Interesting Andrew - thanks for that I'll look more closely now. You can see that one blackbird near the end of the video below has a beautiful yellow eye ring. I wonder if he has being trying to impress the lady above!





Moving a feeder to a different location if birds don’t show any interest in it can be a good idea. Today I moved one that I am very keen for the blue tits to discover. It is another square caged feeder with small entrance holes and it has a small dish inside. This feeder is intended as a live feeder which I plan to use for mini live mealworms in the spring.

I am thinking well ahead about helping the feeding of possible chicks in our nest boxes this year. At the moment it has crushed peanuts in it which will be extremely popular when discovered. I am trying to get the birds to look for food in it. I have also positioned it on my pergola beside a pillar of ivy which will have lots of insects in it too.

This is the time of year to keep an eye out on your nest boxes to see if any birds are popping in to have a look around. You might even see a pair going in if you are lucky. It is also a time for getting last year’s nest boxes emptied of old nesting material too. We have had a rooster in our Arch nest box that has no camera in it since the first week in October.

Recently I’ve seen these blue tits take a look in our camera Nestbox. I have seen them go from one to the other. However, as I was editing my videos today I heard a familiar tapping coming through the speakers. A quick look in the camera Nestbox - but I missed the visitor! However, on this occasion I was much more interested in what was left in the box. I choose not to add wood shavings to our new nest box so the evidence that we have had a rooster using this box was clear for all to see – droppings were on the floor! The picture below was taken via torch light at 8.30pm tonight – a quiet night in.



Watching a few visits of the blue tit leaving this Nestbox earlier on in the day I could see that it didn’t go anywhere near the Arch nest box. I am wondering now if we have two roosters – one from two possible pairs. Now… this could be another interesting year of nest box activity!

Ah… but this weekend my thoughts do go to Joe and his new Nestbox with a camera in it. He hopes his Dad will be able to put up for him. He has been quite excited about getting one of these and I am certain he will be as addicted to watching it during nesting as I am. I wish you success with it Joe, but sadly the reality of nesting is that not all broods survive. Joe is in a completely different part of the UK than I am – quite far South. Fingers crossed that there will be plenty of caterpillars around when any broods need fed in his garden this year. The mornings seem to the busiest for sightings in the Nestboxes at this time of year – good luck Joe!

Finally, it isn't just the blackbirds that have been enjoying the peanut feeder above. Blue and coat tits enjoy it too, as I would have expected, but unexpectedly a siskin was seen on it yesterday and today a group of four where clinging to the ball feeder I have with peanuts in it too. That was an odd sight! Whatever you expect to do or see in your garden this weekend - do enjoy it!

The videos above were taken in my garden on January 7th & 8th 2009. The photo above was taken from my camera nestbox on January 9th 2009.

13 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

My goodness Shirl, there is lots of action in your garden. Love the videos.

jodi said...

As I've been for ages, I'm way behind in my blog reading, but I'm so glad to see all the activity in your garden. We have had what we think is a rusty blackbird at our feeders over the past couple of weeks, but I haven't been well enough to go sit outside and try to get photos. The birds all give me great cheer as I heal, though!

Natural Moments said...

Your garden is very healthy and happy. Nice to see some balance in the world.

Little Brown Job said...

It was -5c when I got up this morning, I don't think we'll be planting any bulbs!

Good to hear your garden is very active, looking forward to watching through our window after being at work all week.

We got some apples yesterday so I'll try putting one of those out later today.

Paul.

shirl said...

Hi there Lisa, Jodi, Bernie and Paul :-)

Lisa – There has been! All quiet out there this morning though. Only a few odd birds brave enough to come to the feeders. I’m guessing the Sparrowhawk has been about :-( Wow… you’ve been having a busy sky above you! We get geese pass over in numbers like these in grey skies too. They are an especially great to see against a blue sky though aren’t they? Have a good birding weekend :-D

Jodi - Wishing you VERY GOOD health in 2009 :-D I see you are back to cold, cold temps again in your Nova Scotia garden! Pre blogging I had no idea you had snow for so long. Ah well… maybe you’ll be fit to go gardening again by the time it all melts :-D Yes, blogging isn’t something you’ll have been thinking about. I am sure though, that you have been in many bloggers thoughts. We all wish you a swift recovery. Ah… the birds, yes they are fun to watch. I’m glad they have been entertaining you! All the best :-D

Bernie – Thank-you, what a wonderful way to look at the garden and its visitors :-D

Paul – Oh, oh… no it doesn’t sound like it. It is weird to see that the cold winter temps are hitting so much of England now. Yes, further North in Scotland still gets theses temps and some but here in the middle we seem to be getting off lightly for the moment. I don’t think we will get off ‘scot-free’ though. February is our coldest usually with temps dropping in March too now. I don’t worry about the cold so much as the strong winds we all get in the UK now! That I don’t like. It is dark and windy here at the moment – cold with it. I guess I might not get my bulbs in today. Yes, the garden has been active but I suspect this morning the Sparrowhawk returned as its eerily quiet looking out there at the moment! Ah the apples… hope they work for you too. It is usually the ones left at the bottom of the bowl (starting to go soft) that I put out. Enjoy watching out your window this weekend – looking forward to seeing what you see :-D

Cheryl said...

The videos are great shirl.....I loved watching them feed....particularly the female with the apple.....
Interesting facts about the male eyes, I did not know that. I shall look out for the yellow rim.....
We have a great many blackbirds and robins in the garden at the moment.

I am going to copy the feeder attached to the tree....great idea, tku for sharing that......

Enjoy your weekend.....planting bulbs it must be mild your end of the country. You could not get anything in our garden at the moment....if you stood for too long in one spot you would be frozen to it!!

Anna said...

I really enjoyed watching the video of the blackbird munching the apple. We have put out some new bird feeders this year, in area of the garden that the grey squirrels have not invaded yet. It did take a few days before they were discovered but I am delighted they are now getting regular visitors. Do you have any tips about how to squirrel proof bird feeders ? I have one feeder that does keep them out but they are rather expensive.

easygardener said...

Blackbirds have quite long beaks I notice - all the better to poke around with!
Fascinating to see the female at the apples.

Barbara said...

I wonder why the birds in Scotland do not refuse apples as food, what they unfortunately do here (probably yours are better tasting ;-) !). Well, actually I even couldn't think of putting an apple outside, we have temperatures of -10°C and more. There are also some Spring bulbs still waiting to be planted here, but our soil is too icy hard because of the frost. Some of them I put in pots now.
Have a good time, Shirl,
Barbara

Miranda Bell said...

You're lucky you can even contemplate putting in bulbs - until this morning the ground here has been permanently frozen! The blue tits have started showing interest again in the boxes here - so all being well we should get one or two broods as last year... watch this space... have a good week Miranda

shirl said...

Hi again Cheryl, Anna, Denise, Barbara and Miranda :-)

Cheryl – Delighted that you enjoyed them – I liked the apple one too :-) Yes, I didn’t know about the eyes myself. Yes, we have lots of blackbirds too – they are great to see aren’t they? Yes, that feeder on the tree works particularly well on a windy day but I’ll have to add some cushioning to protect the tree trunk. Thanks, we had a good weekend and I did get my bulbs into the ground. Still the potting-up ones to do yet. Oh… but I couldn’t resist a bargain and I’ve quite a few more to plant now than I had on Friday ;-) Yes, I’ve seen pictures of how cold it’s been at your end of the country – the reports suggest that it is warmer today for you. Enjoy the sunshine when you get it :-D

Anna – Great to hear :-) Yes, sometimes it needs a little patience with the feeders. Good to hear you are getting visitors now. Sorry, not sure what to suggest to squirrel proof existing feeders. If you have one feeder already you’ll know what they can’t get through. Perhaps, a bit unsightly perhaps, you could try making tubes out of plastic (squared) trellis supports and put your feeder inside. Putting a top and bottom on might be tricky though as you will need access to fill and clean the feeder. Then again this might make it tricky for the birds to use. LOL… just thought of something that might work and be entertaining at the same time! Assuming the squirrel will jump on to the top of the feeder first, why don’t you cover it with something slippery like Vaseline – you’d need to really coat the side edges of the top too. If you do give this a try please drop me a comment – I’d love to know if it would work ;-)

Denise – Yes, they do but the video footage I had of the female (not shown) at the pine tree peanut feeder shows that hers looks sharper – she certainly has a better technique to get at the peanuts. That video didn’t upload so well. Excellent, I hoped everyone would enjoy seeing the apple footage :-D

Barbara – That is interesting, I didn’t think there would be that much of a difference between Switzerland and Scotland. With the water content I guess -10 would not make apples a tasty bite! Yes, we are very lucky here at the moment that our soil is not frozen. I picked up more bargain bulbs at the weekend – so more to plant. I’ll still pot-up my tulips though. Thanks, wishing you a good week :-D

Miranda – Yes, I know we have been very lucky with the weather. Cold temps have hit most of the UK – for the moment we have been very lucky. It’s windy and wet today. Excellent, from memory you have had quite a huge success with nesting birds in your garden – not just the blue tits. I expect your large trees help too when it comes to looking for insects to feed the young chicks. I will be watching! Thanks, wishing you a good week too :-D

Susan Tomlinson said...

I've not had too much trouble with them finding the feeders--especially this year. It didn't take more than an hour of putting out the thistle seed this year before I had my first goldfinches.

When I first started, though (many, many years ago), it took about a week before the feeder was found.

Maybe some individuals remember from year to year, and that's why it doesn't take as long anymore?

shirl said...

Hi again Susan :-)

Ah… sounds like you probably have lots of trees around you. I think that is the key too. The birds then get a good vantage point to see into gardens.

Yes, it is funny to see how quickly birds can come to a feeder if it’s in the right place. I’ve swapped a couple about today to see if I can get the birds to use our new one. You were very lucky indeed to have only waited a week when you originally put up feeders. I have friends that have waited past a month and have been dreadfully disappointed.

Yes, I have wondered if some birds do remember where the feeders are even when they have migrated. What clever little things they are if they do :-D