Tuesday, 30 June 2009

As June bows out…

… the garden is reaching a crescendo! Bedraggled parent birds collect food, juveniles with beaks wide open are staggering around and new waves of blooms are opening daily to catch the eyes of passing bees as others fade away - their job done for the year.

Parent birds will soon get a rest to recover and many garden bloggers consider a break from the PC around this time of year too. It can be a balancing act there is no doubt when so much is going on outside. I am generally a late evening poster but on a nice night…


A garden has regular visitors at particular times of the year with an interest in a particular food or home. Blog visitors are not dissimilar although they don’t need fed or a place to stay… phew ;-)

My blogging thoughts are to entertain and hopeful inspire others to ‘gardenwatch’ as pre blog I really had no idea what I was missing...


However, I have made it my rule never to post just to keep my blog ticking over. I am quite an enthusiastic person (you may have guessed that already) so it’s all or nothing with me and that goes for postings too.

Time though, does determine things but honestly I really don’t go out of my way to pack everything in one posting. The problem is cutting things down to the best bits… that’s a tad tricky!


Please indulge me with this posting… much is for my own garden records here as we are half way through the year now. Gosh that is scary!! Okay... if I renamed this posting as my ‘Mid Year Report’ that might sound better… yes that would work ;-)


Memo complete… please do pull up a chair and partake in a tea/coffee break with me as we look back at what’s been happening in the garden during the last two weeks of June. I have been thrilled to see so many busy bees…





Juvenile blue tits at the feeders have been brilliant to see too especially after we had no family in our Camera Nestbox this year. The little ‘un in the video below has been a delight to watch out my window and as if on cue has just appeared at the feeder right now!! Just brilliant… so you really are seeing below what I am seeing as I write this :-)





Videos don’t always work for everyone I understand this (depending on bandwidth speed often) so here’s a photo too. The inset photo shows the blue tit juvenile the day after fledging and the main photo was taken a week on.

You can see how it has slimmed down and the beak has matured too. I do worry about the increase in cats passing through the garden at the moment though.


It is fascinating to see how quickly juvenile birds can 'grow up' and it’s hard to remember what that they were like before. But hey… we got another chance with the blue tits!

Last Friday evening another parent brought newly fledged young into my garden… I first heard their distinctive little chirps before I even saw them as the window was open.

My feeders were low in food as we’ve had some finches with Trichomoniasis and I had taken a few down. So it was quick dash to the cupboard for a small food processor to crush some peanuts.

Another quick, quiet dash outside next to add them to my mealworm basket feeder when the birds moved away... then the video camera was fixed to the tripod and out I went to see if they’d come back… and they did!! The parent took my newly crushed peanuts to feed the fledglings too so I was well chuffed.

The video footage below is just over four mins but I just couldn’t bring myself to cut it down any more. I left the sound up full at the beginning so you could hear the chirping but the wind noise was also loud so I cut the sound out again. I always see these first moments out into the world quite special.





Regular readers can possibly see a difference in my videos in this posting. I am trying out Youtube for the first time. I first began uploading my blog videos to Google and have around 125 there.

Then I began uploading to Bliptv to get less blurring with movement in shots. Filming birds feeding is quite a test again and as they move so quickly the processing compression for viewing online does suffer a great deal.

Blip cuts out a set number of frames per second and that helps reduce blurring where movement is concerned but as you can imagine that is okay for plants but for wildlife you don’t get an accurate representation of real life movement.

I have been pleased with my first tests with Youtube so far. Although if you are thinking of uploading videos I should stress that you do need a reasonable quality of film to start off with no matter who you use.

The video below was taken from behind a window and with the sun reflecting inside the room and on to the glass it isn’t the best of quality so after processing I knew this wouldn’t be the best for showing either.

However, it was the moment I was trying to capture and the contrast to the blue tit young above. The juvenile House sparrow patiently swings around waiting for Dad to bring it food as other birds whizz by it. I thought it was lovely and enjoyed picking the music for this film.





Many juveniles are coming into the garden at the moment… perhaps I should do a bird count next weekend. Some juveniles can be tricky to ID in the early stages like the goldfinch below.

I really wasn’t sure what it was from the front view although I wondered if I could just see wing bars. Once it turned around it was very clear to see that it was a juvenile Goldfinch. I had been hoping to get a photo of one of them so I was delighted.



Robin juveniles, I have never noticed in my garden before but there is probably a very good reason for that. To me, a non birder, they look so like the Dunnock. The top row in the montage below (sorry best pics I could get) shows what I do believe is a Robin juvenile.

You can see the Dunnock and Robin in the second row. I have convinced myself that the beak/eye shape suggests the juvenile is indeed a Robin that together with the way I saw it walk about.

Maybe I'm completely wrong but I am curious... so any confirmation here would be appreciated. Thank-you, I am hoping that when published all photos (especially the monatages) will enlarge if you click on them. Update: Comments from Liz & Jan and replies from the birdforum all confirm that the young bird below is a juvenile Dunnock - thanks everyone!



Confirmation of hedgehog visitors had been on my mind too. Lighter and warmer evenings made spotting them tricky too… that added to me not being completely super glued to a night camera! I then had another thought...

I do believe whatever has brought the hogs in could be what they will always associate with garden. I do believe the saying ‘a creature of habit’ really does apply to hedgehogs. Mm… during the middle of June something changed…


Water from the pipe flowing into my tiny pond went from a gentle trickle to drip, drip, drip. I switched the pump off but didn’t find time to look at it for almost a week. One evening as I was watching out for hedgehog visits it occurred to me…

There was no noise of running water in my garden anymore. I wonder if that made a difference. Perhaps not… but no sooner than I had solved this problem there I spotted a hedgehog near my pond feeding again. This was perhaps purely coincidental but interesting non the less.

Interestingly, another draw to this running water at my pond is juvenile birds. Newly fledged, they have been staggering around the area of rocks... slipping as they went as a parent finds food for them. I decided to make a small change to my pond hoping this would make for a safer drinking hole…

Of course, that just wasn’t enough was it… they wanted to bathe in it too!! So, another small change to accommodate that and then the water level drops dramatically overnight...

Yep… but I do not believe I have a leak in my pond but more likely instead a run back of water flowing outside the liner. That is trickier to find. This ‘small change’ resulted in many rocks being tumbled down as I investigated.

You can see the different changes with the rocks in the montage above. I also left the pump off overnight. Of course during dry spells the water level also goes down so once again a few factors to consider.

My conclusion is that after three attempts at this (leaving a day working between each) I still have a very small run back somewhere (no drop in level when pump is off). Argh… I really am happy with the stone arrangement at the moment too so I am a tad dissappointed.

I also considered the hedgehogs with this arrangement as they are drawn to the edge too. Perhaps another phrase 'leave well alone' springs to mind too! Too late now… just what have I started?





There is now a reasonably stable arrangement of rocks and I have since seen a hedgehog drink from there too which was brilliant! This has become such a popular spot for the moment as you will see in the videos showing two different arrangements of rocks (the later being the current one).

My immediate plan is to top up the water and keep an eye on any increase in drop time for the level. I will need to solve this yet though.

Oh... I perhaps should also point out that it isn't just the young birds that are drawn here other birds visit too including sick ones.

If you see a fat finch sitting nearby any water in your garden it is very likely to have trichomoniasis and sadly will likely die in 3-4 days. I would guess that the other birds that tried to join the juvenile blackbirds in these videos do have tricho. All you can do is keep feeders clean to help reduce the spread of this disease.





Going back to earlier in the month (the 10th) I had another problem to solve. Well… not so much a problem but a worry. Regular visitors may remember my surprise at seeing a hedgehog in my garden feeding during the day in its usual spot...

Blackbirds were somewhat bemused as it was 2.30pm in the afternoon! I took a few photos but did have slight concerns about being happy or not to see this hedgehog out during the day.

The following morning I did get concerned… it appeared as I sat at the PC leaving a comment on another blog where hedgehog visits are shared. How spooky was that?

However, it was the time that was spooky… it was 8.50am! I had company for breakfast and the blackbirds really were caught off guard as they swooped down for food under my Acer tree.

The hedgehog paid no attention to them and carried on munching through the sunflower hearts. The once again bemused blackbirds eventually joined in.

Sorry no photos or videos with this… I was to busy trying to work out what, if anything, I should do about this. My thoughts were that the hedgehog had to be sick to be out at this time although it was eating okay.

Nope… I just couldn’t leave it out there! Shoes on and after picking up a few sheets of newspaper out to the shed to retrieve a pet carrier and a food dish I went. Gardening gloves on... and taking a deep breath I bent down and picked up the hog and put it in the carrier… phew that went ok! That was stage one over.

I would need to call a rescue centre next to see what to do now. Not the day for this… my daughter was sitting her driving test in a few hours! She would also be using the car… the hedgehog could be hours in the carrier or at the worst overnight. Emergency plan two began…

A serious move around in my shed was in order next to retrieve a spare indoor guinea pig hutch that was stored there. The spare igloo would make a hide away too. Cardboard on the tray base would make for a more natural floor surface than the plastic. Yep… but further thought on the ink of the newspaper made me change it to brown paper.


Temporary hedgehog home set up and ready… I very gingerly opened up the pet carrier and lifted the hedgehog across. Initially it stayed put (but didn’t curl up) so I moved it closer to the igloo entrance and after a few minutes it went in.

This cage had a wire grid top which I fixed in place so nothing could get near the hedgehog. I placed it in a shady cool spot at my back door and put a cover partially over it to darken it slightly. Phew… sorted and an hour had passed!

After looking up the Hedgehog Preservation Society website for carers in my area I called the most local number. I was redirected to a central number for the SSPCA . They were very helpful when I explained my concerns. Well what a surprise… they would have someone come to me… well that was much easier. It would be a few hours.

I checked on the hog every now and again and it was moving about okay and had been seen eating and drinking as well as hiding under the crumpled brown paper. It was also seen stretching up the clear plastic corners trying to get out. Although I felt bad holding it there I would have felt worse if I had seen it dead in the garden another day.

Shortly after lunch a very happy and helpful SSPCA man arrived and gave the hog the once over. He was considering taking it away but as it curled up okay when he turned it over he was less concerned. It didn’t appear to have any ticks which would suggest ill health and its eyes were nice and clear too.

Placed on the ground we watched it walk about and although going quite slowly we watched where it went. It went around the border near my pond on a route I have seen hogs use often. The SSPCA man said that he would rather leave it in this environment where it knew its way about. Decision made then... it remained in my garden!

Still worrying, I found myself watching it wander about for a while in the afternoon (so odd to see during the day) but as you can see in the montage above it did return in the evening again… along well walked hedgehog routes! So... all was well in the garden once more… phew.




A few days later and a new hedgehog story began… the watch inside my daughter’s hedgehog house that she made at school. Ah yes… what I didn’t tell you last time was that we moved a camera into this house before we sited it in the border.

Okay… I won’t keep you in suspense with this… I haven’t any images of hogs inside it. I am ever hopeful we will see something and take regular photos of inside to check the patterns of the hay for movement. There is a little movement so something must be going inside. Fingers crossed here… a female resident would be nice!

My thanks go to Dora (the explorer) our guinea pig for doing a fine job above in showing what room a hog would have to move about... before the roof went on! The hand gives an idea of the quality of image we will get from the camera which looks pretty good to me. It would be just brilliant to see residents in here!



Initially I watched outside too with another camera but only ever saw a cat wander by. I also tried changing the hay base for leaves but decided to go back to the hay again. All I can do is experiment a little to see if something will entice a hog in. Then again… perhaps none are house hunting at the moment.



My daughter’s hedgehog house did look great but soon I discovered that this spot was getting sunshine coming in the entrance. I wouldn’t think a hedgehog would appreciate that. A move around was in order again.

I turned it and replanted around it again to try and shade it as much as possible. I also brought over a silver hebe over from another border. Sadly now, you can’t see much of the front of the house but ultimately we want it to be used. You can see how we positioned our camera in the montage above.


So that’s the birds and wildlife covered but what about the plants? Well, my last posting showed what was flowering in the middle of the month, and they are all still in flower, but since then a few other plants have come into flower as you can see in the montages and photos below. It is interesting to see that my magnolia has produced a handful of second flowers.







Finally... I have come to the end of this posting. Phew… I hear you say! I wonder how many visitors will read to the end... or how many are bravehearts enough to do so and in one sitting too... please do tell :-)

Hopefully, you will have found some parts of interest to you. I understand this is not your average blog post length however it has been 14 days since my last posting and at this time of year that is a long time in the garden :-)

For me, out of all the garden moments I have enjoyed this month the one, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have enjoyed the most is the regular influx of new blackbird fledglings arrive at my pond. More are to still to come too by the mouthfuls of sunflower hearts parent birds are still flying off with. I really have a soft spot for these very ordinary birds.


If there’s anyone still out there… what are your garden favs for this month?

All photos and videos shown above were taken in my garden during the last two weeks of June 2009 unless otherwise stated.

11 comments:

Liz said...

Hi Shirl, lovely to see a blog post!

Amazing photos and I love the videos if fledglings begging for food :)

This time of year certainly is fantastic for the plants as they all burst open - my cornflower have suddenly appeared and I have a wonderful sea of electic blue!

I would say it's a Juvenile Dunnock btw, the colour of the legs gives it away as wel as the general face/body shape :D

urbanextension said...

Don't worry Shirl. It was over 40 days before I blogged recently... just too much wildlife to see and no time to write about it!

Love the hedgehog pics. Glad you let it go and have given it a home (hopefully).

The fledglings have been wonderful this year. We have had so many they have been eating me out of house and home - and getting so brave!

My favourite plants must be the poppies (red of course) and sweet peas (love the smell).

Jane

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Hi Shirl,

LOL, is this a post or an entire book you just wrote? ;-)

It was, as usual, lovely to catch up with you, your garden, the birdies and hedgies. Once again we have much in common flower- and birdwise. Many fledgelings over here too, more than usual I think.

When the fledgeling blue tits leave the nest I keep my kittycats inside but the cats are not the problem, the magpies and jays are. They eat them as soon as the blue tits leave the nest. :-( Any ideas on how to stop this are very welcome.

Midmarsh John said...

Really enjoyed the video clips. YouTube have definitely improved the quality of their stored videos over this past year.

I know what you mean about the Blackbirds. I have had lots of juveniles and, like you, see parents rushing around with beaks bulging with food for another brood.

Too hot and muggy for me today. I am sat here with the curtains closed and the air conditioning blasting out a lovely gale of cold air and it isn't even 9am yet!

Love the flower collages. My own favourite here is my Raspberry Royale standard rose. It has so many flowers open I can hardly see the branches and stem. Pity it has no scent though.

easygardener said...

Lovely photos and videos.
It is no wonder the parents look so raggedy and tatty, they must be worn out.
I've got a small gang of noisy juvenile Blue Great and Coal tits visiting and they tweet very piercingly! Noisiest of all was a group of Starlings with young - loud, loud, ear splitting screaming. I was glad when they moved on.

Mom Taxi Julie said...

Awesome blog you have here!

Re said...

What a wonderful post, absolutely fascinating and it's going to be just perfect for you to look back on in the future. Thanks for sharing with us all.

ShySongbird said...

What a lovely post, full of all the goings-on in your garden, and my goodness there certainly is a lot going on:) Yes I did read all the way to the end and thoroughly enjoyed it and guess what? I read it all yesterday as well!! I loved the videos, particularly the Blue Tits being fed and I always love seeing your pond, but what a dreadful disease that is, I saw a few birds suffering from it here late last Summer, it is heartbreaking! That was when the Sparrowhawk arrived and I'm convinced it was the sick birds he took, he stopped visiting after a week or two and I didn't see any more sickly birds, so I rather looked on him as the garden doctor (in a manner of speaking)!

I loved seeing all your young birds, I have a feeling it is a juvenile Dunnock and not the juvenile Robin you had hoped.

I'm glad you did so much for the Hedgehog and that it seems to be okay.

Thanks for a great post Shirl, have a lovely weekend, yes I am watching the tennis, I've always been a big fan. I don't know whether you are but I'm guessing you may be following Andy Murray ;) As I write this I am eagerly awaiting his semi-final later this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

HiShirley,
just finished reading your blog (all the way through!) and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a lot is happening in your garden - it is a very busy place - thankyou for taking the time to share it with us all!! Nx

shirl said...

CONGRATUALTIONS!! Many thanks too, for taking the time to leave a comment after spending soooo long with this posting. I really do a appreciate every comment :-D

Last week the schools broke up for the summer in my part of Scotland. Routines are not out now but perhaps fewer, shorter postings could be on the cards – a good theory!

Liz – Thank-you, I was so pleased to get this posted:-) I have been snapping with my camera quite a bit so was thrilled to share some pics eventually. You know how it is I’m quite sure you have some great shots you show but I guess many are on the cutting room floor too. Your sea of blue sounds wonderful… I do love blue in the garden. Thanks, yes others agree and my query on the birdforum also confirms the dunnock juvenile :-D

Jane - Ah yes… I smiled at the way you wrote that posting! Yes, too much going on away from the PC. Yes, all is busy and well in the garden once more. Ah… enjoy your sweet peas I had a pkt of seed with some left over from last year that I meant to sow. I could picture red poppies around your garden :-D

Yolanda - LOL… yes perhaps you have something there! It was lovely, as always, to have you visit. Yes, it is always fascinating to hear how the European gardens compare… especially your in the Netherlands. Ah yes… I do remember you keep your cats in at fledging time but gosh I never considered Magpies and Jays getting the youngsters… funnily enough we’ve had a single Magpie land on over hanging branches and my shed roof recently. Oh no… he was perhaps looking for a snack! I’ll chase it next time ;-)

John - I hoped you might enjoy them. Yes, I had noticed you using YouTube so that’s why I thought I’d give it a try. Don’t like the advertising bits though. I would have guessed you enjoy blackbird visits too. Lucky you having air conditioning! Our muggy weather has broken for the moment thankfully. Ah… I love doing the flower collages… they give a burst of energy. Your rose sounds like a colour I would love in my garden at the moment. Yes, pity it isn’t scented as you say :-)

shirl said...

CONGRATUALTIONS!! and many more thanks, for taking the time to leave a comment after spending soooo long with this posting. I really do appreciate every comment :-D

Denise – Thank-you, so glad you enjoyed them. I really don’t have your knack for brief postings – must work on that… any tips? I agree the parents are quite simply run down! LOL… yes some juvs can be piercingly annoying especially the Starlings. On the positive side surely the Starlings must be moving away from the endangered species list :-D

Julie - Thank-you! Delighted you enjoyed your visit :-D

Re - Thank-you! So glad you found it interesting. Yes, this is a couple of weeks in the garden that will be nice to have logged to look back on. You are most welcome… it is great that we can all share on what is going on in our gardens… I see you keep chickens :-D

Jan - Thank-you, so glad you had the time read this posting… cannot believe you did so twice!! Loyal or what ;-) Yes, we’ve all got so much going on in our gardens just now haven’t we? Glad you enjoyed the videos – as you know, I love doing them :-) Yes... I used to think why don’t the Sparrowhawks take the tricho birds... they would be easy to catch too. I guess if they did once they would realise it wasn’t worth doing so again as under these fat looking birds there is actually nothing beneath the fluffy feathers as these birds are starving to death. However there may still be a connection as you suggest but perhaps, even when sick, these birds instinctively know to keep hidden from the Sparrowhawk. Thanks, yes you are spot on with the ID :-) Yep… that hedgehog was a worry. You are most welcome! Thanks, yes we did have a good weekend and hope you did too. LOL… yes we were watching Andy Murray and thoroughly enjoyed his matches. Pity he didn’t get further but I am guessing his time will come. We then had fingers crossed for Roddick :-D

N - Well done you! Wishing you a warm welcome too :-D Yes, sometimes there is just too much to post about and a live pause button would be great ;-) You are most welcome! It is great to be able to share our gardens and visits like this and the bonus is I had no idea how much fun it would be :-D