Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Embracing the season

On the last Sunday of October, here in the UK, we turn our clocks back one hour and adhere to Greenwich Meantime (GMT). Darker mornings and darker evenings make daylight time in the garden all the more precious. Let me share my Autumnal garden with you….

Glorious rich colours transform our landscapes in October be they in towns, countryside or gardens. A windy, rainy or cold day see the leaves dramatically drop to the ground from trees and shrubs. For a short time they make a magic carpet on the ground in patterns of colour that only nature can mix.

Sound is also picking up at this time of year as birds congregate more to feeders in our gardens for extra sources of food. The video below gives an idea of a quieter moment in my garden during the 14th of the month. If you have speakers I might suggest you turn them right up.

On second thoughts… perhaps you might like to pour yourself a cuppa first. A bird to listen out for in this video is the Robin with its short abrupt series of quick tik-ik-ik-ik-ik. You’ll also see a temp plant nursery under my pergola of the plants lifted, divided and potted from the area being cleared for my new pond.




Leaves blowing about the ground get into ponds and bird baths at this time of year. On Sunday I gave my bird baths a clean and topped them up with fresh water but with the rain today I needn’t have bothered. Duck weed is covering my pond at the moment and I may just leave it a little longer to see if it keep leaves from landing in it.

Ground feeding birds like Dunnocks and Blackbirds search through the leaves no doubt in search of insects underneath. I’ve thrown some apples on the ground for the birds but for some reason the birds aren’t taking the food I’ve been putting on the ground. I don't know what's been going on there as this has been a popular spot for a long time.


On Sunday, I cleaned the sticky mass of sunflower hearts that had not been eaten in my small wire ground feeders then refilled them with sultanas. I also twisted some cones off my pine trees and spread some peanut butter into the open spaces now the seeds have been removed… coal tits and great tits I suspect! You can see these cones in smaller photos above.

House Sparrows have been enjoying the fat balls in my feeder causing quiet a bit of commotion as they queue to get in it. Unusually they have caused quite a debris of sunflower hearts on the ground below the feeders as they fight at them too.

Once again, for some reason, this food has been wasted on the ground. Don’t know what’s being going on with the Blackbirds at the moment but they are visiting ... perhaps a prowling cat? Last week I was delighted to see a Song Thrush appear.

Cotoneaster berries are starting to turn past their best and I am surprised the Blackbirds haven’t been gobbling them all up already. Once they do start taking them they will all be gone in a day!

Someone has been nibbling at my tiny Alpine/woodland strawberries and I have to say it doesn’t look like a bird. I wonder? A field mouse perhaps?

The log feeder above I picked up in the visitor shop at SWT Reserve Loch of the Lowes a few months ago. One member of staff/volunteer had made them with the idea of putting peanut butter in them. I put it up at the time but Starlings caused way to much noise with this and I never refilled it. It was in a hidden location too!

On Sunday I moved and refilled it with peanut butter hanging it beside other feeders to see if the chaffinches will take it as they do at the Wildlife Centre. Today I noticed that someone has taken food from it but I haven’t seen who. There is some left so I'd doubt Starlings have been near! Come to think of it we aren't seeing many chaffinches visit the garden at the moment.

Guess who has been making themselves heard flying over my house at the moment? Sorry blurry photos...

Migrating birds are on the move all around the UK at the moment. Up here we have Pink Footed Geese who’ve popped down from Iceland to spend the winter here. They feed in the fields during the day and we see/hear them overhead coming and going.

I’ve yet to get good video footage of them as no sooner do you hear them and they have past. Some incredible numbers too and quite a speed they travel at. My goal is to get them in the evening if I can with a red sunset. Well… I’m as well going for the full challenge!



Chris Packham mentioned on the BBC television shown Autumnwatch the other week that Blackbirds are on the move with some leaving the UK and some new ones arriving. He said you’ll be able to spot the new ones as they will be timid around the garden.

That’s good advice as that’s exactly how I spot new birds arriving in my garden. The Blackbird in the photo above was timid and sat forever partially hidden in the undergrowth. Perhaps it was a newbie. This photo was taken through the window.

It was after seeing this blackbird that I put out some sultanas… a fav for the Blackbirds here. I had my camera on my tripod taking photos for this posting as the light was going. I had been standing still and didn’t notice who had spied the sultanas right beside the leg of my tripod…



What a surprise this was! I haven’t seen any hedgehogs in my garden for a number of weeks now but wouldn’t expect them to be in hibernation just yet as it isn’t too cold here. I wonder what they are up to. Perhaps they are sleeping more and feeding in shorter spells just now staying local to their winter homes. My new des res with camera is still available for any late house hunters!

Surprise quickly over with a few photos especially since it was the first to show interest in my peanut butter coated cones… it was very interested! I was now more interested in its weight as it didn’t look too big and was most likely a juvenile.


A quick quiet walk to my shed for gloves to pick it up with the intention of weighing it wasn’t quite quick enough. It was gone on my return. I walked around and around this border and this area for quite a while but it was nowhere to be seen. This visit was about 5:45pm.

Plan B then… a dish of peanut butter! Later on Sunday night I put my camera out and watched this area live fully expecting to see this little hog return to the sultanas and peanut butter cones. Gloves were closer to hand to pick it up.

Sadly, I haven’t seen it since. I do hope it returns as I have a feeling this one perhaps should spend the winter in a wildlife centre as it is too small to survive hibernation out in the wild.


I should mention one very important point here. Just as you shouldn’t put salted peanuts out for hedgehogs if you were to consider putting peanut butter out for the birds (or hedgehogs) the same rule applies. Choose a natural product from a wildlife centre or health food shop with no added salt.


Coming back to the flowers just holding on and we have a few brave Cosmos that are struggling against a few rain showers. Red campion is still flowering away in odd corners in my back and front gardens. Seed pods are open and I suspect many are already on the ground.

The blue gentian flowers have been pretty in pots under my pergola but I do have a master plan for them. They were bought as Sale plants in a garden centre where they were staring to go past their best. Propagation was on my mind and a river of blue around an edge of my new pond.

After pushing the pot bound plants out of their pots I pulled the plants gently apart and re-potted the smaller pieces in individual pots. From £5 of material in two pots I got 24 new plants that will bulk up for planting next year. It’s been a while since I’ve had gentian in my garden and I cannot wait to see its wonderful blue flowers reflecting in the water.


Green is also a fantastic colour in the garden in all its many shades and textures. With all the chat about letting grasses and perennials do there thing for structure and interest in the garden over the Autumn and Winter months (which I love to see) it is easy to forget the structure that evergreens give in our gardens. I love the foliage in my garden especially over the Autumn and Winter months.

Another tip from Chris Packham on the Autumnwatch show… look out for bees, wasps and other insects feeding on ivy flowers just now. In previous years I have seen birds at them but never noticed insects. I took a closer look...



A quick Congrats to the BBC… I have to say I am liking the new format of weekly shows rather than the daily ones in previous years. I also think Chris and Martin have fitted in well now. Being weekly the show is embracing a longer period of this changing season through a wide range of wildlife. It is much more interesting and I do hope a wider audience watches the show now.

Over now to my intended show for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day back on the 15th of this month. I was organised a little ahead capturing the video footage of birdsong video above and the video below on the 14th. Evenings came and went and I didn’t get time to look at this until tonight.

The video below begins with the dancing flowers in my sunnier front garden and then the music changes as we go into my shadier back garden. Look out for my footprints in the space I’m clearing for my new pond.

You’ll also get the tiniest piece of footage at the end of a small group of geese flying overhead as I was filming the garden. Unfortunately I discovered tonight I have recorded over a better piece of video.




Without a doubt my fav flowering plant in my front garden this year by far has been a newbie for this year and has been flowering for many, many months. The perennial wallflower Bowles Mauve has been brilliant to look at just outside my front door and the bees and butterflies have loved it too.



At a guess the Red Admiral butterfly seen feeding on this wallflower in the video below taken last week may be one of the last butterflies to visit my garden this year. I’ll keep an eye out the next sunny afternoon and have my camera close at hand just in case.




Embracing this changing season in the garden as plants lose their leaves will allow us once again be able to get better views of visiting garden birds. Perhaps we can only weekend gardenwatch in daylight hours but I still wonder what birds will appear in our gardens this winter.

Oh... I also plan to keep on gardening through the cooler wet days as well as the crisper ones! I'm taking my time with my new pond area working on it when I can. Wishing you good weather to enjoy the wildlife and plants in your garden at this time of year.

All photos above were taken in my garden on October 24th 2009. All videos shown above were taken in my garden during October 14th-24th 2009.

15 comments:

Gigibird said...

I have my oven mitts and scales ready as a very small hog turned up in my back garden last night....
I find it rather amusing how nothing is too good for our garden visitors....
If I can catch him tonight he's off to Brent Lodge to over winter.
I never thought to put peanut butter out...duh

shirl said...

Hi there Gigibird, oh my … your hog is getting real comfort with oven gloves ;-)

Hope you catch it. I’ll need to set up a camera again tonight to catch ours. The sultanas are all gone so I’ll put more out later as that is what it went to first.

The peanut butter I put on cones for the ground as an experiment for the ground feeding birds. I had absolutely no idea that a hog would be interested in it.

The shallow plastic plant saucer of peanut butter hasn’t been touched and is now starting to fill with water. Perhaps I should jam it between two rocks on its side to see if it gets any takers there. I really don’t understand why this popular feeding area for birds has been so quiet.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your post was just great Shirl. I thoroughly enjoyed the first video. Seeing that little hedgehog so close was fun too.

Liz said...

wonderful photos Shirl, I do love the reds of the thin-leaved Acer! So vibrant... Must resist getting one myself.... lol.

I'm also loving the perennial wallflower, it looks very nice!

A wildlife gardener said...

Beautiful Autumnal garden, Shirl :)

Great to see hegie back...

Loves all the videos..

Superb posting, as always :)

Patsi's 'Garden Endeavors' said...

Ooh...great color !
Never thought about how the sound is much clearer this time of year, the birds sound delightful.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

What a delightful post! I like to watch migrating birds, I always did. There is something sad and something eternal about them.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Wow, Shirl! You covered lots in this post! I enjoyed all the subjects, photos, and videos. I was surprised when music played instead of the sounds of the birds and such on the first one that had it. I enjoyed it, though, and was ready for it on the next one. I love how you put the videos together.

That wallflower is pretty. I have an orange kind. I wonder if they both bloom at the same time.

Thanks for your comment on my blog. Enjoy all your critters!

Elephant's Eye said...

We can choose supermarket peanut butter, with no added salt and sugar, but our birds don't need so much help thru the South African winter.

Lee said...

Thanks for stopping by for a visit, we've had geese going by this last week also. Love the little hedgehog. We don't have them here, they look prickly like a porcupine, are they? Take care, have a great weekend.

Carol said...

Beautiful post Shirl! I love all but the night photograph really lights up your small tree in a haunting way! Great critter pics too. The fall colors look so great with your site colors! Carol

Midmarsh John said...

Thoroughly enjoyed a browse round your Autumn garden and especially the video clips. Lovely clip of the Blue Tit taking a peanut.
I have noticed especially this year how much activity there has been round the Ivy flowers.

shirl said...

Hi again everyone, hope this weekend hasn’t been too wet for you all :-)

Lisa – Thank-you, I loved editing that one too. Ah yes… there were more close-ups of that hedgehog later on in the week!

Liz – Thank-you, me too these thinner leaves are especially nice! Yes, I can hear your arms tied behind your back struggling to break free… LOL. Yep… that wallflower is a winner. The next question though is will it be hardy enough to stay where it is?

Wildlife Gardener – Thank-you, Barleycorn must be wonderful at the moment. Hope you are able to enjoy it :-D

Patsi – Thank-you, you know I never thought of the sound being clearer until you mention it. I have noticed though all sound here is much clearer after rain. You hear the traffic of a busy road more then too. The birds are much nicer to listen to though :-D

Tatyana – Thank-you, watching migrating birds is relatively new to me… or should I say noticing and appreciating them is. Ah… I guess your right there :-D

Sue – Thanks, I enjoy mixing things together in postings. LOL… funnily enough most of my videos have music and more regular readers wouldn’t have expected just the birdsong :-D Much of my filming is done through a window and outside footage can have lots of background noise in it as I have houses all around my garden hence I cut sound. I add music to make it entertaining. If birdsong is clear I will not cut it out. Mm… don’t know if they will flower together but the colour mix would be vibrant if they did. I enjoyed my visit to your blog… wishing you fun watching wildlife too :-D

Diana – Good point, if it is available there that would be just as good. Yes, you have highlighted differences between our locations. Some of our birds migrate to you and some arrive from you like the Blackcaps :-)

Lee – You are welcome. I had time to browse further that day and I do enjoy discovering new blogs. Yep… the hedgehog is prickly too. It rolls up into a ball when under threat. Thanks we did. Enjoy the rest of yours :-D

Carol – Thank-you! You are quite correct there… oh, I missed an opportunity there to be creative ;-) Glad you enjoyed the wildlife and photos. I agree I loved the colour mixes too :D

John – Glad you enjoyed them, it’s always nice to share fuller garden images. Yes, I will be honest in saying that I really cannot compare the years as I’m only now noticing the activity at the ivy. Maybe that does say something although our flowers are quite high up :-)

ShySongbird said...

A lovely autumnal atmosphere here Shirl. I loved the first video in particular with the birdsong.

I keep meaning to try the peanut butter trick but would have to put it high up in tree branches and I already have visions of Louis climbing the trees to reach it ;)

I will be interested to see how your perennial Wallflower fares, I had it and loved it but it didn't do well after the first year although a relative has one in a milder area of the country which thrives year after year.

shirl said...

Hi again Jan, I’m delighted you enjoyed them. The colours and sounds are just wonderful at this time of year aren’t they :-D

Ah now…. There is a trick to the peanut butter thing…. keep it away from the Starlings. LOL… at Louis climbing the tree for it! Funnily enough just today I noticed a blackbird take it from the cones scattered around rocks.

Thanks for the tip. I was wondering what I should do. You’ve helped me make my mind up. UP my attic I have a couple of large bell jars for protecting plants. I think I’ll bring them down and have them on standby for the colder spells. It would be a shame to lose them.

Enjoy the rest of your week :-D