Monday, 21 March 2011

Phew! Flying past...

...to the middle of the month with ‘Boofle’ in birthday cake form, sunny mornings, blue skies, first flowers opening, a snow covered garden, flattened flowers, grey skies, heavy rain, an invasion of Finches, recovering flowers, new shoots through the ground, a lengthy visit from Mr S. and short ones by Jack Frost . The cameras have been recording…

However, this post would never upload if included all the images that I’d like to share. Plants, birds and wildlife are all kicking into action for 2011... and the outdoors beckon us.

Here’s what’s been going on in my small Perthshire garden. I'm going to try and keep this brief so you've got time to view the videos and I've more time to visit you :-) Note there is background music with all videos.

By special request I made my daughter’s 18th Birthday cake – I should say it was a tad scary when I stood in front of a six cakes high tower and made my first cut!

It was also scary that our youngest was 18 and how much snow we had covering the garden the next day. Earlier that week we had seen plenty of sunshine and warmer temps.

On the positive side of the snow covered garden the Bramblings returned with good numbers of Goldfinches and Chaffinches. There were Siskins and Greenfinches too. However, the food kept getting covered so I opted for putting some under shrubs.

My Snowflakes were covered in snowflakes as were the first flowering Crocus. I was especially sad to see the tight, deep pink flowers making up balls for the drumstick Primula’s completely covered. Signs of Spring were temporary cancelled.





The next day, it was all change in the garden again. You could be forgiven for thinking we were having April showers. It rained and rained.

You would never have believed there had been a good covering of snow the previous day except for sights like the first crocus flowers... flattened to the ground...




However, the Crocus in my lawn that hadn’t opened their flowers looked quite happy in the rain. The Snowflakes looked so shiny new that they almost looked like plastic. I took these photos (with a flash) at the end of that day when the rain finally stopped.

Allium leaf crowns looked like quite tropical on the ground as did the Hellebore flowers. Regular visiting birds like the Blackbirds finally managed to get to the feeders then too.

That rainy Sunday was even busier for the bird feeders than the snowy one… not possible you’d think? Well, as they say… expect the unexpected… especially when gardenwatching!




March the 13th was definitely not an unlucky day in my garden. It gave way to a sight I have never seen before. It was fascinating to watch. I had no idea where to look at times. Lol… it wasn’t raining men… it was raining Siskins ;-)

For those that don’t see Siskins, the short video below shows a female on a peanut feeder on the snowy day and a group of male Siskins at a feeder on the rainy day. They are tiny little birds although quite feisty too.




Now… the tree in the next photo below is one that has appeared on my blog a number of times. It is a very large mature tree that I can see from over the hedge in my garden.

The last spectacle from this tree was groups of Waxwings back on the 13th of November. The number 13 doesn’t appear to be unlucky in my garden it seems ;-)




As you might expect, later on in the day at this time of year, the sky was dull. The image of the tree isn’t the best but was taken for reference. The silhouette shows the dots (which are Siskins) on the top branches.

Now… take a look at what happened next…


View full screen to see action more clearly


For those that can’t view the video above, the Siskins leave the distant tree singly and in good sized groups and make their way to my garden and feeders. I’m guessing since my neighbour has just pruned his Cherry tree my garden is more visible from a distance.

Oh… what a pity the Cherry tree wasn’t pruned at the time of the Waxwings visiting the area. There are other mature trees to the left of my garden and between the two I’d take a guess that there were a good 100+ Siskins leaving them.

Once a few Siskins took flight, others joined in and the large group began flying together. With the group becoming big and the space in my garden where the feeders were quite a narrow (being between the House and our Leylandii hedge) the birds were having trouble landing at times.

They then began to circle above my garden and house. With every loop they circled it got wider and then more birds joined in. It really was fascinating to watch. I failed in following the groups moving in the sky and opted to set the tripod (at my window) on one position and crossed my fingers.

I was lucky and managed to capture the essence of this wonderful sight – they did land eventually too! Wonderfully, this sight lasted a few days although I was getting a tad worried about my neighbours possibly getting bothered by this. The birds were quite vocal too.

I’m guessing you’ve spotted Mr S. below. A few days later and once the very large group moved on, but there were still a good number of finches visiting, and the rain returned… Mr Sparrowhawk made a very polite appearance.


Screen grab from video below


He stayed in the same spot for over 10 minutes too – on the Arch holding the bird feeders seen with the male Siskins above. It was raining quite hard. He gave his head a good shake on a few occasions to get rid of the wet. I’ll let you take a look…




Once again, I found this a fascinating sighting in my garden. I was particularly transfixed by those eyes of his. He didn’t dine in my garden on this occasion :-)

A few days on again and it was all change once again and we had a few frosty mornings. The montage below was taken on Friday morning just after I had topped up the bird feeders.




Over the weekend I thought we’d see our first daffodils opening their flower buds. Odd tete a tete ones have now opened but I’m looking forward to the return of Ice Follies :-)

I’m also looking forward to the return of hedgehog sightings in my garden in the evenings (food now available at Hedgehog Manor) and more daytime visits to our new nestcam box for 2011. You can see it in the photo above.

You can also see that we have boarded up or original nestbox that had a successful brood of Blue tits fledge last year. Now… that’s another story :-D


This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in March 2011.

10 comments:

Janet said...

That is a fabulous photo of the sparrowhawk. Aren't they magnificent birds!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

My goodness, you have been busy lately. So has your garden. The sparrow hawk looks so serious in that photo grab. Happy Spring.

Christina said...

Brilliant photo of the sparrow hawk, we have them here too; and a pair of kestrels are nesting in a tree about 500 yards away, they were there last year and we were lucky enough to see them fledging and being encouraged out into the world by their parents.
Christina

Midmarsh John said...

Brilliant Shirl. The new camcorder, and operator, are doing very well - excellent video clips. I was only thinking the other day that Scotland seems to have had more than its fair share of snow these past few months but the Siskins certainly helped to make up for it.
Superb video of the Sparrowhawk as well.

Gardeningbren said...

Oh Shirl...I've been missing your posts but now I know what you've been up to!! The Sparrow Hawk footage was just fantastic....I kept looking at his chest feathers and how his neck moved but not those...and how he shifted from leg to leg at one point...growing tired. I learn such a lot from your blog.

Shady Gardener said...

Shirl, You always have much to report! Is your March weather usually unsettled? We can never count on March to be less than in and out of Winter. But that's okay. It gives us so much to look forward to! :-)

ShySongbird said...

So much going on in your garden Shirl! The Siskins must have been a huge thrill, what a treat to see them and in such large numbers too. I don't expect to see them in my area but did have two visit the garden on a daily basis for nearly a week three years ago...before I had a suitable camera :(

Great video of Mr S too, when I see those scary, piercing eyes I'm very glad I am only a 'virtual' Songbird :)

Lovely to see your Spring flowers too, I hope the snow has left you for good now.

Thank you Shirl, I will be in touch soon ;)

Orchids and Nature said...

Enjoyed your video footage especially the video on the Siskins, you must be pleased with the 720p quality.

shirl said...

Hi there everyone, I hope you’ve all had a good weekend :-)

Janet, thanks, it was magnificent to watch :-)

Lisa, you get busy spells like that don’t you? Yes, I thought Mr S almost looked regal – definitely King of the Garden ;-)

Christina, thank-you. Wow… seeing Kestrels nesting and young fledging near you must have been quite special. Lucky you :-)

John, thank-you! Not had the same filming opps recently but liking the results so far. Yes, we can get late snows and snow in April is always possible too. I never get too comfortable with garden planning at this time of year despite the warm spells we can get too. The Siskins really were an amazing sight and my camera angle didn’t cover the whole view either. Loved the hawk footage too – lucky there :-)

Shady, yes… I don’t usually struggle with topics from my garden ;-) Yes, very much so – March is always unsettled. This year we haven’t had a bad time with wind which can be quite strong at this time. Enjoy your Spring days when they come :-D

Jan, yes… always it seems. The Siskins were spectacular. Even my daughter’s friend (not remotely interested in birds) was drawn to the window to see them and was fascinated. Hope you get to see them visit you again. Lol… yes good job you are virtual. I was amazed at how long Mr S stayed. In some ways he looked lonely… however those eyes and that glare every now and again! Thanks, I hope the snow has gone too. I am enjoying the Spring flowers and seeing all the new growth emerging with each day. Enjoy your garden :-D

David, thanks. I guess I could have experimented with my video editing software with the Siskins and brought some colour up but you couldn’t see the birds leave the tree then. Yes, I am pleased with the quality and look forward to seeing what it’s like with stronger light levels over the summer :-D

Andy said...

Along with the rest of the comments the sparrowhawk photo really is very good. We have a ?family? of red kits that we regualry see over our garding, particulary on a hot day, we can hear them first (A very shrill distinctive cry) then see them progressing across the village in big lazy swoops. Thats when we notice all the pigeons have taken cover . . .