Monday, 21 November 2011

A Treecreeper to celebrate 5 yrs blogging!

My blog (shirls gardenwatch) has officially been online for 5yrs as of the weekend just passed. Wow… I honestly can’t believe it myself! It all began with a video of the European Robin from my garden for a homesick friend in Australia. I had absolutely no thoughts on how long I would keep it going – until Spring the next year?

During the last five years, this gardener and plants person has continued to garden and move plants as much as I always have. Many garden borders have changed, changed and changed again. In this time, my garden has evolved (slowly at first) into a wildlife garden. This wasn’t something I had planned. I can’t imagine my garden any other way now.

As a plants person, planting combinations with colour and texture still matter. Propagation by division has developed many areas with ground cover which cuts down on maintenance.

More importantly for me now though is how the ground cover affords safety for birds, hedgehogs and other creatures making their way around my garden. Don’t laugh now, but now I do consider hedgehogs when spacing evergreen plants so they always have a few ways through :-)


So where do you begin in a post to mark five years of blogging?

I could recount many sightings and re-post a variety of photo montages and videos - keeping you far too long and probably boring you silly if you've heard the stories before.

How do you find best bits over five years anyway?

I had thought a video would be good but alas… that old thing called time ran out. Cake anyone?



So, what are the chances of being at a window to see a bird that I never imagined I’d ever get the opportunity to see in my garden (no mature trees) appearing just a few days before my 5th Blogaversary? I’d say perfect timing for a celebration… a new blogging year lies ahead with new discoveries within a small garden. Now, before we chat Treecreeper...

My thanks go to everyone that has answered my queries and requests for advice with my blog and my garden visitors. Although huge now, the blogging world is still a very welcoming place. To my fellow bloggers, I’d like to say a huge thank-you for your friendship, links and comments over the last five years. I know how very difficult it can be to keep up with both new and old blogs. I very much appreciate your loyalty.

I dearly hope my enthusiasm for enjoying the mini wildlife reserves that our gardens can become has been a little infectious to blog visitors via searches, blog rolls, feeds or comments. After five years it would be great to think there are a few more nestboxes in gardens, bird feeders up, hedgehogs getting fed and plants being planted that feed bees, butterflies and other insects. That would be just brilliant :-)

However, I am not alone in my blogging enthusiasm. It has been wonderful to exchange chat with garden, bird & wildlife bloggers and enthusiasts over the last five years. I was a bit wary of the blog/email chatting at first but now I can’t imagine my blog without it.

Next, I’d like to apologise once again for my absence with postings, comments and blog visiting recently. I keep saying I'm back to posting and something comes along and takes up my time and attention.

What are the chances of two family members having a Laparoscopy within 9 weeks of each other? It was my youngest daughter this time and her appendix was finally removed. My husband is continuing to improve. Thanks again for all your good wishes for his health. It has been a scary and exhausting time that’s for sure.

So with everyone on the mend, let’s get back to the business of celebrating five years of blogging with our newest garden visitor but first I have to admit to…

Pre blog my bird identification was pretty much in the category of “oh… there’s a robin, blackbird, blue tit and what’s that little brown bird – a housesparrow?” I used a basic camera for holidays, days out and special occasions. I didn’t have bird feeders in my garden. Phew... that's my conscience cleared :-)

This morning, in complete contrast, a DSLR camera (with zoom lens) was sitting on a tripod beside my window… and a wildlife camera was outside showing live images on the corner of my monitor desktop. Both cameras were pointing in the direction of a tree.



The tree in question (shown above) is my red barked palmatum 'Sango-kaku'. Why such interest? My blog post title says all.

Last week a Treecreeper Certhia familiaris was spotted jerkily creeping round and up the slim trunk and branches of it. I couldn’t believe it. Although my camera was at hand I was too fascinated by what I was seeing that I never picked it up.

Yep… five years on I was able to spot and instantly ID a small brown creeping bird with a white underside. Wow… I knew this was a special visitor! I would dearly love if it became a regular (not getting carried away though as that’s probably not likely) as this is a wonderful little bird to watch. I feel quite privileged that it came to feed in my garden.

Since adding our first garden bird feeders (just 2 months before my blog began when my daughter was doing a school bird project) I have enjoyed watching the variety of birds that have visited my garden. I began taking photos or video of any new visitors so I could research what they were and what foods they liked to eat. I then started experimenting with feeders and foods. More birds came…

The Treecreeper that I spotted in my garden (certain on ID) last Monday morning has taken my garden bird species total to a staggering 31! I honestly can’t believe this. The majority of birds that are now regular visitors to my garden (like the finches) I had never seen (in or outside my garden) before I sat with my daughter trying to help her ID birds at a window for her project. Wow!

I have seen Treecreepers a few times at SWT Reserve Loch of the Lowes. It has been towards the end of the day we have spotted them. The image below was taken there yesterday after a brief visit. Being truthful, I went hoping to get a photo. I did...



Have you any guesses as to why I have joined this image with a coal tit (on the right, taken in my garden a few years ago)? Well the clue is in the word join :-)

Last Monday when I spotted the Treecreeper in my garden I was very much aware that there was a lot of activity at the feeders by Coal tits, Blue tits and Great tits. There was quite a crowd of them. When I was at Loch of the Lowes yesterday I spotted lots there too. I started to wonder if there was a connection. I picked up my books when I got home. Ah…

For those that don’t know, in winter, Treecreepers will often join in with mixed tit flocks. They like to take advantage of other eyes looking out for food. It helps keep them safe from danger too. It is also suggested that you are twice as likely to see a Treecreeper during winter months.

Oh wait a minute… what was I reading? Goldcrests and small warblers do the same… Ooooo!

What else was I reading? Ah… peanut cakes rubbed into tree trunks or similar surfaces might attract Treecreepers. Now… I had a tub of natural (unsalted ) crunchy peanut butter in my shed… bought for the birds :-)

This morning, as soon as it was bright enough to see in my shed I found my tub of peanut butter. I also found a handmade tree branch feeder I bought on a visit to Loch of the Lowes two years ago. Starlings showed too much interest with this feeder as it had wine corks nailed to it as perches. It was taken down.

The close-up insert in the garden image (seen earlier above) shows the tree branch feeder (with cork perches removed) jammed in and tied to a branch junction on the Acer tree where the Treecreeper was spotted. Some peanut butter was spread into the holes. Not too much, don’t want to attract too much attention at this stage. We don’t want Starlings descending and scaring away the Treecreeper!

The big question now is… did I see a Treecreeper feed from this feeder today? Nope… but that would have just been too easy! Oh… I also spread some peanut butter on a few pine cones I pulled off a small tree in my garden. I jammed them into tree branch junctions too. A Blue tit has spotted one of them :-)

So, there you have it… a new challenge in gardenwatching to start a 6th year of blogging. What fun I find these feeder challenges. Of course, if a Treecreeper does return… the challenge of getting photos and video will then begin :-)

Enjoy the challenges in your garden be they growing plants or encouraging birds and wildlife. Looking through our windows, our gardens can be pure theatre to watch with a cast of many - especially at this time of year. Thanks for garden watching with me :-D


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

21 comments:

Liz said...

Hi Shirl,

Hard to believe sometimes isn't it? For example I'm coming up to my 4th anniversary! I never imagined I'd stick it out so long! lol.

Helen said...

Happy blogiversary, Shirl. We just passed our 5th milestone year, and the date slipped by without our noticing. That's what happens when you get busy It's a great community we are part of. Keep writing and having fun.

Janet said...

Hi Shirley, what a difference 5 years make. You've got a very impressive set up with cameras and an impressive breadth go knowledge about wildlife. Even in the short time I.'ve been blogging I spend a lot more time really looking at things. I was down on my knees the other day taking photos of tiny mosses. And we've joined the wildlife trust at the Montrose Basin.
Hope you are all on the way to rude health. here's to your next 5 years go blogging.

Cher' Shots said...

CONGRATS on your 5th Blogaversary! Time flies when you're having fun.
'hugs from afar'

Little Brown Job said...

What a great find in the garden and congratulations on five years!

David Marsden said...

Big Congrats, Shirl and I'm pleased you've been rewarded with a treecreeper (didn't know that they flocked like that). Is there a post where you talk about your camera? I was just wondering how powerful a zoom you have? Mine is 200mm which I find is rarely strong enough. And yes please, a large slab of cake for me. And a cup of tea?

Magic Cochin said...

5 years! Happy Blogaversary Shirl's Gardenwatch!

I love popping over to see what's going on... your blog is so full of insight, information and inspiration.

Watch out for my Wildflowers and Walks blog in 2012 ;-)

Celia

ThePluckyHaggis said...

Delicious Treecreeper cake - a real peanut-butter special to commemorate this flighty 5 year milestone! Well done Shirl & Thank you!

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

A tree creeper is really exciting - this year has been a good year for first we had our first siskins and first bullfinches.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am so glad I found your blog Shirley. We are so like-minded. I love seeing what comes to your garden whether it be covered in feathers or leaves. We had a tree creeper in our garden this fall already too. We call them Brown Creepers. They are so small and blend in to the tree trunks I can't imagine anything but a cat getting them. They feed off the suet cakes here if it is really cold. I am glad to hear your family is recooping well. Geez you all have been through the mill lately. Happy Blogaversary and I hope you have many more years to enjoy blogging. I say this in a very selfish way. I so enjoy your blog and I know you are enjoying it too since you keep up the good work.

wellywoman said...

How lovely to see a treecreeper in your own garden. I always feel really chuffed when wildlife visits my garden. I was so excited when a spotted a hummingbird hawkmoth in my garden and I was buzzed by a peregrine falcon the other day coming in through my gate. Congratulations on your 5 year blogaversary, that really is an achievement, I've only been doing it for 3 months.

Christina said...

A very well deserved birthday present from the bird community, maybe they want to say Happy 5 years blogging! Thanks for sharing you images, videos but more importantly your enthusiasm. Christina

VP said...

Happy Blogaversary Shirl - you know how to celebrate in style :)

Thanks for your support and friendship over the years :)

Here's hoping your husband and daughter's recoveries continue to go well.

Juliet said...

A happy birthday to your blog! - and congratulations on seeing the treecreeper, how wonderful for you. I hope it comes back and gives you plenty of photo opportunities!

I also hope your husband and daughter both continue to make a good recovery - glad to hear your daughter had the appendix out in the end, much better than having it sitting there grumbling for ages.

Orchids and Nature said...

Congratulations on sticking at your blog for 5 years, I've always found your blog interesting and inspirational. At this time of year I find it hard to be imaginative and publish a blog that is not a repeat of previous years.

Wife, Mother, Gardener said...

Congrats! I have enjoyed reading along this year.

shirl said...

Hi everyone, thanks for all your comments. Hope you’ve all had a good week :-)

Liz, it is – 4yrs for you, gosh you’re doing well too :-)

Helen, oh… a belated Congrats to you too! Thanks, you too :-D

Janet, exactly! If anyone said I’d have nestcams and night cams 5½ yrs ago I would have said not likely. Blogging does make us look more closely and for info for all manners of things doesn’t it? I write my posts on word docs and gather lots of info and links for my post which often ends with the small version. Each time I learn more. Ah… the Montrose basin… I still have a photo selection/story awaiting posting from a visit there last year – a bit of a drive from here but an interesting place and well worth visiting. Thanks, yes fingers crossed :-)

Cher, absolutely! Great timing too. Thanks :-)

David, thanks this bird was one I would never have expected to see. I’m in a housing scheme too albeit near the edge of our small town. Yes, I have posted about my cameras (see Menus/My Garden & Blog/Welcome/My Cameras ) although this page needs updating as I have a different a different video and the Canon Powershot is capoot. My Zoom is max 200mm too. I generally crop my photos, However my bird feeder area is just outside my window so distance is manageable. I’d love a bigger zoom though :-) Oh yes…. We do teas too ;-)

Celia, Thanks, what a generous comment! Oh yes… you’ll be giving me the insights and inspiration on the Wildflowers… looking forward to it :-D

PluckyHaggis, it was! Thanks, thanks for popping by too :-)

Sue, it was very exciting. Brilliant to hear about your firsts. Siskins are pretty much one of the regulars here as large mixed groups bring them in. In the last 2 yrs they’ve brought juveniles in which has been lovely. Now… the bullfinch is still to make an appearance here. I’d love to see them here. We had Bramblings as a first last winter. That was exciting too :-)

Lisa, Thank-you, I agree completely on being like-minded. Ah… now I remember your brown creepers from previous post. I love the little brown birds that go unnoticed with the more colourful birds. Thanks, this has definitely been a major family time. Thanks, you are very generous – BTW I hope you keep going too :-D

wellywoman, It was, I agree with you completely. Funnily enough a Moth caught my eye earlier this year. Don’t know what it was as it moved pretty quickly when I got startled by it. It looked quite special too. Thanks, 3 months in blogging terms will be going a lot quicker than when I started. Heaps going on nowadays to get involved in and meet other bloggers – enjoy :-D

Christina, yes that’s what I exactly what I was wondering! Thanks for being interested in my images, I always hope my enthusiasm shines through. Thanks :-D

VP, oh yes! It’s being nice getting to know you too :-) Perhaps one of these times I might join you in your ‘meets’! Thanks, fingers crossed on the recoveries from what has been the most awful few months .

Juliet, lol… love the image :-) Thanks, that was really a special sighting. To be honest really do think I may never see it again but you never know. Thanks, we’re really hoping for as full as possible recoveries too. Yes, I think the Appendix coming out was a good plan :-)

David, thanks the years have gone by too quick at times and many imaginative ideas for posts have yet to see the blogger pages. There are many folders of photos edited to go and others waiting. .. and there’s the videos and you know what is involved there. I hear what you’re saying about repeating topics. It’s always a tricky one. I’ve enjoyed my visits to your blog :-)

WMG, thanks! I hope I can continue to entertain you ;-)

Midmarsh John said...

Congratulations on your 5th Blogiversary. Lovely to see the Treecreeper in your garden. Always great to have something different pay a visit.

Hanna at Orchid Care said...

Whether you realize it or not, five years in the blogging arena is beating the odds many times over because most people do not persevere quite so intently.

First let me congratulate you on your longevity and then let me also congratulate you for doing such a find job of posting very interesting articles along with incredible photos.

Kudos, kudos, kudos and please keep it up!

Carol said...

Happy Anniversary to your great blog Shirl! I hope your family are all improving with each day. Best wishes for the next coming year blogging.

shirl said...

Hello again everyone, sorry I missed these comments :-)

John, thank-you. Oh yes, that Treecreeper visit was fleeting but really very special and exciting :-D

Hanna, what can I say? Thank-you for such a generous comment… I do appreciate it :-)))

Carol, thank-you! Everything is ticking over better just now… just the usual colds to interfere with day to day life :-) Thanks, thinking hard how to mix things up over the next year… need to be quicker about it though :-)