Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year Wishes from…

There were many nominees from the 2012 gardenwatch year that could be fitted with a Scottish kilt graphic and bring a smile to blog visitors. I’ve considered quite a few fun ways to review the year too. Then, after walking into my local supermarket and hearing the Scottish music playing I decided there was another way… something to help get round the Hogmanay cleaning too perhaps?

Jimmy Shand, a favourite of my Dad, will play out 2012. The first ‘tune’ in the video below is a Bluebell Polka. The image in the video of the Bluebell wood is also a reminder to me that I want to visit more gardens in 2013 and I’ve never seen a Bluebell Wood before so it’s going top on my list. Believe it or not, I’ll likely be heading to where I grew up as a child! It’s that just the way ;-)

The second ‘tune’ in the video below is ‘The Northern Lights of old Aberdeen’ and that’s one that my Dad would play on his harmonica (or mouth organ as we would call it). This tune is apt in many ways.

I’ve become keen on watching out for sightings of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) from my garden and caught a slight glimpse one night this year. I was amazed – it was a first for me. I’ve followed links to many stunning images and followed the fun of sightings via twitter too. Perhaps we should head up to Aberdeen in 2013 which is also where my eldest daughter will be taking in the New Year this year – a first again.

Okay, it's time to get your dancing shoes on. Wait a minute though... before you start jigging around the room to the video below, I’d like to wish good health and happiness to you, your family and friends for 2013.

See you next year!

Shirley x

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in December 2012.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Wishes from…

There were two nominees up for the Santa hat and song at shirls gardenwatch this morning. The now regular female Great Spotted Woodpecker came runner-up due to the fact that a hat would fall off her head as it’s always tilted when she feeds at the fat cake and peanut feeder.

The Coal tit on the other hand, although fast and fun darting through feeders and branches can stop from time to time –for just a moment I grant you. However, just long enough to hold on a hat and mime a Christmas jingle ;-)

Oh… and the Coal tit also had some lines to remember too… “on behalf of the birds and wildlife at shirls gardenwatch our thanks go to everyone for following and commenting on our life here in our small Scottish Garden during 2012. We have fun here. We are also very lucky that our garden has trees decorated with a variety of feeders and foods. However we’ve heard…

… some miles away across in a garden in central Indiana, USA, Chickadee’s (who look very like us by the way) have a Christmas tree especially decorated and filled with tasty treats for them! Well, not just for them but for all the birds that visit blogger Robin’s garden. Perhaps our blogger shirl should take a closer read at Robin’s Nesting Place.

So many bloggers share tips and ideas for all that grows and visits our gardens (thanks Robin for allowing us to share your photo). On behalf of all the birds in shirl’s garden we’d like to say a huge thank you to you all for giving shirl ideas that we benefit from… please keep on blogging them and leaving comments here ;-)

Merry Christmas to everyone out in the garden with us and everyone cosy indoors. We wish you special times with your families... oh yes and if you've any leftovers like nuts, fruit and Christmas cake... please do send them our way ;-)”

From the Coal tit’s x

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in November 2012.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

All change in the garden

Back on the last day of November we had a few flowers left for 2012... Astrantia drooping, Gunnera falling down, Geum fighting on bravely and Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve' smiling through everything as she does ;-)

Meanwhile in my shadier back garden, frosty nights and mornings had begun in earnest. Bird activity in the garden was increasing but any sunshine was slow to warm the ground so birds didn't stop for long.

Early morning sunshine was once again lighting up the coral bark of my maple leafed, Acer
palmatum Sango Kaku. What a picture this is as birds bounce through its branches en route to the feeder like baubles glittering on a Christmas tree.

This cold snap also signalled winter arrivals like the Brambling. I was delighted to see a male Brambling joining in with the good sized Chaffinch group now visiting my garden. I know this one is a special garden visitor to have.

Siskins, Goldfinches, House Sparrows and odd Greenfinches were all adding to the tree decorations. Starlings were visiting in bursts like fast irritating tree lights that keep annoying the eye. I don’t mind them really – just wish they would be more polite at the feeders ;-).

By December the third we had our first snow and I had been noticing a lot of Robin visits to my garden. I’m beginning to wonder if 2012 has been a good breeding year for our cheeky little Robin. I’m also wondering if my mixed seed mix had brought at least one regular Robin to my small pond. More on my seed trial when I’ve sorted through my images.

Once the snow disappeared, the garden escaped its winter capture for a few days. Quickly taking this brief opportunity for a quick chilly hour’s tidy up in the border opposite my window, my secateurs were out in action cutting back the wilting Japanese Anemone foliage and other plants in this area.

Yes, I know it can add atmosphere to the garden when tall plants are left unpruned to add winter interest especially on frosty days. Perhaps to some the border above may look dull and bare now with earth exposed.

Not so, to my eyes. This ‘all change’ in my garden brings light and activity to this area of ground as birds are seen running around. It offers great photo and observation value too. No, not dull :-)

After six years of gardenwatching at this window observation area, I know that some birds look for a landing spot before dropping to the ground and foraging for food. Yes they can land on the branches of a small Acer at the side of my pond (shown above) but when this is heavy with snow they have problems.

Taking the brief opportunity when the soil was still soft enough under the frosted top crust I found myself experimenting with the idea of a landing spot what would work during heavy snowfall. It needed to have enought space for Blackbirds to run around below it too. I found myself musing on a description for my home grown bamboo trapeze bar for my visiting birds.

Ah but there was another couple of reasons that I felt the need for a new winter structure in my border… there was ‘all change’ at my tiny garden pond.

In previous years I never kept the pump running all year. After my low voltage pump went faulty and we couldn’t replace it we had to set about with some mains wiring. Not being concerned about a box inside getting warm anymore I have left my pump running pretty much all of the time since it was put in earlier this year. As a result, we have running water when the bird baths are frozen. My low, bamboo landing strip will help birds get down to the running water.

After just few days, it is clear that this very simple structure will become a very popular feature to my winter garden for the birds, my gardenwatching and camera lenses. What fun this will be to watch. You can see my current observation window view above as it was yesterday morning. I wonder if anyone can spot all the feeders that can be seen – there are eleven ;-)

After some very cold nights, it is also clear that the birds have found this source of running water and some bickering with the Blackbirds has already begun. Yep… this new winter feature for my garden is popular with the residents and hopefully occasional visitors like the Long-tailed tits (that have been seen in the last week) will discover the water too.

Of course, I’ll need to keep a very close eye on this small trickle freezing over when the pump is still running. Perhaps this feature will be switched off should temps really plunge. It’s pretty chilly here already and icicles are forming over the mossy rocks. This could be a temporary winter feature but we'll enjoy it while it lasts :-)

So fingers crossed, that for a little while we can see birds drink and bathe from our observation window and the birds have a source of water to drink. It’s going to be difficult to walk away from the cameras and get other works done ;-)

Oh yes… the second reason for my winter bird structure… photo opportunities! I took a little time considering the height of the bar so I'd get frosted or snowy grass in the background. Yay... a result already... birds are sitting still on the bar and looking around for a moment or two as I watch them with my camera to hand. Yep... all change in the garden with new winter gardenwatching opportunities.

How’s your winter garden? Have you made any changes? What garden features are interesting you at the moment? Have you anything growing in your greenhouse just now or is it stuffed with overwintering tender plants? My next ‘not so chilly garden day’ has to be tidying mine! Wishing you a great weekend :-D

It was late last night when I finished writing this post so decided I'd give it a quick read through again in the morning. Lol... how fortunate was that... it was all change again for my garden window observation view. Yep, we have a lovely dusting of snow now. I just had to put the outside lights on to grab a quick photo.

As I finally go to hit the publish button for this blog, I have just seen a Blackbird bathing in the small area of water that trickles into my tiny pond. Brrrr.. on saying that its not so very cold as it has been over the last few days. The bathing Blackbird then went on to perch on my newly installed landing strip for a quick preen and another Blackbird joind him. Yep... this winter border is not going to be dull at all :-)

Off now to get a warm bowl of porridge and a nice cup of tea! The light isn't so good just now for taking photos so I'll just relax with my breakfast at the window and enjoy the antics outside. I'll enjoy my porridge even more knowing that I have provided food and water for the hungry birds too.

So, for a second time... I'd like to wish you a great weekend. Stay warm and safe and enjoy your window views too :-D

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in December 2012.