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.

9 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Good morning Shirl. Your garden view looks wonderful to me. I love that coral bark acer. I want one. I have asked for one for my christmas gift. We will see. :) Your birdies will appreciate your pump running as long as it will. I leave mine out all winter. Sometimes it freezes over but luckily I haven't lost a pump to ice. It is amazing how cold it will be and the birds bathe. brrr makes me cold to see them do that but it helps them keep their feathers clean so they are warmer. I too put sticks up for the birds to perch on when going to the feeders. Nothing as fancy as your bamboo. There are no leaves left on any trees around here. Any leaves on any plant have that soggy frozen look. The garden looks pretty sad. We need a good layer of snow to perk things up. The only plants that look alive are the ones I brought into the house this fall. I am already tired of having them inside. I hope they survive until spring when I can put them out. Have fun watching your water feature. I can't wait to see photos. Love seeing your birdies. You have a great weekend too.

Orchids and Nature said...

I always enjoy reading your blog even though I don't always reply.
I always leave my pond pump during the winter because a few winters ago I lost around 30 Minnows and 20 frogs in my top pond,they froze due to the shallower top pond freezing solid due to lack of the water circulation.
Reading your blog has given me some ideas on how best to help my garden birds during the winter.
It's always a miracle to me how the garden and nature regenerates through the seasons, looking around my garden this morning the Snowdrops have already pushed through 1/2 inch.

Sue Garrett said...

Our pond is alive with blackbirds and robin getting a bath in the freezing water, We also got a lone redwing today.

We had the video camera up and running trained on the pond and have had fun looking through what we have captured.

I'd love to get bramblings and we have had siskins only one year during the freezing winter of 2010.

I'm envious of your ability to capture a shot of the coal tit - all I've managed so far is a blur!

Angie said...

I can see your garden is pretty much in the same state as mine at the moment. I installed a small pond - nothing as fancy as yours but your idea of a perching post is ingenious!!
I don't see much from my kitchen window but I made a new feeder from a log and hung it on the fence - it has also brought the birds round to the side of the house. I'm not plugging my blog but I did a quick piece on making it if you want to have a look.
Super pics and I just love your garden.

myhesperidesgarden said...

I'm glad your garden is still so full of visitors for you to enjoy. I love your robbin, they are such friendly birds, we have one here as a regular visitor now, which I'm very pleased about. Seasons greetings to you too, if you don't post again before Christmas. Christina

Anna said...

Oh I do like the bamboo landing strip Shirl and I imagine that your feathered visitors will appreciate it. Some great robin photos. Here winter has certainly arrived with a vengeance, although we have not had any snow yet. I'll be with you in giving the greenhouse a good tidy and sort out soon :)

Midmarsh John said...

You have made a lovely area for attracting feathered visitors to you garden Shirl. Should give lots of pleasure and photo opportunities.

I leave my pond pump running all year round. It even kept going down at -10C. When the birds bathed their splashed water froze but the water kept flowing.

shirl said...



Lisa, oh gosh Christmas is upon us now! Just where have the last two weeks gone? Here’s hoping there’s a coral bark maple hiding at the back of your garage ;-) Good to hear your pump keeps on running in winter. Hope your garden has a pretty snow covering now. Ours is getting blown all over the place and soaked with heavy rainfall. I especially love sharing our birdies with you :-D

David, thanks, I know how it is. I can do the same. Good again to hear of a winter pump running. This gives me confidence to keep mine going when you are in Yorkshire. I’m delighted you get some ideas for the birds. I love trying things out. Wow… snowdrops already! Hope you are free from flooding.

Sue, it is amazing the chilly bathers isn’t it. Ooo… a Redwing. I’ll need to take a look at your blog later to see what you captured. Wishing you Brambling & Siskin visitors. Lol… continuous shooting Sue ;-)

Angie, I’m guessing your garden is waterlogged now too and your pond is pretty full. Delighted you like the idea of the perching post. I usually consider photo opportunities from my window when I put something out for the birds and hedgehogs. It’s fun that way. I did like the idea of your hanging log. Good luck with the peanut butter now – I’m sure it will be a hit :-D

Christina, thanks, I know I am lucky with the variety of visitors we have. Our Robin is a character that’s for sure. Thanks, I’ve just managed a short post, wishing you a good Christmas too :-D

Anna, I’ve not been able to watch the landing strip as much as I’d like but it is getting used so photos will be on the cards for the future. I hope you are not suffering with this awful rainfall, winds and flooding. Ooops… no change in my greenhouse status! Hope you’ve managed yours :-)

John, thanks, I have fun setting out feeding areas (as do you). Good to hear of another pump being left running. Yes, I think the gentle splashing in the tiny depth of water is causing my mossy rocks to become ice rinks. I’ll keep an eye on mine this year :-)

Sue Garrett said...

The video and my redwing photo are on my husband Martyn's blog Shirl here

Just been to replenish the stocks and was chortled at by a blackbird.