Friday, 23 December 2016

Red squirrel inside feeder during sleet shower

Christmas came early this year with the arrival of red squirrels to the garden. What a great privilege this has been to see. We’ve had another garden sighting of two red squirrels at the same time but this time them both got a start at seeing the other and ran off in different directions. Both were seen using the feeder.

After the successful brief trial of a clothes peg to prop open the feeder it has certainly been well used! It’s been a great distraction from the rushing around at this time of year – when I’ve been at home long enough to see it :-)

An update to my experience using a squirrel feeder, that I would like to pass on after seeing the squirrel inside it, is that if you only fill it one third full the nuts inside have more of a chance of staying dry longer. As there is then more space inside, you might see it being used as in indoor feeder during wet and wintry weather. Good luck with your homemade squirrel feeder John - good job there :-)

You can see in the video below that a visiting red squirrel, during a sleet shower, was quite comical to watch. The lighting was poor but you can still see it inside. By the smear marks on the perspex of the feeder it looks like it’s a common occurrence for red squirrels to dine indoors ;-)

Please note before playing (1 min) I couldn't resist adding a bit of music here.
Also, take a closer look at the beginning of the 2nd clip, you can see how a
squirrel baffle must work as it struggles to go upwards under feeder.

As I uploaded my video just now, one individual (or was it?) was running back and forth again feeding both inside and by stretching from the outside. More stashing of nuts in the wet garden borders were seen too. As much as I would love to sit here gardenwatching longer, there is much Christmas prep awaiting my attention! I'm not alone there, I know :-)

Before I run like the wind to get things done, I’d like to wish you all a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS and to thank-you for visiting and leaving comments for another year. I haven’t quite managed to post the updates I would have liked but I’ll catch up on them at some point over the winter months. Keep warm and safe. Best wishes to you all, Shirley x

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in December 2016.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Ivy Diners, Sept 30

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in December 2016.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Clothes peg help for red squirrels

Fantastic news, red squirrels have continued to visit the garden and are showing just how photogenic they are. When they stay still long enough to photograph that is. Video captures are another matter entirely, more patience and the right timing is required there.

It's fair to say that red squirrels are keeping me alert at my gardenwatch window. However, I'm no longer looking to the mature trees outside the garden for visiting Waxwings to the area. Oh dear, via twitter chat, it appears that good numbers have been spotted on the street that backs on to my garden! Aw... I guess I can't really complain though given what we've been seeing :-)

Yesterday, after a successful experiment with a clothes peg as a prop to keep the squirrel feeder lid open enough for the nuts inside to be clearly seen, red squirrels managed to work out they could get them out. Yay! Great news for visiting birds too as that leaves the low bird table free for them again. Here's some storytelling images since last time...

DEC 2: What fabulous facial and body expressions the red squirrel has :-)

DEC 2: What endearing little characters, a privilege to be putting food out for :-)

DEC 2: I thought they would have worked out the feeder roof lifted up.

DEC 8: Clothes peg prop, first trial whilst weather stays dry. No result.

DEC 9: Between rain showers, day two with clothes peg prop. A result!

DEC 9: Muddy faced gardening red squirrel, about to hide nuts in the borders.
Magpies are watching you don’t you know, high up in a neighbour's tree :-0

DEC 9: Guerrilla gardening in its wildest form, poor hellebore roots :-0

DEC 9: Stage 2 of the clothes peg prop experiment, it’s removal is a success!

DEC 9: The longer view of the feeder area shows the red squirrel quite comfortable now with lots of options to access feeder. Blackbirds have been enjoying the apple feast as has newly arrived, winter visitor, a female Blackcap:-)

DEC 8: Favourite red squirrel photo capture from kitchen window.
Finger’s crossed they will still be visiting over Christmas and into the New Year.
Ha-ha, I'd better keep the camera out of the kitchen and focus on my cooking!

Finally, yesterday the garden saw yet another major gardenwatch highlight! This one, I’ve seen many times from the observation window at SWT Loch of the Lowes but never in my wildest dreams thought I would EVER see in my garden. We had a red squirrel chase! Round and round the garden they went! Quite intense it got too. How amazing is that, to have red squirrels fighting over a feeding station in my garden! Here's me oblivious, experimenting with a clothes peg prop too ;-)

So it’s clear now, that more than one red squirrel has worked out how to get in the feeder! I naively thought the same squirrel was feeding and stashing nuts for almost 1½ hours yesterday. Further to this revelation, based on photo and video captures, neither have a bare patch of fur on their backs. So that’s confirmation that at least 3 red squirrels have been visiting this small garden, in a small town, with houses all round it. I wonder if other neighbours have noticed them. I hope so :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in December 2016.

Friday, 2 December 2016

October butterflies

Sorry, Red squirrel, even if you do make it into the squirrel feeder later you need to take a step back (or run and a jump in your case) and give other garden wildlife a chance to shine today. Yes, you gave me your most funny face yet, yesterday. I know. I got photos too. You watched me take them. Perhaps if you had drunk out of the small pond waterfall trickle when I was inside at my window, where the camera was, instead of creeping up behind me when I was a few feet away making it easier for you to access your feeder... just saying ;-)

Back at the beginning of October it was the Painted lady I was following with my camera. Yes, there were more than the usual numbers of Peacock and Red admiral butterflies then too, but there was just something about the Painted lady that drew me more. Although the weather then saw winds, there were plenty warm sunny days and the butterflies fed well on Verbena bonariensis! Yes, these plants really earned their garden border space this year :-)

OCT 2: Peacock butterfly with tatty, worn wings feeding on verbena bonariensis.
One of many October blue skies and sunny days for butterfly sightings :-)

OCT 2: Red admiral butterfly in partial shade of border plants.
Plant supports helped keep stems of verbena bonariensis up after winds.

OCT 2: Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies navigated the blowing stems.
Tricky to ID when early morning sunlight lights through their wings.

Photographing butterflies is tricky at the best of times, but with considerable plant growth in the borders in October there was much in the way to even see them, without winds. It was fortunate for me that at this time there was seldom just one butterfly, so their movement through the plants caught my attention.

Where worryingly other bloggers reported poor numbers of butterflies this year, we were certainly very lucky here. I’m not saying we had huge numbers, but it was best collection for a few years. They were a joy to see and the draw to stand outdoors with a camera was difficult to shake.

Migrating butterflies like the Painted lady butterflies are long gone. Now, in the first few days of December, our temps are cooling with each day and decorations for Christmas are coming out. I'd like to share what decorated my sunny front garden back in the first few days of October and my last garden butterfly records of the Painted Lady for 2016. She was the last to leave this year :-)

OCT 4: Painted lady feeding on shorter Verbena bonariensis 'Lollipop'.
The orange of the background Californian poppies highlight her orange shades.

OCT 4: Painted lady feeding on lavender, very well camouflaged.
Only when it moved did I notice it there, I’ve never seen this before :-)

OCT 4: Painted lady resting on the white rose, Silver Anniversary.
I’d never associate this delicate butterfly with a rose or cotoneaster berries.

OCT 4: Painted lady feeding on lavender, again and again it fed here.
This is what drew me outdoors to stand with my camera :-)

OCT 4: New - butterflies feeding on lavender not something previously seen.
This high, path strip was a serious buzz of bees back in October :-)

OCT 4: Close views like this were only possible due to raising the border edge.
This was a deliberate height of planting for feeding bees and photography :-)

OCT 4: The lavender swayed back and forth, I loved the blurred purple.
It was hard to see where the Painted lady was at times, fun though :-)

OCT 4: Painted lady demonstrating it’s the small flowers of the lavender
that make this plant such a great food source for pollinating insects :-)

Mmm… tasty food sources… I guess this weekend I’ll need to give some serious thought to menus for over the Christmas period. It’s too early for decorations in this household but ok, you’ve twisted my arm… I’ll end with a splash of seasonal, garden red…

DEC 1: Red squirrel record shot from yesterday. I kid you not, as I uploaded this image the red squirrel has returned and is currently outside my window feeding again! It has also jumped on the roof of the squirrel feeder… getting warmer :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in December 2016.