Thursday, 28 March 2019

First frogspawn 23/3/19, no hedgehogs yet

A wildlife pond highlight, for sure, was the discovery of a clump of frog spawn in the shallow, sunlit pond edge last weekend. It was a quick snapshot on my phone to record the moment, after stepping near the edge to avoid garden works chaos created with new wiring work for the hedgehog feeding station. I couldn’t believe my eyes! That busy morning I hadn’t checked for spawn and there it was.

After regular evening torch trips to see possible mating, after one frog was spotted moving among the nicely dense pond plants last week, we missed the event that our wildlife pond was built for. Has this clump been fertilised? Will we see more spawning yet? Time will tell. For now, we are just thrilled that our pond has the right conditions for the full life cycle of the common frog. This one returned :-)

As yet, there have been no return sightings of hedgehogs for 2019. Around now, the end of March, I am expecting them to be coming out of their winter hibernation here. I suspect our first clues will be seeing hedgehog droppings on the grass or paths. Sad, but true, seeing this always makes me smile. We feel so very privileged when we see evidence that they have visited.

Seeing hedgehogs moving around the garden, live, via cameras, has always been such an enormous treat and something I never tire of or take for granted. I know only too well, how special this is. Time permitting, sharing clips and photos with updated technology is the plan for 2019. I wonder what other wildlife visitors and activity we will discover, especially around the pond. We won’t count neighbours’ cats (a problem at the moment).

Hedgehog feeding station with new camera installed, image taken last night.
Open and ready for hungry hedgehogs passing by. No cats please!

Our previous IR cameras served us well, both inside and outside this and previous feeding stations and a hedgehog house made by my daughter. These early days were such fun with so many new discoveries of the garden at night. Work is still ongoing on the full camera system for 2019 but it’s an interesting project to explore. It’s happening soon too, my birthday being the driving force for my husband. What a fantastic birthday gift and one we will all be able to share :-)

Wishing you a great weekend of garden projects and wildlife. Perhaps you have plans for 2019 too? I must make time to get out more with my daytime camera and capture the garden plants throughout the months when flowering and in bud. I've missed doing that.

Wishing you many photo opportunities in your garden and out and about too. I'm thinking if it's sunny we will see bees, early butterflies and maybe signs of birds collecting nesting material. It's all go in the garden right now, enjoy :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in March 2019.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Redshank and stone skimming

Wading back into blogging with a Redshank and a bit of stone skimming may seem like an odd start. However my blogging mantra has always been to share things new to me that perhaps others might be interested in too and both fit that perfectly.

In the far distance, my camera caught what looked like a wading bird on last week’s trip to Aberdour Beach on the East coast of Scotland. Not being familiar with waterbirds, I turned to a WWT book on watching waterbirds (with Kate Humble & Martin McGill) on my bookshelf for an ID. I discovered the Redshank is a winter visitor to this area. I do like the informal format of chat and images in this book and it is a great stepping stone from garden birds. I really should read it more, before we go on visits.

Closer up, back on Aberdour beach, a serious improvement in stone skimming could be seen by my daughter and husband! They had been inspired by watching the television programme ‘Sink or Skim’ which is still available on BBC i-player for a few more days and really worth checking out especially if you already enjoy stone skimming. Taking a slightly different approach really did make all the difference.

For the serious stone skimmer, did you know there are world championships over on a small island off the west coast of Scotland? We didn't. There are limited places but after watching the television programme, I’d say even just being a spectator would be fun, the atmosphere looked great. The 2019 World Stone Skimming Championships are on Sunday 29 September on Easdale Island, near Oban, Argyll.

“The World Stone Skimming Championships were started in 1983 by Bertie Baker, and then lay fallow until they were resurrected in 1997 by Eilean Eisdeal (The Easdale Island Community Development Group) as a fundraising event. Contestants hail from around the world and the championships now attract over 300 participants and many spectators. Anyone of any age and any level of skill can enter the championships.”
World Stone Skimming Championships, Easdale Island

A video flavour, with great views of this small Scottish island of Easdale, can be seen below. Enjoy!

Video by LoveLiveRun, see more on full channel.

Meanwhile back in the garden, this weekend we hope to have installed a new camera system in our hedgehog feeding station and making a few alterations. We’ve had no hedgehog sightings for 2019 as yet but we’re going to have food waiting to help build their weight up again after their winter hibernation.

The garden is certainly waking up properly now too with weeding and pruning needing attention. The wildlife pond is coming alive again with creatures seen moving around – the ones we are checking nightly for are frogs! We’ve seen one and have fingers crossed more will come and they will spawn. That would be great to see.

What are you hoping to do and see in your garden this weekend? Wishing you a good one and a great 2019 both in the garden and out and about! Happy stone skimming too – it’s great to be outdoors again don’t you think? So good for the soul :-)

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in March 2019.