Big Garden Birdwatch

I’ve been looking forward to the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch since I got my pack through the post in early January.  I had it all planned out in my head of how the day was going to unfold and as the weekend drew closer I excitedly got my spotting scope, binoculars, camera, notepad and pen out ready.

img_20170127_175935.jpg

Unfortunately, the weather had other plans and it decided that this was the weekend it was going to be cold and raining.  To top it all off, I also fell ill with a cold.  Luckily this year RSPB have added an extra date, so I had my fingers crossed for Monday.

Well… Monday has come and I’m thankfully feeling much better today, and as I opened the curtains to a dull and damp morning, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me counting those garden birds.

I set up my spotting scope in the corner of the garden where I was well hidden and could see a number of the feeders.  As I was setting up I saw a cheeky magpie eyeing up the suet feeder in one of the trees, but then it saw me and flew off.

magpie1

At 10.30am with wooly hat, gloves and downy jacket, I sat down and waited for the birds to appear.

I could hear the birds tweeting away but it took a good 10 minutes before they started to appear in view.  The first to venture out was 2 blackbirds, followed by blue tits and great tits.  It was hard to keep an eye on all the feeders at once, so I decided to concentrate on one feeder at a time.  I have noticed that certain birds stick to certain parts of the garden, so I first watched the sparrow feeders.  They were so quick darting from the feeder to the hedge and back but I managed to count a group of 8 jostling for room on 2 feeders.
2017-01-30-19-40-10-133.jpg2017-01-30-13-12-40-762.jpg2017-01-30-19-38-17-651.jpg

I then turned my attention to one of the finch feeders hanging from a rowan tree. I was delighted to see chaffinches and green finches on the feeder and a wood pigeon sat in the tree.

From my view point I could just make out a bird table towards the front of the garden. Here there were rooks, jackdaws, pigeons, and a seagull.

pigeon1

As I moved my spotting scope around so that I could see the back part of the garden, I caught a glimpse of a little wren hopping along the fence and a robin singing merrily sat on a branch of the hobnut tree.

At the next feeder I was busy watching the blue tits, great tits and even a cute coal tit.  Then excitingly I saw 5 long tailed tits fly into the garden and land in an apple tree, before moving to the peanut feeder.

review-bluetit-wordcoaltit2017-01-30-19-39-28-679.jpg

I even saw a jay on the compost heap in the garden, but I had to stay very still as they are easily spooked……but then it went very quiet.   All the birds disappeared and you could have heard a pin drop.

But why?…

…..Then whoosh…out from one of the fruit trees a sparrow hawk came flying past me like a fighter jet plane.  It was amazing to feel the energy as it flew past, though it was so quick it was almost a blur.

Of course, that was the end of my Big Garden Birdwatch after only 40 minutes; as although I could hear the chattering of birds from the hedges, none would venture out again till they felt safe.

 

Advertisements

Winters wildlife garden

I’ve finally got round to writing my first blog of the year. (Better late than never)  I have been busy with various things since my last blog, most of which have been boring mundane stuff but, one of them was writing my first ever wildlife article for a newsletter.  The article was called ‘Wildlife On Your Doorstep’ and was for the Cheshire Environmental Records Centre newsletter.  I had so much fun writing it and hope those that read the article enjoyed it.

(Here is my Wildlife On Your Doorstep article.)

 

Here’s what else I have been doing in the garden since then…….

At the weekend I decided I would have a bit of a tidy up in the garden and my tasks for the day were to make sure the ponds, bird baths and feeders had a good clean.

The ponds are situated in the orchard so had collected many leaves but I had to tread carefully as I noticed bulbs poking out from the leaf litter and grass.  (My job for next weekend is to put canes in the ground where the bulbs are coming up so as not to step on them)

bonf4vhdfox.jpg.jpg

I gently and carefully started to scoop the leaves out of the pond a bit at a time making sure I put any debris by the pond just incase any pond life was hidden there.  Whilst scooping out the leaves I saw a number of water slaters and pond snails.

screenshot_2017-01-26-15-43-05.png

I didn’t tidy up the sides of one of the ponds as it is a newt breeding pond and they lay lots of eggs amongst the vegetation there.

13237709_1032180426860864_9048287538410556163_n

As I scooped the leaves out of the other pond I found a large frog hiding at the bottom.  I swiftly apologised for disturbing it, put it back in the water and gently topped up the pond using water from the near-by water butt.

Next on my to-do list was to give the feeders and bird baths a real good clean; so out come the washing up gloves, scrubbing brush and disinfectant.  There are about 7-8 bird baths and many feeders in the garden so it took a good while to clean them all thoroughly.  There was a blue tit, blackbird, robin and little wren watching me as I walked around the garden with a watering can filling up their baths.

little-robin

Before I went inside I cut some apples in half and placed them around the garden. Blackbirds, squirrels and foxes absolutely love eating them at this time of year.

miss-foxy1

 

Here are some things that you can do in your garden at this time of year.

Put feed out for the birds and clean their baths.

Make sure you check that ponds and bird baths don’t freeze over.

Put bird boxes up in the garden.

Give the pond a little tidy ready for Spring.

Listen out for woodpeckers, watch out for those beautiful waxwings and look out for those bulbs just poking up from the frosty ground.

and lastly….make yourself warm and cosy, have a nice hot drink and start planning what you’ll be planting in the garden come Spring.