The cold garden

I ventured out into the garden yesterday. It was a cold February morning but according to the news, worse weather was to come. As I walked through the garden, the frost was starting to thaw beneath my feet as the low sun touched the grass, leaving behind a cold, wet, muddy ground.
Some shady patches of the garden still lingered where the sun’s rays hadn’t yet reached. In these dark areas the grass stood stiff, like little icy soldiers on parade.
Even though it was cold, there were still signs that the garden was slowly starting to awaken from its deep winter slumber.

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Vibrant crocuses shone brightly in the sunshine, primroses and snowdrops showed off their dainty flowers, and beautiful dwarf irises stood proud by the edge of the pond.

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20180217_123930.jpg Hellebores bowed their pretty pastel flower heads to the sun whilst the green stems of daffodils and crocosmia poked out from last year’s leaf debris.

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Plants aren’t the only sign that Spring isn’t far away…..
The sun is still low in the sky but does its best to shine, and daylight is getting a little long with each passing day. Birds are very active at the moment, they are fighting for mates, singing for territories and looking for places to nest.
As I stood under a tree, the robin was singing high up on a branch claiming his territory whilst I watched blackbirds and bluetits fighting for a mate. The garden was full of bird song and I had some more nest boxes to put up to help my feathered friends out.
Today however……. is completely different, and reminds me that we are a still in winter.

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There is snow everywhere. All those pretty flowers and young shoots are covered in a white fluffy blanket and where there was water there is now ice. I can still see glimpses under the snow of buds and small shoots on the cotoneaster and honeysuckle and, there is even a tiny hint of yellow as a daffodil wearily pokes its head the white powdery fluff.

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As I walked round the garden, I made sure all the bird feeders were topped up as they will go down very quickly in this cold weather. I also broke the thin layer of ice in the pond and put fresh water in all the birdbaths. The birds didn’t even wait for me to leave as within minutes there were blue tits, starlings, a long tailed tit and a robin straight on the feeders not wanting to waste anytime fuelling their tiny fluffed up bodies.
It’s important in this cold weather, while you are tucked up inside your warm cosy homes, to think of the wildlife that live or visit your garden. They don’t have the luxury  of central heating and a supermarket, so please help them out.

bluetit BGBW2018

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Parkgate High Tide

The sun shone brightly, low in beautiful pale blue sky but it was bitterly cold as I walked along the old sea wall at Parkgate, Wirral.

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The first thing I saw when I looked out onto the marshes was a stunning hen harrier.  It was flying up, hovering over the ground and then swooping down again.  It was such a delight to see and I would have been happy if that was all I had seen all day…..but it wasn’t.  Parkgate is a wonderful place to watch birds and even better when there is a high tide.

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As I walked further down the promenade, lapwings suddenly lifted into the sky, startled by a peregrine.  They squeaked loudly and flew in swirling plumes above the marshes.
I saw little egrets plodding through the wet marshy ground looking for food and a crow squawking loudly perched on a piece of driftwood.
Getting nearer to the old baths car park, I stopped to watch a heron sitting very still by the edge of the water waiting to catch a bite to eat; and saw black back gulls soaring high up in the air.
As I reached the car park, it was heaving with bird watchers eagerly awaiting the high tide and the wildlife drama it can bring.
Unfortunately the wind seemed to stop and it suddenly went very still and where I stood by the wall, felt like a little sun trap with the low sun trying its best to warm me.

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Standing by the car park wall, I saw marsh harriers then hen harriers and a great egret too.
The high tide was meant to peak at 12.20pm but unfortunately the tide didn’t really make it in due to the drop in wind and high pressure.

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I bet the little mammals were happy the tide never came in too far and flooded their homes.  The birds of prey still managed to find some food further out in the marshes though.
I missed out on seeing the owl and saw no sign of the bittern either but it’s always worth going just to see the beautiful harriers, and just being out in nature is a joy.
After seeing the spectacular events of a decent high tide, it’s hard not to feel slightly let down, but I had a great day.  The sun shone brightly and I saw lots of birds and met some great people too….. What more could I ask for??
I’m so grateful that this beautiful place full of wildlife is practically on my doorstep and if you are ever visiting Wirral and love bird watching then it’s definitely a place to visit.