Friday, 27 February 2009

Songbirds and Snowdrops

It's been a lovely sunny day today with the temperature here reaching around 13 degrees centigrade. There have been one or two House Sparrows on the guttering with nesting material in their beaks so they must think Spring is almost here. I didn't get any photos of them but there was plenty of other activity as usual particularly at the ever popular kibbled sunflower heart feeders.

Following on from my previous post, where I mentioned that despite the fact that although the Blackbirds are well catered for elsewhere in the garden they still occasionally try to cling on to the little feeders which are aimed at the smaller birds, I managed to get a photo today which illustrates my point.

It's not often that members of the Tit family hang around long enough for me to get a photo but this handsome Great Tit obliged nicely.

I think this Goldfinch was keeping a beady eye on me!

And this Greenfinch looked at me curiously while the Great Tit had eyes only for the seed.

When my husband was walking the dog today he came across these Snowdrop beauties.

All in all it has been a very pleasant day rounded off by a birthday dinner at a local restaurant for a family member.

But this young man stayed at home!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Home to Roost

The garden seems to be full of Blackbirds lately, there were several successful broods raised last summer and now it seems they have come home to roost, literally! I was sat at the computer in the wee small hours a few days ago and suddenly heard a Blackbird's alarm call. This was repeated several times over the next forty five minutes or so. I suspect the Blackbird had been disturbed from its roosting site by a neighbours cat and it certainly sounded very cross judging by the furious chip chipping noises.

On the day of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch I recorded nine in the garden and during the recent snowy weather they were well into double figures.

Now with the arrival of milder weather they are busily jockeying for position and trying to establish their territory, quite how they will resolve this, considering they all seem to consider it 'their' garden I don't know.

It is amusing, if slightly annoying, to see them trying to balance on the small hanging feeders which were purposely aimed at the small birds. They have plenty of easily accessible food on the bird table, a feeding station and the ground but they still have to have a go at the acrobatics!

It will be interesting to see how soon they start nest building, not very long I suspect.

The photo below was taken in the garden by me today.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Floral Notes

The weather for the last few days has been beautiful here, it has been mild, sunny and Spring like, such a joy after the recent ice and snow. We had such a poor Summer last year (and not much better the year before) that it seems like we have been waiting for good weather for years now!

For me the flowers that are the first harbingers of Spring are the beautiful Winter Aconites (Eranthis) which are members of the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)

The photo above of Winter Aconites in bud was taken by my husband in mid-January 2005 and the photo below of Winter Aconites in flower was taken from Wikipedia.

The next wild flower I always look forward to finding on a country walk is the Violet (Viola); there is the Common Dog Violet (Viola Riviniana) and the lovely scented Sweet Violet (Viola Odorata). I remember as a child going on country walks with my mother and brother and eagerly looking under hedgerows and in ditches for the first Violets of the year.

The photo above of the Common Dog Violet was taken from Wikipedia and the photo below of the Sweet Violet was also taken from Wikipedia.

My favourite wild flower though has always been the Common Primrose (Primula Vulgaris). Childhood visits to the local woods hunting for Primroses was an annual and much anticipated event.

The picture below of Common Primroses was taken last year by my husband.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Hearts and Flowers

I have been experimenting with bird food recently. By far the most popular food I put out has been sunflower hearts but my what a mess they make with it! Some of the debris falls onto the garden and some onto the grass, and although I sweep it up or hoe it in it is impossible to clear completely. This is not so bad when the weather is dry but when it is wet or damp it causes a black fur like mould to grow which I fear may be harmful to any ground feeding birds.

I know it is advisable to move the feeders around regularly but unless one is fortunate to have an extremely large garden this is not always practical and also birds are very much creatures of habit and like to use familiar feeding areas.

One way I tried to alleviate this problem was by fixing catcher trays (actually large plastic plant pot saucers) to poles under the feeders which did help a lot but inevitably some was still falling to the ground.

I then had the idea of using kibbled sunflower hearts instead of whole ones as it seemed most of the problem was caused by the birds finding the hearts too big to eat whole. So far there has been far less waste and the feeders are not needing to be refilled every day.

I was a little worried at first that they might not be as keen on the kibbled form of sunflower hearts but so far I have seen no decline in the number of birds at the feeders.

The (not very good) photo below of a juvenile Goldfinch was taken by me in the garden last summer and the photo of the Sunflower above was taken by my husband in the garden in 2006.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Signs of Spring ?

At last the snow has cleared here and the temperature has been 12 degrees centigrade after weeks of not getting above 5 degrees at best.

Yesterday there was a Song Thrush singing it's heart out from high in the branches of our fir tree. Whilst I was topping up the bird feeders and generally pottering around the garden it serenaded me continually.

Today the garden has been busy with Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Coal Tits, Blue Tits, Black Caps, Blackbirds, Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons and a Robin.

The Daffodils at the end of the garden which gets more sun are quite tall now with some in bud, and several Crocus are in flower.

As I type I can hear the Song Thrush again. I wonder if he or she is looking for a mate or just happy to be alive and sensing Spring in the air.

The photo below of two inquisitive Wood Pigeons was taken by me in the garden last summer.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Tweaking not Twittering!

Well ! I have been so busy trying to get the settings and layout right for this infant blog that I have had no time to watch the birds today.

I hope eventually to be able to post regular photos although I am still trying to get to grips with the camera which I bought about twelve months ago. I also bought a long lens for it which I find very heavy so am hoping to get a tripod soon. So for now I have posted a photo of a juvenile Greenfinch which I took in the garden last summer.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Taking the Plunge!

Hi, my name is Jan and after visiting and admiring many blogs over the last eighteen months or so I have decided to become a fully paid up member of the community by sharing my observations and thoughts with all the nice (I hope) people who may take the time and trouble to visit me.

This blog will be mainly observations of the birds that visit my garden on the edge of the Cotswolds and occasionally farther afield, and also of nature in general.

I have been interested in nature since a child and have always enjoyed watching the birds in my garden and while out walking.

I hope this will be an enjoyable experience for me and for you.

My garden has for the past week or so, like so much of the country, been covered in a blanket of icy snow which has meant the birds have been particularly busy and I have had to don my wellies each day to fill the feeders and tables.

The photo below of a juvenile Blackbird was taken by me in the garden last summer.