Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Urbanbirder Talks

House Sparrow, a bird of urban areas which was...
The local RSPB group was lucky enough to arrange a talk from David Lindo the @Urbanbirder at their group meeting.

Birds are all around us and just because you live in a town or city doesn't mean you can't watch birds.

The popularity of the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch shows the variety and different species of birds you can see in your own garden.

Birds see our green and brown spaces and abandoned buildings as habitat where they can rest and refuel while on migration, feed and even nest and breed.

David has travelled around the world and in all the urban areas he's visited he manages to find surprising birds in the most unusual places - anything from raptors to waders.

The majority of people, especially in urban areas, are totally oblivious to the wildlife right on their doorstep.

#Look Up
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Cat proofing the garden

Over the years I must have tried pretty much everything.  Pepper dust, sprays, gels, sonic deterrents - these work best but tend to break after a couple of years - so it gets expensive replacing them, as well as regularly replacing the batteries.

But I'm thoroughly fed up with the neighbourhood cats (between 5-7) using my garden as their toilet, often poised beneath the feeders and occasionally catching birds.

Every time I clear a patch of earth for new plants or vegetables, sure enough in a couple of days (if that) there'll be a stinking pile of poo.

Now that I have new fences on two sides it's even easier for them to get in as there are no plants covering the fences.  Although as the fence is a little higher, they have a little more trouble getting over it. 

So now I've run several horizontal lengths of wire through vine eyes at intervals to tie in plants.  Maybe this will make it difficult to scramble back up over the fences.  I've installed plastic spikes on the gate which is their favourite entry/exit point.  My last attempt with these had one particularly fluffy cat just sitting on them!

The new fence is capped along its length so they can walk along it - which is exactly what next door's cat does.  I've run a length of garden wire along the top at a height of 10cms, as suggested on the RSPB website.  I'm not hopeful but it might make it more difficult or uncomfortable to clamber over or under. 

Friday, February 07, 2014

Spring has sprung


The crocuses have just started to come up in the lawn despite the wet weather or perhaps because it's been so relatively mild.

Glad to see that the squirrel hasn't dug them all up.

Good for any bumblebees that might be out this early in the year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

E-Piece more scrub clearing

The South Downs volunteers have been out working on the e-Piece, along with contractors, clearing scrub.  We started on the area in February with our Mega Scrub Bash and we've now managed to clear almost all the scrub from one area.  The contractors cleared a tangled mass of blackthorn along the lower slope further along earlier in the week

Telscombe Tye - volunteeers scrub clearing
The area we've been working on is mainly south facing which is great for chalk grassland wildflowers and with areas of grass bordering the cleared areas it should quickly regenerate.  Today's effort was brilliant considering the rain - they even got the bonfire going!

Telscombe Tye - area cleared of scrub
The darker patches are where the scrub has been cleared, the lighter patches the recent fire sites.  Once the area is grazed, to stop the fast growing plants like bramble, nettle and elder coming in, it reverts to grassland surprisingly quickly.  Wildflowers appeared on the area we cleared last Summer.

Telscombe Tye - cleared scrub and bonfire sites
People often wonder why we clear scrub, trees and bushes - why don't we leave it as 'woodland'.  Chalk grassland is a rare and endangered habitat which needs careful management to preserve it.

The scrub that's been cleared has probably only taken a couple of decades to spread over the areas we're now working on.  Without the constant hard work of volunteers the entire Downs would quickly turn to scrub.


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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2014

A particularly wet and windy weekend for this year's Big Garden Birdwatch and even fewer species than normal. I gave up on Saturday as there were so few birds around generally and had another go on Sunday when the weather was slightly better.

Finally tally was:

Blackbird x 1
House Sparrow x 1
Chaffinch x 1
Robin x 2
Blue tit x 2
Great tit x 2
Starling x 2
Wood pigeon x 2

Of course as soon as the weekend had passed - I had 5 wood pigeons and 16 starling on the ground and feeders as well as the usual garden bird species + collared doves.



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Build it and they will come ...

... unless it's the RSPB Birdwatch weekend in which case all birds will beat a hasty retreat and disappear for the weekend.


My feeder has been stocked up with fatty nibbles, fat balls, peanuts and sunflower hearts yet, this year has been the fewest number of species so far.

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Urban Fungi

Spotted these just by the traffic lights on London Road, near Preston Park.  Nestled under an elder, there are two different types of fungi.



Both quite large - over 30cm across.  Any ideas on either of them?