Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So Few Birds Around

There's a dearth of birds in my garden, certainly compared to the number that appear in my parents garden. Despite the cold and icy weather, there are few birds around in the garden, even though the feeder is full. A couple of blue tits, sparrows and finally a starling put in an appearance this morning. The robin has been around a few times and the blackbirds on the pyracantha in the front and back but that's it.

Either there aren't as many birds around this area or perhaps there are so many options for them, in the more densely packed gardens, that they're spread more thinly, so you see less of them.

There are now plenty of more mature - although not necessarily native, trees in the local park and up around the playing fields. Perhaps a nest box project for the local school would help. My garden is more mature than my neighbours which look relatively barren in comparison and so provides more cover and food sources. Local cats won't help and there are plenty of mine. I'll do what I can do encourage more and see if I can up the count of the local feathered population.

Has anyone else noticed a drop in numbers or is your garden full of birds?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Birds

Three refugees (male pheasants) from the Boxing Day Shoot, out in the garden this morning. The first refugees appeared out in the front. One with a collar, the other without, pecking about under the yew hedge. Meanwhile another one appeared in the back under the seed feeder, disappeared into the hedge and then was joined by the other two, none of them getting territorial as they all wandered off together down the garden, deciding there was safety in numbers and besides, there didn't appear to many guns about in this particular patch of countryside, so they were probably OK for a while.

One had a mad five minutes when it rushed from one feeder to the other apparently chasing off the smaller birds but not too bothered by the wood pigeons, round the tree and back again with no particular rhyme or reason but then pheasants are birds of very little brain, so who knows what it was up to - perhaps practicing for the Spring when it would be impressing the girls (if there were any left after today to impress).

The same array of birds as yesterday but with addition of a small flock of long-tailed tits just passing through and a pair of nuthatches hanging upside down on the nut feeder, although you can't tell which way up they are sometimes, being pointed at both ends. Also five large wood pigeons either sizing each other up on the bird bath or chasing each other away from the key spots below the feeders. The spotted woodpecker (greater) put in an appearance too - having a good go at the nuts for a few minutes. I didn't see the male bullfinch this time but the female did appear briefly for a drink. They'd emptied the feeder by lunchtime which had to be filled again and no sooner was it back up then they were straight in to carry on feeding.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Birds

Woke up this morning and opened the curtains to see a bullfinch sitting in the top of the crab apple tree, a jay digging about on the lawn and about 20-30 small birds in, on and under the feeders. A mixture of chaffinches, greenfinches, a robin, dunnocks and sparrows on the ground with blue tits, coal tits, great tits and greenfinches on the feeders. Flitting from feeder to bush to feeder in an almost continuous stream from one side (seed feeder) to the other (nut feeders).

A pheasant appeared to take advantage of the fallout below the feeder before disappearing off to one side and the off down the garden.

(BTW - I'm not at home but over at my parents for Christmas. Don't usually get this quantity or variety of birds in my garden.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wildlife Gardening

There's a great series on the BBC at the moment, on creating your own wildlife garden. Called Wild About Your Garden - it's the garden makeover show with a green/wildlife twist - creating gardens to improve wildlife rather purely for design, colour or function.

My tips for encouraging wildlife into your garden.

- Don't be too tidy - leave seed heads for birds and insects.
- Leave piles of logs in a corner for creepy crawlies to hide away.
- Create a compost heap for kitchen waste.
- Plant for bees - providing honey and nectar.
- Plant for birds - berries and insects.
- Provide water - even a half barrel can attract frogs and toads.
- Lawns attract more wildlife than slabs of paving.
- Provide food and water year round.

You can find out more about the series and how you can improve your garden here.

Little Robin Red-breast

The robins are out and singing well at the moment. You can see why they're so well represented on Christmas cards, as this is the time of the year when they start sorting out their territories, so are visible and vocal when most other birds are fairly quiet and busy concentrating on feeding in the colder weather.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Invasion of Woodpigeons

I came down this morning to find five, fat woodpigeons feeding on the lawn, which is just about as much capacity as my postage stamp of a lawn can cope with. In fact if they all decided to take off at once, they'd probably collide in mid-air.

I'm not sure why they were attracted to this little patch of greenery but they seemed happy pecking away at something. My lawn isn't exactly a green swathe of neatly trimmed grass, it's a mixture of grass, clover, black medick and moss ... mainly moss at the moment, so I'm sure they found more than just grass. There are so many of them around at the moment, large flocks of them up on the fields and there are often three or four flying around nearby.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Moon and the Geminids

Friday night was a full moon and as the moon is at it's closest point to the earth in it's elliptical orbit you were in for a treat ... however, if it was anything like here, it was a wet, cloudy, windy night. It's a whole lot brighter and larger than usual being 28,000k closer at the moment. It will still be pretty impressive for a few weeks yet.

Should we get a clear night in the next few days, look out for the meteor shower known as the Geminids, which will be at their peak tonight. If you look at Orion, the Gemini constellation is above and to the left. I daresay it's going to be cloudy down here and it's certainly cold.

... and did anyone see the conjunction of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter earlier this month?