Tuesday 29 April 2014

Birdwatch 2014

We didn't do the RSPB Birdwatch this January - just ran out of time. Also we haven't been putting out nuts and seeds on the bird table so don't see as many visiting close to the house. Again - lack of time and also getting very expensive. The wood pigeons (and squirrels) are really greedy and "hoover" up as many peanuts and seeds as you can put out and this doesn't really seem to qualify as helping the wild life. This year we haven't had a big freeze so the little birds haven't been under a lot if stress.

The RSPB have just published the results http://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/   I extracted the results for Leicestershire ranked by number of birds recorded in gardens and parks throughout the county:

  1. House sparrow
  2. Blackbird
  3. Blue tit
  4. Woodpigeon
  5. Starling
  6. Goldfinch
  7. Great tit
  8. Robin
  9. Chaffinch
  10. Collared dove
  11. Dunnock
  12. Magpie
  13. Long tailed tit
  14. Greenfinch
  15. Jackdaw
  16. Feral pigeon
  17. Coal tit
  18. Carrion crow
  19. Wren
  20. Bullfinch

Surprised at the number of goldfinches and starlings spotted. We occasionally see a small flock of goldfinches but can't remember the last time we had a starling in the garden. 

Our January 2013 results were a bit different. Without doing a proper count I'd say, this year, our most frequent visitors are:

  1. Woodpigeon
  2. Blackbird (lots nesting now - but there weren't so many around in January)
  3. Robins
  4. Great tits (nesting in boxes under the summer house roof)
  5. Sparrows
  6. Blue tits
The numbers vary during the year. Obviously there's many species that migrate which wouldn't show up on a once-a-year study like the fieldfares and swallows. Chaffinches and other finches travel around a lot too. 

Thursday 17 April 2014

Swallows on schedule

The glorious spring weather is continuing.

Just seen two swallows! Early again this year - coincidentally last year's first swallow was spotted on 17 April 2013!

The green pipe which channels water through the fern garden and to the waterfall to the pond has stopped flowing - an indication that the water levels in Billy's field have dropped. See it in full flow during the wet summer of 2012. However, there is still a lot of water flowing down the right side of the garden and the soil is pretty damp where I've been digging over ready for the next lot of potatoes.

Forecast for the East Midlands is for a sunny start to easter weekend so hopefully I'll get those spuds in and plant up some squashes,  marrows and runner beans.

Friday 11 April 2014


This year all the spring flowers are magnificant due, I suppose, to the very wet, mild winter and lack of severe frosts knocking things back. Some of the loveliest spring bulbs are Fritillaries. Ours are growing in a patch close to the rockery and pond which has a rather old and holey plastic membrane with gravel and stones covering it.

Snakeshead Fritillaries
The name Fritillary comes from the Latin term for a dice-box (fritillus) after the checkered pattern of the flowers. We have various colours: purple with cream and the reverse, and some creamy white with very pale mauve markings. The Wikipedia entry for fritillaria shows other colours and patterns. They always seem rather special but actually are very easy to grow and if you leave the flower heads to set seed they will increase by self-sowing. Make sure over-zealous weeders don't mistake the young leaves for couch grass and pull them up. The first Fritillaries I saw were on the banks of the River Anker in Tamworth Castle Grounds and had obviously arrived there by wind or on swan's or other bird's feet.

Thursday 10 April 2014

Night life

It's my job to put the rubbish out before turning in for the night. Of course these days it's not just "the bin" but the glass bottles & jars to the glass jars red recycling box, plastic and tins to the other, compostable stuff to the purpose-built green bin with a lid (which the mice have chewed through anyway), bread, pastry and meaty bits thrown onto the lawn for the early birds (and cats and foxes) and the everything else into the actual dustbin.

Thankfully we have security light that comes on as I open the back door. At this time of year, right through to Autumn, I have to be careful where I put my feet to avoid the slugs and snails and the worms which retract with amazing speed into their holes. Last night I nearly squigged a newt which was sitting right on the doorstep.

Haven't yet heard any frogs and only seen one little one out at night. Should be out and doing by now; maybe they've up and went with the very mild weather. When we first moved here there was a lot more vegetation, russian vine and ivy everywhere, and these were home to frogs and big black toads. At night the back yard was hopping and crawling and we had to shut the back door quickly to avoid the critters jumping in!.

Thursday 3 April 2014


This year, the early warm spring has brought out the spring bulbs and in particular a great display of daffodils. Daffodils are also called Lent Lilies and certainly they have been flowering right through Lent.

Orange trumpet daffodil

Daffs at the front of our cottage
Pale yellow daffs

Yellow daffodils