Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Big Birdwatch

A reasonably warm sunny day prompted me out into the garden to see what was going on out there. It's also RSPB birdwatch day, so me and Himself spent an hour this morning peering out of the window and counting the visiting birds.

We counted 9 species in all including plenty of starlings and house sparrows, a blackbird, some wood pigeons as always, a great tit, a coal tit, a robin, a magpie and a pied wagtail.
The was no sign of the usual blue tits. A little bird must have told them we were counting.

But I did spot two penguins, our very own Monty and Mabel that arrived at Christmas....

Also a new addition since Christmas is Himself's weather station. This tells us what the temperature is inside and outside the house, the wind speed and direction, humidity and rainfall, and what the conditions are likely to be for the next few hours. The readout is inside the house so you don't have to go out in the cold to get the readings. Our next door neighbour was a bit alarmed when she first noticed it, but we have assured her it is not a spying device or an alien artifact and she appears comforted by that information.

A toddle to the end of the garden informed me that the birds had, indeed, made use of the nesting pouches we put up last year in the holly tree. Unfortunately they didn't use them to nest in but pulled out the straw to build their own nests instead. The wooden bird house remains uninhabited so far, although we have aligned it as advised on the RSPB site. Ditto the bat boxes. I was given an insect hotel for my birthday, so will be putting that up in the spring to see if it encourages any useful pollinators to move in.

The white tailed bees that used to nest under the garden shed didn't come back last year after the awful wet summer we had the year before and I am wondering if that was the reason we had so few apples on the tree last autumn. Honestly, hardly enough to make a decent pie once the wasps and insects had their share. Hopefully this year willl be better.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Let it snow!

We had our first smattering of snow this winter in January in the West Country.

The garden looks so different in the winter when all the exotics are tucked up cosily in their fleece blankets and the perennials and shrubs cut back. The buddleia in front of the hedge on the right has been half cut down but needs to have the old branches removed in the spring. Several of the climbers also need a firm cutting back this year. The pink clematis montana over the shed went berserk last year, as did the virginia creeper and the chocolate vine (akebia quinata) which you can see over the arch.
Most of the exotics are by the wall of the house safe from the worst of the weather but the cordylines are planted in the ground and can't be moved so they have their own fleece blankets around them held on with clothes pegs so I can pull the fleece over the crowns and between the leaves as the crowns are the part where new growth starts and so are the most tender parts of the plant.These two grew back from the stump of the original cordyline which was fatally damaged in a severe winter a couple of years ago.

We have a new bird house, and the smaller birds are now getting their share of food whilst the pigeons sit on top of the feeder looking confused. There is food for them elsewhere in the garden though and we seem to have two robins as well as the usual starlings, sparrows, blackbirds and various tits who come to get their home made muesli of mealworms, seeds and fat pellets provided daily by Himself along with the occasional offering of bread. Organic of course! 

How empty the garden looks! I am looking forward to the crocuses and snowdrops to break the monotony and add sparkles of colour to the garden.