On the last Sunday of October, here in the UK, we turn our clocks back one hour and adhere to Greenwich Meantime (GMT). Darker mornings and darker evenings make daylight time in the garden all the more precious. Let me share my Autumnal garden with you….
Glorious rich colours transform our landscapes in October be they in towns, countryside or gardens. A windy, rainy or cold day see the leaves dramatically drop to the ground from trees and shrubs. For a short time they make a magic carpet on the ground in patterns of colour that only nature can mix.
Sound is also picking up at this time of year as birds congregate more to feeders in our gardens for extra sources of food. The video below gives an idea of a quieter moment in my garden during the 14th of the month. If you have speakers I might suggest you turn them right up.
On second thoughts… perhaps you might like to pour yourself a cuppa first. A bird to listen out for in this video is the Robin with its short abrupt series of quick tik-ik-ik-ik-ik. You’ll also see a temp plant nursery under my pergola of the plants lifted, divided and potted from the area being cleared for my new pond.
Leaves blowing about the ground get into ponds and bird baths at this time of year. On Sunday I gave my bird baths a clean and topped them up with fresh water but with the rain today I needn’t have bothered. Duck weed is covering my pond at the moment and I may just leave it a little longer to see if it keep leaves from landing in it.
Ground feeding birds like Dunnocks and Blackbirds search through the leaves no doubt in search of insects underneath. I’ve thrown some apples on the ground for the birds but for some reason the birds aren’t taking the food I’ve been putting on the ground. I don’t know what’s been going on there as this has been a popular spot for a long time.
On Sunday, I cleaned the sticky mass of sunflower hearts that had not been eaten in my small wire ground feeders then refilled them with sultanas. I also twisted some cones off my pine trees and spread some peanut butter into the open spaces now the seeds have been removed… coal tits and great tits I suspect! You can see these cones in smaller photos above.
House Sparrows have been enjoying the fat balls in my feeder causing quiet a bit of commotion as they queue to get in it. Unusually they have caused quite a debris of sunflower hearts on the ground below the feeders as they fight at them too.
Once again, for some reason, this food has been wasted on the ground. Don’t know what’s being going on with the Blackbirds at the moment but they are visiting … perhaps a prowling cat? Last week I was delighted to see a Song Thrush appear.
Someone has been nibbling at my tiny Alpine/woodland strawberries and I have to say it doesn’t look like a bird. I wonder? A field mouse perhaps?
The log feeder above I picked up in the visitor shop at SWT Reserve Loch of the Lowes a few months ago. One member of staff/volunteer had made them with the idea of putting peanut butter in them. I put it up at the time but Starlings caused way to much noise with this and I never refilled it. It was in a hidden location too!
On Sunday I moved and refilled it with peanut butter hanging it beside other feeders to see if the chaffinches will take it as they do at the Wildlife Centre. Today I noticed that someone has taken food from it but I haven’t seen who. There is some left so I’d doubt Starlings have been near! Come to think of it we aren’t seeing many chaffinches visit the garden at the moment.
Guess who has been making themselves heard flying over my house at the moment? Sorry blurry photos…
Migrating birds are on the move all around the UK at the moment. Up here we have Pink Footed Geese who’ve popped down from Iceland to spend the winter here. They feed in the fields during the day and we see/hear them overhead coming and going.
I’ve yet to get good video footage of them as no sooner do you hear them and they have past. Some incredible numbers too and quite a speed they travel at. My goal is to get them in the evening if I can with a red sunset. Well… I’m as well going for the full challenge!
Chris Packham mentioned on the BBC television shown Autumnwatch the other week that Blackbirds are on the move with some leaving the UK and some new ones arriving. He said you’ll be able to spot the new ones as they will be timid around the garden.
That’s good advice as that’s exactly how I spot new birds arriving in my garden. The Blackbird in the photo above was timid and sat forever partially hidden in the undergrowth. Perhaps it was a newbie. This photo was taken through the window.
It was after seeing this blackbird that I put out some sultanas… a fav for the Blackbirds here. I had my camera on my tripod taking photos for this posting as the light was going. I had been standing still and didn’t notice who had spied the sultanas right beside the leg of my tripod…
What a surprise this was! I haven’t seen any hedgehogs in my garden for a number of weeks now but wouldn’t expect them to be in hibernation just yet as it isn’t too cold here. I wonder what they are up to. Perhaps they are sleeping more and feeding in shorter spells just now staying local to their winter homes. My new des res with camera is still available for any late house hunters!
Surprise quickly over with a few photos especially since it was the first to show interest in my peanut butter coated cones… it was very interested! I was now more interested in its weight as it didn’t look too big and was most likely a juvenile.
A quick quiet walk to my shed for gloves to pick it up with the intention of weighing it wasn’t quite quick enough. It was gone on my return. I walked around and around this border and this area for quite a while but it was nowhere to be seen. This visit was about 5:45pm.
Plan B then… a dish of peanut butter! Later on Sunday night I put my camera out and watched this area live fully expecting to see this little hog return to the sultanas and peanut butter cones. Gloves were closer to hand to pick it up.
Sadly, I haven’t seen it since. I do hope it returns as I have a feeling this one perhaps should spend the winter in a wildlife centre as it is too small to survive hibernation out in the wild.
I should mention one very important point here. Just as you shouldn’t put salted peanuts out for hedgehogs if you were to consider putting peanut butter out for the birds (or hedgehogs) the same rule applies. Choose a natural product from a wildlife centre or health food shop with no added salt.
Coming back to the flowers just holding on and we have a few brave Cosmos that are struggling against a few rain showers. Red campion is still flowering away in odd corners in my back and front gardens. Seed pods are open and I suspect many are already on the ground.
The blue gentian flowers have been pretty in pots under my pergola but I do have a master plan for them. They were bought as Sale plants in a garden centre where they were staring to go past their best. Propagation was on my mind and a river of blue around an edge of my new pond.
After pushing the pot bound plants out of their pots I pulled the plants gently apart and re-potted the smaller pieces in individual pots. From £5 of material in two pots I got 24 new plants that will bulk up for planting next year. It’s been a while since I’ve had gentian in my garden and I cannot wait to see its wonderful blue flowers reflecting in the water.
Green is also a fantastic colour in the garden in all its many shades and textures. With all the chat about letting grasses and perennials do there thing for structure and interest in the garden over the Autumn and Winter months (which I love to see) it is easy to forget the structure that evergreens give in our gardens. I love the foliage in my garden especially over the Autumn and Winter months.
Another tip from Chris Packham on the Autumnwatch show… look out for bees, wasps and other insects feeding on ivy flowers just now. In previous years I have seen birds at them but never noticed insects. I took a closer look…
A quick Congrats to the BBC… I have to say I am liking the new format of weekly shows rather than the daily ones in previous years. I also think Chris and Martin have fitted in well now. Being weekly the show is embracing a longer period of this changing season through a wide range of wildlife. It is much more interesting and I do hope a wider audience watches the show now.
Over now to my intended show for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day back on the 15th of this month. I was organised a little ahead capturing the video footage of birdsong video above and the video below on the 14th. Evenings came and went and I didn’t get time to look at this until tonight.
The video below begins with the dancing flowers in my sunnier front garden and then the music changes as we go into my shadier back garden. Look out for my footprints in the space I’m clearing for my new pond.
You’ll also get the tiniest piece of footage at the end of a small group of geese flying overhead as I was filming the garden. Unfortunately I discovered tonight I have recorded over a better piece of video.
Without a doubt my fav flowering plant in my front garden this year by far has been a newbie for this year and has been flowering for many, many months. The perennial wallflower Bowles Mauve has been brilliant to look at just outside my front door and the bees and butterflies have loved it too.
At a guess the Red Admiral butterfly seen feeding on this wallflower in the video below taken last week may be one of the last butterflies to visit my garden this year. I’ll keep an eye out the next sunny afternoon and have my camera close at hand just in case.
Embracing this changing season in the garden as plants lose their leaves will allow us once again be able to get better views of visiting garden birds. Perhaps we can only weekend gardenwatch in daylight hours but I still wonder what birds will appear in our gardens this winter.
Oh… I also plan to keep on gardening through the cooler wet days as well as the crisper ones! I’m taking my time with my new pond area working on it when I can. Wishing you good weather to enjoy the wildlife and plants in your garden at this time of year.
All photos above were taken in my garden on October 24th 2009. All videos shown above were taken in my garden during October 14th-24th 2009.