My blog (shirls gardenwatch) has officially been online for 5yrs as of the weekend just passed. Wow… I honestly can’t believe it myself! It all began with a video of the European Robin from my garden for a homesick friend in Australia. I had absolutely no thoughts on how long I would keep it going – until Spring the next year?
During the last five years, this gardener and plants person has continued to garden and move plants as much as I always have. Many garden borders have changed, changed and changed again. In this time, my garden has evolved (slowly at first) into a wildlife garden. This wasn’t something I had planned. I can’t imagine my garden any other way now.
As a plants person, planting combinations with colour and texture still matter. Propagation by division has developed many areas with ground cover which cuts down on maintenance.
More importantly for me now though is how the ground cover affords safety for birds, hedgehogs and other creatures making their way around my garden. Don’t laugh now, but now I do consider hedgehogs when spacing evergreen plants so they always have a few ways through 🙂
I could recount many sightings and re-post a variety of photo montages and videos – keeping you far too long and probably boring you silly if you’ve heard the stories before.
How do you find best bits over five years anyway?
I had thought a video would be good but alas… that old thing called time ran out. Cake anyone?
So, what are the chances of being at a window to see a bird that I never imagined I’d ever get the opportunity to see in my garden (no mature trees) appearing just a few days before my 5th Blogaversary? I’d say perfect timing for a celebration… a new blogging year lies ahead with new discoveries within a small garden. Now, before we chat Treecreeper…
My thanks go to everyone that has answered my queries and requests for advice with my blog and my garden visitors. Although huge now, the blogging world is still a very welcoming place. To my fellow bloggers, I’d like to say a huge thank-you for your friendship, links and comments over the last five years. I know how very difficult it can be to keep up with both new and old blogs. I very much appreciate your loyalty.
I dearly hope my enthusiasm for enjoying the mini wildlife reserves that our gardens can become has been a little infectious to blog visitors via searches, blog rolls, feeds or comments. After five years it would be great to think there are a few more nestboxes in gardens, bird feeders up, hedgehogs getting fed and plants being planted that feed bees, butterflies and other insects. That would be just brilliant 🙂
However, I am not alone in my blogging enthusiasm. It has been wonderful to exchange chat with garden, bird & wildlife bloggers and enthusiasts over the last five years. I was a bit wary of the blog/email chatting at first but now I can’t imagine my blog without it.
Next, I’d like to apologise once again for my absence with postings, comments and blog visiting recently. I keep saying I’m back to posting and something comes along and takes up my time and attention.
What are the chances of two family members having a Laparoscopy within 9 weeks of each other? It was my youngest daughter this time and her appendix was finally removed. My husband is continuing to improve. Thanks again for all your good wishes for his health. It has been a scary and exhausting time that’s for sure.
So with everyone on the mend, let’s get back to the business of celebrating five years of blogging with our newest garden visitor but first I have to admit to…
Pre blog my bird identification was pretty much in the category of “oh… there’s a robin, blackbird, blue tit and what’s that little brown bird – a housesparrow?” I used a basic camera for holidays, days out and special occasions. I didn’t have bird feeders in my garden. Phew… that’s my conscience cleared 🙂
This morning, in complete contrast, a DSLR camera (with zoom lens) was sitting on a tripod beside my window… and a wildlife camera was outside showing live images on the corner of my monitor desktop. Both cameras were pointing in the direction of a tree.
Last week a Treecreeper Certhia familiaris was spotted jerkily creeping round and up the slim trunk and branches of it. I couldn’t believe it. Although my camera was at hand I was too fascinated by what I was seeing that I never picked it up.
Yep… five years on I was able to spot and instantly ID a small brown creeping bird with a white underside. Wow… I knew this was a special visitor! I would dearly love if it became a regular (not getting carried away though as that’s probably not likely) as this is a wonderful little bird to watch. I feel quite privileged that it came to feed in my garden.
Since adding our first garden bird feeders (just 2 months before my blog began when my daughter was doing a school bird project) I have enjoyed watching the variety of birds that have visited my garden. I began taking photos or video of any new visitors so I could research what they were and what foods they liked to eat. I then started experimenting with feeders and foods. More birds came…
The Treecreeper that I spotted in my garden (certain on ID) last Monday morning has taken my garden bird species total to a staggering 31! I honestly can’t believe this. The majority of birds that are now regular visitors to my garden (like the finches) I had never seen (in or outside my garden) before I sat with my daughter trying to help her ID birds at a window for her project. Wow!
I have seen Treecreepers a few times at SWT Reserve Loch of the Lowes. It has been towards the end of the day we have spotted them. The image below was taken there yesterday after a brief visit. Being truthful, I went hoping to get a photo. I did…
Last Monday when I spotted the Treecreeper in my garden I was very much aware that there was a lot of activity at the feeders by Coal tits, Blue tits and Great tits. There was quite a crowd of them. When I was at Loch of the Lowes yesterday I spotted lots there too. I started to wonder if there was a connection. I picked up my books when I got home. Ah…
For those that don’t know, in winter, Treecreepers will often join in with mixed tit flocks. They like to take advantage of other eyes looking out for food. It helps keep them safe from danger too. It is also suggested that you are twice as likely to see a Treecreeper during winter months.
Oh wait a minute… what was I reading? Goldcrests and small warblers do the same… Ooooo!
What else was I reading? Ah… peanut cakes rubbed into tree trunks or similar surfaces might attract Treecreepers. Now… I had a tub of natural (unsalted ) crunchy peanut butter in my shed… bought for the birds 🙂
This morning, as soon as it was bright enough to see in my shed I found my tub of peanut butter. I also found a handmade tree branch feeder I bought on a visit to Loch of the Lowes two years ago. Starlings showed too much interest with this feeder as it had wine corks nailed to it as perches. It was taken down.
The close-up insert in the garden image (seen earlier above) shows the tree branch feeder (with cork perches removed) jammed in and tied to a branch junction on the Acer tree where the Treecreeper was spotted. Some peanut butter was spread into the holes. Not too much, don’t want to attract too much attention at this stage. We don’t want Starlings descending and scaring away the Treecreeper!
The big question now is… did I see a Treecreeper feed from this feeder today? Nope… but that would have just been too easy! Oh… I also spread some peanut butter on a few pine cones I pulled off a small tree in my garden. I jammed them into tree branch junctions too. A Blue tit has spotted one of them 🙂
So, there you have it… a new challenge in gardenwatching to start a 6th year of blogging. What fun I find these feeder challenges. Of course, if a Treecreeper does return… the challenge of getting photos and video will then begin 🙂
Enjoy the challenges in your garden be they growing plants or encouraging birds and wildlife. Looking through our windows, our gardens can be pure theatre to watch with a cast of many – especially at this time of year. Thanks for garden watching with me 😀
This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in November 2011.