Birds, Hedgehog, Plants, Wildlife

The Gardenwatch Report: FEB 2014

A monthly garden history covering all aspects of the garden in the form of a Gardenwatch Report seems like a useful plan to refer back to. As the garden year is picking up speed, it’s easy to forget some of the garden work, flowers and sightings that didn’t make blog posts, diaries or notebooks. My plan is to keep brief where possible.

BIRDWATCH LIST: Usual suspects of Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, House sparrow (lots), Chaffinch, Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit and Woodpigeon all seen in garden.

Periods of visiting from Siskins, Goldfinch and Collared Dove and occasional visits by Wren feeding along mossy rocks of small rockpool pond.

RETURNING VISITORS: Male Blackcap after a break of seven years! It enjoyed fat balls and apple hanging on pine tree – last seen in garden back in 2007. It was still in the garden today 🙂

NEWEST GARDEN VISITOR: The saddest story of all gardenwatching so far. A tiny Goldcrest (Britain’s smallest bird) was spotted on the ground along the house wall looking like a piece of moss knocked of the roof by a Jackdaw – it was wet and dead 🙁

It was the small dark yellow/orange stripe that got the Goldcrest noticed and its tiny wings. Photos were taken with ruler to ask Twitter for confirmation on ID and it was agreed. A very special garden visitor to have had 🙁

BIRD FEEDER FOODS: Peanuts in 3x hanging feeders. Sunflower hearts in hanging feeder, trays on 3x bird tables, a in tiny window feeder nestled in tree. Niger seed in small hanging feeder. Fat cake in hanging caged feeder for small birds. Fall balls and apples in 2x basket feeders hanging on pine tree (put up after Blackcap was spotted). See feeder layout here.

WILDLIFE LIST: No sightings of hedgehogs, bats, bees or butterflies in garden. Mice seen at night.

HEDGEHOG MANOR: This feeding station with IR camera has seen no sightings of hedgehogs. However, Mice, Blackbirds, Woodpigeons and other birds have discovered this hidden special buffet. Mr Bushnell hasn’t spotted any hedgehogs in the area outside entrance. Possible house renovations are likely at Hedgehog Manor during March.

WILDLIFE POND: Rainfall continues to top it up. No sightings of any visitors but there are no plants in water for shelter to predators (plant order made, waiting delivery). To improve chances of passing frogs moving in, planted up (spare after division) ornamental grass Bowles Golden in grit (no soil) in pond baskets. It will probably survive in margins but unlikely fully submerged but if it attracts frogs it will have done its job until the oxygenators get here.

BIRDS NESTING: No signs from Blackbirds, usually the first birds spotted collecting nesting material in garden. At dusk, a female Blackbird was spotted pushing her way into dense ivy covering the pillars of pergola – will she consider nesting there? I’ll have to get Mr Bushnell on the case 🙂

NESTBOX NEWS: Great tit rooster continues to roost. Great tit also seen visiting during the day, suspect it’s the same one. It’s not clear if any moss has been brought in, but possibly. It is clear that a Blue tit pair are also interested in this nestbox. A battle for tenants is likely during March.

IN FLOWER, FRONT GARDEN: Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ and first Crocuses open – Pickwick near gate, deep purple strip in gravel. Allium leaves well through gravel and getting tall. Sedums and Nepata have new growth at base.

IN FLOWER, BACK GARDEN: Hellebores, Crocus, Snowflakes, Snowdrops, Heather, Cyclamen, Iris and Bunnera ‘Jack Frost’. Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ in tall pot, wildlife pond border and pergola border all holding on to a few flowers. Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ in rockpool pond border still sulking after being moved. Daffodils pushing through in borders, gravel and lawn. Cuckoo flowers putting on new growth after being moved to damp grass edge of wildlife pond.

GARDEN JOBS: Not included above, final rocks/stones positioned at wildlife pond – remaining stones returned to borders. Not done, Wisteria 2nd pruning.

NEW PLANT ARRIVALS: Cyclamen coum x3, planted in small basket border to be enjoyed from kitchen window.

GREENHOUSE: See The Greenhouse Year for FEB .

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in March 2014.

7 thoughts on “The Gardenwatch Report: FEB 2014

  1. A wee tear for the Goldchrest Shirley 🙁 Such a shame. Mother nature is a cruel woman!
    It's all go now in your garden. Haven't seen a bee here either – despite there being plenty on offer for them.
    I hope you don't wait too long til the hedgehogs reappear and you get some frogs in the new pond.

  2. Oh how sad that the goldcrest met with such a fate
    Shirl 🙁 We've only ever had the one visit our garden a few years ago now and it was indeed a little star. Interesting to read about the return of the male blackcap – must be the seven year itch. Amazed to read that you have brunnera already in flower – mine is just breaking through the soil.

  3. A great overview of what's happening in the garden at the moment Shirl. Blackbirds have started nesting here and there is a nest in next doors garden.
    So sad about the Goldcrest, such a shame to find wildlife dead. We have had a few casualties here, a sparrow, my lovely dove, and a hedgehog. So me and my neighbour are feeling a bit down!

  4. I absoloutely loved reading your blog as a first time reader and new blogger. I have two bats who are regular visitors to my garden. You have inspired me to get a bat box and camera in my garden. Thank you.

  5. Hello everyone, thanks for all your comments. Apologies for late replies, it’s been a busy spell 🙂

    Sue, it was. Need to catch up with your blog to see if you’ve had any nestbox activity since this comment. Just been watching live a Great Tit shuffling in ours 🙂

    Angie, Absolutely, I do wonder what happened to that Goldcrest as it wasn’t a particularly cold or wet spell. Then again, I don’t know how long it was lying there either. Yay… I’ve seen two bees since this post so I suspect there have been more when I haven’t been looking! Mr Bushnell has been playing up so hasn’t seen any hogs out. The pond is becoming a really exciting garden feature as I source out pond plants now with them arriving in garden centres! I’ve been planting along the damp grass edge with clumps of snake’s head fritillaries at the weekend and a cowslip in flower to join a couple of others I divided and moved there. Can’t wait to see the cuckoo flowers (also moved from another part of the garden) send up flower stems and come into flower – trying to be patient. Frogs are another matter, I am curious to see what happens as this is a new pond without masses of plant shelter in the water except for my new sprigs of oxygenators which have only been in a week now (I started with 10 bunches and went back for another 10). Frogs usually return to the pond they hatched in so it seems.

    Anna, a little star is a great description! Yes, think that Blackcap is finally gone but never seen them in garden during March. I suspect climate change here as we haven’t had a hard winter (I’m saying that with a quiet voice). I’ve the same Brunnera in different locations and its well on in flower in one location. Guessing you might have a flower or two by now?

    Suzie, thanks 🙂 Time passes so quickly and I like to use my blog for a personal reference too as there can be many brief moments in the garden that I may well forget when they actually happened! The Goldcrest was a sad find, but sadly not the only one that week. There was a regular collared Dove (identified by a quiff of a head feather) that had been fun to watch visit. It stayed around a lot sleeping too. Guessing it might have been ill although it didn’t look it. It was spotted along a different house wall edge but this time near a window (which has a bird silhouette sticker on it). I’m not surprised at all that you and your neighbour are feeling down – especially with the hedgehog I suspect 🙁

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