Birds of a feather

Having written about my new bird feeder I think it’s a good time to look at what I am getting in the garden. Often Summer is quite a quiet time for the feeders with an abundance of food around for the birds they can find themselves. But with the sporadic weather going back and forth between torrential rain and baking sun when the sun is shining the birds are looking to fill up on high energy foods.

Nothing puts the pigeons off coming to the feeders. Even in the rain they will sit out on the feeder getting plumper.

With lots of young sparrows around the feeders have seen the house sparrows back and forth on lots of visits.

The starlings have been swarming in large numbers, then flitting off as quickly as they came.

The blackbirds have been enjoying the wet ground, picking though for the worms come to the surface.

The goldfinches mentioned in a previous blog.

I’ve almost seen the whole tit family. There have been blue tits, great tits, long tailed and coal tits. Although I haven’t managed any photos of the coal tits.

The ever present herring gull shed mafia has been keeping watch over its domain.

I’ve also seen wrens, collared doves, jackdaws, chaffinches and thrushes. Part of the reason for getting so many I believe is down to the variety of food on the feeders. The tits seem to be going mad for the suet and peanuts. The jackdaws come for the meal worms and kitchen scraps. The pigeons seem to devour everything. The finches like the niger and the sunflower heads.

I also have feeders on different levels. Some ground feeders and some up higher on the station. Then I also have some located hanging in the trees and these seem to be favoured by the smaller birds. It’s worth trying putting more than just a seed mix out if you want to attract a variety of birds. Or if there is something you particularly want put out appropriate food.

The insect life has also been pretty good with a good variety of butterflies, dragonflies and bees coming in.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my whistle stop tour through my garden birds and all have good weekends.

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I’ll finish with an Emily Browning poem.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Haiths-Niger Seed Bird Feeder review

Last week I was contacted by Haiths-Bird food specialists asking if I would review one of their products. I agreed and I have been sent their niger seed feeder and a bag of their seed mix to go with it. So with the disclaimer out of the way that I received the product for free lets take a look at the feeder.

The feeder itself is well made. A nice solid metal construction. The top comes off when you lift it up with the handle. The bottom also comes off for you to give the feeder a good clean out, which it is important to do. It’s particularly important if you are in an area bad for bird flu as it helps stop the infection spreading.

The feeder comes with a handy plastic pull out sleeve which you put in to make it easier to fill. Niger seed is small and falls through holes in most feeders as you fill. With this you put the sleeve in, fill with niger seed, then remove the sleeve when it’s at the feeder.

The feeder looks smart on the bird station. It’s a good size, so shouldn’t need filling straight away again. It looks attractive and the metal gives it a look of quality rather than some of the flimsy plastic feeders. Not that the birds will care, but nice for me.

The seed itself is Haiths own mix. It looks good quality. The seeds are the rich dark brown/black colour they should be. If you buy bird seed from a shop you’re meant to avoid niger with too many seeds that have dried out to the lighter brown as they’ve lost their oil rich goodness that will help the birds particularly in winter.

The previous niger feeder I had only had a couple of tiny holes and I was never sure all the birds that enjoy niger seed could get in, especially when damp I think it got clogged, so we’ll see if this with multiple holes is better.

Since hanging the feeder today I’ve seen one juvenile goldfinch investigating, but didn’t eat. Goldfinches are one of the main visitors to niger feeders and you couldn’t really ask for a more charming looking bird. Goldfinches didn’t used to eat from tables, but have become more common in the last decade, which makes for a pleasant sight in the garden. Niger seed is popular with other finches and siskin’s. However I’ve never seen siskin’s in the garden so unlikely they’ll suddenly arrive from a new feeder. So we’ll see how popular this feeder is and I will update as we get visitors. It usually takes a few days for new discoveries on the bird station to start seeing regular visitors.

http://www.haiths.com/bird-feeders/

http://www.haiths.com/bird-food/

While this was free for me in exchange for a review if you check the website you’ll see a good range of products. The feed is reasonably priced and cheaper if buying if larger quantities. The delivery was quick and products were well packaged. I would try buying from them when I next require some wildlife supplies for my garden. I have my eye on getting a more traditional wooden bird table.

Carnival

Today was the Hornsea Carnival parade. Not quite the spectacle of Rio or Notting Hill. More a celebration of English quaintness.

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We saw three bears accompanying a juvenile offender.

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We saw Morris Dancers. For non-English readers Morris Dancing is a form of folk dancing where you tie ribbons and bells to yourself and prance around. It isn’t generally an activity you’d admit to on a first date or for that matter in the first year of a relationship.

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There were a lot of craft stalls: wood carving, rope making and jam, chutney and pies.

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In the arena area we saw a bird of prey show. However the bird wasn’t having any of it mainly deciding to sit in the trees.

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At the side the birds rested on their perches. It was nice seeing these fantastic feathers fiends for free.

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Live music played at the bottom of the hill with a eclectic mix of covers from Green day to Van Morrison

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Back at home Alice still wanted to be a butterfly with her backpack on. Tomorrow the carnival is still on so we’ll see what other eccentricities we see.

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30 days of wild: day 26-sharing

Today has seen me sharing my wildlife passions. The morning has been the culmination of several months of hard work. I changed schools this term and took a promotion to become am EYFS coordinator. We’ve had local authority moderation looming over us. So we’ve had a frantic couple of months collecting evidence and teaching the children to the level we needed. This morning we had the moderation and it went really well. Everyone of our assessments were signed off by the LA. So this lunchtime I spent a bit of times enjoying the children’s company.

On the main playground where the kids go out at dinner there is a wildlife garden. There is a ponds and planters with wildlife attracting species of flowers: lavender, rosemary and nettles.

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The kids currently are worm obsessed. Second in their interests are ladybirds. So at lunch I spent the time finding a ladybird larvae.

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And found a good few pupae. Both larvae and pupae ate probably the invasive harlequin menace, but children have a fascination with naming and understanding these things.

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Teaching natural history and the names of animals, birds and minibeasts has been shown to teach care for the environment. Then from this deeper empathy for other people. A useful lesson for a calm school.

Returning home my passion has rubbed off on my partner. She’s been taking photos while I’m out. This one stands out as pretty good and I like the subject matter too.


This is all part of what 30 days is all about though. Enjoying wildlife for your self is great, but getting more people to enjoy nature gives me an even greater joy. 

Who will you inspire?

30 days of wild; day 25-garden watch and a wild drink

Today I have been sat working in the kitchen with the patio doors open working to check over my classes evidence for Local Authority moderation tomorrow. I decided while doing this I’d keep a tally of visible species. As with the RSPB gardenwatch I’ve only recorded the highest number seen at once.

The work I’ve done trying to make the garden more wildlife friendly over the last year is really showing.

Over a two hour period of putting my head up from my work every so often I’ve seen:

Birds

  • blackbirds 2
  • coal tit 1
  • starlings 6
  • common gull 1
  • sparrows 3
  • pigeon 3
  • jackdaws 3
  • collared dove 1
  • goldfinches 2
  • wren 1
  • long tailed tits 2

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Bees

    • Carder bee
    • White tailed bumblebee
    • red tailed bumblebee
    • carder bee
    • honey bee

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Butterflies

  • Speckled wood
  • Small tortoiseshell
  • Small white

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Now most of these species are fairly common to gardens. However these were spotted between about 10 and 11 in the morning. Not a prime time for birding. I wasn’t watching the whole time, so there is a chance there were other species. What this shows is from last year when I moved in the efforts I’ve made are working. Just a small amount of planting and providing homes and food for various wildlife has improved the biodiversity enormously. If everyone contributes that little bit in their garden it all comes together to allow us to coexist in our gardens alongside some spectacular wildlife.

To relax while checking over books I thought I’d try another wild act making a cup of nettle tea. I collected a mug of nettles from the wilderness behind the garden and boiled with 2 cups of water. Once boiled it loses its sting. Nettle tea apparently has many benefits for skin, health and urinary tracts. I can’t comment on that side yet, but it tasted pleasant enough.

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While collecting nettles I disturbed this rather interesting looking moth. I think it’s a small magpie, but the world of moth identification is a much bigger one than butterflies or birds, so may be wrong.

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30 days wild: day 18-dawn chorus and planting for wildlife

Today was an early start with Alice waking at half 3 and not going back down. So I heard the dawn chorus. Now the dawn chorus is normally regarded one of natures wonders. But today it was more a cacophony of chaos. Living by the sea the seagulls started as the opening act followed by jackdaws and pigeons.

It wasn’t for an hour or so until I started to hear more melodic tunes from the songbirds. But I did get through the gardeners world 50th anniversary. I’m glad Monty presents now and not Titsmarsh. He’s not my cup of tea. Then managed a few Springwatch unsprung episodes.

I worked on school work through the morning, then got out in the garden late afternoon. It was too hot earlier, but by the time I got out it had cooled off. I did some weeding. Cleared a bit of space around a fuscia and Hebe that were being drowned out by camomile. I’ve reported a few plants on the patio and had a general tidy. Then added a few more pots for wildlife with poached egg plant and night scented stock. Less inviting for wildlife I set up a planter with alpines Amy likes. Alice had her paddling pool out, but wasn’t bothered about going in. But feeling how cold it was I don’t blame her. She did have a dig in the earth though and pretended to water the plants with her watering can.

We both ticked off the wild act of feeling the grass between our toes. It was too hot for shoes and socks most of the day.

The insect life was spectacular today. With the sun out bees and dragonflies were out in abundance. I still don’t seem to have much that appeals to butterflies. So need to work on that.

 

Garden update

The garden is looking nice at the moment. A few issues with smaller plants behind bigger plants, but can look at that for next year.

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The rose campion has flowered. It will have little bursts of small pink flowers through Summer.

The foxgloves have finally come out. A bit behind others in the surrounded gardens. But better late than never. The hollyhock next to is also set to flower.

The roses are doing well.

 


The sweet peas in the hanging baskets are flowering nicely.

 


I have put more food out to attract in the finches.

 


There has been a good variety of birds in the last few days, so my efforts aren’t being wasted.

 

 

The wildlflowers in the border are bringing in the bees. The poppies in particular are seeing lots of visits.

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The garden centre had a lot of dehydrated lavender selling for the 99p. With a few days watering it’s already looking better. I think I’ll aim to nurse it back this year then add to the front garden next year. I have one patch already and it’s smelling great walking in.

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While a few things are dominating this year and my height order in the borders is a bit of a mess the wildlife coming in is much more varied than last year. So I feel my hard work over the last year, much of it started during last years 30 days, is starting to pay off. The garden is gradually becoming a better habitat for more species.