RSPB-Let Nature Sing

The RSPB are looking to draw attention to nature. 165 species are critically endangered not to mention those whose numbers have just dropped. They are aiming to get bird song into the music charts to show support for protecting and helping nature. Let Nature Sing is set to be released on the 26th May with purchases up to the 2nd of May counting towards that weeks chart figures.

Available on google play.

Available on Amazon.

Also available on itunes.

As a download it only costs 99p and there isn’t much you can do with 99p these days. For 99p you can show support for nature at a time when it is most needed. You can also show support on social media with the hashtag #LetNatureSing If we don’t protect nature now we may no longer be able to enjoy simple pleasures such as the dawn chorus.

Please support and share your support through your social media of choice.

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Six on Saturday: 2.3.19 destruction time

As we enter a new month I’ve been spending the last week and a half starting to clear and destroy ready for the new season. We’ve been in the current house for about two and a half years and I’ve given existing plants a chance. There are many lovely established plants in the garden but there are some that are wrong for various reasons. Some went through too long without proper care others are just in the wrong place and some are too close together. I’m attempting to remove the bigger trees and shrubs over a few weeks. I can’t currently drive to the tip so I’m trying to get it all in the brown bin.
1. New kit

To aid me in removing a number of the plants I’d ordered a few new bits of kit to ease the job. I saw that gold leaf gloves were on offer through Amazon a few weeks back and ordered myself a pair of soft-touch gloves. I already own a pair of tough touch gloves and love them. I don’t particularly like wearing gardening gloves but as I planted quite a few spikey options they are necessary for some jobs.

Then two Niwaki purchases to help with clearing the perennials and spikier plants. Watching Monty in Japan is giving me a desire for more Japanese tools. A set of arm guards that just slip on over your clothes. Then a rice sickle recommended for cutting down perennials. While not essential kit unless you have a lot of ornamental grass or meadow flowers to scythe down it was satisfying to use though won’t get as much use as my hori-hori.

2. Conifers

This is the first of several larger established plants I am removing. This patch of conifers I think was actually three conifers planted too closely together. I don’t particularly dislike conifers but these don’t go with anything else in the border and they are growing outwards due to their proximity to each other. I’ve given them three Summers to decide what to do with them. I can’t untangle them as the inner growth is all dead now so they’ve been dug out. The dogwood poking in at the side will be getting a trim to the ground in a few weeks. The dogwood will regrow with nice new red stems but clearing these and the dogwood will create a more open space here and a view to the camellia when it flowers.

Nice space for something new.

3. Sunflower feeders

Having returned from the in-law’s house and seen all their finches on their bird feeders I ordered a new sunflower feeder. I buy most of my seed from Haiths. They produce good quality seed that the birds love. I was just going to order the sunflower hearts but they had an Autumn Attraction pack offer for two feeders and two different seed mixes.

The sunflower feeder is currently hanging from the clematis but I will find it a better spot.

Then a small bird feeder. Keep the seagulls and greedy pigeons out.

Within minutes of going back inside the tits came to check out the sunflower feeder.

4. Hellebores

The two hellebores I planted at the end of last year are really getting going now. Christmas Carol has pure white flowers. They develop rather ugly blotches as they fade but are very pretty while they are white and the few pollinators around seem to like them.

Angels glow is currently the prettier of the two with a mass amount of dirty pink flowers. These fade away better retaining similar colours as they fade.

As I’ve enjoyed the two I had and seeing many more at the in-laws and Burton Agnes I bought another variety. Lividus seems to open quite creamy before fading into green. I rather like the leaves on this one as much as the flowers.

5. Windmill

Alice was taken with this windmill in home bargains. It’s been stuck in the garden border though I’m sure she’ll continually relocate it decapitating other plants along the way. It may be time to allocate her a plot of her own.

6. Signs of Spring

While scything down the perennials I found this good sized frog. I’ve started seeing them more and more. It’s good to know they are returning to the garden ready for defending my hostas from slug attacks.

Looking back I realise this was quite a long six but I hope you enjoyed. Enjoy your weekends. I have euonymus to trim next and a dwarf apple tree that is too dwarf. Happy gardening!

If you want to take part in six on Saturday then check out the guide.

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Six on Saturday: 23.2.19 Spring flowers from the in-laws

Last weekend we went to stay at the in-laws. Their garden always looks good and I always admire their seasonal interest. My own bulbs seem to be running behind everyone else’s schedules. I’m seeing irises flowering everywhere while mine is still coming up. It was nice to enjoy the variety in their garden.

1. Snowdrops

Dotted around the border are little pockets of snowdrops. I’ve placed patio pots in my border while the building work is going on and I have a suspicious feeling I’ve placed them in all the spots my snowdrops would have come back up. Nevermind between in-laws and Burton Agnes I’ve had lots of chances to still enjoy the purity of these little white delights. I’ll get mine back on track next year.

2. Irises

I’ve come to really love the vibrant colours of irises and the vein patterns of irises in the last few years. This is the first year I’ve added them to my own garden. The in-laws had two varieties in flower but I only seem to have photographed one variety.

3. Daffodils

I’m not a big fan of daffodils but they are an unavoidable herald of Spring. Amy likes them so I keep a few patches growing in my own garden. They fill a gap in seasonal interest and don’t really require any major care. I’ve seen more a shift towards the shorter early flowering varieties in other peoples gardens which I suppose means the stalks aren’t in the way as other flowers come up.

4. Hellebores

Spread around the borders there are a number of hellebores. A few are starting to look a bit past there best but some lovely colours on show. They were drawing in some of the bees emerging for the start of the year. I’m hoping my own self seed and spread some more though I think I’d like to add a darker variety into the genetic mix. They hybridise quite freely leading to some beautiful and not so beautiful combinations.

5. Crocus

The crocus were probably the stars of the show with some growing in the border and some growing in drifts through the lawn. They might only be little but their vibrancy attracts attention.

This little-isolated one particularly drew my attention.

6. Garden birds

When Amy moved to work in Indonesia she left behind two cats with her dad. Sadly one has recently died. This combined with extra feeders has brought lots of birds into the in-laws garden. Charms of goldfinches were flying in and out constantly. I don’t see as many finches in my own garden. Disease has hit chaffinches and greenfinches but I got to enjoy seeing lots last weekend. Here are a selection of the best photos though I took many more. I did consider doing six birds but having done quite a few bird posts around the Big Garden Birdwatch I thought I’d stick to more flowers.

Hopefully, my own garden may have woken up to Spring by next week for me to return to six from my own garden. Enjoy your weekends and good gardening.

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Six on Saturday: Big Garden Birdwatch

This weekend is the weekend of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. The Birdwatch is held over one weekend in January each year. The results from this little piece of citizen science that gives valuable data on the ups and downs of birds in the UK. In preparation for doing my hour watch I have been working for the last few months to have the garden ready and as bird-friendly as possible.

1. Cleaning the feeders

Bird feeders should be cleaned regularly to cut down the spread of infection from birds visiting. In preparation for the birdwatch, I got a new long-handled feeder brush and spray to give my feeders a good clean. I find the birds seem to like this and I often see an increase in bird numbers after feeding.

2. Increasing the feeders

During Winter I increase my number of feeders to help support the birds who may be struggling. During warmer months there is plenty of readily available food for the birds.

3. Increasing the variety

Different birds like different food. Some eat on the ground, some can hang from feeders, others need a solid stand. In order to accommodate this, I put out a variety of feeders and types of food.

Suet seems to be a good all-round choice. It gives a solid energy burst without the birds having to spend much effort.

A good quality seed mix is popular among many of the birds visiting.

Nyger is popular with the finches.

Sunflower seeds are again popular with the finches and many of the smaller birds.

The ground feeders are good for pigeons and blackbirds.

Meat brings in the corvids.

Just about anything brings in the gulls.

4. Water

While many people feed the birds not as many supply a drink. I’ve been having to crack the surface each day. A ball in the bowl can stop freezing but the gulls round mine fling them out.

5. The kit

No good doing a count without being able to see and identify. I’ve got my binoculars ready.

Alice has been out the last few weekends practising. After a year she has started holding them the right way round.

The cameras telephoto lens is ready. Then the trail camera is set up closer to the action.

6. The snacks

Time to put my feet up to enjoy a cuppa and snacks and see how many birds I can count.

Hope you have enjoyed my six. If you fancy taking part you can find details on the RSPB website. My results will follow later. Wish me luck!

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Alice is already making notes and drawing what she’s seen.


7 Days of Wild Christmas-Day 1 bird feeding

Merry Christmas nature and garden lovers. I hope you are having, have had or are about to have a good Christmas day. This Festive period I am taking part in the Wildlife Trusts 7 days of wild Christmas. For many the festive season is a fairly depressing time. The days are dark and long, for some Christmas brings reminders of things lost. I find with each year I feel more and more distant from Christmas. I dislike the commercial excess of Christmas and the abundance of selfishness that many people develop as they sulk over receiving unwanted presents. The time I manage to engage with nature, gardening and getting outside helps relieve my spirits in this darker periods of the year.

But even for those who enjoy Christmas time engaging with nature can still bring much joy. The great benefit of much of what nature offers is that it is free. At a time people are getting wrapped up in the price tags and worrying they haven’t spent enough on someone nature offers a free burst of happiness.

I gain a lot of pleasure from the birds in the garden. Much wildlife comes into the garden just for the fruits on the trees. I do like to put out a bit more though to encourage more in. During these darker colder days it really helps birds to have easy access to extra food. It’s easy to forget to feed during the excitement of Christmas. But a few options will last a few days.

The suet tends to go fast. This feeder can be emptied in a day but it offers a good energy burst to the birds.

The fat balls last a few days meaning I don’t need to be out all the time replacing.

The same goes for the suet blocks.

The bird seed goes in a day but is one of the most popular feeders bringing in a great variety of birds.

Then from feeding regularly I get rewards like the ones in these photos. These were taken yesterday at my dad’s house where they also leave out plenty for the birds all year.

These charming goldfinch have been visiting regularly and that burst of gold and red is enough to bring joy to even the coldest winter hearts.

The starlings, while noisy, offer a great deal of beauty with the iridescence of their feather.

I hope you all enjoy your Christmas days and still find a bit of time out to appreciate nature. We have family time ahead now. Alice is at an age where she understands a bit more of what is going on. So I’m sure we’ll have a nice, if somewhat tiring, day.

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An excited little girl

Six on a Saturday: 24.11.18

Well, the weather has certainly taken a turn for the worse this week. I have few leaves left on the trees. I now need to start keeping an eye on the pots blowing over each night. We do have a date for the work starting on the house having the render redone. After that, the patio is going to be repaved. So next weekend I will be clearing everything off the patio. So you may start seeing photos with random pots placed in the border.

1. Bird feeder poles

My bird feeder was looking a bit tatty and these poles were on offer. I’ve been concerned about the birds coming in at the same time as next doors cat. The previous stand the cat could get up. These have a bit more height, which I’m finding is quite nice as I can see the birds on the feeder from the house better.

I have catcher trays under the feeders to cut down the mess on the ground and it allows a few different birds to hang onto the feeder that couldn’t otherwise.

As soon as I came in the starlings swarmed over the feeder.

A bit blurry as it didn’t stay when it saw me taking photos, but nice to see the goldfinches in.

The little robin from last week is still coming in to keep a close eye on me at work.

The ground feeder ends up a bit of a mess but brings in the blackbirds.

2. Hedgehog house

I have two wire dome hedgehog houses, but on one some of the wire had come unravelled. A while back a bird got stuck on it. I’ve since been dubious of that type and been keeping my eye out for a wooden one. This one is only small.  I would like a bigger one with a feeding chamber, so keeping my eye out still. I’ve previously made a home made one but this has been broken.

3. Unknown evergreen shrub

I don’t know what this shrub is. It doesn’t offer much excitement generally. It has small, dark, evergreen leaves. The yellow rose grows straight up through it. They are currently towering over the bush. It adds a bit of structure though and acts as a barrier to stop Alice falling off the raised patio.

However, I noticed last Sunday we have a few small delicate white flowers blooming.

4. Conifers

These three conifers came with the garden. They are about a metre high. They’ve been planted too closely together. If I take two out and leave one I’ll be left with dead growth where there squashed together. They aren’t really adding much to the border. They don’t fit with any of the rest of the planting. Instinct is to take them out next year. What do you all think? Stay or go?

5. Borage

The borage is flowering again. Great news for the remaining bees.

6. Windfalls

I’ve had a few apples fall from the tree that I left on the ground. The blackbirds love them and can see something has been enjoying them. If you have fruit trees it is good to leave a few for wildlife. Brings in the birds who will then remove other unwanted pests from your garden.

After saying my bulb planting was done I picked up some cheap mini iris. So got these to get in. Going for a few in pots and a few in the border. I’ve got my little helper to get out with me. She’s been keen to help clear leaves. I’m not sure she’ll enjoy the colder weather though.  Enjoy your weekend!

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Wildlife sightings

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen some wonderful wildlife. With the heat I’ve not taken the camera out on every trip, but have captured a few delights of the British Summer.

Up at Robin Hoods Bay Amy’s dads new refurbished pond is bringing in the wildlife. I love seeing the dragonflies. There is something nice about seeing a primeval insect that roamed around at the time of the dinosaurs.

In the compost a slow worm has taken up residence. These legless lizards are protected by law as the number has dropped. A pleasure to see one.

While out and about around the bay I spotted this large white. Over the month I’ve taken part in the #bigbutterflycount These have been high on all my counts. Might be common, but lovely on the thistle.

A soggy blackbird on one of the few wet days this Summer.

Out on a walk Alice settled in and refused to move from watching the cows.

The cows were equally interested in her.

In my parent’s garden they have done well keeping this giant sunflower going. The bees have loves it.

Again, in my parent’s garden a pair of robins have been in and out. They are quite friendly and will come quite close.

Down at the mere the water has been spectacular with the bright sunshine of this Summer. We’ve had a few trips down for Alice to shout at the poor ducks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my sightings. Need to get out in the garden as getting a good variety at the moment. Enjoy your Monday morning’s.

Meadow in my garden-prize

Last month I won a twitter competition from meadow in my garden. Meadow in my garden are a family company with a passion for wild garden. Their main product range is a variety of different seed mixes to help provide wild flowers to benefit many of your garden visitors. From the pollinators through to the birds. They offer seeds for all situations, dry soil, rockery, tree foot, shade, shorter mixes. I rather fancy the planter and shorter mixes to use for a few pots in my front garden and the planters at school.

In addition to the seeds meadow in my garden also provide nest boxes, bird tables and some lovely looking garden sculptures. Through twitter I was fortunate to win a conservation nest box.

With the weather it has taken a few weeks to get it put up. The nest box has the option of being converted to an open nestbox or widening the hole for larger birds such as great tits and sparrows. The open nest box will suit robins and wagtails. I have an open nest box already and as I haven’t seen much of the robin recently I’ve left it with the smaller hole and closed front.

I’ve previously written about hanging nest boxes. It’s been placed in a sheltered position, with cover nearby and spots for newly hatched birds to get out onto. But there is still a clear flight path to the entrance. At the moment this patch of fence is quite bare, but I have a climbing rose freshly planted that will gradually rise up to give more cover on this patch of fence.

The conservation nest box matches nicely with one of the butterfly houses I already had up on this stretch of fence. It’s a good quality nest box, feels like a nice solid build. Advice on placing nest boxes advices to place them away from food sources. As I provide a lot of feeders this may mean the amount of activity in my garden may put off nesting, but I live in hope. The bluetits have been in and out of the garden lots enjoying the Haith’s suet pack I put out a few week back ready for the cold weather. The coconut feeder has been very popular having been scraped clean.

Thank you again to meadow in my garden for a wonderful prize give away.

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Beast from the East

Well the wind and snow hit this week. Alice’s slide has been blown about, but no major damage done so far. My pots are all tucked into the walls and a lot are heavy with grit, so none over yet.

I had a day working from home to avoid travelling in low visibility.

I’ve kept up my bird feeding efforts. I’ve seen a lot grateful birds back and forth to the feeders, though today seems to be too windy for many. Yesterday the seed feeder was emptied by dinner. Today the bird seed feeders are getting blown around too much, so it is all over the ground. To make up for this I’ve put out more fatballs, suet pellets and flutter butter jar feeders.

The weather has even brought in a fieldfare, which I don’t normally get. Times must be hard for birds.

Alice briefly went out, looked unimpressed and turned around to go back in saying, “bye bye snow”. Even double layered snow suits won’t keep her out with the cold. But she got the experience.

Hopefully Spring might get back on track soon and the shoots will recover.
Folklore Thursday

Today’s folklore Thursday was asking about garden folklore, so here is a random snippet.

Lavender in the border, apparently, keeps tigers and lions away. Well I have plenty and no lion or tiger problems in my garden so far. .

Cold warnings

With warnings of more cold weather on the way I’ve wanted to ensure I leave a supply of food out for the birds during this vital period. Currently birds will be building up reserves ready for the breeding season. Already I’ve seen a few birds investigating my nesting material. But with the temperature dropping they will be needing high energy, high fat sources of food.The ground is frozen making many natural food sources hard to get.

I have several seed feeders, but these get drained in two or three days. So if I have a busy week at work I don’t always get out on an evening to restock them. The suet feeders and fat balls usually take longer to get through ensuring even when the seed runs out the birds still have food supplies in my garden.

As I was low on suet I went on Haith’s website to see what they had going and found a good value suet starter pack for £14.82. Haith’s have previously given me freebies to review, but this was not. I use Haith’s as the quality I do believe is better and when buying in a reasonable quantity it isn’t badly priced. In this starter pack I received suet fat balls and feeder, pellets, suet block, a coconut feeder, and a bird cake.

Getting out to put it out though meant separating Alice from her new Gruffalo costume, courtesy of the charity shop for £1.50. She has also been spoilt by her granddad with a set of binoculars after a previous blog. Though she hasn’t quite got used to which end to look through.

She had a few phone calls to make on her chocolate phone.

Now Alice was ready we got out to put out the new fat ball feeder and restock the feeders.

The coconut feeder has string on just to put up on a branch.

The cake, block and other pellets went up at the far end of the garden.

Alice was excited by a fir cone she found in the bug hotel.

My snowdrops seem to be running behind the schedule of other locally.

Blue bells and tulips are poking through further with each week.

Now I can sit back inside to do my school work watching the birds enjoy their feast.