Winter feeding

The last month has been busy with Christmas preparations beginning. The disaster that is my Nativity play has begun. So blogging has been low of late. But now I’m getting past deadlines. Quite a bit has been happening in my garden and progress has been made on my school outdoor area, which I will try to update during the next few weeks.

After thick snow descended on Thursday the garden has been well coated with ice on snow. It had just thawed on Saturday. This has left the garden with lots of hungry birds struggling to find food.

Through Winter it’s important to help the birds. The water sources freeze, so I’ve been trying to get out to crack the ice in the bird bath. The food I put out disappears quickly. The seed goes in a few days. So as well as the seed I try to keep the peanut feeders filled with either peanuts or suet pellets. These seem to last a bit longer than the seed. So even when it’s been a busy week and I haven’t got out to replenish the seed I’m still leaving something for the birds.

Haith’s have been helping me out as they sent me a bag of their help to fly Autumn/Winter mix to review. This is a seed mix with high energy and oil content to¬† help give birds that fat and energy they need to survive the Winter. Haith’s bird food is put through a cleaner process. The grain dust created during harvest can be damaging if seed is not cleaned. Much of the bird food you buy won’t be cleaned in this way.

Haith’s sent me a bag of both the cleaned and the unclean mix. I wonder if from the photo you can spot the difference?

On the left is the cleaned and the right the unclean. I was surprised at how much of a difference I could see in the two batches. While I’m not able to do the test taste to appreciate¬† the difference I’m sure the birds will appreciate it at this time of year when food is scarcer.

Before filling the feeders I also gave them a good clean out. I’ve talked about it before, but it is important to clean feeders to limit disease spread.

Before I’d left the garden the birds were already sneaking in, clearly ready, for a feed.

Over the day I’ve seen a good mix of visitors: sparrows, great tits and blue tits got in to test it first. Then pigeons, starlings and jackdaws followed. Then had wrens, dunnocks and robins in and out.

Then a few herring gulls came in, although not for the seed.

Alice has enjoyed getting out to explore the garden again after several days of frost. She checked in on the bug hotel and gave the flowers a sniff.

Thanks again to Haith’s for sending the bird food to review. The birds seem to be enjoying it. It’s been nice to get out briefly into the garden and then sit in doing data input while looking up to see the birds enjoying the new seed.

Fireworks

We headed last night to one of Amy’s sisters houses to watch fireworks. Alice had good fun chasing cousins in the dark.

Alice claimed her cousins phone.

Alice was interested in the first few sparkling fireworks, then the first loud bang led to tears and us retreating inside.

By this point she was too tired and just wanted to hang onto me.

All still a bit much for Alice this year. Maybe by next year she might be ready for the later night and loud explosions, but she had a nice time until tiredness crept in.

Farm trip

Today we visited an apple event at a local farm. Apple pressing and baked goods were on offer.

We went for a nice walk out from the farm.

A little way along we came to a tributary of the River Hull. I saw a brief flash of blue as a kingfisher disappeared.

We settled down on the bank for lunch.

Owl boxes have been set around to encourage nesting.

Alice had a good attempt at copying a neigh from the horse.

I saw my wildflower for the weekend: poppies and chamomile.

In a gypsy caravan Alice went for the biggest pumpkin on offer.

Wildflower Hour-cow parsley

My wildlflower hour for this week is a common one; cow parsley. Part of the Apiaceae family alongside carrots, parsley and parsnips. The stems grow hollow up to around a metre. The flowers usually come out mid Spring to Summer, so most have gone over by now. Around Hornsea though there are still plenty flowering. A native species in the UK it provides a food source for many pollinators. This makes it an important link in helping support more species further up the food chain. Within the US it is considered invasive with its ability to make may seed heads in a single season a serious issue. Its sale is banned in some states.

Wildflower hour-Himalayan Balsam

A while back the environment agency were heavily cutting back along one of the drainage ditches near us. I’d wondered at the time, then realised this weekend. Watching gardeners world there was a feature on Himalayan Balsam. This non native species of flower became popular for its pretty flowers in gardens. However its seed pops and spreads quickly. This has led to it growing wild where it drowns out native species. The gardeners world feature discussed how rust is being introduced in sites across the country. This won’t kill it, but will limit the growth.

Made it to the mere for a quick walk around in the sun with Alice.

This swan had picked up some additional decoration.

The birds pay no attention to crossing that line.

And went for some headshots of the mallards.

A walk in the park

Yesterday I made it out for a walk in the park after several days in school working in a windowless room on my Early Years School Evaluation Form. This form is the schools judgement of how well we believe we’re doing. This is then presented to ofsted when we get the inspection phone call. So I was quite happy to be outside despite a bit of drizzle.

The hedges along the park were a ladybird hot spot last year, but so far I had not seen many. Yesterday they had returned in force with lots of signs along the whole of the hedge.

Amongst the trees we found a decorated rock. Decorating rocks, then leaving them hidden places has been a craze this Summer. When you find them you photograph them a tag on facebook/twitter. I have mixed feelings about this activity. I like that it gets children out. But living by the seaside I’ve seen people taking buckets of rocks away. There is a legal side to this that many of them shouldn’t be taking the quantity they are as well as dismantling a habitat. But this probably deserves a whole blog on itself. People have always taken rocks and seashells as souvenirs from beaches, but the quantity people are taking is a concern.

Amongst the long grass area a robin perched on branch serenading.

Conkers are now falling. It looked like they’ve already been scavenged through, but I did find a few to take into school for my discovery area.

Now it’s time to get back to writing my school action plan and evaluation form. A bit nicer though working from home with a view of the garden. Red admirals and sparrows are back and forth across the garden currently.

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Sewerby Hall

So having finished our time at the bay it was time to say goodbye to the oystercatchers and head home. As we left over the moors we couldn’t help bu notice how stunning the heather is looking this year.

To break up the journey we stopped at Sewerby Hall. Sewerby Hall is on the edge of Bridlington. A Georgian house that was added to through the 19th century. The orangery looks particularly fine, but there was a wedding on so didn’t get a proper look.

The zoo

The house has a zoo located in the old stable space. The animals have moderate enclosures. The Capuchin monkey like looked a bit lonely.

I much proffered the wildlife we saw roaming free on the grounds.

In the walled gardens Alice got let out of the howdah for a wander. She was very taken by the pond. Eventually I would like a small water feature in our garden to attract in the frogs.

I was quite taken by the artichokes. They need a decent space though for effect so I don’t think they’ll make it into my garden.

I can make more space for alliums and globe thistles though.