MAY 2017 UPDATE
Spring up date with a few photos. Nesting boxes are down due to last Springs cold weather when so many chicks died.
We have 5 Blue tits and 2 Great Tits nesting in the garden, well down on other years. But they all have large clutches, one blue tit has 12 young, something I have never seen before.
All the Robin boxes have been predated , so they have moved on else where in the garden, under pallets and other well hidden places.
The Mandarin Duck is back for the fife year and our resident Mallard Duck has decided to make a nest in the middle of the garden among the radishes.
Ray has marked it with some red flags and Robert has put a few bollards on the path next to the nest to let everyone else know that the duck is there and give them a chance to hatch her eggs.
I will let you all know how it all goes.
SPRING 2017 UPDATE
Spring is here, lets hope it's a better one than last year. Robins have already started to nest and are sitting on their first batch of eggs, two pairs so far. The tits are going in and out of the boxes having a look at their new homes, they should start to make their nests early next month.
No squirrels have take over any of the boxes this year. I am also looking forward to see if the Mandarin Ducks come back this year, if they do it will be their 5th year. The owls would also be very welcome to G&F anytime, the Tawny and Little Owls have bred here previously, where the Barn Owl had roosted in one of the boxes last year. Not forgetting the Kestrel; a female took a lot of interest in the box last year after I relocated it.
The Pond is going to look great the year, the plant in and around it have established themselve's now. Lots of Newts are already present but no frogs have been seen so far, that would be due to the Heron that has been seen visiting the pond early in the morning. But 3 separate lots of frog spawn have been spotted, all looking very healthy; I still wonder if any humans helped out there!
At last the Bat Boxes are up, I put them up in the car park (8 of them) so the bats can have a clear flight to the boxes and, with a bit of luck, we can have a nice view of it all happening.
I will let you all know how it all goes in May,
JANUARY 2016 UPDATE
It's been very quite in the garden over the past months, now spring is just around the corner things will so be looking up.
Happy New Year everyone, we have been working getting ready for Spring. All the nest boxes have been cleaned out, treated and some re-located. Now they all look like new. The Kestrel box has been moved to the west side of the garden on top of one of the Lime Trees, hopefully it will be more to the liking of these wonderful birds.
The pond is looking very good. With this mild winter the plants are still growing, hopefully we will see some Frog Spawn in the coming months for the first time. On the other side of the wall next to the pond there is an area of ground where in the Spring Buddleias are going to be planted for the butterflies.
We now also have a fantastic large notice board put up next to the pond, which was donated to us so thank you very much for that.
Some of you will know our friendly Pheasant, this guy has taken it upon himself that the garden belongs to him and him alone; he has attacked a wheelbarrow plus a few of our members, well most of them! Because of this I caught and relocated him in a field next to the A3, but behold a week later and he was back in the garden. You ether love or hate him. I love him welcome back mate!
Finally in the Spring we are going to put a few bat boxes up in the trees in the car park, this will give the bats a clear flight path to their new home.
The end of July is here, most of the birds have reared their young and starting to molt their feathers, so now they are very run down and will keep a low profile for the next few weeks. But now is the time that butterflies are more numerous so I have taken up watching them rather than birds.
The pond has come on far more than I expected in it's first year, the flower and plants have bloomed with so much colour. I treated the blanket weed a few months ago so most of it has gone but then another weed appeared "Azolla" (water fern).
This is very fast growing and can cover the whole of the pond stopping any light getting in. How did it got in there? the only thing I can think of is it was brought in by the ducks that visit the pond. We will never remove it but we can control it by netting it out.
A few week ago Lesley, Pat and myself started do that and to our great surprise also pulled out Newt poles with every net of weed we pulled in, more than 50 in total. Pat was very carefully going through the weed as we netted it out to separate the young newts to release again in the pond. A very good year for breeding newts, we are already looking forward next spring to see how the frogs do.
Tom's lavenders have started to flower, you must have a look over the next few weeks. They are alive with butterflies, honey bees and bumble bees.
Around the back of the garden under the metal sheet, lots of Voles and shrews are around and even a few nice size grass snakes.
See you all next month ..... Ed
June is now here and the garden is blooming.
The pond still has a lot of blanket wood but in time that should settle down. Common blue damselfly seen at the pond and a lone Broad-Bodied Chaser hunting over the water.
The garden around the pond is beginning to brighten up, in another few weeks it will be very colorful. I would just like to say to everyone that has helped with plants and useful information a big thanks for your help.
The bird boxes may not have been as many as last year but there was bigger increase in broods with Blue and Great Tits, I have only found one robin's nest which reared 5 young.
Ray and myself were very lucky to see the mandarin ducklings leave the garden with their mum, there were between 10 and 12 of them.
It was a shame but the Tawny Owls never came back this year, but again we did have a nest in one of the smaller owl boxes of YES..........Little Owls. When I checked the box there were 3 eggs, but she could had laid another 3 on top of that.Photo shows the last owlet before it left the box.
Wonder what we will get next year, See you all in July.
Enjoy the sunny weather ..... Ed
Hello again, we have now moved into May and the garden's wildlife is in full swing.
Last time I said only one Newt had been seen in the pond, a week later up to 12 could be seen.
On the left is a photo of one of our frogs, and on the right a common newt, but sadly no frog tadpoles this year but we should have a lot of Newt Tadpoles, also a big variety of water insects.
Under the metal sheet there are a lot of Bank Voles which breed none stop, Common Toad of all sizes and 2 Water Shrews have been seen, they are black and very small. No Grass Snakes spotted yet which is a shame.
The bird boxes are busy, mostly Blue and Great Tits, and I am happy to say the Robins are the first to hatch out; a family of 5 are doing well. In 2013 the Robins reared 23 chicks, unfortunately last year all of the chicks and eggs were taken by Magpies or Woodpeckers. So this year I put metal grills over the front of the boxes and it seems to have worked a treat.
Our prize bird is the Mandarin Duck, this is the second year she has nested in the garden, The eggs are due to hatch out in a few weeks and the mother will lead her brood to water, alas not our pond as it is too small.
If you are down at the garden you will notice that the bird feeders are empty now until October as the birds will find enough to eat around the garden. No new sightings of birds this month as I have been too busy to sit down and take notes.
Enjoy the sunny weather ..... Ed
Hello again, Spring is here at last, today Easter Monday the weather is wonderful and the garden is alive with wildlife.
The pond is doing well with water insects and the plant life is starting to grow with this warm weather but alas no frogs and no more sightings of newts. The pond is quite large and deep so you never know what is really in there.
The metal sheeting at the back of the garden seems to be a bit more attentive with the smaller mammals, Bank Voles are starting to make their little nests and are lot more Common Shrews running around, also a lot of Common Toads can be found under there.
The bird life is in full swing at the start of the breeding season, we checked the boxes for the first time yesterday and 11 show signs of being used. It is still early days and I'm hoping for a lot more. We now have a resident Cock Pheasant who has taken over the garden as his own with his 4 hen birds, he is very tame now and will feed out of my hands.
Greenfinches have started coming to the feeders which is nice to see also chaffinches, one in particular, a male. Usually they don't like humans too close to them but this guy will fly over to me for his mealworms. He has scales or warts on his legs called "Bumblefoot", this seems to affects only Chaffinches or Bramblings. (see photos) and more information here
Waiting to see the first Swallow fly low over the garden.
The garden has 44 nest boxes around it's area, the tit boxes are very busy at the moment with the birds going in and out looking for a good nest site, (mostly Blue Tits) so I am hoping it is going to be a good year.
The wildlife corridor has now been cleaned up for the start of Spring. This was developed 4 years ago so a lot of the shrubs and plants now re-seed themselves and the area looks very colourful in the Summer; It is a big attraction for the insect world as well as bird life. There is a bird table and feeding station along the corridor as well as a bird bath.
The pond is still very young, it was not planted out until last October (2014), a bit late but hopefully it will bloom by the time Summer comes. There is plenty of insect life swimming around already, for example Boatman, Skaters and Whirligig Beetle. No frogs have been seen yet but a Smooth Newt was found in the pond by Carolyn today (11th March)
On the rear wall as you come into the garden are some nesting sites for Solitary Bees, again these have not been up long so it will take a bit of time to build up.
At the rear of the garden on the other side of the wall is another wildlife area where we have put metal sheets down (10 in all) for cover and nesting for small mammals, insects, amphibians and reptiles. Bank voles do well there (good for the Owls) you will also find shrews, toads an the odd grass-snake.