Monday, 29 December 2008

Running the gauntlet

Surprisingly, even with this very cold weather, some of the nasturtium has survived and there are still caterpillars of the large white butterfly. Every now and then a caterpillar will make the trek up the wall to metamorphose into a chrysalis. To do this they have to run the gauntlet of predators, mainly spiders. The one below had chosen the window frame between the large and smaller top window. It had actually started to change when this spider found it.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Long tailed tits and sparrowhawk

At about 4.00pm yesterday evening, a pair (possibly more) of long-tailed tits were foraging in the tree behind our garden. Unfortuanletly by the time I managed to get my camera they had moved into the semi-evergreen tree. I could hear them, but could not get a picture. The sun had just set and it was dusk. A few minutes later, as I walked down to the corner shop a sparrow hawk flew low overhead.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

bird feeder continued

The fat ball at the corner of the house has got substantially smaller since yesterday, so although I have not seen any bird activity, they are visiting this feeder.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Bird Feeder

Following my post 1st December, I saw a starling on the fat ball which I hung on the corner of the house. Well, I actually heard it first. I had noticed that there did appear to be a less rounded edge to the top of the ball and that it had been visited, but this was the first time I could confirm this.

If you have not placed feeders for birds because you are worried about cats, check out my entry for December 1st for some ideas that I tried. Its all a matter of placing the feeders in positions where the birds will find them and feel safe feeding. It also helps to be on a bird flight path. When we first moved into our previous house, about 16 years ago, the garden was desolate. However, by hanging a couple of fat balls from the washing line we soon had sparrows, starlings and the occasional green finch and blue tit stop off for a feed.

If you already have bird feeders, but are finding it difficult to attract birds to them, watch how birds use your garden and the surrounding area. The feeders may just need re sighting. People are often disappointed to find only sparrows and starlings visiting their bird feeders - however there is a great conservation concern for both house sparrows and starlings as they have declined greatly in recent years. They are both listed as red status species. So if you are only lucky enough to attract sparrows and starlings take heart in that you are doing your bit for wildlife and for conservation

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Birds in Easthill Park, Portslade Old Village

On the way to the post office I passed through Easthill Park. I took a slight detour to walk through the small wooded area at the north end of the park. The area is small but dense and many birds pass through this area. A small flock of 5 blue tits passed by foraging in the high branches. I also noticed a group of three chaffinch squabbling in the branches just above the leaf litter. Even though I walked slowly, I could not help disturb the occasional blackbird, perfectly camouflaged in the half light of the leaf litter. The first I knew of them was the rattling alarm call as they flew off staying low to the ground. 2 goldfinches were feeding on a few remaining tree seeds high in the branches, probably part of a larger foraging group. I came across a single blue tit preening its feathers (see below).

Blue tit


Also of note were a pair of robins and 2 thrushes. I caught a glimpse of what might have been a red wing through the branches, but too far off to be sure. Red wing are winter visitors often seen in parks and gardens in very cold weather. It appears that locally they tend to be mainly found in the surrounding countryside and move into parks and gardens for shelter when the weather is very bad. (See also earlier posting Wednesday 30 th January). I also observed a cormorant flying over the park, an unusual sight in Portslade Old Village as we are a fair distance from the sea or any rivers.

On the way back through the park I came across a male blackbird having a wash in a puddle on the path.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Birds and bird feeders.

Now the cold weather has set in, I have put up some fat balls for the birds. Our garden is not on a direct bird flight path, so small birds are hard to attract. Many small birds, blue tit, great tit, sparrows and finches fly past end of garden to our back neighbours tree - overhangs our garden. I placed one feeder adjacent to a large apple tree in garden behind ours which is used by birds. I have put up a garden cane, and tied a couple of small branches to it to make it more natural. I tied the fat ball to the top of the cane so it hangs down between the branches (below).

Yesterday I noticed a great tit feeding on a rotting apple (still attached to the tree) and a blue tit foraging in the branches of the apple tree.

I had some success last year with just a cane. The second fat ball was attached to the washing line near climbing plants which small birds occasionally forage in.

I hung the third fat ball on the corner of the house. Small birds fly from the neighbours tree across the track, pass the corner of our house, so birds will hopefully see the feeder.

I have chosen these places by studying how the birds move in the area around pour garden. This will be our best shot.

Our old house was on the direct flight path for many birds, tits, finches, robin, blackbird, thrush etc. Although our garden was visited by lots of neighbourhood cats, I managed to feed the birds successfully. This was partly due to a large rambling rose and an old rose bush in the back right corner. I placed the bird table next to this, so cats could not jump from wall. I placed several bird feeders in the rose bushes. The birds would feed knowing that the cats could not get them. They became so used to this that they continued to feed while a cat sat directly below, looking up.

The rambling rose was also a good defense against the sparrow hawk.