Sunday, 29 January 2017

Big Garden Birdwatch 2017

Well it is that time of the year again! I can't believe I haven't posted on here in a year - Must try harder this year
Today between 1.30pm and 2.30pm we chose to participate in the annual R.S.P.B. Big Garden Birdwatch, the weather was grey with drizzle for the most part which may have been the reason we didn't get the birds in the numbers we are used to seeing,
Our results were as follows
3 Great Tit
5 Goldfinch
3 Blue Tit
8 Wood Pigeon
9 Blackbird
2 Dunnock
5 Jackdaw
2 Chaffinch
1 Stock dove
1 Long-tailed Tit
3 Robin
2 Magpie
2 Great Spotted Woodpecker
1 Coal Tit
1 Song Thrush

It really was a quiet hour, making it very easy to count the birds!

Of course as always there were early and late visitors which didn't make an appearance during the hour but did at other times such as a large flock of redwings which showed up in the morning perching in an ash tree and a nuthatch  spent the morning visiting the feeder every 10 minutes or so  but didn't show itself at all during the hour and then this fieldfare was on our lawn for a good fifteen minutes half an hour after our count ended!

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Big Garden Birdwatch weekend

It is that time of year again when we stand looking out of our bedroom window for an hour watching and counting all our garden visitors to take part in the RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch
It has been a rubbish winter for garden birds this year, as far as our unusual winter visitors are concerned we have only seen one redpoll in our garden and no bramblings or siskins at all -  in fact the only birds we have seen in our garden this winter that have been different to our regular visitors have been one male bullfinch which paid us a brief visit one morning earlier on this month and a goldcrest that has flitted through our hawthorn hedge every day. But as we have discovered from previous years, birds are not predictable - we have had plenty of regular visitors give a no show for the hour and others make a first appearance, so how would this year fair?

this is the view from our bedroom window, as you can see we look down at our bird feeder in our back yard, most of the birds feeding on these fly off to the hedge to eat and shelter from the sparrowhawk that flies through two or three times a day, very rarely managing to pick a bird off the feeder, we were hoping that it might fly through today and rest on the utility roof for a while before heading off again, no such luck! Our feeders are filled with sunflower hearts and we also have a suet cake hanging from the feeder too, on the ground we have an old large casserole which is now a bird bath and have emptied some sunflower hears onto the ground too for this weekend only!  As we look out over fields too we include part of the field in our count - we often have jackdaws, pigeons and stock doves land in the field and the pigeons and stock doves also come into our yard clearing up the seeds the finches drop from the feeders. Occasionally we also see thrushes and green woodpeckers in the field so again kept our fingers crossed for those too.
We also checked the side garden and front of house too at times but as most of our bird action happens at the back of the house we always had someone counting there 
Okay now for the results 
Our count took place from 10.40 am to 11.40 am weather was overcast with some light drizzle at times, brightening up slightly for the last 10 minutes or so. participants in the count today were myself, Mr S and my daughter joined in for some of it too!

birds seen on feeders
Goldfinch 6 
Blue tit 4 
Great tit 2
coal tit 1

birds seen in yard 
blackbird 4
chaffinch 2
robin 2
dunnock 2

birds seen in hedge 
goldcrest 1
reed bunting 1

birds seen in field but within our allocated area
jackdaw 17
magpie 1
woodpigeon 4
stock dove 3

obvious highlights goldcrest and reed bunting (both of these photos taken from my bedroom, through our double glazed windows) 

Missing that regularly visit 20 long tailed tits, wren, nuthatch and greenfinch and it would have been great to have included a redpoll or two along with a brambling, siskin, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker. we did hear a tawny calling from a nearby tree and 7 Canada geese flew over too but couldn't include either of those. hey ho.

Then later I went onto the RSPB page to submit my results and I had problem with adding birds so I am now not sure if my full results were submitted or only the ones included on their list. But hey I tried!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar

After the large numbers of elephant hawkmoths we have had in our traps this summer I shouldn't have been surprised to find an elephant hawkmoth caterpillar in our garden,  but wow! what a treat - I almost didn't go over to investigate when I spotted i,t as the sun was shining behind it from where I was standing so it just looked like a large dark shrivelled leaf, which wouldn't have been unexpected as the caterpillar was a fuchsia plant which is still waiting to be planted and I keep forgetting to water it! - Any way something made me go back and take a closer look - I am so pleased I did - this is my first ever Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar and it has not disappointed me!
Firstly here are some of the elephant hawkmoths from one of our mothing sessions this summer - along with some poplar hawkmoths - the elephants are the pink ones!

and here is today's Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar

photography by Angela Smith

Saturday, 25 April 2015

It's nest building time

This week the cattle returned to the common and it hasn't taken the jackdaws long to discover them! This morning when we were checking the moths from last nights trap, the cattle decided to walk over to see what was going on, at first they all lined up along the fence watching us, but soon realised not a lot was happening so then most of them lay down on the grass and chilled.
That was when the jackdaws arrived, there were at least 3 pairs , but they weren't landing on the grass, instead they were landing on the cattle! - they then proceeded to peck out large beak fulls of hair and then fly off - some to our chimneys, with their wonderful new nesting material, fresh from the cows backs.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Even on the dullest of days our back yard is filled with colour

This morning, I managed to grab a few photos of the birds visiting our feeders from our dining room  just before the sleety raindrops started pouring down our windows .....

blue tit

long-tailed tit
lesser redpole


great tit
fed on a sunflower hearts and a fat slab!
we also had a wren, dunnocks, blackbirds, goldfinch and robins visiting - even on the dullest of days our back yard is filled with colour

Thursday, 8 January 2015


I have just been reminded that it has been a while since I posted any photos on here - so just for you Stan, if you find them, here are my catkins from last week!

In the frost

the thaw

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Happy Homemade Christmas time for all the senses

One of the things I enjoy about Christmas is having time to be creative in different ways to my usual jewellery making - I obviously enjoy the sparkle of Christmas, so this year I knitted this bead and wire bauble for our tree.

and these fun beaded snowflakes 

I also enjoy the homemade tastes of Christmas - I have to make vegetarian mincemeat 

so the non meat eater of the family can still enjoy some of my homemade mince pies - 

and of course Christmas at home just wouldn't be right without some seasonal smells so today I made this clove studded orange - my house now smells wonderful

you can find the recipes for the mincemeat and mince pies on my recipe page 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A couple of dragonfly visitors today

This morning we had these two dragonflies darting about the garden, the red male seemed to prefer to fly over the lawn using the cold frame as it's perch, the green female spent most of her time in the herb garden, I think these are both ruddy darters