Thursday, 3 September 2015

Long tails

It's that time of year again. The first year's damsons are in, slightly early to protect them from a local fox who has a taste for them. In the back the cooking apples are starting to fall off the tree, so I'll harvest them shortly (and we'll have an apple and damson crumble at the weekend I think).

The Katy eating apples will be eating shortly, a week maybe, and the Cox's Orange Reds are coming on nicely for October. The Katies are cropping heavily.

And we had some more garden visitors this morning: three long tail tits that came through briefly. Here are a couple of them caught on the Katy tree.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

New one for the list

After a quiet period in which the garden was notable mainly for jackdaws and magpies, it went crazy this morning with a load of blue tits, great tits, a coal tit, sparrows and robins, may of them recent fledglings I think. I was pleased to see a wren on top of the hedge near the house, though it submerged into the greenery quickly.

This afternoon I was obviously looking out the window at just the right time as a bird hopped out of the hedge, sat on an old stump for a short time, then made itself scarce again. I didn't recognise it at first, but I managed a grab shot on the camera from which I can confirm it was a female redstart. This is a first for the garden as far as I can recall. It was quite a breezy day so I don't know if this bird was literally just being blown through or if it is resident nearby.

A heavily cropped copy of the photo is below.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Fat balls

Spring is battling its way through the weather. The apple is in blossom (with Katy leading the pack) and the damson blossom has come and gone. The new Victoria plum is doing its best to settle in, with a little blossom and now some leaves, though the new greengage seems to be struggling to establish itself.

Bird life is picking up in terms of numbers, though not species variety. Garden birds have been
  • dunnocks
  • house sparrows
  • blackbirds
  • robins
  • blue tits
  • great tits
  • long-tailed tits
  • wren
  • blackcap (one male)
  • starlings
  • jackdaws
  • wood pigeons
  • ravens
  • magpie.
No finches at all, and no coal tits so far. I heard at least one owl hooting softly a few nights ago, though couldn't see it

Several of the above have been drawn by the bird food at the back of the garden, particularly the fat balls. As happens every year, though, this only lasts until the jackdaws see it--and I've noticed that every so often a jackdaw will come and have a look to see what's there before winging off to bring its hungry chums

My evening walks are mostly populated by foxes at the moment, but I did see my first bat of the year, a pipistrelle I think.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Spring has sprung

Cherry blossom
Life slowly returns to the garden, though sluggishly. The bird feeders get visitors, mostly blue tits, and the buzzards are overflying again. My damsons, apples, plums and greengages are budding, and a new Japanese cherry in a small pot outside the shed door is blossoming nicely.

And yet it is all a lot quieter than it has been in years past, at least in terms of garden birds. Quite why this should be, I don't know. My gut feel remains that we still haven't recovered from the hard winters 0f 2010 and 2011; I have seen very few finches in the garden since then, for example, except for a pair of greenfinches last year.

Blue Tit at feeder
On the whole, the optimism I felt when I last posted has worn off somewhat--I expected to see more signs of birdlife than have actually happened.

Down where the old Corstorphine railway line runs--now a footpath and cycle path--the stretch between Corstorphine and Pinkhill has a lot of bullfinches, and I have seen them up on Corstorphine Hill too. It could be that the budding damsons in the front garden will attract them round the house later in the year, though I have mixed feelings about this. I'm happy to see them but don't want next year's crop destroyed.

In the bigger picture, walking at night continues to mean encountering foxes regularly, though it is a while since I saw a badger. Nor have I heard owls recently. I mentioned the buzzards and I have also seen a kestrel and a sparrow hawk overflying the garden; a heron overflew last night too. One afternoon I was watching 5 buzzards displaying above the house and saw something else flying very high--too high even for binoculars. It was large and had white-ish underparts. It was flying due north. I suspect, and acknowledge that there may be wishful thinking here, that this was an osprey.

Dunnock at the feeder by the kitchen window
Finally, last spring I noted on Facebook and Twitter that although I had a mass of apple-blossom, there were no pollinators around. The apple crop last year was pretty good all the same. In any event I was pleased to see the bumble bee in the photo above this morning. The apples aren't in blossom yet, but with a bit of luck there'll be a better showing by bees this year.

Note: if anyone is at all interested, all of the pics. here were taken on a Fuji X-Pro 1 with a Fuji XF 18-135 lens

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Winter Blues

So, it has been a while since I posted.

2014 was a very quiet year in the garden. Aside from the continuing presence of buzzards up above, not a lot happened. The new apple trees fruited nicely and some damsons planted in the front garden during 2014 seem to be well bedded in. I'm now planning to add a plum and a greengage to the back garden.

In terms of wildlife, there have been the usual foxes in the neighbourhood but, after my last post, I definitely spotted badgers up the road late last autumn.

This year has also started off quiet despite the bird-feeders being primed. There have been the usual blackbirds, robins, dunnocks and blue, coal and great tits. A wren has been around the hedges quite frequently and a female blackcap turned up yesterday.

We were in Hong Kong for the first three weeks of January 2015 and I came back with some thoughts on gardens and water. We don't have space for anything major, but I may try for something on a small scale.