Tuesday, January 30, 2007


This is sort of off-topic, but I've started another blog which contains some sketches and things. I'm trying to draw more, you see. Above: my house keys, an everydaymatters challenge.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Big Garden Birdwatch

Like a good RSPB member, I did my Big Garden Birdwatch count. From 8.10 to 9.10am, I stood at the dining room window and watched what went on outside in the garden.

BGBW isn't complicated: peer out of the window for an hour and count the max numbers of each species you see at once. Here are my counts:

  • Blue Tit: 7
  • Jackdaw: 7
  • Chaffinch: 7
  • Great Tit: 5
  • Dunnock: 2
  • Coal Tit: 2
  • Long-tailed Tit: 2
  • Greenfinch: 2
  • Robin: 2
  • Stock Dove: 1
  • Wren: 1
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker: 1
They only tell part of the story, though. The two Robins did not try to kill each other, as is the norm, but were clearly a pair, as they fed (on porridge oats) side by side. I think a nestbox will be required. However, the Coal Tits were intent on chasing each other round and round; they are very territorial.

The Long-tailed Tits were a bit unexpected as I haven't often seen them in the garden. They made a beeline for the fat-block feeder which makes me wonder if they've become more regular visitors while I've been at work.

I quite often hear Stock Doves cooing from nearby, but it was a nice surprise to see one sitting in the ash tree at the bottom of the garden for a couple of minutes.

The Blue Tits were particularly hard to count, as there was constant movement between the bush and the sunflower seed feeder. At first, I'd only managed to count four at once, which seemed a bit poor, but reinforcements arrived shortly after to boost numbers.

The last bird to add itself to the list was the woodpecker. Good to see he's still a regular visitor, enjoying hacking the fat-block to pieces. They cost £1.99 each but I have a cunning plan to make my own.

Still no House Sparrows, though, never mind Starlings...

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Lesser Yellowlegs, Thornham Harbour

Male Goldeneye

Female Goldeneye

The resident female Scaup at Snettisham

The Wash at Snettisham

Thornham Harbour


Rock Pipit

Thornham Harbour

digiscoped photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Monday, January 22, 2007



Last week's winds brought lots of trees and branches crashing to the ground. The Manx Loghtans weren't bothered - it just means a tasty snack for them.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Sunday, January 21, 2007


This morning I had a whistlestop tour of some Beds birding sites. The only one I took any photos at was Eversholt Lake, near Woburn. There, 11 Goosander (nine drakes, two ducks) were busy flirting - there wasn't much fishing being done at all.

Some of the 11 Goosanders present

Eversholt Lake

Barn, 1871 vintage

digiscoped photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Veg talk

One of the joys of having a biggish garden is that we have room to grow our own vegetables. It's a bit of a cliche but there really is nothing like growing your own stuff. Breaking open a pea pod to reveal the juicy green gems inside (hopefully without too many caterpillars), pulling up potatoes and shaking off the earth before taking them inside to cook, and tasting carrots that you've grown with your own bare hands are all great experiences.

It'll also be great to be busy outdoors - ideal for hearing birds calling as they fly over, and I expect Skylarks will be the main source of 'noise pollution' come spring. Plus, you get Robins sitting on your spade handle, don't you?

Hopefully, we'll be able to grow loads of stuff without digging up the whole garden. This year is going to be a bit of a learning curve, as I haven't really grown stuff myself before (though I used to 'help' on my mum's allotment when I was younger). Still, throwing a few seeds in the
ground and waiting for them to sprout can't be that difficult... can it?

OK, so this is 'A garden bird blog', and I'm writing about vegetables, not birds, but to me it's all part of the same thing. Another way of enjoying the garden, and I daresay that birds might help themselves to some of the crop, too. Which is OK - up to a point...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wind in the Willows

One of the things our garden is lacking is cover. Apart from an unidentified bush (which has pink flowers on it at the moment), and a couple of straggly buddleias, there isn't anything much. I'm sure we'd have more birds in the garden if there was a decent hedge, as all we have is fencing.

This is the reason why I've planted some willows at the back. They were kindly donated by a friend who has a garden full of them (it's like a tree nursery) so I just shoved them in the ground and we're hoping for the best.
As you can see from the photo, they haven't died yet, so fingers crossed a few will make it and grow into proper trees.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Had to get out at lunchtime as the sun had made its first appearance for a very long time...
photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Saturday, January 06, 2007

On the move

In case anyone wondered, I'm still alive.

I've moved house, that's all. Here's the garden. As you can see, it's quite big and open. I can't remember the garden list so far, but after a month it does include Peregrine and House Sparrow!

House Sparrow seems to be a major rarity just here, as we've only had two records of a single female bird.

Green Woodpeckers are somewhat more frequent, and a male Great Spotted visits every day for seed.

Up to five Pheasants also visit daily and are making a bit of a mess under the feeders.

Here are some of our noisier neighbours.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Friday, January 05, 2007

Wild chickens

Before we moved in, we discussed possibilities for the garden. A vegetable patch is a must, since there’s so much room, and I also quite fancied the idea of having some chickens. Who could resist the sight of some pretty hens strutting around the garden, looking rustic, charming and producing fresh eggs? What fun!

But then the Pheasants arrived. These are our wild, long-tailed chicken substitutes. Having invited themselves in from the surrounding fields, they now visit a couple of times per day to potter around on the ground below the feeders, hoovering up spilled seed.

They perch precariously on the garden fence to start with, before plopping down onto the lawn in a rather ungainly fashion, where they get to work. Four females together is the norm, and a splendid male puts in an appearance every so often.

Though it’s good that they’re picking up stuff that falls on the floor, the scratching of their feet and the pecking of their sharp beaks isn’t really doing the grass any good.

We won’t have to worry about mowing the lawn from spring, because if the Pheasants keep going at the rate they are, there will only be moss left by then.

But they’re characterful and comical, so they can stay. Just hope that we aren’t overrun with Pheasant poults later on.