Yes it’s that time of year when our bird numbers are swelled by broods of youngsters coming to terms with the world. There are a number of birds breeding in the Garden, including a pair of blue tits that have successfully raised a family in one of the boxes we’ve put out and they fledged a couple of days ago. Putting up nest boxes in your garden for a variety of different birds, is one of the simple things you can do to make it more wildlife friendly, especially where natural nest sites are lacking. It will give you a great deal of enjoyment too!
The Great Spotted Woodpeckers are also taking advantage of what the garden has to offer and are now feeding their hungry babies in their favourite nesting tree – they have used the same tree several times in the last few years, but they always make a brand new hole. I can hear the youngsters in the nest now and this is often how Great Spotted Woodpecker nests are often found - the youngsters really do get quite noisy after a week or too in their darkened world in the tree nest hole. This is the male outside the hole.
First of May already, difficult to believe. And what a delightful month April was, long, dreamy sunny days, birdsong and lilac-scented air… The plants arrived by the lorry-load, and were decanted by my enthusiastic team of volunteers into a rabbit-proof compound beyond the garden. What an exciting sight, swathes of lovely healthy plants, fresh green ferns, herbaceous perennials bright and full of promise for the season ahead. Although the perimeter of the garden has been secured against our little furry friends, unfortunately it appears we have one or two families living within the garden itself, as certain plants got quite thoroughly nibbled overnight once planted.
This has necessitated a Colditz-like proliferation of chicken wire encircling each bed as a temporary measure until the plants establish. The jokes amongst my volunteers about Elma Fudd and tunneling to escape imprisonment have been endless – and rather funny, even though it appears that I am cast in the role of both Mr Fudd and jailer.
We have a few other interesting inhabitants in the garden – Liz mentioned Major Tom, the black pheasant in an earlier blog, and he is a source of constant entertainment for us, with his self important strut and belligerent squawks. A few days ago I was mystified by the sight of a mother duck and a whole family of newly-hatched ducklings on the roof of the old bungalow, but with two bewildered and frightened little ducklings squeaking noisily at its base. There is only one possible explanation – she must have laid her eggs somewhere on the flat roof and hatched out her brood up there. She didn’t show any signs of bringing the rest of her family down off the roof, and as I could see the two lost babies were getting cold, I caught them (impossibly cute close up, little innocent eyes and rubbery beaks and feet) and very gently tossed them back up onto the roof, where they scurried off back to their mother.