Nature Right Outside Our Doorstep!

After posting yesterday about the Dunnock ‘cage fight’, David and myself later on that evening about 7pm watched for about half an hour as the Dunnock couple hopped about the yard. They seemed so relaxed and at ease in their surroundings. They started pecking about the soil looking for worms and then they hopped around the yard gobbling up the seed that the Pigeons had left previously.

The male looks more brown than the female who was looking twice as large as the male and had a more grey head. Like the female a few days before the male came right up close to the patio doors and we stood very still while he pecked about.

We witnessed the female showing signs of wanting to mate as she kept shaking her tail at the male who mostly ignored her though when they did come to the mating they did it behind the cover of a bin. Only David, standing on tip toe could see the male pecking at the females’ cloaca and hopping behind her. The mating is usually instantaneous and afterwards they both sat underneath the patio table like they were resting. 😀

We left them tootling about the yard, sitting in the Hebe bush and hunting for insects. I am very hopeful for fledgling Dunnocks come this May. 🙂

There is some fantastic footage of the Dunnock mating and their complicated relationships on the BBC Nature site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Dunnock#p007tx02

Or you can read about them from Bird Guides: http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=1047

It has been very cold this weekend, as the temperatures have fallen from a balmy 20 mid week to 11 degrees this Saturday. 😦 This has been felt by the birds as the Blue Tits have been flying into the yard eating sunflower seeds and fat balls periodically all day. I worry about them as the weather is supposed to become increasingly colder come the week ahead.

Advertisements

Fighting Dunnocks!

After all the sadness and whirlwind madness of going backwards and forwards to pick up death certificates, register a death and set in motion my Fathers funeral, Friday was a rather ‘ordinary’ day.

Around lunch-time I looked out of the window and saw a jumble of feathers in the ground cage feeder. David said it was like a ‘cage fight’! 😀 At first I thought it was just one Dunnock trying to dig up some soil or moss for the nest next door, but then I saw another Dunnock on his side, under the feet of the other! I was appalled and just stood screaming ‘what should I do?’ The Alpha Dunnock was kicking the Beta with his two pink feet, up and down his little feet went. Then it looked like the Alpha was dragging the Beta, and that was when I stepped in! I stood right next to the cage (they were so focused on each other that they didn’t see me) and I clapped my hands and shouted ‘stop it!’ Both Dunnocks flew out of the cage and one started singing loudly!

I know that Robins can fight to the death but I haven’t heard of any Dunnocks doing that, so it was probably the Alpha putting the Beta in his place. Since finding out about the Dunnock there seems to be many of them about! In the RSPB Big Garden Watch results it looks like the numbers for the Dunnock have stayed stable this mild winter, probably accounting for the increased sighting of these cute little birds in Springtime.

My First Butterfly Spotted!

Since last Monday my Father has been in Intensive Care and has progressively got worse as the week went on. 😦 On Monday morning at 2.30am while walking home from the hospital I was surprised and elated to hear the chatter of birds, at that time!!! It shows you that after roosting, birds just don’t go to sleep all night.

A week on and my Father has taken a turn for the worst and is seriously ill, so much so that the doctor said I should cancel my holiday to Norfolk. 😦

I have been watching with delight the Blue Tit and Dunnock females this week, end of March collecting nesting materials in their beaks.

Yesterday was a Monday with lovely ‘Summer-like’ weather. I spent ten minutes watching the female Dunnock, she was being very brave coming close to the patio doors. I think she knew I was there but tolerated me as she went along picking up Riley’s (dog) hairs from the rug outside. It was lovely to see, I just wish I had my camcorder with me as she was so close and also the colourings on her back were beautiful. She had dark striations with various degrees of brown to creams. Today, Tuesday, we left some more dog hair outside in the hope of helping the Dunnock female build her nest, which I am sure is now in next doors Laurel bush.

Regarding buying next door, we are still waiting for the owners of the house to get back to us regarding our higher bid. I wish they would hurry themselves as they could have a sale on their hands!

With this unseasonal warm end to March, Chocolate and Caramel, the Finches have been waking us up at 7am every morning with their singing and their flying from perch to perch. We just groan and hide under the covers. lol 😀

Today, David and I instead of being in Norfolk and visiting Banham Zoo we went to Lady Green Garden Centre again! I had my list of plants to buy but all I got was two plant pots for £10! The highlight of the visit was that on the Aubrieta was a Peacock butterfly!!! My first butterfly of the season and I was surprised that it was a Peacock!! I was overjoyed and also got my camera out to take a picture!

We drove on in the heat to a Maghull garden centre and I bought a Magnolia Tree as a replacement for the one I had that died last year. 🙂

I must say that the garden is looking lovely green and lush 🙂

Emotional Highs and Lows :(

Well today has been disappointing 😦 We found out that the offer we put on the house next to Mums was declined as it ‘wasn’t enough’! What? It was what the house was on the market for! If they wanted more they should have upped the price then! It really ‘grinds my gears‘ how property businesses can be so greedy! People blame mortgage lenders for the trouble first time buyers are in but I blame over ambitious house price inflation and that all lies at the feet of greedy businessmen!

This company have been keeping David and I waiting for over a week to view the house as I was ready to see it last Monday but they seem to be moving far too slow. Yesterday they cancelled the viewing we had pencilled in and then with an hour before they called back saying that the viewing was on. We are not having much luck with this house at present! Makes me wonder whether they just want to pass the house onto another student housing company!

With that rant off my chest, David and I are left with what to do next. Raise another few hundred or leave it as is and see what happens? We even had to cancel the mortgage appointment we had for tomorrow as we don’t know what to do for the best! We don’t want to give more money and then struggle to pay the bills. I’ve seen my family struggle with lack of money all my life and I don’t want that life!

Poor David, his mind was all frazzled after the news and he had had a long day on a training course too 😦

To top off a crap day I stepped out into the back yard after 6pm to see how much the new plants are growing. The Lupin and Aubrieta are developing well, both look strong, when the Dunnock couple flew into the tree, saw me standing there and flew off 😦 Made me feel like crying 😦

What a contrast from yesterday. I saw the Dunnock couple in the morning both eating from the ground feeder and then later in the afternoon I saw the male Dunnock chase another male across the wall 🙂 It was funny to see lol

We haven’t seen as many Blue Tits as we have had but I have heard them close by singing manically. There is also a Blackbird that sings in the area of an evening and his song uplifts the heart.

I have also seen lots of big fat bees recently! They seem to love the pink cherry blossom in our yard! The Aubrieta has lovely blue flowers blooming at the moment so hopefully the bees will be attracted to that and the Hellebore soon. 🙂

Alongside the upset with the house. My father who was admitted to hospital last Saturday was transferred to ICU a week after 😦 Mum and I were at the Royal at 12am on a Monday morning giving him support as he was struggling to breathe. He was diagnosed with pneumonia 😦 People die from that! Today we visited him and he has got a plastic inflatable hood all around his head. He had had a cap with face mask but that wasn’t fitting properly so he now looks like ‘Robbie the Robot’ from ‘Forbidden Planet.’ 😛

Tomorrow is my day off work and I am no looking forward to it 😦 It will probably be a day of upset over the house and tedium as there are not as many visiting birds as was in the winter. 😦

Two Dunnocks and Two Blue Tits on garden wall :)

With all the upset over the past few days, what with my father being admitted to hospital due to liver problems, I have been in much need of a cheer up!

On Monday my Mum phoned the estate agents about the house next door which has just been put up for sale. It has been an empty student house for a year and I have had my eye on it for a while, especially since there is a big Laurel bush in the yard and I am wondering whether there is a Dunnock nest amongst the branches. If so I am definitely going to spout my mouth about the 1981 ‘Wildlife and Countryside Act‘, especially the section saying, you are not allowed to ‘intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is in use or being built’! Maybe that will deter a few buyers? It has taken over a week to get a viewing booked and now David and I have a ‘mortgage in principal’ ready for the viewing. I just hope that the house doesn’t have too much work to be done to it??

Today, Thursday, I saw two Dunnocks and two Blue Tits on our garden wall 🙂

The Dunnocks took turns to eat at the ground feeder as one kept being scared by the other which makes me think they were both males? Then on the garden wall one Dunnock was wing flicking and chasing the other bird. I am confused! On Bird Guides.com they have an article on the Dunnock which says: ‘When two or more males come together to dispute a territory… such interactions involve bouts of wing-flicking and chasing’. Though only one Dunnock was wing flicking which makes me wonder was the other bird a female and was he trying to attract her? I wonder if they do have a courtship dance?

I am now of the mindset that the two Dunnocks I saw first thing were males with one being the alpha, as an hour later I saw two other Dunnocks in the cage feeder both eating happily together. I’ve never seen so many Dunnocks and now the are all over the place 🙂

Plants, plants and more plants!

On Friday David had a half day off work so in the afternoon he picked me up and we went to ‘Lady Green Garden Centre‘ near Formby. We spent about an hour there wandering around the plants and shrubs. I had my RSPB ‘bible’ with me which is all about birds and the steps to make your garden, nature friendly. 🙂

I only wanted to buy some herbs, like Marjoram and Thyme which I got for £1.99 each, but then David noticed the ‘for bees’ symbol on some of the plants. 🙂 And then the spending spree began!

I bought, an Aubrieta which was priced for £3,99 but looking over the recipt later, it was down for £6.99 😦 I never looked at the till when the cashier was entering the plants as I was helping David pack and then the card reader was slow and I was worried it would reject my card!!

I also go three plants for £10 which I thought was a good price: I got a Lupin, an Oriental Poppy, and a Foxglove which all look lovely! I do hope they will attract the bees!

Talking about bees, as we were leaving to pay for the plants we noticed that there was a pot plant that was covered in pollinators, it was called a Helleborus (or Christmas Rose) with lovely white petals.

I was toying with the idea to buy a Honeysuckle but I didn’t know what type to get for the birds so I ended up buying the Helleborus as it also had the bee symbol on as well as lots of fat bees on its flowers 😀

The end total for all of these plans was nearly £37! :O I have spent nearly £100 on plants in a few weeks!

When we got back to mine, I helped Mum plant the new plants into the yard, some look really nice 🙂 I can’t wait for them to flower and grow 🙂

My Mum’s Oriental Cherry Tree has started to get blossom on, a sure sign that Spring is on it’s way, and on Monday I saw a bee flying in between the petals

On Saturday a delivery was made from ‘Jersey Plants Direct‘ and I was amazed that it was one of the plants from my online order. It was the Cotoneaster! It was well packed!

Maybe once this plant is established a family of Dunnocks may make their nest in the thick branches? 🙂 I am just waiting on the delivery of the Bracteantha, Lavender and a mystery plant! :O I just hope it is butterfly and bee friendly 🙂

Talking of the Dunnock, I saw the Dunnock couple on Sunday and later on the male flew into our big tree as we were planting the Cotoneaster. A few Blue Tit couples were seen eating sunflower hearts and a lone Starling accompanied by the Pigeons, but there hasn’t been much bird action recently.  I hope that the coming warmer months may bring in different seasonal visitors to our garden 🙂

Couples Galore!

Just some notes from the previous days bird watching.

Wednesday was my day off, but with family issues hanging over my head it made for a very depressing day all in all. The amount of bird activity is staying relatively the same as it did in the winter. Though we do have a dwindling amount of Starlings and with less Starlings, there has been less Pigeon activity, which is a small blessing.

On Wednesday, I saw the Dunnock couple pecking around the wet soil. I also later saw a lone Dunnock who has found the little hanging table I bought for him. 🙂 So I am now 90% certain that we have a couple and also a batchelor Dunnock that visit. Not bad, considering that before last October I never knew the Dunnock existed at all!

On Friday as an aside, I was pottering in the yard with Riley my Border Collie and I heard the flapping of wings in the big tree! I looked up and low and behold it was the bachelor Dunnock. I think my presence gave the little man a fright as he started singing, but I slowly walked back inside and he jumped into the garden to search for food 🙂

We still have a few Blue Tit couples visiting, though none have taken residence in my bird house 😦 Friday morning, after coming in from a very short day at work (one hour!) Mum informed me that she had not only saw two Blue Tits but she had also seen two Great Tits in the tree too :O I am hoping Spring and Summer will bring in lots of couples. I hope the Great Tits visit again, I did see a lone Great later on that morning but the bullying Blue Tits chased him away 😦

Going to work first thing I saw four! Yes four! Carrion Crows flying quite low down a residential road! I was shocked to say the least! I wonder if they are a bringer of bad luck? 😦

As I said I had a short day at work on Friday, I came home with the early Spring sun warming my face. I could see the silhouette of two Robin shaped birds on top of TV aerials and they seemed to be making some sort of tweeting noise which could have been a fighting call. I couldn’t identify them properly so they could have been any bird that was Robin size.

For the past couple of days the Magpie couple have been terrorising the yard, I say that as their presence seems to frighten the smaller birds.

From wild birds to caged ones: Chocolate and Caramel our Society Finches have been very vocal and active these past few days. Caramel has found a new fun thing to do and that is to fly onto a hanging ball attached to the top of the cage with a bell on and then fly off to hear the bell sounding 🙂 It was fun to watch them flying about energetically last night 😀

Feeling down in the dumps :(

As I said yesterday, Tuesday was gong to be a long day at work, though it didn’t seem so long and I had an enjoyable time with Rachel, my student, whom we conducted research together during the afternoon, on tracts that run up the spinal cord to the brain and back down!

I have realised that I am not happy until I am feeling totally miserable, it is something I should nip in the bud as it’s not healthy!

At the time of writing, I am watching the Finches jump, fly and chirrup around their cage. They don’t really have much of a routine at the moment, it’s nearly 11pm and the main light is still on in the room. 😦 I gave them extra lettuce today which they enjoyed. I had to leave the Finches in my Mum’s room this morning as I had to be in work for 9am and I couldn’t get Muzzy out from under the bed, again! 😦 Chocolate and Caramel, didn’t like the cucumber I gave them when I got back from work 😦

The weather was nice and bright again today, though a bit cold. I saw the lone Dunnock and two Blue Tits first thing this morning, though I disturbed the Dunnock from the tree 😦

Later in the evening, I saw a Great Tit sitting in our little tree, I wonder if he ate? At 5.50pm I saw the last Blue Tit visiting. It is getting later and later when they visit 🙂 Spring and Summer are definitely on their way 🙂 I really can’t wait for the warmer weather as I look forward to visiting the many RSPB sites around the UK with their varying environments and species 🙂 I just hope David feels the same?

Going Mad for Lettuce!

An impromptu day off work today. I’m not complaining! 😀 Though I will probably have a long day at work tomorrow 😦

I bought some Romaine Lettuce for Chocolate and Caramel today and I couldn’t get Chocolate from it! He went mad for it lol

I will try them with some cucumber tomorrow, wonder if they will act the same?

Caramel was brave today, he/she went to the bottom of the cage, not once but twice! Caramel just sat there for half a minute each time before flying up. I wonder if he/she is getting used to the cage now?

It was lovely watching them flying around their cage, it looked like they were chasing each other. 😀

I heard the Dunnock singing from 6.30am this morning, it penetrated my dreams. I saw him a few more times during the day, singing in the big tree. I saw a Magpie couple jumping along the back wall. One had something pink and flesh-like in their beak, I was hoping it wasn’t a baby chick. I wonder if they have raided the Dunnock nest I think is in the Laurel bush next door? I do hope not 😦

There were many or the same Blue Tit couple/s visiting today. I have noticed that their preference in food now is peanuts, it was sunflower hearts during the cold weather. Do peanuts have as much calories as the hearts, or do they have more or less? Maybe the Tits are eating the peanuts for energy to help them get through the breeding season?

Our Sixth Year Anniversary Weekend.

On Friday I found out from David that he had gone to work extra early in the morning so that he could go to the St Helens pet shop in the afternoon to buy two Gouldian Finches as a surprise for our anniversary, but the ones we had seen on the Wednesday had been sold! I told David that if you see something you want, then you have to buy it straight away as it is always sold the next time you go to buy it. I was quite taken aback at the lovely gesture, even if the outcome wasn’t another two Finches.

David said that the shop owner had suggested to get two females or two males but not one of each and that they had two breeders so we could try again in a few weeks time. David thought it was fate stepping in suggesting that we didn’t need another two Finches. I think Chocolate and Caramel are quite happy together. 😀

On the Saturday David and I spent the day tending to Chocolate and Caramel. We made them a boiled egg, but they were frightened of it, so it went to waste 😦 I have noticed that Chocolate has become a force of nature and has been singing loudly and flying from perch to perch. I am glad that he has settled in well. 🙂 I just wish that they would venture down to the bottom of the cage. I am planning on serving Romaine lettuce to them tomorrow, I shall have to tie the leaves in bunches and hang from the cage bars. I hope they are won’t be frightened of the lettuce. We shall see!

In the evening we ordered a Saffron curry to celebrate our six years together. The curry was very yummy! I ordered a vegetable Dupiaza and David had the chicken Shahi!

There has been lots of wild bird action in the back yard over the weekend. I saw the Dunnock couple a few times and I think we do have a visiting lone Dunnock who was in my yard after 4.30pm! You can tell that the days are drawing out as the birds are visiting later and later.

The most funny thing I witnessed this Sunday was a Magpie with a lovely iridescent green tail, trying to eat the fat cake from my block holder and he was balancing off the wall trying to reach it. The noise from a visiting Blue Tit couple was staggeringly loud and it looked to me like one of them was trying to chase the Magpie away! lol Blue Tits really do punch above their weight! 😀