Now a permanent fixture in my calendar, the annual RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch this year fell between 25th -27th January 2020. I decided to do my hourly count on the Sunday, 11am to 12pm. Earlier I had topped up the yarden feeders in preparation. I boiled the kettle and made a pot of Bird and Wild espresso coffee which I got free with my order of the lovely RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch mug!
Big Garden Birdwatch mug
I sat by the window and waited for my feathered friends to visit. Though my tally was not as varied as previous years, there were no visits from the dunnock, robin or starlings. I did count 14 goldfinches, 9 pigeons and two noisy blue tits within the hour. The weather was grey and squally with a chilling breeze making the 8°C feel colder. I was hoping for a visit from the sparrowhawk, but she kept out of sight.
Graph of my count
If you were joining in with the count, how did you do?
I really can’t believe that it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2019. This year was slow to start but when it began it simply snowballed! December is a month to reflect though I haven’t had much time for reflection.
Thanks to Sharon for her wildlife post, prompting me to write this blog.
Reminiscing on 2019 I had to admit there were many wildlife moments this year, none more so than the male and female sparrowhawks that seemed to have kept the pigeons away from our yarden this autumn.
In September David and I booked a relaxing badger watch at RSPB Haweswater. We saw two badgers that evening, Gremlin and Porridge. It was a welcome treat from seeing squished badgers at roadsides.
Gremlin the badger
For 2019 I bought David and I joint membership to the RSPB, and have made full use of our membership by visiting local reserves, such as Leighton Moss and Burton Mere several times.
Feeding a Great Tit
Feeding a Robin
Marsh Harrier – David Evans
At Leighton Moss we fed hungry great and blue tits and spotted marsh harriers flying over the pools. In June we attended a Meet the Moths event. I got to meet a popular hawk moth and an elephant!
Popular Hawk Moth – David Evans
Small Elephant Hawk Moth
At Burton Mere we photographedlittle egrets, shoveler ducks and redshanks in the depths of winter and enjoyed a carpet of bluebells in April.
Burton Mere Bluebells
As part of our RSPB membership we also visited Conwy and South Stack reserves. At Conwy we managed to capture a rare sighting of a grey phalarope and at South Stack there were dozens of silver studded blue butterflies!
Silver Studded Blue
In May David and I took a day trip to Ingleton Falls. On our exploration of the falls and woodland we watched as a dipper fed her two fledglings, swimming underwater to get the freshest insects or fish. It was wonderful to watch.
Dipper feeding young
For The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild, I purchased six painted lady caterpillars from Insect Lore, to witness the amazing spectacle of metamorphosis. I grew quite attached to my little hungry caterpillars and felt sad when they chrysalised. In two weeks I had six beautiful painted lady butterflies!
Day 9 – caterpillar
Painted Lady Butterfly
Also for 30 Days Wild I’d booked David and I on a bee experience at Samlesbury Hall. This taster session on honey bees and bee keeping made me wish I had space for a hive myself. Perhaps in the future?
The Bee Centre
David and honey bees
Christine and honey bees
Other insect highlights were common hawkers and damselflies at Brockholes and a surprise encounter with a swallowtail moth in the yarden!
Swallow Tailed Moth
To round up a mixed 30 Days Wild I chanced upon jellyfish washed up on Formby Beach.
Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
Formby Woods was also a fabulous place to spot native red squirrels.
Red Squirrel by David Evans
Red Squirrel by David Evans
The summer months are always a busy time for wildlife spotting. Right outside our window we watched two gull nests and how their chicks fared. One lesser black-backed gull chick fell from its nest (high up on a chimney stack) and was heard exploring the street as he cried for his parent. Frightened the chick would be hit by a car David and I contacted a local bird rescue and found a rehabilitation home for the chick. David scooped the gull up, who we named Harald and we took him to his new home in Anfield.
Harald enjoys the water
In just over a week Harald was strong enough to fly and left his rehabilitation for new adventures. Good luck Harald!
For Wild October an Instagram initiative I spotted the odd fungi and also a sadly demised hedgehog.
Pleated Inkcap Mushrooms
The floral highlights this year has to be searching for the bee orchid, which I found at Port Sunlight River Park.
To complete this years round up of wildlife moments I have to include an american bird sighting, a female mockingbird which I spotted among the sparrows at The High Line, New York.
Recently, I’ve been itching to write a blog post but I’ve not had any new material. So the next best thing is to compile a Sunday Sevens, devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins and update you on that I’ve been up to this past week!
I’m still counting my miles. This week I managed to walk 42 miles, bringing my annual total (to date) to 1,265 miles. I also attached my 2018 medal to the framed certificate. You can get your medal from the #walk1000miles shop.
2018 – Certificate and medal
David and I attended a party to celebrate the elopement of my cousin and his wife. They married earlier in the year in Las Vegas, with an Elvis impersonator officiating. The party at Leaf had a Las Vegas theme. There was also a photo booth for the guests to play around with.
Recently I obtained another Beatrix Potter 50 pence. This time it was Benjamin Bunny who I found in my change!
Swim Wild: The Wild Swimming Brothers
Book I Am Reading:
I am currently reading, and enjoying Swim Wild, a book written by the Wild Swimming Brothers, Jack, Calum and Robbie Hudson.
Terracotta Display – Liverpool
The Golden Horse of Maoling
I treated mum to a visit to Liverpool’s World Museum to see the Terracotta Warrior exhibition. I didn’t take that many pictures this time as I had already visited the display in March with David. You can read about that visit here. Mum seemed to enjoy the exhibit and I managed to see the Golden Horse of Maoling, which wasn’t featured in the display when I visited in March.
Another Sparrowhawk Visit:
This Friday, just after evening dinner, I looked out towards the yarden and spied a female sparrowhawk. It was the same female who visited and snacked on a starling not two weeks earlier! You can read more about sparrowhawks here. She was sitting on the roof opposite, watching as all the goldfinches flittered past, wanting their evening meal. In turn, David and I watched her for about an hour. She sat patently, awaiting an easy target. Unfortunately, (for her prey) she did get a kill. This time it was a baby goldfinch. It’s a sad spectacle but also fascinating to witness. This female now knows lots of birds visit the yarden. I wonder if she will visit again in future?
With being unable to participate in July’s #photoanhour on Instagram, I made certain I would for Augusts’. Though, I didn’t have anything exciting planned, the day didn’t turn out too bad. Thanks to Louise at Ramblings of a Roachling, for informing me of the dates. Much appreciated! So here’s what I got up to during my 12 hours of day!
Photo an Hour – 18h August 2018
8am to 9am:
Just after 8am my alarm sounded. Time to get up! I started the day as usual with black coffee and granola. This time I added some blueberries and raspberries to the mix. It was a tasty and filling breakfast.
8am to 9am – breakfast
9am to 10am – housework
9am to 10am:
While David went out to get his hair cut. I made a start on the housework. I vacuumed all the floors and cleaned the bathroom before David came back.
10am to 11am:
Turning my hand at cleaning the dining room, I heard a raucous noise from the yarden. The bird feeders were inundated by starlings, sparrows and goldfinches! What a racket they all made!
10am to 11am – noisy eaters!
11am to 12 noon – Visiting a garden centre
11am to 12pm:
I had the idea that a blueberry bush would be a welcome addition to the yarden. I could grow my own fruit come next year. Growing vegetables has been a bit hit and miss, so maybe trying my hand at soft fruits would be better? (I’ll let you know next year). So with this plan in mind. David and I headed to Rivendell. Unfortunately they didn’t have any blueberry plants, but I ended up buying a raspberry and bramble.
12pm to 1pm:
A bit disappointed at not getting a blueberry plant, we headed to Lady Green Garden Centre. Here, there was a choice of blueberry plants, some at £17 and others for £25. My eyes widened at seeing the full berries on a £25 plant. The other plants were all fruitless. It was evident which plant I would come home with, even if it was a bit pricey! I also purchased a penstemon and verbena for the hungry pollinators.
12noon to 1pm – Lady Green Garden Centre
1pm to 2pm – Home to Artie
1pm to 2pm:
We came home laden with plants to a happy Artie. I don’t think he likes being left alone.
2pm to 3pm:
After lunch I embarked on potting the newcomers to the yarden.
2pm to 3pm – planting
3pm to 4pm – harvest of blueberries
3pm to 4pm:
I was still in the yarden, admiring my new purchases and enjoying the warm sunshine. I plucked the ripe berries off the blueberry plant and ended up with a bowl full!
4pm to 5pm:
Housework and gardening can be hard work. So I took a break with a cup of tea and a read of the newly arrived copy of the September edition of Country Walking Magazine.
4pm to 5pm – a Break with Country Walking Magazine
5pm to 6pm – admiring sunflowers
5pm to 6pm:
While dinner cooked I took time to admire the sunflowers in a vase of cut flowers.
6pm to 7pm:
With dinner I enjoyed this glass of bubbly cava.
6pm to 7pm – cava time
7pm to 8pm – ice cream with fresh berries
7pm to 8pm:
For pudding I mixed strawberry ice cream with a sprinkling of more blueberries (Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes to mind) and raspberries.
8pm to 9pm:
A bonus hour, as it seems I can’t count! I joined David in the study/guest bedroom and planned a forthcoming trip to Scotland. I am so excited!
8pm to 9pm – planning a trip to Scotland
Thanks to Janey and Louisa for setting up the challenge.
* This post comes courtesy of Haith’s – Bird Food Specialists since 1937. If you want top quality bird seed and feeders from a British family run business, then Haith’s has all the products your garden birds need!*
Recently I was approached by Haith’s to review some of their products. I have to admit I was secretly flattered that my opinion mattered, so I agreed. Within a few days three products arrived via post neatly packaged, there was much detail to keeping the products safe in transit.
The products to be reviewed were:
MultiFeeder Plus:a feeder which holds not only seed but water and two fatballs, ideal for attracting different species of wild bird or for hungry birds during the winter.
Fat balls (small):I was kindly gifted six of these suet balls to trial, which come helpfully with no nets.
I was eager to fill the feeder up and see how my numerous garden visitors would receive the need addition.
The multifeeder needed to be constructed. The instructions included were easy to follow, even I could follow them! Indeed I managed to fit the parts together without asking David (the product expert) for help! There is a domed cover to keep the larger birds at bay and to keep the rain from ruining the seed. The inner well can be used for water or other types of seed or mealworms. The two fat ball holders have sharp spikes in which to pierce the suet to the feeder.
The fat balls came all individually wrapped in cardboard packaging, to prevent them from crumbling, and the wild bird food, filled with high-energy sunflower seeds and wholegrain cereal, is packaged in a sealed brown paper bag.
Haith’s bird food comes SuperCLEAN™, which means in production they eliminate dust and husks which can damage birds respiratory tracts.
Once the multifeeder was filled with water, wild bird food and fat balls, it was time to hang the feeder outside and see what the visiting garden birds thought of the fare on offer.
Hanging the new bird feeder
Fledged starling on new feeder
What the birds thought of the multifeeder:
It took a while for the birds to take to the new feeder. They were scared of the dome. Though we had one intrepid fledgling starling enjoying the fat balls and seed.
Over the coming weeks, the dome started to attract other birds. Like a blue tit and fledged goldfinches!
At this time of year, end of summer/beginning of Autumn my garden is awash with bird families after a busy year of breeding. Fledgling starlings still with their baby feathers are hungrily looking for food, and suet fat balls are their favourite foods. Goldfinch young with their brown heads are all vying for sunflower hearts, whilst house sparrow families look for smaller seeds and cereals.
I didn’t care much for the detachable fat ball holders, as once the fat ball had been pecked and became crumbly, then the fat ball easily fell off and was lost to the voracious beaks of pigeons. The six fat balls were soon devoured this way, they only lasted a week in my garden!
Being made of plastic, I was a little worried for the durability of the multifeeder. However we discovered that it was more robust than we gave it credit for as it survived a fall of 1.5m without shattering. We have very raucous starlings who don’t have much in the way of table manners!
The two trays for different types of food or water is a good feature. Come winter you could feed suet pellets in the small dish while still offering normal seed or sunflower hearts in the other. There are many variants yet to be tried.
Overall, the multifeeder is a good addition to any feeding station. The starlings loved it, and I liked how robust it was. I will monitor how many birds take to the multifeeder during wintertime and do a short follow-up review. I can see many tit species enjoying the differing feed on offer and we have yet to see a robin this year.
I thank Haith’s for this opportunity to sample their products.
If you are interested in purchasing any of the products included in this review then follow the links to the individual pages.
To hold all these different types of food, there is a designated page for all of Haith’s feeders, including feeding stations, window feeders and tables, follow this link to see their range: https://www.haiths.com/bird-feeders/
It was thanks to Sharon from Sunshine and Celandines, (who informed me of this month’s photo an hour challenge), that I managed to participate. Unfortunately the challenge fell on a Sunday when I had nothing planned. My photos all come from a stay at home day. I hope it’s not too boring for you?!
Photo and Hour – 29th January 2017
My Sunday started at 9am. I feigned sleep while I heard the bed springs creak as David got out of bed, to make the most of the last day of the weekend. I didn’t really want to get up as the day before had been tiring, we had spent five hours repainting the bathroom. It looks fresh and clean now though!
10am – 11am: A 40 minute session on the treadmill beckoned, then a quick cool down.
Big Garden Birdwatch
11am to 12 noon: I tootled about the yarden before lunch, filling up the bird feeders in preparation for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. I also celebrated the appearance of a lone snow drop standing proudly!
Blue Faced Parrot Finches
Chocolate Silverbill Finches
12 noon to 1pm: Lunch was spent in the living room with the finches flying from their aviary. David photographed the Blue Faced Parrot Finches playing in a vase of flowers while I took a selfie with the Chocolate Silverbills who tried to pull at my hair.
1pm to 2pm: I sat down with a cafetiere filled with coffee supplied by the RSPB. In anticipation I counted the visiting birds to my yarden. It was an overcast afternoon with drizzle. The usual suspects appeared but sadly no Blue Tits, (they arrived after the count – typical!) My count for this one hour period was as follows:
5 Pigeons – though there were 10 after the count!
1 House Sparrow
A Crow and Herring Gull flew overhead, but couldn’t be included as not in the boundaries of the yarden.
The Robin sat in the laurel bush looking at me as I counted him. He sat in the bush for the whole hour! It was nice to have a little company. I will be doing the count again on Monday morning just in case there is a better turn out. We usually see a charm of 20+ Goldfinches. It’s just being at the right place at the right time!
H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald
Hans Zimmer, The Classics
2pm to 5pm: It was a lazy afternoon. As I sat reading H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald, I listened to Hans Zimmer’s new album, The Classics. Tracks from The Dark Knight, Superman, and Inception were among my favourites!
5pm to 6pm: This evenings dinner was a salad, here’s a picture of David’s mountain!
Yellow painted nails
6pm to 7pm: I sat listening to Classic FM while painting my nails. Perhaps it’s the dark days of winter that have inspired me to paint them bright colours!
7pm to 8pm: After a hot relaxing shower I pampered my skin with a gift I got for Christmas. This Body Shop body butter really does make your skin look radiant and nourished.
Body Shop Body Butter
8pm to 9pm: I finished the day by writing this blog. I hope you have enjoyed a brief foray into my time at home? Not every day can be exciting and given I had a hectic Saturday, this photo an hour Sunday has been very relaxing. I always enjoy the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, even though we only get a smidgen of visitors. Those visitors are good enough for a small yarden! I look forward to next years count as I do every year!
Once again, thank you for stopping by and reading about my day, uneventful as it was. How did you spend your Sunday?
Though the weather did not play ball towards the end of the week, I packed as much autumn into the days as I could! This dramatic sunrise was a precursor to what was planned!
Phew, what a week it’s been!
Since our membership for Chester Zoo ran out on the 29th of this month, David and I headed back to say farewell to the red pandas! I snapped the colours of autumn as we took the lazyboat ride in Islands and even some painted dogs got in on the action!
Lazy boat ride
This week the garden was visited by this gorgeous looking robin. Also while walking to get the bus to work, I captured some lovely autumnal sunlight through the trees.
Thursday and Friday was our much awaited short break to the Lake District! For months I have been dreaming and planning two jam packed days! Thursday dawned oppressive and overcast yet we made the most of the day and visited Grizedale Forest.
Friday turned out to be a perfect day! We took in a white dawn at the shores of Derwentwater and later on the sun put in a show bringing all the autumnal colours to life!
In the evening we headed towards Loweswater in the hope of chatching a sunset and ended up playing with more leaves!
There will be subsequent blog posts with more detailed information and pictures re: the lakes holiday coming soon!
Our last day in the lakes was spent around Aira Force and Ullswater!
Rather aptly, I have an autumn birthday, clebrated on the 30th. This year I turned 40! (I still don’t know whether I am happy about that fact or not!) I shared the day with all the people I hold dear in this world, and celebrated by making a video, screaming and splashing about in Derwentwater (as you do)!
Diwali, the Hindu ‘festival of light’, this year was also on the 30th, so I lit a candle or two in honour of the festival.
And finally, the 31st October, renowned throughout the western world as being All Hallows Eve, or Halloween! It is the day when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest.
I celebrated it by dressing up as the devil!
So, that was my Wild October. How did you celebrate yours?
Huge thanks to Sharon from the wonderful, Sunshine and Celandines, for bringing this little initiative to my attention. The premise, to do something wild every day for the month of October. It’s a bit like 30 Days Wild, though this is a celebration of all things autumnal! I thought I would give it a go!
The lovely Louise on her blog is also embarking on Wild October, as are a host of others on the Facebook 30 Days Wild page! Go check them out for inspiration!
Autumn seems to be slowly creeping into my yarden. The Japanese anemone has flowered, a shore sign of autumn and the salvia ‘mystic spires’ are as tall as me!
Sadly summer for the NW of England wasn’t quite as nice as it was in other areas of the country. This has had an effect on the vegetables I have attempted to grow in the yarden. There are three tomatoes still green on the vine and I noticed the other day that I have two peppers also growing!! Think I’ll need to bring them both inside to grow and ripen more.
Since I have become a sort of recluse these past few weeks, there isn’t really much wild going on! Mid week while washing the dishes I stood watching in awe as a garden spider reconstructed his/her web.
I am happy to still report that the flock of 6+ sparrows are continuing to visit the feeders, as are a pair of blue tits, charms of goldfinches, hoards of starlings and pigeons! The dawn chorus has been replaced by the cackle of corvids!
This week, with the weather being settled, I have seen some lovely sunrises. So today I managed to snap a picture along with the condensation clinging to the windows! Brrrr… it’s getting colder!
Today, while doing the laundry I noticed the garden spider had a fresh kill, all wrapped up in thread. It was fascinating watching the spider tuck into its meal!
Since this is a rather impromptu post I’ll sign off now and finish with a short poem.
Autumn leaves are falling,
Falling all around,
Floating softly to the ground,
Like tear drops falling,
Without a sound.
Autumn leaves are scattered,
Scattered all around,
Tossed upon the ground,
Like dreams torn and tattered,
Lying all around.
Are you joining in Wild October? What do you enjoy most about autumn?
This past week has been very uneventful! I have been scraping the barrel, trying to find things to post for this week’s Sunday Sevens, devised by Threads and bobbins.
This week our yarden has been graced with the arrival of not one but two dunnocks! At the beginning of the week we could hear a male singing for a mate and near the weekend he brought his conquest to the yarden! It has been lovely watching them flit about the plants, sifting for insects and grubs. I hope they bring their fledglings in the following months.
Below you will find two videos of them both. The video of the female shows her shaking her tail in preparation for mating, she seems a right floozy, although the male seems to just want to look for food!
Okay, I know I am cheating by posting videos but I really don’t have many photographs to share with you.
I’ve been doing a lot of cooking this week. On Monday I made a carrot and lentil soup and on Friday I made a chickpea and vegetable pilaf. Both of which I never took a photo of! Then on Saturday I remade a One Pot Mexcian Quinoa but I have already blogged about this, here. However I did take a picture of David’s dupiaza which he cooked last Sunday.
On Tuesday I fell in love.
David and I visited his brother and sister-in-law, who have a delightful son, Ewan. I was surprised when he crawled over to sit on my knee and then proceeded to poke me in the face. lol.
I can’t wait for him to start talking, there is so much I can teach him! 😀
I have recently, been enjoying the rerun of the BBC productions of The Hollow Crown. The four feature length films are adaptations of William Shakespeare’s history plays, comprising of Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 & 2 and Henry V. I missed them the first time they were aired in 2012. If you have not seen them, you can view then here, for the next five months. I would highly recommend them, even if you don’t like Shakespeare. I find that I appreciate his writing as I age.
Potatoes are growing!
Even though the weather has returned briefly to winter this week, the sun has been out quite a lot in Liverpool. On Saturday, we took stock of the yarden. The dahlia which I thought was dead has new shoots coming from its tubers and the clematis that David’s mum gave me has at least two buds on it, and still growing! We may have had failures with the french beans and spring onions (blame Artie for that!), but the maris bard potatoes are growing from strength to strength! Fingers crossed we have a harvest!
To be honest I’ve been in a grumpy mood all day, equally mirrored by the foul weather. Why is it that when a bank holiday beckons the weather turns dire? Anyway, I tried to keep the depression at bay by making a gorgeous dinner of curried red lentils. I’ll do a further post on this in the future.
To raise my spirits I took a snap of the daffodils I bought yesterday. They are unusual as they didn’t have the usual signature trumpet but I can’t find online what type of daffodil they are.
This Sunday Sevens has been rather hard to compile. I only seem to be taking pictures of plants and food recently. Oh. I need to find some excitement in my life!
During breakfast on Sunday, (I have mine snuggled up in bed while listening to Classic FM) David called me downstairs. He had spied a new visitor to the yarden. It only stayed briefly and I didn’t have time to take a picture but I think it was a male Black Cap. He probably just used the yarden as a pit stop on his way to better feeding grounds, much like the Chiffchaff earlier in the year.
By Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons
David cooked Sunday dinner. He used a curry base and added spices to make a very tasty Rogan Josh.
We attended a family funeral mid week. Funeral services always make me think of this Emily Dickinson poem
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –
And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My mind was going numb –
And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,
As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here –
And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –
After reading Kate Riordan’s second novel, I bought her first novel the Girl in the Photograph. It was only £2.75, second hand from Ebay. It’s another one of those novels that has parallel narratives.
While passing the University of Liverpool, I caught sight of this very striking statue in the quadrangle!
For Saturday’s meal I cooked a vegetarian bean chilli. However, I made a few adjustments to the original recipe, which you can find here. I just used what I could find in the store cupboard. I swapped borlotti beans for pinto, used red lentils instead of puy and left out the marmite altogether! It made for an inexpensive yet healthy meal, even if it was rather hot with two teaspoons of chilli powder! I thought it was very tasty!
snake’s head fritillary
For the final picture, in the past few weeks I have been monitoring a strange plant that has been growing in the yarden. At first I didn’t know what it was but now that it’s budded, I remember planting snake’s head fritillary bulbs a year ago.
Have you had any strange looking plants grow in your garden? Cooked any yummy meals recently?