Birds’ Eye View

This weekend has been the Big Garden Bird Watch, the weekend when everyone tries to count the birds in their gardens, and the birds go off for their holidays somewhere else. This weekend the birds in my garden had two very good excuses not to hang about: on Saturday storm Malik blew most of them away, apart from a couple of brave wood pigeons; and on Sunday this impressive beast decided to sunbathe in the garden, scaring off the birds somewhat.

Sorry it’s a bit blurred. I didn’t want to get too close in case I scared it away. It lay snoozing for about an hour and then wandered off. We know that foxes wander through the garden regularly but they don’t often stop for a nap. This was a very large one – about the size of a large Alsatian, so not the young one that visited a lot last year. After it left, I could hear birds tweeting so I decided to do my stint for the BGBW. Because of our current covid infestation, I’ve been using my student son’s upstairs bedroom so decided to watch the birds from there. I don’t often view the garden from this room so I had the pleasure of taking a good look at the garden while I waited for the birds to appear. The garden is not at its best at the moment (as you can see from the photo above). Although there are some tiny moments of beauty where the snowdrops have come up, everything else is looking very tatty, overgrown or just down right messy. To be honest it looks like that most of the year but at least in the high spring and summer there are more flowers and vegetables and the hedge does not look quite as bedraggled.

As you know, the hedge at the back of the garden has been a challenge ever since I got rid of the conifers that ran in front of it (maybe there was a reason the previous owners planted those conifers). I had high hopes that the privet would recover but it never quite gets there. It’s fine in the summer but in the winter the deciduous snowberry which forms part of the hedge disappears and the privet seems to get some viral thing that causes its leaves to drop. I have had some success with planting other things in the spaces: here a pyracantha, honeysuckle and a jasmine are doing a sterling job:

And this camellia is beginning to fill a bit of a space

Smaller evergreens or winter flowering plants are growing slowly and will catch up eventually. These are all self-seeded and transplanted from other parts of the garden: winter box, holly, mahonia.

Tiny yew seedlings often appear in another part of the garden so I transplanted them to beside the hedge. The plan is that they will live for 5000 years like the one at Fortingall and will long outlive the privet. I wondered how yew had appeared in the garden and wondered whether maybe there had been yew hedges in this area before they built the houses in the 1920s – this was farmland or possibly the estate of a big country house so maybe there were yew hedges at one time. Or more likely, they just grew from seeds dropped by birds. Who knows? But they seem to like growing in my garden so maybe they’ll like the hedge area.

These things are all growing valiantly if slowly but the hedge remains rather ragged. There’s also a great big hole where Bella and the fox come and go. I’m sure the last time I looked, this was just cat sized – a little cat flap to allow Bella to visit her territory. Now it’s much bigger and the comings and goings of the various foxes have turned it into a fox flap. I could block it up with something but I rather like our furry visitors so will probably just leave it.

In the spring there will be wallflowers, daffodils, foxgloves and honesty.

In the summer the deciduous stuff will grow back and the beautiful roses and honeysuckle will distract from the ragged hedge.

In the mean time I just have to not look at it too often and be relieved that the neighbours on the other side don’t seem to mind the lack of privacy.

Oh, and the bird watch – I saw a pair of robins, checking out the hedge for a nest (please don’t it’s not a safe place), a magpie carrying sticks to a very tall tree in the garden behind (much safer), 3 woodpigeons checking out the broccoli, a blackbird, a crow, a bluetit and a couple of goldfinches. Not a great haul but I don’t have any bird feeders – explanation here. They have to make do with the natural food – mainly broccoli when it comes to the woodpigeons, but otherwise, berries, insects and seeds of which there is plenty in my untidy garden. I would love to include the fox but the RSPB don’t include that in their list of birds.

5 thoughts on “Birds’ Eye View

  1. I’m going to get rid of my bird feeder as I can’t keep it clean. Besides, like your garden, I think mine has plenty of natural interest for the resident birds.

    I was amazed by the fox having a nap/sunbathing session. I am always pleased when I see wildlife which feels comfortable enough to do that in my garden.

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