The Garden Diary

February - 2002

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1 February - The month is getting of to a very stormy, if mild start. This afternoon the wind is blowing at over 30mph with gusts around 50mph. A short while ago a fence panel near the house succumbed to a particularly strong gust. With possible gusts of 70mph forecast I have roped down the carport to make it more secure than it was.

I have told the frogs to keep their heads under water - just in case and I have supported each snowdrop to prevent the bends happening. All the birds have been told to eat fallen berries immediately. - a paragraph added by my wife (a case of domestic hacking!)!

In fact, there are virtually no birds about this afternoon, and there is not a frog to be seen during the daytime.

Another casualty of the wind this afternoon - the cage around the feeder has disappeared, lifted off the feeder and carried away out of the garden!

2 February - A dull, dry start to the day. It is still windy, although far less so than yesterday and I can see no further damage. I wonder how far the feeder 'cage' travelled. It is very mild this morning (12C at 8.45am).

I have just watched a male Blackbird have breakfast of raisins, Hawthorn berries and chopped peanuts, followed by a drink from the birdbath. We seem to have lost our Song Thrushes - they have not been seen since the first half of January. A flock of about 30 Starlings has just polished off the rest of the peanut bits! The Robin, which did not make a single appearance yesterday, is just outside the window.

The picture shows the current state of the snowdrops. There are some Crocuses coming into flower now, and the Daffodils are shooting up between the ponds.


5 February - A change in the weather this morning as I opened the curtains to look out at an almost clear blue sky and sunshine! I spent some of the morning doing some maintainance on the car and then turned my attention to clearing plant debris in and around the big pond. The ground is sodden and very muddy in places.



As lunchtime approached so did a large and very dark cloud. Thunder and lightning started all the local dogs off and then the skies opened and we had a hail storm followed by very heavy rain!

I was not in a position to take a picture straight away but the above image was snatched a short while later . The hail stones were very irregular, many of them almost 'tooth shaped' with cross banding. The hail flattened some crocuses that have came into flower over the last few days.

After the rain stopped I spotted these seedlings on the head of the one Teasel plant that flowered successfully last year. It seems that there were some fertile seeds in the head and they have started developing.

Other than the Blue Tits, bird activity in the garden over the last week has been restricted to the House Sparrows (30+), Starlings,Collared Doves(4), Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Chaffinches and the Robins. In the last couple of days the Robins' visits have become less regular.

Blackbird activity seems to be in a state of flux. I have just watched one female chase another out of the garden and ther seem to be several males in the area.

6 February - Another bright, sunny morning, although the wind is now more from the North and it feels cooler (8C) at mid-day.

Despite the pounding by yesterday's hail some crocuses survived to open in this morning's sunshine. Most of the snowdrops are open now and they are all bobbing back and forth in the breeze.

The Daffodils are making good progress. These are about 6in (150mm) tall and are surrounded by lots of tiny seedlings which are, I suspect, the germinating seeds of lst year's Red Campion plants.






Another sign of new growth can be seen on the Berberis where the first buds are opening among the Lichens. I wonder whether we will have any nesting attempts here in the months to come?


For the first time in ages a couple of Wood Pigeons came to feed on the ground this morning. Although I have not replaced the cage around the feeder, they did not attempt to land on it.


8 February - A brief entry, probably the last for a week. As I was packing the car I spotted this first flower on the Lesser Celandines (Ranunculus ficaria) which flourish behind the big pond. There was no sign of any others nearing this stage.





15 February - Since returning home two days ago things we been pretty busy, although in our short absence little seems to have changed in the garden.

There have been a few more flowers on the Lesser Cellandines and I can see a couple of flower heads developing on the Daffodils.

We seem to have a trio of Blackbirds (2m 1f). The Robins are here most of the day, although the male is showing no interest in feeding the female. The House Sparrows keep up an almost constant daytime twittering, the Collared Doves are cooing, and the Starlings make their raids on the ground feeding area, which is were the Dunnocks and the occasional Chaffinch are usually to be seen. Otherwise, there is a sad lack of other bird visitors at the moment, and still no sign of the Song Thrushes - particularly disappointing.


17 February - It has been cold with night-time frosts. Unfortunately, it has been a very busy weekend in the house and little time has been available to be in the garden.

I can see the first of the Snake's Head Fritillaries appearing above the grass and under the Hawthorn I can see the first green shoots of the Wild Garlic.

22 February - Things remain rather static in the garden at the moment. The Snowdrops are past their best now and although there are several Cellandine flowers open they are yet to produce their usual display. There are Daffodil buds reaching to the skies and the Foxgloves are growing lots of new leaves - hopefully they will produce a good display later in the year.

Yesterday, the Robins were both down in the usual spot under the Hawthorn . The male took mealworms but although his partner begged to be fed the male failed to oblige! Looking back to last year we are very close to the time when they started their first brood in 2001 - I must put some new batteries in the kitchen scales!

The Sparrows continue to spend their time dashing between the cover of the Ivy tree and the Hawthorn and, other than the occasional tussle their main interest is in feeding and watching out for danger (I haven't seen the SparrowHawk lately). There has been little interest in family matters as yet.

I caught just a glimpse of a Goldcrest yesterday, the first time since December.


23 February - Having mentioned the Sparrowhawk yesterday, we had a visit from one this morning!. It made some spectacular orbits of the Hawthorn as it tried to panic some of the Sparrows that cowered in the centre of the tree. As usual, it left without success.

Today has been largely fine with a temperature reaching about 7C. Unfortunately, a very strong Northerly wind is making it feel very much colder.


26 February - As I write this at 8.15am I am looking out onto a very soggy garden with every branch swaying in the southwesterly wind. Last night was one of those nights when you listen to every creak, groan and clatter as a gale blows in the darkness, leaving you wondering whether it was in your garden that something has fallen over and whether you should go and look just in case! I resisted, and this morning everything seems intact. The rain has stopped and the temperature is about 9C.

The Sparrow flock is tucking into breakfast and I just spotted four Dunnocks on the ground - usually it's just two. The Sparrowhawk has just flown past without being tempted. The Robin continues to show no sign of courtship even though I often see the pair down this end of the garden.

This afternoon a male Greenfinch appeared at the feeder for the first time since mid-July last year.


27 February - A largely bright, cool (6C) day with only a few spots of rain. The first Daffodil flower is half open and the Forsythia is in full flower as the Snowdrops continue to wither.

The Sparrowhawk returned this afternoon and attempted to flush out birds hiding in the Ivy tree. It was only a half-hearted attempt and he (I think) spent a while resting in my neighbour's apple tree.

There was a trio of Chaffinches feeding here this morning, including two females who spent some time chasing each other in the Hawthorn. A couple of Wood Pigeons arrived to feed and ousted the Collared Doves that were on the tray under the feeder. I haven't replaced the 'cage' that was blown away in the gales. If they start dominating the feeder again I shal have to replace it. There is usually food available for them elsewhere in the garden.

Talking of food, 1 Kg of small mealworms arrived this morning. It will be interesting to see how long they last once serious nesting gets underway. I have to clear a surface in my shed to make room for their container.

28 February - An amusing start to the day when two Wood Pigeons settled on the Ivy tree to eat some berries. The whole structure is very bouncy, and the thin branches where the berries are to be found require some delicate manoeuvres by these large visitors!

This picture of our resident male robin shows the small white patch on the top of its head that makes it easy to recognise. He has still to be seen taking any food away.

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