The Garden Diary
March - 2003
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There is a lot of birdsong in the air at the moment. Aside from the chirping of the sparrows, the Greenfinches are really making themselves heard with their twittering and the cooing of the Collared Doves fails to mask the singing of a nearby Song Thrush - that is a pleasant song that seems to have re-established itself here.
The Blackbirds are relatively quiet this morning as the female gets started on her first nest of the year in the 'Ivy tree'.
I spotted her taking moss and mud from the side of the pond earlier this morning, and this grabbed image shows her arriving with supplies for elsewhere. She lands on the fence first, then my neighbour's apple tree before diving into the ivy (on the far side, unfortunately as far as observations go!)
This morning it spent ages on the bird table, feathers fluffed up and apparently sleeping for much of the time in a position that would make it very vulnerable to Sparrowhawk attack. Other Doves came and went, but it seemed oblivious to them.
5 March - We are going through a mild, mainly dull spell art the moment, with the temperature not going below 9C last night, and currently 11C at 11.15am.
Yesterday there were two (unsuccessful) Sparrowhawk attacks, one in the morning, around 9am and the second in the late afternoon with two crows following and watching from the tree tops. During the first visit it flew five tight orbits around the Hawthorn in which it had trapped the pair of Robins, the female Blackbird, a Dunnock and several Sparrows. Following the second attack the hawk spent a bit of time circling above the garden rather than flying away immediately as it usually does.
This morning it was here again, this time around 10am, when it did just one quick orbit of the Hawthorn before leaving.
We are in a bit of an interlude as far as the flowers in the garden are concerned. While the Snowdrops are just starting to look a bit past their prime, and the Oxslips are continuing their flowering, the Daffodils are only just at the tight bud stage (last year the first one flowered on 1 March). Under the Hawthorn the shoots of the Wild Garlic are starting to show above the ground, and by the pond the leaves of the Snake's-head Fritillary plants are showing above the grass. The Bluebells are well developed, although there is no sign of flower buds on them yet. The Lesser Cellandines are at a similar stage, and I note that the first flower appeared on those in February last year.
6 March - A bright, sunny, cloudless morning, with the Wood Pigeons having an Ivy berry breakfast again.
At 9.30am I have just seen a pair of Jays overfly the garden again, I saw them for the first time in the middle of February. I wonder if they have moved into the Brickfields Country Park?
A couple of Dunnock pictures, taken by the Hawthorn this afternoon.
I'm not sure about the left one, but the mottled, almost stripy appearance of the front of the right-hand bird suggests it is a young 'first winter' bird.
7 March - Today has seen a period of heavy rain pass through this afternoon, filling the ponds to the brim and making the ground very soggy. It has been several degrees colder and a strong breeze has made it feel quite chilly.
This morning I spent a short time out in the garden and during that time I spotted these two nest builders. The Sparrow headed for a neighbour's roof and the Blackbird into the Ivy, presumable to add to the nest started at the beginning of the month.
As I write this at 6.15pm it is almost dark outside by I could see something disturbing the reflection of the sky in the water - it was the male Blackbird having a late bath!
8 March - On a dull, damp afternoon this Sparrowhawk arrived in an almost deserted garden at about 3.30pm and was out manoeuvred by the few Sparrows that were about.
After a lap of the Hawthorn it decided to land on it and climb inside. That was when it was left stranded as the Sparrows made their escape to the bottom of the garden, leaving the hawk to search the empty branches! There isn't a large version of the picture because the hawk is badly out of focus - sorry.
Before I forget again, during the last few days I have been seeing Bumble Bees about, probably queens looking for suitable places to nest.
10 March - A couple of short notes only. The Sparrowhawk hasn't been seen these last two days, and during the last week we have started to see a small flock of Canada (I think) Geese flying over in the mornings and/or evenings.
11 March - A bit of a vague image today, to show some members of a swarm of insects flying high up in front of the conifers in the late afternoon. In the past we have watched the sparrows perched up in the trees, and flying out to catch them.
The picture was taken as I watched for a Song Thrush that has disappeared into the Leylandii. I could see it between the branches but it didn't show itself enough to be photographed.
It left after a few minutes but, as the light levels dropped at dusk the singing I heard suggested that it was back in the Leylandii.
13 March - Today the Song Thrush was in the garden a number of times, feeding on the Ivy berries. (I have some pictures, taken from a bedroom window and I will add one to the diary when I have sorted out a major problem being experienced by my PC.
The Thrush was chased off a couple of times by the male blackbird, which I saw taking a worm into the Ivy, presumably a food offering for the female. I am seeing only occasional views of her now, suggesting that she may be sitting on her first clutch of eggs.
I also watched the male robin displaying to his partner. They were both deep in the Berberis bush so there was no chance of a picture.
It was here again today and I had a lunchtime break away from the computer problems and set myself up to get a closer image. Unfortunately the thrush is very wary, and that combined with gusty winds made it impossible to try for a sharper image.
When I was heading back into the house I saw a second thrush fly to join the first one in a tree several gardens away.
15 March - A couple of tree pictures today to show the state of the buds at the moment.
First the Birch tree by the birdbox. These buds are well developed but still tightly wrapped.
On the hawthorn many of the buds look closer to bursting - this had already happened by this time last year, although the buds were at about the same stage in 2001.
Late this afternoon we had two quite spectacular Sparrowhawk attacks in the garden, both unsuccessful but amazing to watch. Photographs were impossible because of the low position of the sun in the South West.