Sunday, 25 January 2015

RSPB bird watch - did you remember.

I want to clarify something right from the off - a narcoleptic does not make a good bird watcher!

I was really looking forward to this RSPB bird watch and while I was eager to do it yesterday the weather was atrocious so I decided today would be the day.
I chose to watch the bird table round by the polytunnel because there's usually more activity there due to all the surrounding hedges. The problem with this bird table though is that I cannot hang anything from it because the Rooks arrive in their droves if I do and scare all the small birds away so there's just the one bowl of food in an area that won't allow anything bigger than a Starling to get in.

On the menu today was bird seed, mealworms, pinhead oatmeal, crushed peanuts, mixed seed, mixed dried fruit and scraped suet block.

I gathered pen, paper, binoculars and camera and set myself up in the hen house which has a good view of the feeding station although because the feeding station is so tall - 7ftish - this was never really going to be a photo opportunity.

I had quite a few regulars show up such as a lone Robin. The Blue Tits and Great Tits were of the greatest number and you could tell them a mile off because they fly so funny.
I also saw 2 Blackbirds that were cleaning up the part of the feed station they could access - the edges, 1 Starling and 2 Blackbirds and a few house sparrows. Not really a fantastical number - I thought there would be much more and I was a tad dissappointed that the Wrens weren't showing up because I know there's plenty of them around - usually in the polytunnel. Just as I was coming to the end of the hour 1 Wren showed itself on a pile of wood below the feeding station and started feeding from the seed scattered below so that cheered me up a bit.

I made various notes during this 1 hour of sitting in the hen house in the freezing cold, in fact my page consists mainly of doodles and little snippets in barely legible hand writing as my fingers began to freeze and refuse to function.
"I'm cold" followed by "I'm bloody cold" topped off with "I'm frozen".
"Even the birds are too cold to eat" I wrote that while I sat there for at least 10 minutes of absolutely no bird in sight and not even a teeny tweet.
"Hens make some weird noises" - they all decided to stay around my feet and they made some really weird sounds as they sat there talking to one another.
"Stupid binoculars" - every time I tried to look through them they steamed up within 5 seconds.

I did enjoy the process, despite freezing my do dar off and I've decided I shall do it once every season at the same time each year to compare results.

I did get a show from this little lot though - Rooks, I hate them and they arrived by the hundreds thanks to the Rookery next door. The noise they make is awful .

Also a huge flock of these appeared - I'm assuming Blackbirds or Starlings or something? Certainly a lot smaller than the Rooks and way too agile for Rooks.

So in the field we had a flock of Rooks, a flock of whatever the smaller birds are a whole load of Graylag geese - at least 200. The geese arrive every year, stay for a couple of days and then head of to wherever they go next. Love seeing them, though they seem a tad earlier this year.

Had to have a little chuckle at the hens a couple of days ago. The pond had totally frozen over and I was trying to stop the dogs from walking on it when I noticed mama hen making her way over to me

All cocky as she was the only one brave enough (or stupid enough) to attempt it and then Huntly appeared and noticed her. Mama hens courage was short lived and she turned tail and ran while I had to make sure Huntly didn't attempt to take off after her on the frozen pond. TheShepherds had been on it but I wasn't risking Huntlys weight on it.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

Thanks to Sue over at 'Our plot at Green Lane Allotments' I have remembered to sign up for this years 'RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch'.
I've been meaning to do this for a couple of years but I always seem to forget but having seen Sues post on the subject I've registered and have put a reminder on my Ipad and phone so that I don't forget.
If you're not sure what is involved it's very simple: All you need to do is spend one hour over the weekend 24-25 January counting the birds in your garden. Then you can either submit the results live online or through the post, whichever is more convenient for you.  Couldn't be simpler!
So head over to the RSPB website, register free of charge (you also get a £5 voucher to use in the RSPB shop IF you want to - no obligation) and they'll either send you the information pack or you can download it immediately and there's even activities for the kids to enjoy if you need it.
Now all I have to do is decide which feeding station I want to sit at, the one round near the polytunnel is likely to get more variety as the Rooks tend to raid the house one so I guess my query may already have been answered.

Happy bird watching!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Lazy, impatient gardener

Have I ever mentioned that the name 'The Tenacious Gardener' was not my first choice of name for my blog? Nor my second, nor even my third, in fact it was low on the list of the choices I made. My first choice was the Lazy gardener because that describes me to a tee, the second was the impatient gardener because again perfect description and my other choices included 'The make do gardener', 'The sow it and see gardener', 'The pot luck gardener' and many other similar choices that ended up either being taken or decided against.
'The Tenacious Gardener' really doesn't describe me with as much accuracy as all or any of the above, in fact pretty much every meaning of the word Tenacious is a stretch to describe me - persistant, tireless, unswerving, unshakeable, purposeful, patient - yup, those certainly do not describe me.
So I'm wondering whether it's possible to change a blog name and it's something I'm going to look into.

And it's with reference to my lazy attitude toward gardening that I show you this

These are the seed trays and propagators that I grow seed in year after year and as you can tell I have never bothered washing them between sowings - slap the back of my hand!
I give them a brush out but that's it and I then I moan and moan about the quality of seeds when they fail to germinate, or if they do germinate they get leggy and/or damp off.
Alan Titchmarsh recently did a snippet somewhere on the importance of clean seed trays and propagators - all of which I already knew of course but I really am a lazy gardener.  However I decided this year that I'm going to do the right thing so I've scrubbed those seed trays and propagators and took the time to sow seed properly (something I also usually do as quickly as possible with no real thought).
I had a carrier bag full of seed packets to sow this year but I went through the lot and chose only the ones I know I really want to grow. This year the main priority is the main garden so I'm not growing any veg and am instead using the polytunnel to grow lots of cut flowers. Here's what I was left with

There's more there than there looks but they include various poppies, Lupin, Hollyhock, Dahlia (never grown that from seed before), Sweetpea, Echinacea, Aster, Callendula and lots lots more. I also have given Phormium Tenax another go and some Pieris a first try - if these are not a success I'll buy the plants rather than try again.

Over a few days I filled trays with compost and sowed all those seeds and instead of putting them out in the PT where I'll forget about them I kept them indoors so the window sills are currently propagating benches. I also have one heated propagator which is housing those seeds that require heat to germinate, now all I can do is be patient and that's a struggle for me, I tend to give seed 2 weeks to sprout and then I throw them out. Not happening this year though, I've taken time to sow these properly so I'm expecting a decent crop form the seeds.