Where Did All The Birds Go?

RSPB BirdwatchOn Sunday morning, armed with a cup of coffee and trusty binoculars, we settled down in the Garden Room to count birds for an hour as part of the RSPB Big Birdwatch survey. We usually have all sorts of feathered visitors and so we were quite disappointed at the low turn out from the birds. We had to document the maximum number of birds seen at any one time (rather than the total number of birds in the hour) and the ones that could be bothered to show up were:

Robin 1
Pheasant 1
Sparrow 6
Great Tit 2
Blue Tit 3
Woodpecker 1
Chaffinch 1
Thrush 1
Crows 4
Coal Tit 1
Blackbird 3

We expected to see quite a few birds such as wrens, gold crests, tree creepers, collared doves, long tailed tits and dunnocks but there was no sign of them (not even in the 10 minutes following the survey when they inevitably all come back out to play!). It’s not as if we expected to see a Golden Eagle or Pheonix rising from the ashes… just a little wren would have made us happy!

The RSPB forums indicate that the low number of birds have been a nationwide problem and the staff are urging people to send their results in even if they don’t seem representative. I’m not sure if the birds were scarce because of adverse weather conditions or a re-run of Downton… whatever the reason the results should be interesting!

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Footprints In The Snow

Snow in Kitchen Garden

Hopefully all the plants are tucked up safely and enjoying a nice sleep. I’m trying to enjoy the snow whilst it lasts… people grumble about the snow (I realise it makes life more difficult, travelling is a big worry and it will ultimately turn to a brown, messy slush….) but there’s really magic in each snow flake, you can see it sparkle, so I enjoy it while it’s here.

Garden Snow Collage

I love to see different footprints in the snow and I try to follow where the rabbits and foxes have been. It’s interesting to try and work out  who the little footprints belong too… although with my over active imagination I imagine following prints around the back of the shed and unexpectedly coming face to face with a Yeti!

Winter views

There’s not too many outside jobs to be done at the moment so I started to put together a wish list of  plants for the kitchen garden this year. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Raven so I’m starting with her catalogues as she has a great range of products and her customer service is brilliant. After what seemed an endless task of chores today I finally sat down with a cup of apple & ginger tea and started to paw over the catalogues… but more of that next time!

seed catalogues

This weekend is the RSPB Big Birdwatch so I’ll be spending an hour tomorrow counting our feathered friends (chickens not included) to see how they’re fending. I’ve never done this in the snow before and I’m hoping it will make the process easier! The results are sent into the RSPB and the information gained throughout the UK provides a useful snapshot of which species are in decline or booming!

SnowChicks

I’m sure Bella and Milo will want to join us in the garden room for a spot of birdwatching too but I somehow think that their furry minds may not be on conservation!

IMG_4108

Wonderful White Stuff

The snow is lovely but the wildlife is certainly suffering a bit. The birds seem to strip the feeders as fast as we can fill them up and it’s a job to stop the drinking water from freezing. I’m giving them left over scraps and fruit cake so they’ve now invited their mates over too!
Goosey sadly died in the week. This was not unexpected as she’d not been herself for quite a few days, looked tired and frail. We gave her some extra vitamins and checked her over but at six years old she’d had a good life.  She looked like she had died peacefully in her sleep and I’m so relieved that she didn’t have to put up with the snow! The other chickens seemed a bit quieter than usual – I’m not sure if chickens feel loss but it wouldn’t surprise me as Goosey was their boss for a long time and it must have seemed strange to them. We built a little SnowChicken in the enclosure… Goosey would have pecked those little sunflowers seed eyes out in a jiffy!

snowchicken

We spent some time today in the chicken enclosure and cleared some paths for them to make it easier to walk around. They don’t seem too bothered about the snow although I’m worried about them getting hypothermia. The only one who doesn’t venture very far is Bluebell, one of the new girls, who has decided to have her first moult and looks perished… I’m tempted to knit her a little jacket but I know that she wouldn’t want to be seen in it unless she had the shoes to match!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Bella and Milo so here’s a bit of a catch up. They’ve both really made themselves at home and it feels as though they’ve been a part of our lives forever. They get on really well together and if they’re separated for any reason start mewling until they find one another. I can’t believe that they’re four months old already.

BellaCat

They both seem to have a mild obsession with water – dripping taps, water bowls, rain on the window panes. Milo especially loves to flick the water out of his bowl and even stands with his paws in it! They don’t bother with the sink in the kitchen but they love to sit in the utility room sink and poddle little wet footprints everywhere!

MiloCatI’m not sure why Milo looks a little cross-eyed in the photo above… he’s not normally!

Baby, it’s cold out there!

Well, it’s finally starting to feel like January around here and after a very wet and mild December we have snow forecast for overnight. It somehow feels wrong not to have frost and chilly winds this time of year and I do like the excuse to wear thick woolly tights and scarves! I’ve recently moved the plant pots to a more sheltered area and the bay tree and fig have been protected as much as I can. There are loads of cobwebs everywhere and even Cedric looks like he’s got whiskers (it makes him look a bit friendlier!). I’ve tried not to be too tidy so that the wildlife can benefit… but it’s messing with my mojo a bit.

Frosty Garden

The chickens are always cause me extra concern this time of year – trust me, if I could scoop them all up and build a giant nest in the house for them I would. My husband constantly reminds me that they have their own little quilts made from feathers but I still fret. We’ve now insulated the hen house and added extra bedding – it doesn’t look pretty but it will hopefully do the job. Goosey, one of the old girls, has slowed down and looks tired so we’ve given her some extra vitamins and do an additional check each night to make sure she’s okay. The other chickens are being really good with her – they’re probably scared that she’ll get better and back to business of being the boss!

Frosty Doodles

I usually like to try something new each year with hope that it will turn into a hobby and so in November I enrolled onto a watercolour lettering class with Val Webb. If you haven’t already had the pleasure of seeing any of Val’s artwork then I strongly recommend her website especially if you like faeries, nature and all things whimsical (Alys – you’ll just love it!).
My paintings still need a lot of work but I really don’t mind as I’ve found the whole process of water colouring SOOOooo relaxing that the end result of a more chilled out me is always worth while. Her instructions are clear and practical and I’m really looking forward to practicing some more.
I helped my sister and family move house last weekend and I gave her the painting below in place of a New Home card.

Home watercolour

Must go – although I have so much to write since I last blogged. Work and homelife have been really busy since new year so this is the first time I’ve had chance to post in 2013 and I’ve missed it! I’ve also missed following my favourite blogs so I’ll make sure to spend a little time each night after work in Blogland catching up with them all. I hope to include the kittens in a post very soon X