Tag Archive | Wildlife

Butterflies flutterby

At last. Just as I was beginning to despair of ever having a butterfly in my butterfly garden, along comes a red admiral. What a beauty especially when set against the bright yellow flowers that were clearly supplying a good breakfast of nectar.

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Red Admiral

 

I hope that this is the first of many. Either that or I just go out at the wrong time!

The hedgehogs keep coming and this week we’ve had a little darling whose face is covered in ticks poor thing. Most of the hedgehogs have ticks on the body, but this is the first one I’ve seen with so many close to his eyes and mouth. A quick call to the local wildlife hospital this morning and I can take him/her in (if I can catch it!) to be de-ticked. I could be on late hedgehog watch tonight.

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Ticky-Hog

 

Last week I was off work and managed to catch up with some of my other projects whilst the wildlife garden takes hold. Luckily we have had some very warm weather and along with plenty of rain and watering, the plants are really growing fast and filling the gaps.

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Sink Pond in Butterfly Glade

 

I should have some nicotiana flowering in the next few weeks. Apparently moths like the evening scent and once they are in bloom, I will put a night light amongst the flowers and watch for the different moths that visit. That’s the theory anyway.

In the warm weather, the teasles are starting to flower. The bees love these and I can normally get some good close up pictures. This year however, the teasles are taller than usual so I have to stand on a chair. I haven’t managed a great shot yet but there’s still plenty of time.

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Hungry Bee

 

I picked up some great logs last weekend. I cant believe that I get so excited about a few logs but these are well weathered and quite light as they’ve been in a garden for about 5 years and dried out. They are great shapes as well so some of them I will use as features amongst the plants; they will make good seats or bird resting areas.  I’m trying to get hold of a birch tree log to hang as I understand these will attract woodpeckers. I can hear the tap-tap-tap in the morning and it would be lovely to tempt one in.

The sink-pond has got a new resident! At first glance I thought that the frog which had moved into big-pond had swapped allegiance and transferred to sink-pond but no,there is one in each. It’s very satisfying to know that I have provided shelter for a little creature and he looks very comfortable in his new home.

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Sink-Pond frog

 

Altogether I have done the main wildlife landscaping and it is now more a case of letting things grow. I still have plenty to do but they are much smaller projects and features. Like new seats!

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New seat made from railway sleeper and thermo-bricks

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Big-Pond & Bog Garden taking off

Feed the birds

My birds have gone to bed for the night, but in the morning they are in for a treat. I have made some peanut butter cones and hung them on the fig tree, ready for breakfast.

Very simple to make and apparently birds love them.

All you need;

Fir cones, Peanut Butter, bird seed and string to hang them up.

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Method:

Smother pine cones in peanut butter and roll in the bird seed.

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Hang on trees and wait for the feasting to begin.

maggie-jones-quote-some-people-are-mistaken-they-think-birds-need

 

 

 

Something of the marvelous

There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature-Aristotle

Apparently, having water in my garden is the best way to encourage and entice a host of different creatures to visit us. Insects, frogs, toads and newts, birds, and small mammals are all dependant on water to survive, just as we are. It was a good day therefore when my pond plants arrived from lincolnshire-pondplants in the post, safe and sound and ready to pot up. I hope that the two new ponds bring more dragonflies and damselflies as I love their bright fluorescent colours and patterned wings.

The delivery also included some aquatic baskets and compost, so all I needed to add were some pebbles on the surface to prevent the soil from leaking into the water too much. I managed this with the larger pond which is very clear this evening, but the small pond made in the Belfast sink is still cloudy. I hope that it clears tomorrow when it settles down.

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I wasn’t sure what plants to order, so I went online and did some research. It still seemed a bit overwhelming and so I took the plunge and ordered 2 plant packs; one for a very small pond (sink) and one for a medium pond. I was really pleased with the selection I was sent and the condition they arrived in and tonight all are planted up and in situ.

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My newly-resident frog is still sitting on the yellow irises, looking comfortable in his new home. I hope we get some frogspawn next year as I have lots of frogs in my old pond but have never had any spawn. It would be nice to have some tadpoles!

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The plants I was sent include;

A purple Iris, yellow iris, bulrush, Juncus grass, water mint, forget-me-not, oxygenators and some plants with long latin names.

I’m looking forward to next year when they have settled and grown into their surroundings.

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In the meantime I have a herb garden to finish, a vertical planter to plant up, some shrubs to pick up on Sunday and more rockery stones to collect.

Good job I’m on holiday next week!

Nature

Coffee break

The great thing about working from home is that I can take my coffee break in the garden. It’s nice to get some fresh air after wrestling with tax return figures and now, with my wildlife garden well under way, I have the added pleasure of watching the birds come and feed on the numerous dishes at their disposal.

I am getting more birds and more varied species every day and today was the turn of three blue tit fledglings. Still a little fluffy and more confident than their parents who are not so happy to come close with Jasper the dog rummaging through the undergrowth.

I’m loving the peace and thrill of watching these creatures feed successfully knowing that I am doing my bit to help them survive.

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Pond and Bog garden

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It began like this. A donated pond liner and hard graft digging a hole in tough ground. Gradually the pond and bog garden took shape during the week as I added some rockery stones (also donated).

And a couple of pond plants which I bought.

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I was on a roll and with a spurt of energy I quickly turned this previously barren piece of garden into a water haven for wildlife.

I placed the rocks around the pond edge so that there are plenty of cracks and crevices for frogs to crawl into and for me to plant creeping plants to soften the edges. I made a gravel path from the Toad Abode directly to the pond, and fenced the whole water area in with feature edging and wire to prevent hedgehogs falling in. Although hedgehogs are traditionally good swimmers, they can’t get out of a pond with steep sides. Just in case one decides to take the leap, I dismantled an old wooden CD holder and placed it in the pond to act as a ladder. Hopefully, if the worst does happen, a clever hedgie will be able to escape quite easily.

I made the bog garden by digging a hole at one end of the pond and lining it with thick plastic membrane. I did fork a few holes in it so that it doesn’t get too water-logged and filled it in with layers of pea gravel, soil-based compost and potting compost to finish. I gave it a good water before planting some yellow irises taken from my other pond, a marsh marigold and two other bog plants I cant remember the name of!

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Pond and, to the left, bog garden

 

To provide a backdrop, I moved some teasles into the corner and planted some of my foxgloves and cottage perennials around the back edge. I have sown some hollyhock seeds for next year so the whole area should look beautiful come summer 2017.

I moved the donated tree trunk to the side of the pond so that any frogs who fancy exploring will have plenty of insects to eat.

I finished off by making a seat with the donated bricks and railway sleeper then spreading bark chippings over weed-control fabric covering the whole water garden area. The bark not only provides a nice look to the area but it also provides a home for little critters and this morning, the fledgling blackbirds were rooting through the chippings clearly finding food!

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A baby blackbird perching on a flower pot

 

I think it looks fab!

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I am so pleased with how this has turned out!

In the night garden

After the excitement of finding my first hedgehog resident I was happy to go to bed satisfied that my wildlife garden plans are coming to fruition. There is nothing like success to spur you on to greater things and I couldn’t sleep straight away as more ideas were swirling round my head.

I finally dropped off only to be woken up at 2am from a deep sleep by Jasper barking incessantly.  I knew that it wasn’t his “I need a wee” bark, and it didn’t sound like his “I can’t reach my toys” bark either but he went on and on until I staggered out of bed and went downstairs to investigate.

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Jasper checking out the strange spikey thing in his garden

 

Jasper was standing at the window looking out onto the back garden and when I managed to prise my eyes open wide enough to focus I saw a hedgehog on the lawn. Even Jasper is becoming obsessed and I’m not sure how he knew it was there unless it was making a hedgehog-noise but there it was. I let Jasper out and he ran straight towards the hedgehog. he doesn’t attack them or hurt them in any way but he is very curious.

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All curled up waiting for the annoying dog to go away

 

I managed to hold him back for a while until the hedgehog realised that there was no threat, uncurled and tottered off into the bushes.

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Off into the bushes

 

As you know I love having hedgehogs in the garden but if it means having to get up in the middle of the night to satisfy Jasper’s curiosity, I may have to rethink!

keep calm

How to attract wildlife to your garden

Just this week, survey results revealed that man-made wild-life homes don’t work and can be a waste of money. So, if you have found this is the case in your garden, what can you do to make your garden more wild-life friendly? The following information and photos show you what I have done to successfully attract animals, birds and insects into my garden which makes it not just visually pleasing, but highly functional and a haven for a variety of species.

Hedgehogs

Meet Henderson our hedgehog. He has clearly shunned all man-made shelters in favour of the luxury pad he has found in the corner of my vegetable patch. And why wouldn’t he? This woodpile, created out of tree branches blown down in a gale, is enhanced by dry grape-vine leaves every year (and also some still-fermenting grapes which might explain his tottery progress round the garden occasionally) and this year, two old and woody discarded lavender plants. I challenge any hedgehog to find a warmer, more secure and fragrant nest this winter. All this comes with food on tap; frogs, slugs and plenty of woodlice to my knowledge. Perfect.

   

Butterflies & Bees      

     

Apart from the usual apple blossom, sedum, and buddleia’s which are particularly attractive to butterflies I also leave the nettle patch to thrive near the aforementioned woodpile as this encourages many species of butterflies. Bees arrive in droves, attracted by the lavender hedge, honeysuckle, cornflowers and teasles.  

Squirrels

Not everyone likes squirrels and wants to attract them to their garden. I personally find them fascinating to watch and currently have two regular visitors who thieve the bird’s peanuts from the various feeders spread around the garden. These are incredibly intelligent, determined and agile animals and however difficult I try and make it for them, they always get their nut rewards in the end. It is also funny to watch them dig small holes in the lawn and flower pots to bury their treasure and I quite often find monkey nuts and peanuts the next spring when I dig over the borders and replace compost in the pots. I do have squirrel-proof feeders as well which protect sufficient food to keep the birds happy.

Birds

Feeding birds during the winter months clearly attracts them to your garden and I supplement fat balls, peanuts and nyger seed by growing sunflowers and teasles which provide birds with fresh seeds in abundance. Plants and shrubs which produce juicy berries in the autumn not only add colour to your garden after the main flowering season is over but also provide a feast for the birds. Good choices are cotoneaster, berberis and holly. One word of advice in the autumn. Try not to park your car under trees, eaves or wires where birds gather. You are likely to come back to a car splattered with the rainbow-remains of these berries which can be hard to remove!

Not so obvious is the growing of pampass grass. Last spring I watched a family of sparrows strip four spears of pampas to feather their nest. It must have been like a down-quilt to them and their offspring and I hope they will be back next spring for more bedding. 

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Frogs & Pondlife     

I have a relatively small garden and therefore a huge pond was not an option. However, you don’t need a large pond to encourage frogs. My pond which is approximately 3 feet round, is full of frogs, with the surrounding marginal plants and lush foliage providing the shelter and damp conditions which slugs just love. Froggy-food by the ton!

  

The best thing about all this? Very little effort and expense for great rewards. Let’s hope it continues