Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Friendly Blackbird Visitors In The Spring Garden

We have a visitor and garden companion now. Everytime  we go into the garden within minutes he is there!

Mr Blackbird has taken to making his arrival by swooping down over my shoulder! A fly past, usually pretty close! 

He is a very confident, good looking sleek black bird and he always proceeds to follow me around the garden.

 I think he knows that, especially when I am carrying a spade or fork, that digging is going to take place and an easy lunch for him! 

Lately he has been joined by Mrs Blackbird as well. She is just as brave and now both of them will happily work along side me literally inches from my feet as I go my gardening. I feel like I can reach out and touch those beautiful black glossy feathers but of course I don't.

I am pretty sure they have a nest together but i think it is deep in the hedge so I am not going looking. We should never disturb nests in any way.  I am just happy that there may be baby blackbirds later. 

We are having to be careful though as a couple of days ago I left our back door open and watched with my heart in my mouth as Mr Blackbird bravely walked into our kitchen!!

 I just waited and hoped he would walk out again and thank goodness he did. However now that door is firmly closed at all times ! 

Our garden is a nice welcoming place for birds. They have the hedge, lots of shrubs, a gardener who digs, food, two bird baths  and a variety of plants and cover. We have not ever and would not ever try to tame any of the wildlife but when they chooose to be near you (even when its cupboard love !) it is a blessing. 

So it is lovely to be rewarded with a close encounter with these beautiful birds.  I love it and treasure it.

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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Why Do I Grow Forsythia For Wildlife?

If you walked into my garden you would see a burst of bright yellow sunshine from one shrub in particular. Yet the forsythia shrub isn't one that fills most gardeners hearts with delight. It is so very common and for much of the year is simply a green shrub.

However for me it signifies one of the joys of Spring. It never fails, it has beautiful bright yellow blooms on bare branches, it lives happily and healthily with little attention from me in our mixed hedge alongside a lot of competition for food and water,yet it ihas never become a thug in the garden. 

All I need to do is to prune it once a year immeditely after flowering and for the rest of the year I pretty much forget about it. 

Why do I grow Forsythia?

I have one forsythia we inherited with the garden and one we planted from my Mums garden.  

 Well for the few weeks of that bright yellow bloom, I just love it and it shines out so much at this time of year, a beautiful burst of sunshine yellow - when often there is not that much sunshine around. 

It is reliable, it flowers on cue every year, no worrying about it or tending it to get it to flower. I don't feed it or water it and yet it rewards me every year with a stunning if short sunshine display. 

It is an early flowering shrub. It is very important to have at least a couple of early flowering shrubs in the garden for wildlife. When not much else is flowering well it is an excellent source of nectar for those insects emerging from their winter homes and for all the early bees who are in need of a good meal.

 If planting new shrubs do make sure they are single flowering, which the bees and other insects can feed from, rather than the double varieties which are much harder or impossible for them to make use of.

For our forsythia in the hedge especially I notice each year the birds adopt it or near it as a nest site, especially the blackbirds and sometimes the thrushes. The Woodpigeons often spedn a lot of time resting on or near it in the hedge as well.  It is shrubby and strong and the branches all cross cross in the hedge and so it is a good place to build a nest.  

So for a gardener it is not difficult to grow and perhaps not the most beautiful of plants most of the year but it serves a very important purpose in our garden and I am happy to give it some space.

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Saturday, 2 May 2015

Save Our Spring Hedgerows For The Birds!

I am worried when I see and hear hedges being cut and trimmed in Springtime. This is the peak time for birds to be nesting and hedges are often filled with nests, even if we cannot see them all. So why do some people cut hedges down in Spring when birds are nesting? 

We have a mixed native hedge in our garden and frequently birds nest in it. Our neighbours have hedges too so its a good area for birds to travel along and is always busy in the Spring as they establish territory and build nests and rear their young.

It is a pleasure to see them singing their hearts out wooing a mate, defending territory and gathering nestbuilding materials. Then, if we are lucky to see the baby fledglings and parents feeding them in our garden. 

We recorded blackbirds nesting in our garden one year as they nested very close to the house and we could take photos with out any disturbance. The photos of the birds here are from that page. 

Growing up in the countryside I think I always knew not to cut hedges in the Spring and early summer. We always waited until the birds had stopped nesting and you could feel the quietness descent in late August or September as all the birds seemed to leave the garden. 

So I am not understanding why I am am getting leaflets and knocks on the door from so called "tree surgeons" asking me if I want my hedge cut down! It is the worst time of year to do it! I understand asking for business but I tell them why we cannot do it now and say it is an Autumn/winter job. 

However, it occured to  me do  all people know this not to cut hedges now? It is an offence in UK to cut hedges with nesting birds in them  

I know there is a sudden desire to get out ionto the garden and tidy up and get things sorted for summer. I feel it too. However, hedge cutting is an autumn/winter job - not for now. If I forgot to do it in winter, well I have to life with a messier hedge for now.

If we cut hedges now we disturb birds, we lose nests and baby birds will die needlessly. With some species   we cannot afford for this to happen and it is in my opinion cruel. I like to think if people do it, it is out of not knowing rather than deliberate.

We have precious few hedgerows left these days so need to preserve the ones we have for our birds and hedgehogs and other creatures. 

Please  if you care about birds, spread the word, however you can,  to only cut hedges in Autumn and Winter time. 

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