Last month whilst staying with my father I hid behind the Venetian blinds and poked my camera lens through to see what was occurring at the bird feeders. There were several phases of activity when several birds arrived at the same time.
This very beautiful long-tailed tit, timid and nervous, only really managed to tuck in once the other birds had flown away.
Then a noisy chattering of starlings (well six or seven) turned up to muscle their way in.
After initially flying away the long-tailed tit eventually plucked up enough courage to fly back and hang onto the feeder and wait for his turn again. He obviously knew his place in the pecking order.
Not all the birds were interested in the fat ball. The greenfinches were happy to peck away at the sunflower seeds. Much to my amusement I did see the starlings make an attempt at landing on the perches, but they were too big, and, after unsuccessfully flapping around and wasting energy, they gave up and returned to the fat ball.
It was very windy last weekend and the sea was rough with plenty of white horses. On the sandy beach granite rocks are strategically strewn across the shoreline in attempt to reduce erosion, but what’s that? – a rock just moved.
Walking down towards the sea we find members of the Horsey Gap grey seal colony flopped out and sunning themselves. Or, playing rough and tumble in the surf.
Or, simply having a little nap.
The seal colony at Horsey Gap on Norfolk’s east coast is popular with visitors in late winter when all the pups have just been born. We were surprised to find so many seals on the beach in August. Of course, there are always one or two of them watching the watchers. . . .
. . . especially when some of those watchers come a little too close and then the whole colony clumsily, but speedily move a couple of metres towards the water and away from the nosey humans.
You can’t see in these photos just how windy it was, but every now and then a gust whipped up the sand stinging any exposed skin. It reminded my father of the Shamal that blows down from Iraq and across Kuwait almost continuously during June and July each year.
First very cold night of the winter and this morning five blackbirds have been squabbling over the limited food resources round the garden. One of the birds came up close to the window and just perched on a pot staring out across the frozen pond.
Blackbirds will feed from a high bird table, but they prefer pecking around at ground level. This morning I mixed up some uncooked oats with a little lard and chucked in a few raisins and left the mixture on the patio. One male bird attempted to claim the lot, but whilst he chased off one competitor another would dart in and sneak off with a beak full.
Here’s a little thought ‘I don’t think that this looks inviting, but hey, I’m not the intended resident’. My garden isn’t formal by any stretch of the imagination, and a large pile of leaves heaped up behind the potted yew topiary, I admit, does look messy. However, firsthand experience has informed me that a sheltered pile of leaves is the des res for a hedgehog.
This home for a hibernating hedgehog needs to be in a sheltered position, but not in a frost pocket. I’ve lined the base with a mixed mulch of recent shreddings and created a timber frame from chopped down branches.
Then I’ve simply filled the whole space with autumn leaves pushing them in between the branch structure so they won’t be blown away. Don’t worry about packing the leaves in as a hedgehog will simply push its way into the cosy centre. As this hedgehog home is situated in a very sheltered part of the garden (barring a 1987-style hurricane) most of the leaf pile will remain in place until next spring.
About five years ago my daughter and I constructed a 5 star hedgehog residence in the wild corner of the back garden. I remember it vividly as I borrowed my father’s circular saw to cut up a wooden pallet left over from a delivery of paint. Now, I’m not a great fan of power tools as for me they shout danger, danger, danger and they are usually so loud that the noise is disorientating, but the job got done. One deluxe residence for hedgehogs, spiders, mayflies and any other creatures that took a fancy to moving in.
Hedgehog House five years later and still watertight.
Wild patch under apple tree – the preferred residence.
Now, five years later and I’ve just seen a hedgehog stir from its winter hibernation and it wasn’t from the deluxe residence, but from my pile of prunings, leaves and twigs discarded under the apple tree – oh well.