Young Robin - taken 2009 in back garden - Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

WEEKLY TWEET

When was the last time you actually watched wildlife in your back garden?

Today? Last week? Can't remember? In today's modern world, we are finding it increasingly difficult to relax and take time out from work or family. This blog is to remind you all of the free entertainment that we can enjoy each and every day - WILDLIFE!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ratty

Discovered another visitor to our garden today...... a small rat!

I know I shouldn't really encourage him (or her?) but I throw food out all the time in the back whether its cheese, seed or nuts and I don't mind who eats it... rat, mouse, birds, badger or fox!

The way I see it is the woodland out the back of our house was there before our house was built, so in theory we're trespassing on the rat's property!

And as long as there's plenty of food outside, it means it won't want to come inside! The photos aren't the best but the light was really gloomy (raining again!) so it was the best I could do!



....... and I'm a sucker for a cute face! :-)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holidays

I hope everyone has had a nice Christmas - we certainly did. We had my in-laws over to stay with us so I haven't really had the chance to observe the garden birds as much as usual - I had an extra pair of eyes watching.......




.....in the shape of our German Shepherd, Kira!



We haven't seen Kira (or the in-laws) for about 2 1/2 years so it was really nice to catch up.

Anyway, back to the garden birds....... judging by how often I'm refilling the feeders, I assume the usual suspects are still visiting!
I did see a solitary Goldfinch loitering in the background yesterday, so I'm hoping it will return soon to feed!

I've also spotted this little fella helping himself (or herself) to the peanuts.


I'm throwing down a few handfuls every day to deter it from climbing onto the nut feeder (hopefully!)
I'm not really a huge fan of grey squirrels but I have to admit they have got a cuteness about them! I would still prefer to see our native red squirrels though.

It makes a change to see the garden again in daylight as usually its dark when I leave for work & dark when I get home..... I can't wait for lighter evenings to return!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Christmas

I'm going to be offline for a few days now as family commitments take over for the Christmas period!

I'd like to wish all of you who visit my blog a Very Happy Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Observations

Snow hasn't reached our neck of the woods yet but it has been bitterly cold today. The sunflower seeds have been going down at an alarming rate with birds taking a seed out literally every other second.

This made us wonder.......just how many seeds are eaten every day?

And how much is it costing us to replenish the stock?

So, we decided to carry out a little experiment, the following is an approximation and figures are generally rounded up where applicable:-

Coal Tits observed in two 1-hour periods during the day, both AM and PM visiting the sunflower seed feeder giving the average as follows:-

Approx 225 seeds (weighing 15g - yep we weighed them!) were taken per hour x 8 hours = 1800 seeds per day.

Average 8 hour day x 15g = 120g of seed taken per day

120g per day x 365 days = 44kg of seed taken per year (approx)

A 3kg bag of seed costs €10 x 15 bags per year = €150 yearly cost
------------------------------------------------------------------------
225 seeds = 15g

1kg contains approx 67 x 15g servings

225 seeds x 67 = 15,075 seeds per 1kg

15,075 x 44kg yearly consumption = 663,300 seeds per year

Only 10 birds (4 Coal Tits, 4 Blue Tits & 2 Great Tits) are currently visiting out sunflower seed feeder which equates to 66,330 seeds per bird per year!

Like I mentioned before these are approximations and obviously during winter the birds visit the feeder a lot more than summer months but then they would also have chicks to feed in the summer so I think it would probably average itself out.

Approx €150 spent per year just on sunflower seeds, not taking into account the peanuts, fat balls, fat squares, normal bird seed, meal worms, apples, raisins...........etc etc.

No wonder I'm always skint!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mystery

Can anyone tell me where all the garden birds go at lunchtime?

I generally try to come home for lunch anytime between 12.30pm - 2pm and my feeders are completely empty! Its as though the birds know I'm on my way home and disappear!
The same has happened today - this morning was a frenzy of Coal, Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches, Dunnocks and the Robin until lunchtime and then silence!
Do they know something I don't? Does the neighbourhood cat have it's daily prowl around lunch? Does it happen everywhere else? Can anyone enlighten me?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Brrrrrrrr!

There is a definite wintry chill in the air now! Judging by how busy the feeders are I would say the birds are feeling it too! Its been non-stop activity all weekend. I'm thinking of buying extra feeders to cope with them all!

The Chaffinches have now taken to clinging onto the peanut feeder which isn't pleasing the various Coal/Blue/Great Tits at all.


So far over the weekend the sunflower seed feeder (which slots on top of the pole) has been found on the ground twice! I found out why this morning when I watched a Rook trying to eat the seeds from the small portholes then fly off with such vigour that the thing dropped to the floor - I didn't even know Rooks ate sunflower seeds!


Also had 2 Jackdaws clinging clumsily on to the fat ball feeder & the peanut holder this morning, whilst the smaller birds watched from the sidelines, almost as though they were willing the Jackdaws to fall off!

The Long Tailed Tits are becoming regular visitors now (which I'm very happy about!), and there were 2 Greenfinches in the ferns earlier today. I even spotted the Bullfinch picking the last of the berries - this one was definitely a male judging by the bright red front!


No photos today, unfortunately, but hopefully will post a short video later in the week showing all of this activity (if I can work out how to use the thing!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Corvids are Cool!

Today is a definite duvet day, given the terrible weather outside!

So I thought I would use this as an excuse to post about my favourite family of birds - the Corvids. Although I love all birds, there is something extra appealing about corvids, they have a character about them that makes me smile every time I watch them!



When it's blowing a gale outside, the Rooks & Jackdaws near our house all seem to 'play' in the sky & have way too much fun! I love the way the Rooks in town strut their stuff and don't move out of the way - they even look at you as though to say "go on then, I dare you!"

Whilst I go on about their cheeky character, I also admire their cleverness - scientists have run series of tests which demonstrate sequential tool-use, and then there's the Crows in Japan that drop nuts from a height onto the road and wait for the traffic to break open the shells, they've even learnt to do this on pedestrian crossings so when the lights change it's safe for them to retrieve the food!

I always have to go back to their cheeky side though, and the link below from You Tube shows an advert which has their character down to a tee........ something to make you smile on a dull, wet day ;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqKS-hkhhh4

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dry Spell

We actually had a bit of a dry spell this afternoon and the birds certainly made the most of it! At one time I counted 4 Blue Tits, 4 Coal Tits, 2 Great Tits, 1 Robin, 1 Long Tailed Tit, 7 Chaffinches and 1 Greenfinch all darting to the seed tray and feeders. The Great Tits were chasing the Blue Tits off the nuts, the Blue Tits were chasing the Coal Tits off the fat square and the Coal Tits were chasing anything that moved!

Great Tit

Long Tailed Tit

Robin

I spotted this fungi growing out of a branch high up the old Oak tree, I've no idea what it is but I thought it looked cute (if fungi can ever be described as cute?!)

Washout!

This is Ireland.
Can't see it?
That's because we're under the wet blue stuff that dominates the map!
I think the poor garden birds might get a bit wet today!
Need I say more?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanks

I have to say thank you to those who commented on my last post advising me to wear my camera around my neck at all times!
This afternoon I managed to capture (not literally, of course!) my favourite garden bird - the Long Tailed Tit.
There were 3 of them that landed on the nut feeder only to be immediately bullied off by the Blue Tit!
Only got the 1 photo and it's quite dark but I don't care - at least they know where my garden is now!
Also managed to get a rather poor shot of the Redwing - it was hiding behind some ferns for a while but I just spotted the "red wing" and waited with my camera poised....

....it emerged about 20 minutes later and the only shot I could get has a branch in front of it!!

Never mind...will keep trying. Things are definitely looking up though!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Conspiracy Theory

I've come to the conclusion that my garden visitors (aka birds) are conspiring against me!

Example 1 Whilst washing the breakfast pots this morning, 2 (not 1 but 2) Goldcrests decided to chase each other up and down the branch of the tree right outside the kitchen window in front of where I was standing. Where was my camera? In the living room!

Example 2
After just refilling the feeders, I happened to look over to my right and what did I see watching me? A Redwing! My first ever Redwing - I was so pleased, I have never seen one before! Where was my camera? Inside the house!


Example 3
Whilst watching TV this afternoon, something caught my attention......approx 7 Long Tailed Tits were flitting and hanging upside down in the tree outside the living room window! Where was my camera? In the kitchen (in case the Goldcrests came back)!


Conclusion
I need at least 3 different cameras, one for each room overlooking trees/garden!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dinnertime!

When I say "dinner", I actually mean "all day" buffet! The garden has been a hive of activity this weekend. I was going to call this post "Tits Galore", but I thought better of it :-)
I've had Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Chaffinches, Magpies, Dunnocks, Robin, Wren, even the Long Tailed Tit paid a fleeting visit (of course my camera was nowhere near me!) and the Bullfinch has been lurking in the background.




I love this time of year!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gotcha!

I knew I could hear the low, depressed sound of a Bullfinch! Spotted him rustling through the undergrowth, searching for berries I guess.
The photos not brilliant but its the best I could do through the upstairs window!

I wonder what food I can put out to attract him closer, maybe blueberries or something? I'm not sure if they eat the usual seed or nuts.
The garden has still been just as busy today with the regular "diners", it's a shame I miss all the activity during the week now being as its dark when I come home from work!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Told You!

I knew today was going to be good.............

Faithful Coal Tit.......


Faithful Robin.......

........And 2 new visitors - an adult & a juvenile (I think) Greenfinch, first time seen in our garden!


Busy, Busy!

I have a good feeling about this weekend! I've refilled the feeders this morning and already the garden is buzzing with activity - Great Tits, Coal Tits, Blue Tits, Robin, Chaffinches, Wren, Dunnock have all fed so far today and it's not even lunchtime yet!
And I've heard the depressing whistle of Bullfinches close by (can't see them yet though).
There is a definite wintry chill in the air which is probably why they've all come down for a feed and the trees are almost bare of leaves making it easier to spot (& photograph) the birds,.

Yes I definitely have high hopes for this weekend.......

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Impatient So and So's!

I can tell the new feeder is working (or should I say the sunflower seeds are) as it was empty after 3 days! The Coal Tits have been busy. Decided to refill it this morning before going to work, mainly because it's dark when I get home now. Whilst I braved the strong winds trying to re-instate the full feeder, I was "moaned" at by 2 Blue Tits, 3 Coal Tits and a Robin all waiting impatiently in the ferns - anybody would think they hadn't eaten for weeks!!
Hopefully the weather might be calmer / drier this weekend so I can take some more photos..... fingers crossed Siskins might be around by then too!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Our Back Garden

This is our back garden - not very big at all and no room to put up proper bird tables etc so we improvised and bought an extendable pole which we fixed onto the fence (when I say we, I mean my other half!). We only rent the property so we can't make too many adjustments to the place!


As you can tell from the photos, we are almost surrounded by trees and undergrowth providing plenty of cover for birds, unfortunately it also provides plenty of hiding places for cats too. One down side of the trees is all the leaves which are constantly falling at the moment, making the garden look "untidy" (I prefer to use the term "wild"!).
But if we didn't have the trees / bushes then we probably wouldn't have the fox or the badger so I can't complain!

This is the hole that the badger has dug in order to sniff around our garden. We have tried scooping all the soil back but he just digs it again the next night so we just leave it now.

Business or Birdwatching?

How do you choose?
I'm trying to set up my own part time business but I'm easily distracted by the back garden "activities"! My problem is that our office/study overlooks our back garden so, while I'm trying to sort out my marketing strategy, all I can see out the corner of my eye are birds flitting back & forth (admittedly sometimes these are just leaves falling from the trees!).
I've tried closing the curtains but that's even worse, then I hear the birds but can't see them and I'm thinking what if it's a bird that hasn't visited me before?! I've even tried setting up the computer in a different room away from the garden, but then I'm thinking about whats in the garden - I can't win!
So I have a "break", make myself a cuppa and watch/photograph them for 10 minutes.....of course 2 hours pass by and I'm still watching!
The only motivation I have at the moment is that if i can get my act together and the business takes off, then I can work at home all day every day and watch the garden to my hearts content!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It Worked!

After a week of nothing visiting the new feeder, I decided a new plan was called for.
The seed was starting to turn mouldy due to the heavy non stop rain we've had all week and the only birds I'd seen were Coal Tits.
So, I thought why not buy seed just for the Tits and re-filled it with Sunflower seeds.

Literally 10 minutes after I filled it, 3 Coal Tits appeared and dutifully helped themselves to the seeds - they've been taking it in turns for the past 3 hours!

I knew I could count on them.
And, it may attract Siskins and Finches, you never know!

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Feeder

I don't know why but I always feel a nervous anticipation whenever a new feeder is put up in our garden. I sit watching it impatiently waiting for something to land on it, having little bets with myself as to which bird will be the first! It's usually either the Coal Tit or Robin, but today nothing has ventured onto it, so far.

I hate to admit it but I've become complacent when it comes to our wildlife - I've been moaning for some weeks now that our garden is empty of all bird life, when in fact the Coal Tits have been down every day. These poor little things have to eat the equivalent of their own body weight in food EVERY DAY and they are rewarded with me sighing...."oh it's only a Coal Tit"! I forget that 4 years ago I hadn't ever even seen a Coal Tit before!
I'm so desperate to attract new birds into our garden that I'm beginning to ignore the regular, faithful ones!
How can I forget the Robin who sings his heart out every morning at first light? Or the Blackbirds who keep diving into the undergrowth to eat berries?


Some people have never even seen any of these birds before.
I ought to be grateful for what birds we do get and not impatient for the ones we don't.
And anyway winter is just around the corner.........who knows what that may bring in?!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Magpies

I love Magpies, I think they are one of our most beautiful and charasmatic birds. I don't believe in any of that superstitious twoddle and think they get a lot of bad press (undeservedly)!
Yes, they may take chicks but that's nature, they have their own young to feed too - it's not as though they're like cats (don't get me started on them!).
I think they are quite comical birds when you watch them hop around, they're kind of like the "geezers" of the bird world!

Their irredescent feathers are gorgeous especially when the sunlight catches them just right. I had 5 in my garden today, all chasing each other round & "playing", until a Rook came down and told them where to go!

(The photos a bit blurry, I'm afraid)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Peanut & Cyril

video

Well..."him indoors" has finally got round to sorting out the program used for editing videos and so I present to you Cyril & Peanut feeding together....finally!

Apologies for the shaky footage - I must admit I'm no David Attenborough!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New Menu

Well, I've tried everything today... cheese... coconut... apple... seed... nuts... raisins.... the birds have more of a selection than I do! I had a couple of the Chaffinches come back (though fleetingly!),

and the Robin was still doing his Hummingbird technique, and even the Coal Tit brought his mate along so I should be grateful.
Of course, looking on the bright side my feeders aren't that busy because there's still plenty of natural food around for them......but the selfish side of me wants them to bombard my garden!
I don't think I've ever been this impatient for the cold weather to arrive!

Wexford Wildfowl

Decided yesterday that it was much too sunny to sit and watch empty feeders in the garden (empty of birds not food!), so a trip to Wexford Wildfowl Reserve was called for.
Plenty of White-Fronted Geese (or Lesser White-Fronted?) were there, about a hundred or so have arrived so far with thousands more expected over the next few weeks.

I've never really been into wildfowl that much but I must admit the colourings of their feathers are beautiful (I am now a fan of Barnacle Geese).



This one wondered what feathers tasted like....


We wandered around for a few hours soaking up the autumnal sun, saw a Rook trying to be a weather vane!

Then we headed down on to the beach which is literally a carpet of Mussels - I have never seen so many! No wonder the Oyster Catchers were plentiful.


On the way back home, we called in at Blackditch and watched a Kestrel hovering over the field in front of the hide for about 10 minutes, so all in all, it was a very enjoyable day out.
Came back home to see the ever loyal Coal Tit visiting the nut feeder before dark. - judging by the amount of seed still in the feeder, it looks like he may have been the only visitor all day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blackditch

Well, the peanut butter is still intact (untouched!) but the good news is that 5 Long Tailed Tits passed through the garden this morning, so at least I know they're still around AND there were 2 Goldcrests chasing each other through the bushes - things may be looking up!

I know this is a back garden blog but I went to our local nature reserve today (Blackditch) and saw a huge amount of dragonflies, I found them so pretty I just had to share! I admit I don't know what type they are or anything about them, I'm afraid.


There were also at least 30-40 Goldfinches in the trees eating the seeds from the pine cones, I've never seen so many before so it was a real treat!