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


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!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sorry Mum!

Okay - I owe my mum an apology!

I didn't think she would get many birds in her garden for the RSPB survey but she proved me wrong!

Her list is as follows:-

6 Blackbirds
5 Blue Tits
3 Chaffinches
2 Collared Doves
2 Dunnocks
2 Great Tits
3 House Sparrows
1 Long Tailed Tit
3 Robins
2 Starlings
2 Woodpigeons

A total of 11 species - 1 less than me, aah never mind (I won!)

I think she did very well to say she's always complaining that nothing eats her food anymore now that the new neighbours have moved in (they removed the ivy that the Blue tits nested in every year and they have 2 cats!)

Thanks for doing that mum!

I still say the cold weather helped ;-)

Love is in the air........

...... everywhere I look around!

Okay, maybe not love but, by the way the birds are pairing up, breeding season is definitely around the corner!

I think the "cutest" couple has to be the Robins - he sits guarding the feeding station whilst she feeds on the fat balls, he even chases off the little Coal Tits who are only after a few sunflower seeds! When she's finished, he then flies to a high branch & sings his little heart out.

It's not surprising he's paired off already, when his territory includes the best bird restaurant in town!

We also have 2 pairs of Great Tits, 2 pairs of Blue Tits, 2 pairs of Coal Tits, 1 pair of Dunnocks (who don't stand a chance when the Robin is around!), and we now have a pair of Thrushes which I'm pleased about!

The Long Tailed Tits just arrive in a flock of between 7 and 11, you can tell they are very social birds and love company, and I've given up trying to work out the Blackbirds and who's with who!

So when Spring arrives and the first little ones are being fed by their parents, I like to think I played matchmaker a little & helped them get together!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Big Garden Birdwatch

This weekend is the RSPB's Garden Birdwatch survey - unfortunately I can't do it as I now live in Ireland, even though I have TOLD my mum to do it in the UK!!

Over here, Birdwatch Ireland carry out a similar thing which lasts 13 weeks running from early December through to the end of February, which I've been participating in.

So far today, the following have all landed and/or fed in our garden:-

2 Robins
4 Great Tits
4 Coal Tits
4 Blue Tits
7 Blackbirds (I've never had so many in the garden!)
2 Song Thrushes
2 Dunnocks
6 Chaffinches
6 Long Tailed Tits
2 Magpies
1 Jackdaw
1 Rook
1 Grey Squirrel & 1 Rat
(okay I know the last 2 don't count!)

There's still a couple of hours daylight left so I'm still hoping for the Siskin or the Greenfinches to come back.

I'll post the list that my mum does over the weekend so I can see the differences between her garden (which has no grass, is landscaped with a few ferns & has lots of cats in the neighbourhood) and mine (which backs onto a small wooded area, plenty of cover & trees etc).

Hmmmm wonder which one will have the most birds?
Not that I'm competitive or anything!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fox Update

We now have an adult fox visiting every night for the peanuts & apple but I'm not sure if its the vixen or not.

I know its definitely not Peanut, it sounds stupid but its not the same face!
I know Peanut would be a young adult now & would have different features but I'm sure I would know if it was him!
I don't think he visits us anymore - probably been outed by his parents :-(

Does anybody know how to tell the difference between male & female foxes?
Is it the obvious thing that males are bigger / heavier than females?
If that's the case then I would need to see both together!

Oh well....... guess I'll just have to keep feeding them!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Diseased Chaffinch?

We have a flock of around 7 Chaffinches who come into our garden every day, the other week I noticed one of the females had something wrong with her foot. I thought it was a clump of mud & seed stuck around her claws but after trying to focus on it (unsuccessfully), I realised there were lots of what appear to be little cysts.
Does anybody know what has caused this?

She wouldn't stand still long enough for a clear shot!

She seems to be well & has no difficulty keeping with the flock & feeding, I'm just curious to know what this is & whether it would be contagious to the other birds?

On a brighter note we finally had our first Siskin in the garden today - a female all by herself. I did scan the surrounding trees/scrub but couldn't see any more of them.

The rat was also very active today and kept scurrying across to the crumbs of stale cake!

And of course, the Robin not wanting to be left out of the photos!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Best of a bad lot!

This really was the best of the bunch - I really need to stop taking photos through the window!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I'd like to apologise for the lack of response on my part for the comments I've recently received but for some strange reason I'm unable to post comments on my own blog!

This is nothing I've done (or at least I don't think it's me!) but my blog has suddenly got a mind of its own and has decided not to allow me to do certain things!

I hope it doesn't deter anyone from posting comments & I'd like to assure you all that I do appreciate you looking in & as soon as its fixed I'll be replying like mad!

Oh, and another thing...... my list of Followers are not showing either for some reason :-(

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back to Normal?

Well...finally the snow has melted!

For the first few days of the wintry weather, it was a novelty, fun, a bit of excitement........ after the 4th day of walking to work & back, it was annoying & boring and "will it just stop please?!"

Still, most of it has now gone & our County (Wicklow) has now been hit by flooding!

What is going on with the weather? We're just waiting for a swarm of locusts to invade us now!

Anyway, the good news is that we managed to restock on the bird food supplies today and we bought a cool donut shaped fat ball feeder!

The Tits just loved it and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, my fave garden bird visited it this afternoon again and again!

Happy Days :-)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Layer Cake

Hmmmm, what can be tastier than fat, raisins and chestnuts placed in layers in a peanut feeder?!

The Great Tit seemed to like it!

And so did my favourite garden bird.........

Long Tailed Tits

We had about 9 Blackbirds all down at once today munching on the apple and raisins then chasing each other off, I love the way they launch themselves across the garden looking like a torpedo!

Other visitors included Chaffinches, Dunnock, Coal Tits, Blue Tits, and the ever present Robin.

Apologies the photos aren't the best but they were taken through the upstairs window (I really should get round to cleaning the windows!)

But my favourite photo of the day has to go to my favourite bird (have I mentioned that they are my favourite garden bird?!).......

Adorable :-)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

DIY (bird food style)!

Woke up this morning to about another inch of snow, so much for our plans to go the nearest store to stock up on bird seed! The roads would be a no go!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not lazy and I don't mind walking but the thought of lugging back kilogram bags of peanuts & seed for about 3 miles in freezing cold just doesn't appeal to me so what do we do?

Well, we do what the Brits are best at........ we have to make the best of a bad job (and moan whilst doing it!)

So, after about an hour spent raiding the cupboards, chopping ingredients, melting fat...the kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it!
At least our efforts weren't in vain though and:-
  • The peanut feeder was promptly filled with chopped chestnuts left over from Christmas which the Great Tits enjoyed.
  • The stale bread was soaked in water and mixed with raisins, peanut butter and a bit of seed.
  • The fat was melted down into a bowl and mixed with the last of the seed, raisins & chopped apple and put in the fridge to set.
  • Mince pies were chopped up along with more apple.
  • Another apple was peeled and cored and stuck on top of the feeder pole just to see if anything would try it!
Hmmmm, tasty!

I'm not sure if all of the food put out was good for them but it was better than nothing and birds aren't stupid, if something is bad then they just won't eat it!

We threw everything outside and didn't have to wait long... the Robin was straight down to investigate and promptly chased any Chaffinches & Dunnocks that appeared!
We seem to be inundated with Blackbirds at the moment who of course love the raisins and apple.

Blue Tit looking curiously at the apple!

Great Tit munching on chestnuts

My other half had the brilliant idea of moving the big plant containers further along the garden, this not only left a clear patch of gravel for food to be laid on but also exposed loads of woodlice and grubs for the Robin to feast on. And, true to form, he appeared less than 10 seconds later!

We also put out a few whole chestnuts after we spotted the grey squirrel lurking in the background.

So, all in all I think the birds actually ate better than we did today, wonder what else we can chop up tomorrow........

Friday, January 8, 2010

What happens when we leave?

It's coming to that time again when the lease on our rented house is due to expire (well in a couple of months anyway!).
I always feel a bit sad at this time, not because of moving but because I start thinking what's going to happen to my birds?!

What happens if the next tenants don't have an interest in feeding them? How does it affect them when they've been coming here for food since April last year?

When we move out it will be the start of the breeding season so how will the poor blighters

Can I make it easier for them to adapt? Do I decrease the amount of food I put out for a few weeks before we leave? Or do I just stop altogether?

Then there's the foxes.....Peanut still comes down every night (although its getting later each week), and there might be cubs round about the time we leave.

Then I start thinking maybe I should leave them a note (the new tenants not the birds!) begging them to continue putting out food.

It happened last year too. We left a house that had a medium sized back garden and we were visited by loads of birds (a lot more than now).
We started looking after a Starling who had 1 foot missing - we named her Stumpy! She used to come down every day and wait on the bench outside the door for food. She even brought down her chicks in the spring/summer - we did this for about 2 years then we left.

I doubt she survived to this winter.

I know there probably isn't a solution.....if only I could leave the birds a forwarding address!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Redwings Galore!

I saw a new bird for the first time today!
And not just one, there was a huge flock of them mingling with the Redwings.
They were Fieldfares.

Most of you have probably seen these birds for years but this is the first time I've ever caught a glimpse of one so I'm very happy!
I only saw a Redwing for the first time last month and now I'm seeing them everywhere!

We were at a place called Blackditch which is a small nature reserve on the east coast and as soon as we got out of the car, all you heard were the calls of Redwings and Fieldfares in the trees/bushes lining the road.
Once inside the reserve we were amazed at how many there were in the marshy field, the photo below doesn't really do them justice.

They were very wary of people though, making them quite difficult to get close to in order to take decent photos.
There was also a mixed flock of 30+ finches (Goldfinch, Greenfinch & Chaffinch) feeding on the seed heads in the adjacent field - the sound of them 'chattering' non stop was quite something!

I've decided to make it my New Years Resolution to try to see a new species every month (which is actually harder than it sounds in Ireland!). I'm hoping my next one will be Brambling in with the flock of Chaffinches that visit our garden, fingers crossed!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winter Wonderland

(Sorry it's a bit belated!)

We awoke yesterday morning to a winter wonderland and a menagerie of feathered friends!

What a nice way to start 2010!

We took a walk to our local woods (Knocksink Woods) which was covered in snow - there is something quite magical about snow, it makes you more aware of the landscape, especially when there's nobody else around.

The small pond was nicely frozen ...

We saw quite a lot of deer tracks going down to the rivers edge, unfortunately we didn't see any deer though.

We also saw some other tracks which we have no idea who they belong to. Again these were going down to the waters edge and we only saw one set of them.

If anyone has an idea of what they are, I would be grateful.

Back home and the garden was still just as busy with Blackbirds, Magpies, the usual array of Tits (including Long Tailed I'm happy to say!),

Dunnocks, Chaffinches, Robins ...... even the Bullfinch edged a bit closer ... though still not close enough for a decent photo!

And we had another new visitor who was taking an interest in the chopped apple.......

A Blackcap!

We even had 3 Greenfinch land on the nut feeder briefly, before being chased off by the Robin.

All in all it was a very good day for garden birds, I'm hoping this is a sign of things to come!