It seems quiet in my garden at the moment. Ok, the birds are still coming to the feeders, but there’s not much else going on. There’s a lull. It seems that my garden wildlife is waiting for winter to slip quietly away.
Does that sound like your garden? Well, let me introduce to what’s really going on...
Some of your garden birds are about to start nesting – even in February! Blackbirds, song thrushes and robins are well known to nest early and on the sunnier days recently, I’ve heard all three of them singing as the males issue their battle cries to rivals, and attempt to attract females. Yes – the garden bird breeding season is about to begin!
What of the bugs? There can’t be many of these around now, surely? Well, if you have a shed, outhouse or garage, these could be a warm winter home for a butterfly.
Species like peacocks, commas and brimstones hibernate as adults and survive our cold winters. Plus with warmer winters, red admirals are making it through too.
When there’s enough heat in the sun to warm the fragile, and often tattered wings of these hardy souls, you may find them floating around your garden. Seven species have already been recorded this year, according to our friends at Butterfly Conservation.
But it’s not just the adults. Brown and purple hairstreaks, for example, lay their eggs, resembling small sea urchins, during the autumn and leave these to develop and survive the winter. Other species wait out the winter as caterpillars and even chrysalises, before spreading their wings in spring.
Do you have a compost heap or log pile? Snug, warm and dry, these are the perfect winter des-res for a multitude of species, from hedgehogs and grass snakes to frogs and newts.
We all know about checking under the bonfire for hedgehogs, and with warmer weather these spiky slug-munchers maybe rustling around your garden.
Newts, having climbed out of the pond are looking for somewhere warm, cosy and frost-free – so a compost heap is perfect! It’s around now that they’ll be on the move back to their breeding ponds – staking their claims to the prime spots. So look out for them on dark nights after rain. It’s a similar story for our frogs.
As for our dragonflies, well their nymphs could be hiding away at the bottom of your pond – even if it’s covered with ice. Under the water it’s a battleground and they’ll voraciously devour any other pond life attempting to survive the winter.
The plants are waking up too: there are snowdrops in full flower here at The Lodge. Their droopy, snow white flowers add a small splash of colour to a winter’s day. They’re followed closely by more colourful flowers though, as daffodils burst into flower: screaming that spring is here! Right now they’re peeking their green shoots above the soil – just waiting for the sun.
So, you see, whilst your garden may seem quiet at the moment, it’s really just waiting to burst into life. I think of it as our wildlife is just resting up, taking a deep breath before exclaiming ‘Let’s get on with it shall we?’
Do you have broody birds, hibernating hedgehogs or dozing daffodils in your garden? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
The birds in my small garden give me hours of amusement. 5/6 blackbirds chasing about and 1 male chases the other 2 males off if the henbirds are about. 3 thrushes,1 with goldie speckled chest also get chased out of the corner area. there seems to be 3 little feeding areas that they guard yet they all share just after morning and evening scatterfeeds Also long tailed,great,blue and coal tits, chaffinches, numerous sparrows,hedge and house. A mob of starlings arrive periodically. They never used seed feeder until I crushed up a fat ball and added to seed mix with mealworms. Even the thrushes has been using it. on frosty nights I take any fat balls/cake in as theey do freeze. I have been periodically had a fox visiting and eating my dogs bones. My aged cat does not stay out past midnight cos of fox and he has learnt to go out just before dawn and comes in when I bribe him with treats. Lots of bugs in my mini greenhouse and a few lady birds. Foxie, it must seem quiet with only 3 harpies(starlings). I have between 60 and 100 in frosy weather. mind you all my neighbours look after our birds. A pair of sparrowhawks fly over and cull our birds. I know they are a pair,cos of colours, but they never seem to fly together. We also have both woodpeckers but the green has not visited my nut just 2 gardens down. We are down on our squirrels this year, due to ferral cats, and my hedgehog family fared porely last year due to someone using pellets, hence we were overun with slugs. happy garden birdwatching
This morning found a flock of waxwings on the apple tree. Something we have not seen before in this garden in Blackburn. They will probably be gone by the end of the day as there are very few apples left. Two field fares occupied the same tree earlier in the winter, again a first.
Lynn F. I don't see the point of leaving these lovely messages if you don't say which town or city you are in.!I will contribute when I am feeling better after illness. Salford City Near Manchester.
we have a lonely jackdaw we have been watching for many weeks even months and it seems to have made a bond with a lonely ring necked dove they sits on our roof and in my garden calling to each other and embracing it this rare or does it really happen
Hi Folks! I'm pleased to report that our local sparrowhawk is back in action! We haven't seen it through the winter, but it turned up in the garden today! Of course, it might have been around and we simply haven't spotted it and/or it might be a newcomer, but whatever it is - what a beautiful bird! Needless to say everyone else disappeared!
Plenty of action from the resident blackbirds claiming their patch, and lovely singing from the robins and thrushes. Lovely to know Spring isn't too far away at last.
I leave the house very early at the moment, about 5:45. All the birds I hear at the moment that time of the morning are robins, blackbirds and thrushes - I guess they're the broody birds and the rest are asleep still!
I was so excited to have a pair of blackcaps in my garden last weekend - the first time ever! I have had a fair number of long-tailed tits, (also a first for me), along with the usual blue tits and great tits, all feeding on the peanut feeders. My resident blackbird and his mate are very busy in the garden at present, as is the resident robin; I have no idea how their territories are staked out but it seems to work! The sparrows are busy collecting feathers from the garden and cat fur from the branches of my apple trees - cat fur I hear you all cry! I have 3 Persian cats whose fur is very soft and woolly and when I groom them I put the 'wool' out and it is very quickly snapped up, especially by the sparrows (said Persians have never molested the birdlife, they are far too lazy!). Last but not least I had a visiting bird that I have not been able to identify; it was about the size of a blackbird with light brown and a wide dark-brown band at the top of the wing; if anyone has any ideas I would love to know. My location is Truro, Cornwall.
Thanks for the comments guys - keep them coming!
Something to add to my blog: yesterday I heard a great spotted woodpecker 'drumming' in a tree above my head. At this time of year, the males will repeatedly bash their bill into tree trunks creating a drumming sound which claims the territory as his - plus hopefully attracting a female. So it looks like the woodpeckers in my part of the world are warming up too...
from Jackie Veronica A chattering of fieldfares and redwing lightened up our morning coffee on Saturday. They feed early morning in the field opposite the house and then rest and talk amongst themselves - loudly - at the tops of the larch trees just beyond our back garden fence. 8 or 9 pheasants (2 males and several females) appreciate the seed we scatter on the grass, and our pair of robins are arching their tails in courtship. The oystercatchers on the loch shore are bright with colour, shining red, black and white in the sun. And a thrush is resonating song from a topmost larch branch, a true sign that winter is nearly over.
I was delighted to see two Grey Wagtails at the bottom of my garden last week (I had to look them up to find what they were) but it was lovely to see the flash of yellow as they flew away. I hope I see them again. So far I have seen many sparrows, a couple of starlings, two great tits, a few bluetits, a dunnock, three collared doves and two woodpidgeons all collecting round the feeders. A robin appears occasionaly but not often enough. I retired last September so I am looking forward to some Summer this year. I live in Grays, Essex.
My feeders have been very active here in West Berkshire - greenfinches, siskins, coal tit, long-tailed tits, goldfinches (though they've turned their beaks up at the latest batch of nyjer seed!), starlings demolishing the fatballs, house sparrows, chaffinches and the usual suspects - robins, blackbirds etc. Above us we have red kites and the odd buzzard.
Stoat! pattered across the patio, nosed in behind the mini-greenhouse and headed off. I'd never seen one before in suburbia and had no idea any were around. Are they more common in built up areas than I had thought?
High Derbyshire here!, Of the original 20 starlings from 3 broods last year we have a resident 7 pairs, still eating me out of food. There are three pairs of blackbirds - we suspect 1 original pair and youngsters from the way the other 4 get bossed around. Our pair of goldfinch disappeared at the start of the first snow in December. Hope they are alright we are a bit expesed here though we have a high leylandi hedge. Haven't accidently unearthed the frog this year so no idea if he/she is back. Other than the odd wren, housesparrows (in varying numbers) and a pair of dunnocks, a pair of Collared Doves and the wood pigeon our regular visitors are sparse this year. A ginger cat has taken up residence under the hedge during the day but the birds appear to realise he is fast asleep 90% of the time and ignore him My Garden is part of an open plan long bank above the clothes drying area out back so there are not many bushes besides the leylandi hedge; the "washing terrace" is actually 6' below the bank and that is where I have a couple of mini ponds so I get the old frog but no spawn! We still have the odd corner of snow around.
Snowdrops fully open here and birds lively. Many sparrows, dunnocks, blackbirds, collard doves and a pigeon. Now the fog has come down!