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Garden diary

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Old Saturday 19th March 2005, 18:23   #1
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Garden diary

My original post was lost in the crash a few weeks ago, so I thought I would resurrect it, in case anyone wants to see how our wildlife garden (hopefully) develops over the coming months.

As some of you know, we recently moved into a brand new house (November 2004) and, even though the garden was still just an expanse of bare soil, we were hoping to get some birds visiting.

We put some feeders up, but no birds came to them, despite a few species being seen in the hedge of an established garden over the bottom fence. We had a Wren visit the shrubs in pots near the patio once or twice and a Blackbird came and cleared up some old bread we put out, but that was about it.

One day in January, when we'd seen the garden in daylight for the first time in a week (as it was dark when we left for work and dark when we arrived home), I looked down to the feeders and was about to turn away when I noticed a bird's tail sticking out from the other side of the niger feeder. Then a bird flew down from the bottom boundary fence, and then another till soon there were five Goldfinches feeding. Then I noticed something moving on the ground and there were a couple of Greenfinches! Excitement followed and I ran for the binoculars.

As we were having breakfast and watching the feeders I noticed a Great Tit come for the sunflower seeds and a little while later a Blue Tit flew in and grabbed some and flew back into the other garden to eat in the safety of the bushes.

Then, as a Blackbird and several more Greenfinches were mopping up the spills under the feeders, a Robin popped down to pick up some bits.

So, five new species in a day, bringing the garden list to 7. I have seen House Sparrows and Starlings around and a Mistle Thrush defends a holly bush in the adjoining garden. I think I saw a Dunnock on a nearby roof and there are Collared Doves and Wood Pigeons around. Crows and Jackdaws fly over. That would be pretty much the same as we used to get in the garden where we used to live, except for the Mistle Thrush - we never had those.

On 30th January 2005 we spotted a Dunnock in the garden, bringing the garden list total to 8

We went out and measured the garden and started to make some preliminary plans. The photos illustrate what the garden looked like at that time, and I will insert more as time goes on to show how the garden develops over the next few months. One is taken from an upstairs window (it's a three storey house) and the other from the kitchen door.

The length of the garden to the far right point is about 20 meters from the back wall of the house and the left side is 15m. In the original plan, before the house was even started, our garden ran all the way down to the brick wall, but the builders decided to give a bit of what would have been our garden to the house backing onto ours, making ours and the garden next door this shape. A bit annoying really.

We brought quite a few plants and shrubs with us in pots from the old house, so we already have some greenery in the garden. Some of these will soon be taken out of the pots and planted directly in the ground.
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Old Saturday 19th March 2005, 18:27   #2
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I'll bring everything up to date, and future entries will be added when there's anything significant to report.

The following dates indicate when we spotted new birds in the garden.
6th February 2005 - Collared Dove.
25th Feb 2005 - Mistle Thrush.
27th Feb 2005 - Starling.
6th March 2005 - Chaffinch.

We've had tantalising views of House Sparrows over the bottom fence, but they haven't yet ventured over to the feeders, which I find rather strange. There are only one or two, it seems, so it's a little different to our last house where we had about 20. Also we haven't yet had a Wood Pigeon, even though they are in the area.

In the early part of March, as we were getting ready to go to work one morning, I looked out of the kitchen window and saw something different on the feeders. Not having time to get the binoculars, I had to wait until the weekend (Saturday 12th March) to find out what it was. It turned out to be a Willow Tit. All day it came back and forth to the feeder and took the sunflower seeds away. We never saw it again, so we're not sure whether it is local or was just passing through. So now we're on 13 species.

Keith had some time off work last week to get some work done in the garden. We've had a new patio laid and some top soil delivered and bought a shed, so things are slowly taking shape. See photo below.

What he discovered while digging the garden was that we did not have one worm. I suppose they all did a runner as soon as the building work started, but the site was a depot before the houses were built, so it could have been a very long time since there were any worms here.

Doing some searching on the Internet, worms can be purchased (60 for 500!) so we may have to order some. Some colleagues at work said I could have some of theirs for 50! I suggested having a 'bring-a-worm' party! I'm not sure if it's against any laws to go out and dig your own worms up.

Anyway, we've had another trip to the garden centre this afternoon and we now have plenty of plants and shrubs. Keith ordered some hedgerow shrubs the other week and they are waiting to go in, so we will be very busy tomorrow.

The photos here show where we are at present. Again from the top floor and the kitchen.
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Old Saturday 19th March 2005, 18:57   #3
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Fascinating, Diane..... I'll be watching to see how things progress and turn out. Have fun!
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Old Saturday 19th March 2005, 20:40   #4
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This IS a fascinating thread....great to see how the garden is developing. When I saw the first photos I thought ''Eek...mega-bare canvas...where do you start first!'' but from the second set it is already starting to look more like a garden!
Bet it looks fantastic a year or two down the line...can't wait to see how it develops!

When we moved to the house at North Shields the back garden was about 25ft X 15ft and was all grass...albeit rather mossy at the bottom where itr was in shade from a willow tree! But once I spent two days digging out a sweeping arc of a flower border and added a large bird bath and various feeders the birds soon found it...and then there was no looking back!
Sure it won't be long before your Garden List is in double figures!

Just a thought...are you going to keep a note of what insects, such as bees & butterflies turn up too?
I used to...all added to the fun and excitement!

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Old Saturday 19th March 2005, 21:04   #5
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In such a short time you will see such a big difference.
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Old Saturday 19th March 2005, 21:55   #6
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Wow, you're going to be a busy bee there Di... still, think of the end result.

Great stuff, thanks.

PS - I'll bring you some worms to the oop north bash
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Old Sunday 27th March 2005, 20:52   #7
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We've managed to plant out some of the shrubs we brought with us in pots, and Keith has planted up the hedgerow plants and trees that we purchased. It's looking more like a proper garden now. He even found a worm! It was in one of the pots we brought from the old house. We're definitely going to order some from Worms R Us, or whatever they're called.

The Blue Tit has been investigating the nest box quite a few times this weekend. We bought one with a small hole, but the Great Tit started to investigate it. So we bought one with a larger hole and the Blue Tit appeared to prefer that one! It has started to look more intently at the first one again now, though.

The Blue Tit appeared to be chasing all the other birds off the other day, dive-bombing the Goldfinches on the feeders. Is this normal when they're about to nest? He seems more calm today, though.

No pictures at the moment, as it's been foul weather over the past couple of days.
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Old Monday 28th March 2005, 07:36   #8
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Sounds like everything is coming along nicely Diane. The Tits certainly get feisty around breeding. We had a Blue Tit and a Great Tit inside the camera box fighting last week. The Great Tit won of course and even got a load of feathers for lining material

Same up here with the weather this weekend - rain non stop for the last two days and still the same this monring.
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Old Monday 28th March 2005, 08:05   #9
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Keep up the good work. It sounds as if it is all coming together now. Hard work, but the end product will make it all worthwhile.Good luck to you both. John.
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Old Monday 28th March 2005, 13:25   #10
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Hi Diane
If you do get some worms to add to the garden, try digging in some humus as well. Perhaps the reason that there's none at present is the soil has low humus content so they've little in the way of food. Once your compost heap is up and running, you'll have your own supply!
Enjoy the fun!
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Old Sunday 10th April 2005, 20:17   #11
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Progress is being made. We have the hedgerow shrubs and plants in down the right side and some herbs by the patio. Still have a few things to put in the ground. We ordered some worms and they have been buried around the garden. I was devastated to see a Blackbird helping himself to one the other day!

We're now toying with the idea of a bit of decking down at the bottom of the garden - to catch the evening sun and overlooking the pond, when that's in.

The Blue Tit hasn't been investigating the nest box lately, so I think it may have given up on that for this year. Probably not enough vegetation around yet.

We had another new garden visitor - a Magpie, making the garden list 14. I think we may have a Linnet or two in the vicinity, but haven't made a positive ID yet. I've only seen it in the distance on telegraph wires, just not close enough to see properly with binoculars, and by the time I get the scope out it's gone!

I am fascinated by the antics of the Blackbirds. There are definitely two males and a female - I think the rest may be last year's brood. One poor thing has a droopy wing and really struggled to get out of the garden the other day - having to hop and flutter onto progressively higher objects to reach the fence and then hop onto the back wall. He has been chased around the garden by an adult male. Unable to fly to safety, he simply ran rings round the garden till the chaser got fed up. This morning I was surprised to see him chasing the adult off!! He looks perky enough, so I hope he survives. He's eating well, anyway.

Below are some photos taken this morning to see the small amount of progress since my last update.
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Old Sunday 10th April 2005, 22:06   #12
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This is very interesting, thanks Diane. Please keep us updated. Great progress so far!
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Old Monday 11th April 2005, 03:01   #13
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Keep up the good work, Diane... you're giving me ideas! :)
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Old Tuesday 12th April 2005, 02:32   #14
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Great thread Diane, really interesting to see your yard develop into a wildlife haven. Can't wait to see it completed, keep up the good work.
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Old Tuesday 12th April 2005, 18:39   #15
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Hi Diane

Great subject which obviously shows your interest and commitment. Keep up the good work, and just think of all the many happy hourse coming your way in the future!

Regards,
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 17:52   #16
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More planting done, and the plants and shrubs already in the ground appear to be doing well. The trees are now coming into leaf.

No new birds to report in the garden, although we had a Swallow fly over yesterday and the Linnets are still lingering on the adjoining estate. Heard a Skylark today as I sat on the patio (had a day off).

We now have a pair of Robins and it has been great to see the male feeding the female. One day, when we had just put some mealworms out, they were gone in minutes as the male was collecting two or three and taking them to the waiting female, who gobbled them all up and begged for more. As we have no mealworms at present, she is making do with sunflower seeds, which the male is getting from the tube feeder, having mastered landing on the metal perches.

The main good news is that the Blue Tits have decided to use the nest box after all. They have been bringing in nesting material for a few days now. We sat at the very bottom of the garden yesterday afternoon, where we are thinking of having decking, and we had a really close view of them coming in over our heads with beaks full of moss. They have been in and out most of today as well.
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Old Monday 25th April 2005, 20:56   #17
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Hi Diane. Good news about the birds. Especially the Blue Tits! The garden looks great, really starting to take shape now!
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Old Wednesday 27th April 2005, 17:35   #18
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Great thread Diane! Lovely to hear about the birds you've had visiting, and great to see the progress with the garden!! I love hearing skylarks when I'm sitting in the garden. LOVE. :0)
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Old Wednesday 27th April 2005, 18:12   #19
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What an intresting thread keep it up Diane
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Old Sunday 1st May 2005, 19:41   #20
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Yesterday Keith spotted the Blue Tit taking food into the nest box, so we are presuming that something is going on inside, as it was just nesting material that has been taken in so far. Exciting to think the female may be sitting on eggs.

This morning, one of the Linnets, that so far have been sitting on neighbouring roofs and telephone wires, decided to come a little closer and sit on our garden fence, so it's now been ticked! Total species now 15.
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Old Sunday 1st May 2005, 20:40   #21
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Great news on both birds Diane. Never seen a Linnet round here!
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Old Sunday 1st May 2005, 23:52   #22
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Wow, your garden is really taking shape, Diane! Very, very pretty. And congrats on your burgeoning garden list! Sorry if you've already said, but where is your nestbox located (I tried to find it in your latest pix)?
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Old Monday 2nd May 2005, 14:28   #23
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WOW...the garden is really coming along now...looks great!

We'll be movng house soon, within the next month or two, so I'm hoping we find somewhere with a garden so I can get stuck in with gardening again. Really miss having my own place.
But, failing that, I've got plans for an allotment! I just have a need to get my hands into soil - and there's a limit to how many houseplants can be fitted into one house!!!

Will be interesting to see how your garden progresses....and a bit of decking at the bottom would be nice - somewhere to chill out at the end of a long day.

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Old Monday 2nd May 2005, 16:31   #24
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I am really enjoying this thread! I only have a small paved yard, I manage to attract goldfinches, blue and great tits, a blackbird, and this weekend I have seen a dunnock and 1 male house sparrow! It is good to hear what birds you are already attracting into your new garden, please keep us informed of further developments!
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Old Tuesday 3rd May 2005, 12:55   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katy Penland
Wow, your garden is really taking shape, Diane! Very, very pretty. And congrats on your burgeoning garden list! Sorry if you've already said, but where is your nestbox located (I tried to find it in your latest pix)?
The nest box being used by the Blue Tits is on the right hand fence, a little way in front of the shed. There is a second nest box a little nearer to the house, put up for the Great Tits, but they haven't bothered with it. We bought that as they were trying to get into the Blue Tit's box, but the hole was too small.
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