My Patch – The Garden

As I mentioned in January’s patch post I have been given permission to make the landowners garden more ‘wildlife friendly’. Well I’ll be honest, it wont be too difficult to do!  This is what the garden looked like in December…

As you can see it is plant-less more or less.  There are some roses, and a pussy willow tree to the left with a bush beside it and a hazelnut tree to the right but other than that ‘weeds’ covers it for the vegetation, I guess weeds is a harsh term ‘plants that have not been chosen’ might be a better way of putting it.  I raked through the dead plants and it was mainly grasses and crop that have crept through from the field and taken over the raised bed.     

In January I marked out where the snowdrops have come up so I know not to dig them up once they have died back and also the cyclamen that I have identified.  Now I don’t know a lot about gardening so it will be a new experience for me and the owner as he doesn’t know much either!  The bird feeder was a new addition in December and the birds seem happy that their feed has been moved away from the windows.  They seem to like that it is located near the tree and the bush. It does need to be put into a base rather than just the soil as high winds have blown it over on a couple of occasions. I plan to plant a shrub behind the feeder to give the birds even more cover to dart into if the sparrowhawk comes looking for lunch!

The first stage of the garden plan is cleaning and protecting the fence and moving the rose bushes back in the beds. I have also learnt that I need to prune the roses back harder! as a first attempt in December, apparently it wasn’t too bad.  I pruned them a second time in February and have done a better job! I think I’ll be tuning into Monty Don and Gardener’s World on a Friday night for some advice!

Over Easter I spent a morning in the garden tidying, there was a lot of leaf litter that had been left decomposing over Winter.  When I lifted it there were a lot of creatures scurrying around. Although a lot of it was removed I also used some of it at the base of a basic log pile I started to create.  I have put it in an old wooden plant pot so it can be moved if necessary.  There was a lot of rubbish in the garden and turning over a car mat I found a centipede (Cryptops parisi), I was quite excited as I have never found one before! I moved it to the log pile for safety.  

There is a lot of work to do and I realise I might not get it all done this year but I do hope by the end of summer it will be a wildlife friendly habitat. 

My Patch – March 2018

March 1st – So today it snowed! Work decided to send us all home, which to me was a great idea especially seeing when I got to the patch there was a fieldfare in the garden 🙂

I spent some time in the garden defrosting the birdbath, ensuring the bird feeders were full and of course cutting up some apple for the fieldfare.  In the afternoon I headed out into the field to see if there was anything else around.  Sensibly most everything was either at the bird feeders or in hiding.  The vegetation covered in snow was very pretty and the river looked lovely in the snow. I liked the mini icicles that formed on the branches that were dipping into the river, there must be a technical term for this but I have been unable to find it. Walking into the wind and snow on my way back up was a challenge!  In the copse the only sign of life was the brief glimpses of the redwing foraging in the leaf litter, but it was great to see them.

March 2nd – Today I focused on the garden birds, mainly because the bird bath needed defrosting five times! The fieldfare had been joined by two others which meant I had to start strategically distributing the apple to keep them from fighting too much and wasting energy.  There was plenty of apple to go round and they eventually all sat guarding their own piece.  There were also three robin’s, I noticed that one has a ring.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take photos of it from enough angles to get a clear picture of the code.  I don’t know if it was a resident or just visiting in the cold, but I will be keeping an eye out for it again. 

March 3rd – So I finally found out who lives in the holes in the field – rabbits! I spotted them over the garden fence, they stand out easier against the snow! I went out looking for snow tracks and discovered that four of the holes belong to bunnies.  Its nice to know they are there even though I generally don’t see them.  I guess it does explain the regular visits by the foxes seeing there is an abundance of food near the hedgerow.  Each time I go out into the field I have been breaking the ice on the water troughs to give the larger mammals somewhere else to drink from. I was surprised to see a song thrush in the field on my way back, its the first one I have seen in this location, the fieldfare were also out defending their food.  In the afternoon a brown rat started to appear at the base of the bird feeder.  I know there are rats around here but I hadn’t seen one venture into the garden before.  He would put his nose under the fence, have a look around, dart out, grab some food and dash back into the field.  I don’t blame him seeing there were two cats roaming around.  One of which does catch mice and leave them as ‘gifts’ especially in the summer! As I was watching the rat a red kite flew low over the house and away over the field.

March 6th – 7 mute swans, I believe the rest are still located in the next field. There was a bird singing but I have no idea what it was! 

March 13th – It was a sunny evening so I took the chance to take a short walk in the field. As soon as I walked through the gate I saw what I thought was a female pheasant in the distance, since then, looking at the image I’ve discovered it was a red legged partridge. The first one I am 100% I have seen there (February’s sighting was more of a guess). Walking along the top edge there were lots of roe deer and cat prints in the mud and the occasional clear fox print.  There were 9 mute swans down in the dip at the bottom of the field, they were just about visible.  I spotted a balloon in the field, so of course I had to collect it.  I had to carefully tiptoe through the crop to untangle it from the plant it had wrapped itself around.  At least it was away from the mute swans as I would have hated one of them to have got tangled in it.  In the copse there was a lot of chattering, I think it was starlings but I couldn’t see any of them.  It was lovely to just stop and listen to them. On the way back I noticed some red dead-nettle flowering near the gateway.  

March 14th – The two male pheasants seem to be becoming a regular sighting. They always seem to be together. 

March 16th – A mallard flew over as I was topping up the bird feeders, it must have been lost as it turned round and flew back towards where it came from! 

March 26th – starlings are going up into the roof with nesting material 🙂

March 28th – tonight I took a brief bird count in the garden: 27 house sparrows, 1 dunnock, 2 great tit, 1 collard dove, 5 starling, 2 blue tit, 1 coal tit and a great spotted woodpecker.