Thursday, 8 August 2013

Todays Pickings

We didn't really plan to grow anything this year but after a late decision to do some, luckily the weather made up for lost time and things are coming along nicely

There was one poor little strawberry left that somehow we managed to cut in half and share.
Made this digital layout using a kit called 'Jade' by Algera Designs

Monday, 22 July 2013

Cool Birds

Well for the last week it has been really quite hot here on the east coast of England. 
I have decided that spring and autumn are definitely my favourite times of year; the summer sun doesn't like me much. 
My poor old computer has been chugging away in the heat, gasping for breath on a few occasions, a bit like me, and so I have turned it off for a while to let it cool down.
Consequently I am a bit behind with what’s been going on in the garden.

The birds have been desperate to cool down too

© Gibby Frogett

© Gibby Frogett
Managed to capture some young Blue Tits having fun in a bottle bath.  Aren't they just adorable all wet and be-draggled.

© Gibby Frogett

Also saw a Great Tit too, something which I seem to be seeing less of lately. Could be one of those phases; things disappear for a while then suddenly return. Hope that’s the case for the Thrushes as not seen one for about a month or so now.

Friday, 12 July 2013

First young Robin 11th July 2013

At last - seen our first young Robin - about time too after the amount food the adults have been taking away over the last few months. Just as well we have our bird food delivered by the sack load!
Not good photo as taken again through glass.

Robin (juvenile) © Gibby Frogett

 ADJUGA © Gibby Frogett

The Adjuga is starting to fade and die but I quite like the colours it changes to first, its like having another plant flower as it's so different to the original colour.


I couldn't believe how this Dunnock was spread out on the narrow horizontal strut of the fence. He did look funny, all fluffed up and trying to stretch out in the same way it would if on the ground.
He nearly fell off a few times too.

DUNNOCK © Gibby Frogett

DUNNOCK © Gibby Frogett
Birds always look so manic when they fluff up their feathers and have their mouth wide open.

LILAC BARK © Gibby Frogett

I thought this photo of some Lilac bark might be useful for some art projects as loved the texture. Not sure it's particularly healthy for the Lilac though.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

In the garden 10th July 2013

I've had one of those weeks where you have to wait in for delivery men. One of those weeks, listening for the doorbell that doesn't ring after all as they have messed up delivery (grrrrrrrrrr) but now hopefully will come the next promised day... i.e tomorrow.. fingers crossed.....

So I've had lots of time to look and see what's going on in the garden - lots of activity as normal and there's been plenty of water fun too with the birds as it's been so hot.

© Gibby Frogett

SPIREA  © Gibby Frogett

© Gibby Frogett

The Spirea is starting to bloom.  A lovely Lacy looking flower.
This is so pretty when its in bud too.

 SPARROWS © Gibby Frogett

The Sparrows loved to investigate the water and have a little splash about.

DUNNOCK © Gibby Frogett

After the Sparrows had gone a Dunnock was more brave and sat under the running water for quite a while, fluffed up and enjoying himself splashing about too. That's him under the water on the left.

DUNNOCK © Gibby Frogett

ABUTILON © Gibby Frogett

© Gibby Frogett

I love the Abutilon although it's not been the easiest thing to grow. It's a bit straggly with not many leaves, although having said that it's the best its looked despite having been recently dug up and put in a pot for now.

MAGPIE FAMILY © Gibby Frogett
An awful photo I know, but taken through a couple layers of glass - had to grab camera quickly before they flew off. Thought they had two youngsters and this was the first time I'd seen the family altogether.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

In the garden 9th July 2013

Yesterday was another hot sunny day, with lots of activity as usual.
There were many young Blackbirds coming and going in the garden, sometimes by themselves or other times with adults.

© Gibby Frogett
Dunnock preening and sunbathing.....© Gibby Frogett

The Dunnock is a particular favourite of mine and fortunately there always seems to be one or more about to watch their antics.
I've noticed that they don't always get on with the Robin though and seem to chase each other where possible. 
Like the Robin, they also love the little yellow fat pellets. A few years ago I had a Dunnock I could throw the pellets to and he would run about for them.

 Japanese Anemone © Gibby Frogett

In the garden at present, the Japanese Anemone is starting to bud up. These always seem easy to grow; cut them down short, pull them about and they still seem to re-appear.

The Snow-in-Summer is now starting to die, the Aquilegia gone to seed. The Abutilon is blooming nicely, as is the Blue-eyed-grass.
The Hebes look like they will be blooming fairly soon too.

Lychnis © Gibby Frogett
I love the bright colour and contrast of the Lychnis with its silvery grey leaf and almost fluorescent flowers.
Another flower that's easy to grow, it doesn't mind dry conditions. Seeds very easily too - sometimes too easy as it spreads every where, but it's very striking and cheers the garden up.

© Gibby Frogett

Sparrows having a dust bath © Gibby Frogett
I couldn't resist trying to get this photo. At one point there were
about eleven Sparrows rolling about in the dust having a lovely old time.
I'm so pleased that our numbers have really increased over the last year or so.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Garden visitors first week July

Plenty of activity still going on in my garden; with lots of varied parents collecting food for their young and flying off with it.

Occasional visits of Starling and Blackbird families with young in tow desperate to be fed. Lots of gaping beaks and chirping babies saying 'feed me, feed me'.
The parents sometimes ignore the young, fly off and the abandoned (lazy?) little one then feeds itself quite capably until mum or dad returns, then it shouts 'feed me, feed me' once again. Poor old parents are starting to look a bit shattered now.

The pair of Robins are back and forth constantly feeding and collecting food still and taking it away.
If there's no food, they come looking for it and try to attract my attention.
I'm sure they have had a couple of broods already but so far I have seen no young Robins at all this year.

© Gibby Frogett

I don't see hardly any butterflies or insects like I use to, so I like to try to get a photo when possible if I see any.

some sort of Shield Bug   © Gibby Frogett

Meadow  Brown Butterfly (male?)   © Gibby Frogett

Juvenile Magpie © Gibby Frogett

For several months a pair of Magpies have been regular visitors. They have at least two young, but this one remained in garden when one of the adults flew off and was fairly happy to pose for me.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

When Harry met Gibby

  ... the story of a Collared Dove called Harold

As previously promised this is how my adventures with Harold and Madge began in 1999.

The following is also part of a story I entered in a birdwatching magazine. 
I couldn't compete with all the exotic birds people had seen and wrote about; however I was a runner up and won a CD on identifying bird songs.
This is how I got to know Harold.
©  Gibby Frogett
  At first glance if you peep over the fence you might think I was carrying out some ancient ritual, kneeling on the ground rattling a pot of something in the air towards a very tall gnarled apple tree. You may just think I was mad!

If you stay a while you will hear a swishing noise as 'he', attracted by the rattling pot of peanuts, glides down to the paving area then walks towards me. 


‘He’ is called Harold, a Collared Dove who has visited my garden daily for the last six months.
My first meeting with Harold happened by chance when he landed on the bird table and didn't see me kneeling down below it arranging some flower pots.
As I got up he was right beside me. We looked at each other and momentarily froze, then he flew off, up in to the apple tree.
Over the next few days Harold appeared in the garden feeding on some crushed nuts left over by the previous nights visiting hedgehogs. 
© Gibby Frogett

One day I was about to put out some peanuts I kept in a pot when I noticed him in the apple tree. I rattled the pot at him before placing the nuts out on the ground.
He came down almost straight away. After this, 'rattling the pot' became a ritual.
Sometimes Harold would land on the conservatory roof and I would say gently to him 'Come on Harold, I won't hurt you', and rattle my pot of nuts.
Eventually he would flutter down, often hesitating for some time before taking that ultimate step. 
I would keep a reasonable distance not wanting to frighten him but long to be able to get closer.

One evening at dusk it was raining hard and Harold, perched on his usual branch in the apple tree, looks very bedraggled.
I don't want to get wet so I kneel down in the doorway rattling the peanut pot. He comes down to the usual feeding place but there are only raisins and soggy bread but no peanuts.
I hold out my hand but he appears unsure of this unfamiliar procedure and won't come up to the door.

Feeling sorry for the poor soggy bird I throw him a nut and he runs for it like a dog going to fetch a stick. Some nuts catch the side of the paving slabs and bounce everywhere and Harold runs about to retrieve them.
He doesn't seem to mind as when he has eaten one he walks towards me looking at me again as if to request another to be thrown.

Over the following weeks we made great progress to the extent that he didn't fly away and I was able to get within inches of him.

Placing some peanuts on the ground I would also offer him some in my flat out stretched hand but he only would eat what was on the floor. He would look at my hand, bow his head to take some nuts but stop in mid-flow. "Have some nuts Harold" I say, but he doesn't.

When he turned his back on me, stooping to drink while I sat beside him, I thought perhaps he now trusted me but he still wouldn't take anything from me.

Then one evening Harold landed by the water saucer but there weren't any nuts other than myself. He looked at me as if to say 'Where's the grub then?' I rushed to get my nut pot and place some in my hand ready to put on the ground. Harold rushes at me as if he hasn't had a meal in weeks. 

© Gibby Frogett

© Gibby Frogett

I hold my hand out. Harold gracefully steps forward, hesitates and steps back.
Then the most amazing thing happens, Harold eats from my hand not just one nut but lots.

'See Harold that wasn't so bad was it?' I say, 'Told you I wouldn't hurt you'.

© Gibby Frogett

© Gibby Frogett

His feathers brush against my out stretched fingers and I worry that he might back off or fly away but he doesn't.

His feathers are soft and silky and I would dearly love to stroke him but don't as this is too much of a special moment to spoil.

I observe Harold as often as I can to learn about him and to maintain his confidence. Sometimes I'm unsure of just who is watching whom.
He has started coming up to the door and sit on the wall outside when there isn't any food out, and it looks likes he is peering in the window trying to attract my attention.

This lovable pretty bird that I call Harold has opened my eyes to the fact that birds each have their own characters and are not just a flying mass of feathers. Harold constantly amazes and intrigues me and I wonder what his next move will be.
Next time when you are in your garden, look around as there may be a feathered friend just waiting for you to rattle your pot and befriend it.

If only digital cameras had been about in 1999. These particular photos I used are pretty awful quality as taken from Camcorder stills, but at least I have them to go with these great memories.

Next chapter coming soon on what happened next with Harold and Madge.



Sunday, 30 June 2013

Garden: the beginning and a temporary hiccup

I moved to this house in March 1996 and it was the first time I had a garden where I could see what was going on from the lounge; a lounge with a conservatory on too.
It also meant it was the first time I could feed and watch the birds properly.

© Gibby Frogett

The garden is small, about 30ft x 30ft, and was pretty empty except for the back privet hedge, with the right side a wall of Leylandii trees and on the left Buddleia, Weigela and Lilac trees.
We backed on to the side of a very long garden, probably 180-200ft which was full of old gnarled fruit trees, lots of shrubs and was like a mini forest. There was a lot of squirrel, bird and hedgehog activity because of this.
In the early years we had masses of butterflies each summer on the Buddleia but gradually over time this has dwindled to virtually nothing. The way the Buddleia were growing and the condition they were in meant all of them had to be removed, but were replaced by Hebes; another Butterfly loving shrub.
Since 1996 the garden has been changed about and re-designed several times, but always trying to encourage wildlife to visit.

© Gibby Frogett

© Gibby Frogett
One day something very sad happened. The large garden over the back had all its trees cut down and completely cleared ( bit of a story) but now although tree-less it is overgrown with weeds and wildflowers (for now at least. 
Our little wildlife world completely changed virtually overnight.
Gone were all the apple trees that the birds sat in and squirrels played in and this meant numbers of birds visiting suddenly dropped.
As time went on an elder has replaced one corner for the birds to sit in again.
© Gibby Frogett
This year due to some of our conifers dying and the back hedge (not ours) insecure and bare in places, meant we had to remove some trees and put a fence up on our side. It's like which we have gone back to the beginning almost, but hopefully this is just a temporary hiccup
until things start growing again.
When the hedge was trimmed back to the boundary we noted the places where the hedgehogs would come in to the garden so we could make some little tunnels for them.
© Gibby Frogett
© Gibby Frogett
© Gibby Frogett
The start of some tunnels for the hedgehogs to be able to get in still - and they can, as I saw them on the first night these were dug.
Next job is to to make the garden wildlife friendly again and a fair amount of re-planting.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Turnip sawflies and Bird egg identification query

Yesterday afternoon I was stalking Turnip sawflies, attempting to get a half decent photo but every time the sun went in, and that was often, they disappeared. Got one eventually.

Turnip Sawfly © Gibby Frogett
 I had never seen a Turnip sawfly until about 2-3 years ago when there was a bit of plague of them in garden and they have appeared every summer since.

Polygnum © Gibby Frogett
 In bloom in the garden today is the lovely Polygnum, I love the varied shades of colour on this.
Quite easy to grow and the hedgehogs seem to love rooting about this.

© Gibby Frogett

Found this eggshell and you can sort of see the size of it from the walnut shells nearby.
Thought it probably was a Collared Dove or Wood pigeon but not certain.

© Gibby Frogett

Any ideas what this egg is ? © Gibby Frogett

Looks like the top of egg is inside, does it look like something hatched or were the contents eaten... what do you think?

Monday, 24 June 2013

New blog

Well I never thought I'd have a blog let alone three of them. This one is going to be about tales of feathered garden friends I have known and about hedgehogs, garden life and maybe some poetry and recipes, gibberish jottings about this'n'that...and perhaps the odd craft project ...who the journey begins........

For a while this will be a bit of a work in progress while I am sorting out old diaries where I have kept notes of my encounters with various birds and hedgehogs and also to log new information too.

I warn you now dear reader that I give my birds names - some daft - but easier to identify them in records I've kept. And spending time with some birds and getting to know their personalities; they become like little people and deserve to have a name.

Harold and Madge
Coming soon....the story of Harold and Madge's life in my garden will cover a period of two and a half amazing years with them.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will visit again soon x