Friday, 24 March 2017

a canadian wind..?

A Canadian wind has now been replaced by a north European wind. Equally chill. And pond-filling rains. Two herons visited George's Pond during the week but my guess is that there was insufficient food to detain them and my plans to rename our home 'The Heronry' were deemed premature. We have an intermediate bulk container (an IBC) into which rain from the north side of the bungalow is collected: a big plastic cube. It is full. There will be a time when all the sheds and greenhouse roofs collect rainwater into barrels. Not quite there yet. Always one man (or woman) down. The sustainability of this venture will depend in the long term on making the work more manageable. An afternoon of working outdoors brought us both in thoroughly chilled at the end of the shift.

My nocturnal torchlit walks have revealed nothing recently. Other than that my new wellingtons were punctured when I was firming in rosa rugosa cuttings. So now, in addition to the accompanying bird calls from my left boot, my right gives a fair impression of an asthmatic Darth Vader. Or Daryl Vader as the spell checker insisted. His younger brother? Chose plumbing as an alternative career pathway in the Death Star ..?
Today is marked down in my diary as a day without interruptions. That is, no interruptions with the exception of all of those visiting. It was good idea.
We've recorded no moths at all since our bumper haul of 51. The moth light is set up and awaits an evening when a brick isn't needed to hold the light trap in place. 

The chill has delayed nest building and prospecting among the birds up here. Our tree sparrows have not been calling this week. The advantage for us of the continuing cool weather has been that our migrant finches have stayed with us. The mother feeder is especially suited to small, flocking birds and is still decked with redpolls, siskin and brambling. I topped up feeders with 2.5kg of seed on one morning. That's almost £2.50!! They're eating me out of home and home. I'm on the vegetarian equivalent of bread and dripping to keep up with my bird feeding habit.
Andy told me of someone locally who had caught, ringed and released 71 siskin in his garden yesterday. We won't ring again until the first weekend of April - I'll be surprised if the rolling trill of the redpolls is still mixed with the goldfinches then.

Last year we planted our inhospitable south-facing boundary privet hedge border with plants that included symphitum 'Hidcote Blue' and 'Hidcote Pink', dwarf daffodils 'Tete a tete' and 'Toppolino' and bergenias. Jill's simple planting scheme has worked wonderfully and this cool period has held the flowers so that we can enjoy them at their best for longer. Bumble bees tangle in the flowers.

Blue and great tits are beginning to take dried mealworms: Wotsits for birds.

One call I'll miss is that of our oldest hen, Jessie who died quietly this week. We had been given her and never knew her age. She was a vocal, garrulous, outgoing, bossy hen who got herself picked up and cuddled. Hens can look so violated, so affronted when you caress them. Miss her.

I raced around New Farm, filling the birdseed hoppers on Wednesday. Cold and imminent rain. Car pebble-dashed with mud. Lots of tree sparrows and one hopper completely empty needing 16kg of seed to satisfy its guzzling throat.

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