Sunday, 16 December 2018


The arrival of meteorological winter at the beginning of the month was answered by finches. On some days I'm putting 1.5 kg of sunflower hearts into our large feeder. Goldfinches, greenfinches and chaffinches are abundant at the moment. No lesser redpoll or siskin. Our first couple of bramblings joined us a couple of days ago. The lone linnet is still with us.
Barn owl nest box checking
The 'mother feeder' is placed on a pole among shrubs so that the birds have some refuge when the sparrowhawks come calling.
The number of fluttering, calling small birds has created an avian sweetie shop for sparrowhawks. Both male and female seen frequently.

To a talk by Ruth Tingay about raptor persecution. So many hen harriers and golden eagles illegally killed in areas around driven grouse moors. A national scandal. News yesterday that another satellite tagged hen harrier has been killed. Their deaths are almost-always in the same 'hot spots' that coincide with intensively-managed driven grouse moors.

Leaves have now been shed by almost all the trees. The exception being the oaks. I have removed the debris netting from small ponds which I'd stretched over to prevent them being choked by leaves. Our current gardening job is clearing Woodland Garden paths of leaves. Most are immediately tossed back onto the beds as mulch. The surplus go into our leaf bays.
Native seedlings are always left when we're weeding. I mark them with tape. Hawthorn seedlings in the beds will be lifted as bare root plants to fill our hedge gaps withe the surplus being given to our neighbouring farm. Young yews (taccus baccata) will be planted in our hedge.

Eggs buried by grey squirrel drey building
Cyclamen hederifolium form large clumps of glossy leaves among the dark leaf litter. Our native primrose (primula vulgaris) are now resurgent and fresh green after their dormant period. No flowers yet.
Where leaves are raked from paths, pale shoots of snowdrops (galanthus nivalis) are revealed.

Sited in the orchard we have a feed hopper for small birds. Jill claimed a marsh tit this week. This would be a first garden record of a bird in rapid decline.

Another stoat siting. Quicksilver. Black tipped tail.

We have checked all of the farm owl nesting boxes. Only one had not been captured by grey squirrels and filled with sticks. I await the delivery of the stinky ferret bedding. It's my only hope.

Raking interrupted when friend phoned. He asked how I was. "Chilled' I answered. He misunderstood."No, no, I am wearing a woolly hat and a hood pulled over it".
The shift finishes before 3:30pm with us back into the warmth of the house before 4:00pm.

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