Every now and then we get a glimpse of Spring; a reminder that we will eventually leave the cold and wet weather behind us, we get a tantalising treat; the tiny daffodil trumpets appearing out of papery casings, crocus pushing purple heads out of thawing soils and the glorious call of the song thrush breaking through the still of dawn. Even the birds begin to check out all my nest boxes and tentatively bring in a sprig of moss or a trailing grass stem…. then THIS happens!!!
Yesterday we awake to nearly 30cm of snow!!! This is meant to be spring… next week the clocks go forward, yet our poor flora and fauna is subjected to sub-zero temperatures and biting winds reminiscent of the arctic! Normally by now, I have done so much in the garden, but this year it still remains a soggy wet mess… all under a foot of snow! This time last year I was preparing for Springwatch to come and film and the garden was neat and tidy and beginning to burst into life. This year things are so different.
Armed with my broom and jugs full of food, I cleared all the feeders and filled them, as well as filling up the Fern Pool – water is just as important in this cold weather. There were some seriously hungry visitors out there and I filled the feeders twice yesterday, topping up the hedgecam feeder three times for the large number of blackbirds visiting… sometimes eight at a time.
The bullfinch male looked just stunning in the snow-laden tree… a salmon pink beacon, and I rushed inside for my camera. Sadly he eluded my lens but I did manage to get a comical shot of a long tailed tit, doing a good impersonation of Gandolf! A little group of these great characters landed but a metre from me … so close I couldn’t focus, but I only managed one decent shot as they flitted and chatted amongst the branches, feeding on the fat bars mainly.
I seem to have 2 siskin pairs visiting now, but these are very nervous and I only managed a distant, wrongly exposed shot, from which I created this rather ‘arty’ shot… I quite like it!
It was not long before the arctic wind got the better of me and I cam inside to thaw out and update my website. At least this awful weather has given me the chance to get everything ready for the coming nesting season. With iCatcher console now monitoring my boxes, it is easy to just go and check the timeline and lift off little clips of the activity. I plan on trying to take small clips every day when they start building in earnest, showing the whole story. I have put a summary page on my website of all the nest boxes that are wired and live this year… there are 7 so we should get action in some of them. In fact, I have had birds looking in ALL of the boxes except the kestrel one so far and Squirrel Studio remains unoccupied, despite the rather comfy, cosy bed of leaves that the squirrels made before Christmas.
You can follow the stories of all my nest boxes from the links on the front page of my website, but here is a flavour as we see the great tit check out my Plum Tree Nest box and the blue tits check out my Hub Nest Box…
I am going to head into Antarctica today and se t some Bushnells and see if I can see any fox tracks that give me a clue where my vixens are laying up with their cubs. I think I possibly have 2 vixens who are nursing at the moment and I usually see the cubs appearing on my cameras around the beginning of June. With my new iCatcher set-up, I was able to record two of my fox visitors the other night, digging through the snow for food. They are looking to be in excellent condition at the moment and I am hoping we will be treated to some great views of them and their families in the coming months….