Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I thought it was about time I did a summer update.
I now have a presence on facebook, as well as a Gardening for Wildlife Group and a Gardening for Wildlife Cause, trying to raise awareness of the importance of wildlife gardens. I have also created a Gift Application, so you can send wildlife images to your friends! So if you are a user of Facebook, please check us out.

Valerie Harrison's Facebook profile

It has been very wet so the ground is squelchy and the burn is flowing well, its usually just a trickle this time of year. Everything is still looking fresh and green and not at all brown and dried up. A lot of the rain we have had has been overnight so we have still had some lovely sunny days, indeed today and yesterday were beautiful.

There is still a lot of baby birds around and I have never seen so many warblers as I have seen this year, it must be a good year for them. Also lots of baby bluetits, greattits, coaltits, chaffinches and green finches.
The Sparrowhawk has been around a lot and taken a few birds, particularly bluetits. There has also been plenty of buzzards upsetting the rooks and plenty of barn owl sitings lately. The swallows are starting to gather on the wires.

Everywhere we go this year there is an abundance of tiny frogs & toads, particularly in our garden, so hopefully they will eat plenty of slugs. We think most of the frogs got eaten in the pond last year as we have so many newts, so we took some frogspawn out this year and released plenty of froglets. Surprisingly we still have a few tadpoles in the pond at this time of year.
There appears to be a shortage of butterflies this year. Plenty of whites and I have seen a few wall butterflies but only a handful of tortoiseshell, red admirals and peacocks, perhaps they will appear once the asters are out.
I managed to get some photos yesterday of a golden-ringed dragonfly which was eating a wasp, it stopped long enough to devour it then flew off, fascinating!

We had a bee swarm the other day and found out that we now have bees living in our roof. We have decided to leave them be and are monitering them for The Scottish Beekeepers Association as they want people to keep an eye on feral bee colonies as many are dying out.

We try to install as many different habitats as we can in the garden, we have log piles, insect & bird boxes & dry stane dykes. Our latest is corrugated iron not particularly attractive, but the creatures love it! Pete had some offcuts from his workshop roof, which he cut into four pieces and attached handles to one end to make them easy to lift. We have placed them in different locations around the garden and although they have only been in place for about 6 weeks are already very successful. The one in the corner of the front garden near the stone wall is frequented by toads and lizards. The second, on top of the rock in the back garden has an ants nest and a toad is usually feasting on them. The two at oposite far corners of the back garden both have voles nests underthem and we have also seen shrews and toads under these. All in all a great success, so we are now trying to think of more ideas. A vole has taken up residence in the bumblebee box, he looks far too big to get through the hole, but managed some how! We are now thinking of making small mammal habitats.
We have had visitors recently and have had some good days out. We have been to Glentrool, Glenwhan Gardens (where we saw baby swallows feeding), Mull of Galloway (saw my first puffin! sorry no photo), Portpatrick and The Wood of Cree.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We had a lovely walk with our local SOC on Saturday 26th April at Lochinch, Castle Kennedy. It looked as if it was going to be a washout in the morning, but by 2pm when we met up the sun was shining and it was quite warm. We managed to see a total of 49 species, 35 in the first hour.
I will try and list them all but may miss a few as this is from memory:
Pied wagtail, bluetit, great tit, willow tit, song thrush, robin, carrion crow, buzzard, peregrine, sparrowhawk, canada geese, greylag geese, cormorant, heron, gbb gull, lbb gull, herring gull, black headed gull, blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff, garden warbler, wood pidgeon, dunnock, pheasant, goldeneye duck, tufted duck, great crested grebe, mute swan, treecreeper, oystercatcher, fieldfare, great spotted woodpecker, jay, jackdaw, wren, goldcrest, blackbird, coal tit, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch etc.

Also plenty of butterflies about and we finished off with a red squirrel on the feeders by the car.
All in all an excellent afternoons birding with great weather and good company.

On Sunday 27th April managed to get a photo of this warbler just outside the kitchen window:

Also on Sunday, we have been watching a pair of pied wagtails collecting nesting material but to our dismay noticed the birds taking it under the wheel arch of our Freelander. We looked inside to find a well made nest which must have been there when we went out Saturday! Despite removing the nest and building them a pile of stones with a turf roof they are attempting to build in the car again. We have nest boxes everywhere, dry stone walls, piles of stones, log piles and tree stumps, but they would rather build in our car.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Well its about time I posted again, I hadnt realised that it was nearly May and I hadnt added anything since last year. We have been very busy at Wildforms and now sell lots of plants including wild flowers and herbs. It keeps me very busy in the potting shed and greenhouse and out in the fresh air away from the computer. There have been highs and lows so far this year including a couple of days break at Dumfries Hospital having another minor operation on my nose. It caused a bit of disruption but at least I can now breath again.
Enough about me, more importantly lets get back to the wildlife. Lots of seals about around the Rhins coast this year, which are a pleasure to watch. Have seen deer, a red squirrel, loads of hares, stoats, voles & wood mice in and around the garden this year. A hare comes through the garden quite regularly and if we keep very still can come within a few feet.
The wood mice and voles regularly get caught in the humane traps in the sheds, its no wonder that there are so many birds of prey including owls about as there is so much prey.

The pond is full of life, it looked so bare and neglected when we moved in but we put in plenty of plants and pond snail. It is teamimg with newts of all sizes and there was plenty of frogspawn laid earlier in the year. It was fun listening to the frogs as they were so vocal. I havnt seen any toadspawn but there is usually plenty of toads about.

We have seen plenty of different birds this year including a male Hen Harrier.