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autumn autumn colours birds climbing plants colours garden photography garden wildlife gardening gardens grasses hardy perennials migration ornamental trees and shrubs poppies roses trees wildlife Winter Gardening

A Garden Bouquet for December

Already we are almost at the end of the year so here is my December bouquet from our garden,the final chapter in 2013.

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It is only mid-December and while in the garden we are treated to the beautiful repetitive piping call of a Song Thrush, already making his territorial proclamation. He must have found a mighty fine territory which he is making sure no-one else can take possession of.

The skies seem full of passing flocks of Redwing and their larger noisier cousins the Fieldfare on migration, escaping their cold food-less summer homes in central Europe. Below them exploring the trees and shrubs of our garden mixed foraging flocks of finches seek out the last of the seeds and berries while amongst them groups of Titmice, Great, Blue, Long-tailed and Coal arrive in hurried flight to explore every nook and cranny of dried stems, tree bark and shrub branches for insects especially spiders.

A few delicate looking soft coloured flowers still hang on determined to be the final blooms of the year. It seems amazing but the odd big bumbling Queen Bumble Bee appears to feed on them.

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Berries on shrubs and small trees add extra sparkles of colour but the resident Mistle Thrushes guard them from the migrant thrushes. They are the larder for the colder days to come. The red fruit of the Cotoneasters, Hollies and Rowans will be eaten first and most will have been devoured by the thrushes and Blackbirds before the month is out. The creamy-yellow berries of the Cotoneaster rothschildiana will stay longer being mere second choices. The last to go without fail will be the white berries of the Sorbus, so we can get to enjoy them against dark winter storm clouds before the birds eat them.

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At this time of year we can enjoy the dessicated seed heads and old flower heads that have managed to survive the wet times that autumn invariably brings. This year has been so wet that we seem to have fewer still standing than ever before. But a few are putting on a display for us and when covered in a frosty layer or when donning a hat made of snow will look even better. Within them are the remnant autumn leaves as yet to be blown from their branches by blasts of wind.

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Signs of next year’s growth are already in evidence like this adventurous bud found on a clematis snuggled between stem and petioles.

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Patterns become important in winter as they emerge from seasons hidden away behind plants. So that is the end of my year of garden bouquets for 2013. Perhaps they will return for 2014.

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Categories
bird watching birds garden wildlife wildlife

Garden Birds in the Snow

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Today the snow came! We had hoped for a snow-free winter but the weather defied us. We woke at 7:00 expecting a covering but we were gladdened to see not an iota of white stuff. Half an hour later it started and by mid-morning we were under a 3 inch layer.

The birds arrived in force queueing up at each feeding post. A flock of Fieldfare and Redwing dropped in as did the first Siskins of the winter.

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The garden was alive with Titmice, Blue, Great, Coal and Long Tailed and mixed flocks of finches, Green, Gold and Chaffinch. The Great Spotted Woodpeckers made regular forays from the old oak in the paddock onto our peanut feeders.

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The picture below was the best of a bad bunch – I have decided that trying to take a photo of a Blue Tit within the fine filigree of Birch branches is not easy!

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Blackbirds were far more amenable as they sat for longer and seemed to ignore this very amateur cameraman.

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The only time the garden was quiet today was just after the flypast of a Sparrowhawk, but hunger soon overcame fear. Back they all came.

It is essential that we all feed the birds throughout the year but even more so in the winter and provide fresh water. The birds benefit but so do our gardens as we help maintain the balance of nature. Some of the birds who use our feeding stations are also part of our balanced organic pest control.