Tuesday, 29 December 2009

From magic to mud

The snow is receding from the loch side

but still lingering on the hills.

It is thawing very slowly during the day and freezing hard at night, so we have a lot of muddy ice around.

I have Jeyes fluid ready to clean the whole feeding area but couldn't chip the ice away so will have to wait for better temperatures. It is depressing to look out on though. The birds are hungry and cold. Even the little dunnock has lost its shyness and stands hopping from one cold foot to the other as it waits for its chance by the feeders.

The blue tit, one of my favourite garden residents, is smaller than the dunnock but a lot bolder.
He competes with chaffinches for peanuts but is very versatile and scours my window ledges and eaves for insects.
He scuttles up and down the silver birch, like a tree creeper, picking insects from the bark.

They are favourites because a blue tit couple nested in my bird box this spring. They are the only birds ever to use a box I've put up, so I feel quite proprietary towards them and was a very proud Aunty when the two chicks fledged.

Meanwhile Smudge is snoring, face down on her cushion. I wonder if she's been at the gin. I knew I couldn't have emptied that whole bottle!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Wishing you all a magical Christmas from the midgefarm crystal garden

Thank you for your visits, comments, reactions and advice this year and for sharing your own gorgeous gardens.

Yan and Smudge.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

More snow, cat and birds

It snowed on and off yesterday, quite heavily in the afternoon.

I ventured out after dark to empty the kitchen caddy into the compost bin.
I was followed.

She wouldn't walk in the unbroken snow, only on my foot prints.

I could almost hear her muttering, "Are you kidding me? All the way up there? My paws are frozen."
" Seriously! I'll come but you've got to carry me."

I'm not sure why she followed me. She would probably like the caption to read, "Plucky little cat ensures owner does not disappear in arctic conditions," but the reality is more likely to be, "Greedy little cat keeps an eye on meal ticket."
If I did fall over and freeze to death in the garden. I would be found in the morning, with the cat sitting on me, complaining that her seat was cold and her breakfast was late.

Another freezing night left the birds all fluffed out to twice their normal size,

hopping from one foot to another because their toes were cold.

The robin was swearing at everyone. He thinks the feeding area should be for his use only.

He did however strike some very pretty Christmas poses so I forgave him.

Some of the shyer birds are now coming to the feeders, a greenfinch and a goldfinch visited today.

The spugs and chaffinches are still there in abundance, keeping the otter company.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The snow post

Late to the party but the white stuff has arrived, even on the West coast.

There's a lot of disgruntled birds.

My otter looks like a bedlington terrier.

There are seven blackbirds in the garden today, two juveniles have joined the throng. The cold seems to have made them more tolerant of each other. There are four of them in this shot. Normally, if they were that close to each other, they would be playing an endless game of ring-a-ring-a-roses around the bushes, with no bird ever static for more than a couple of seconds.

If possible Smudge is even more disgruntled than the birds. She spent the morning oscillating between the window

and the cat flap, convinced that at some point she would find summer outside one of them.
Eventually she gave up and commandeered my knee, giving me filthy looks whenever I pointed out I had things to do, clothes to wash and presents to wrap.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Worm worries

I opened up my compost bin last week and found worm city central. There were dozens of them, all sizes but I think mostly the same species. I have never seeded the bin with any worms, so they have arrived naturally but why were they so far up the bin?

Why were they under the rim? Are they trying to escape? Aren’t they happy? Could it be too acid? Too wet? I live on a vertical bog and it had been raining for weeks when this pic was taken.

I’ve had plastic compost bins for as long as I’ve been gardening (nine years) and have never seen the worms so obvious at the top. It makes me worried that the lower layers are inhospitable.

Since then we have had a cold snap with a week of frosty nights. I opened up the bin this morning and there wasn't a worm in sight. I guess they were all deep down looking for insulation.

The cold, clear weather produces some fabulous sun rises.

Some soft and serene,

some dark and dramatic,

The freezing temperatures have brought more birds into the garden. There are now five blackbirds, three boys and two girls. They don't share food. I can't work out who is top bird but the two girls are definitely at the bottom and constantly being rousted off titbits by the boys. They'll regret it in the Spring when someone is birdy-no-mates. I suspect it will be this lad. He seems to have missed the class on posing with attitude which the others have all taken. I know it's not a good pic but I was laughing as he was jiving, so there was a lot of shoogle.

These cool boys show Daffy how it should be done.

Monday, 7 December 2009

My tree decorations

The leaves have gone but the branches don't look bare. They are decorated instead by lots of little, russet, chaffinch baubles.

Of course the blackbird and robin don't like to be outdone and take every opporunity to strike dramatic poses.

This little tosser has no time for such frivolity. He has more important things to do, like emptying my seed feeder.

He's a coal tit of course. I call him a tosser not to be rude but because that is what he does. He tosses all my seed on the ground and then flies away with the one sunflower seed that meets his stringent standards, only to bury it in one of my pots. This female chaffinch is pretty fed up with his routine. I can see her peeking round the trunk thinking, "There he goes playing with his food again."

She loses patience and chases him off, takes a seed and like a sensible bird flies up in to the boughs to eat it.

The minute her back is turned the tit is back tossing seed on the ground.

Others manage to share the feeders more amicably.