Flowers To Attract Bees – Meadowsweet

There is nothing I like more than going out into the garden and hearing the buzz of bees. This week I have sat on a seat at the end of the garden and listenend to the constant hum of the bees in our cherry blossom. With less traffic noise during the lock down, noises like this seem so much more heightened. The air feels fresh and spring has never seemed so beautiful.

Spring Cherry Blossom

Spring Cherry Blossom

No matter what time of the day it is I sit there I can hear the buzz. It is the among the most relaxing moments of my day.

Evening Under The Cherry Blossom

Evening Under The Cherry Blossom

When ever I plant flowers in the garden I try to think bee! Even when buying roses which I love. Some roses are bee freindly, usually the more old fashioned types but many roses now are bred with petals, which are tightly bunched and cover the centre of the flower, preventing bees from reaching the pollen and nectar.  When buying roses for a wildlife garden the older style, more open roses are the better choice although I do have some of the more modern types too.

One group of flowers which attract bees and butterflies more than others are wild flowers. So many look beautiful in natural gardens, attracting wildlife and are largely ignored by slugs and snails. A definite positive for anyone, like me, who doesn’t want to use slug repellents. There are so many I love Valerian, Herb Robert, Tansy and my favourite Meadowsweet.

In normal times we walk our dogs on an old droving road around what used to be an old mental hospital but is now a prison. Surrounded by fields, wildflowers are everywhere, you can walk the two mile walk without ever seeing another person.  It is hard to believe it is in a London borough. From June onwards the whole path is covered in swathes of meadowsweet. How I hope we can be back on that walk again this spring. The flowers stand about four feet tall and are mainly a creamy white with the occasional pink one and smell beautiful. A few years ago at the end of the flowering season I collected some seeds and planted them in pots. For three years I nurtured my one plant that germinated and last year my little plant finally flowered.

My Meadowsweet Plant Last Summer

Meadowsweet

This year I have a decision to make, is my precious little plant ready to be put in the ground? Hopefully to seed and spread and attract bees and butterflies for years to come. I worry it may not survive. Meadowsweet seeds are easily bought online for a mere 99p, but these seeds will never produce plants that take me to our favourite walking place. I’m not sure I am ready to risk losing it. Maybe just one more year nurtured in the pot!

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Filming The Wildlife In The Garden

This spring while I am around the garden so much more, I am recording all the wildlife I see  in it. We have spent years planting trees and plants to encourage wildlife, making a little wildlife pond, putting up nest boxes and never using pesticides and it has paid off. We see much more wildlife now than when we first moved into our house. For my birthday a couple of years ago, my family kindly bought me a trailcam. I have used it quite a lot but this spring I have purchased some packs of rechargable batteries and I am going to try and keep it in place in the garden all the time. No matter how interesting the wildlife in our garden is, all I seem to manage to capture is hours of footage of our cat, our neighbours cat, and all the overfed wood pigeons and squirrels in the area. I have seen a few glimpses at night of one of the two foxes that live at the end of the garden but even though I often see them strolling around during the day they have managed to avoid getting caught on camera. I’m starting to feel like the paparazzi hanging around, waiting for that elusive shot of a celebrity.

I do love the collared doves in our garden. I love the noise they make when they come into land and the delicate way they walk about. Apparently they are one of the great colonisers of the bird world, having spread west from Asia, they first bred here in the 1950s and has even reached America.

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I like this photo of a wood pigeon coming in to land on one of the bird tables as they look so much more elegant in flight than when they have landed! I love to watch them fly over in the evening to roost in the trees. They look so different in flight.

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They can happily spend half the morning eating and if they are not eating they seem to be arguing about which one gets the food. They do make me smile. The RSPB website says that there are approximately 5,400,000 pairs in the UK which is an incredibly large number but then populations of house sparrows across the UK have fallen from about 12 million pairs in the 1970s to between 6 and 7 million pairs today so I suppose we shouldn’t take them for granted.

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The other very frequent visitors to our garden are grey squirrels. Seen as vermin by some people I think they are very entertaining and try to always give them their own food supply so they are not always hanging off the bird feeders.

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Classified as an invasive non-native species grey squirrels were introduced into the UK in the 1890s. Now with an estimated population of 2,500,000 across the UK they greatly outnumber the British red squirrel of which, only around 10,000 -15,000 are thought to exist. Although unpopular with many I love watching them and they can become very tame if fed.

These are the three most common wildlife visitors to our garden, there are many more less frequent visitors that I am hoping to be able to catch with my trailcam in the next few months.

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Around The Aviary Garden This Week

A look around the aviary garden this week. It’s just an ordinary little garden in a London suburb, a bit untidy around the edges but never have we appreciated it more than at this time.

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The Super Blue Moon Over The Aviary Garden

This was the beautiful sight of the Super Blue Moon over the aviary garden this evening. It looks almost mystical.

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Foxes Feeding In The Garden

Anyone who lives in a big city will be used to the sight of urban foxes. In London alone there are thought to be over 10,000 living around our streets. As a late evening dog walker of 30 years in the area, I have noticed a change in their behaviour. Years ago a fox would run at the sight of me walking along with a dog, but latterly I have noticed that although some are timid, many now just move a short distance away on the grass verge while I walk past. Our border collie tends to ignore them but I’m afraid our little Yorkshire Terrier has to be dragged past barking. It’s almost as if they know she is on the lead though and can’t reach them, as they stare back with contempt!

The most we have seen in our garden at one time is five and I have regularly counted seven or eight sitting along the row of sheds at the back fences. Many of our neighbours, as we do feed the foxes and they all look very healthy indeed. People have said to me, I shouldn’t encourage them because of our hens, but they are there all the time and I’d rather they were in our garden with a full stomach than hungry! We just make sure our birds are secure. If there is an accident any time I will blame myself not the foxes. I think they are beautiful creatures.

A London Vixen Sitting On Our Garden Shed

A London Vixen Sitting On Our Garden Shed

Recently my family bought me a wildlife trail camera and I have managed to capture some footage of a couple of foxes in our garden. They seem to have cubs every year so I’m hoping I may be able to film some of them later in the year.

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Cockatiels And Rosa Bourkes Enjoying Millet

There was a definite touch of spring in the air today.  There are the beginnings of blossom buds on the plum tree and the hawthorn hedge and the birds have been singing. The weather forecast for the week ahead is sadly not too good but today the birds in the aviary garden have been enjoying the mild weather. We have two aviaries in the garden. Our small aviary holds our young cockatiels, our rosa bourkes and a pair of diamond doves. They all live together is relative peace and harmony.

Cockatiels and Rosa Bourkes In The Small Aviary

Cockatiels and Rosa Bourkes In The Small Aviary

Much excitement is always created when a new food treat or toy is put up for them. Here I have added some sprays of millet, always popular with all the birds.

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House Sparrows In London

Sadly House Sparrows have declined by 60% in London and many other cities in the United Kingdom since 2004. I remember them in very large numbers on the bird feeders when I was younger but in our London borough I have hardly seen any for years. This year in early spring, a pair started visiting our bird feeder. I would look out for them as they came backwards and forwards. If one arrived on it’s own it would sit on the top of our hedge and call loudly until it’s mate appeared. They were clearly feeding chicks and we waited hopefully for the signs of any youngsters. Gradually over the summer several youngsters arrived and we think they must have raised two clutches as now we have 10 to 15 house sparrows visiting every couple of hours.

They sit in the hedge waiting their turn to go on the feeder and we can hear their chatter all day long. This winter we are going to set up some nesting boxes in the hope they will nest again in the spring. They may cost nearly as much to feed as the aviary birds but we still are very happy to have them in our garden.

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Training And Bonding With A Cockatiel

I have hand reared many cockatiels with mainly very good results and love doing it. They live together in a separate small aviary and are a pleasure to look after. When I am in there they chat to me and will come and sit on my shoulder. Although they are tame they have lost the real closeness they had when they were very young.  We have often thought we would like a very tame cockatiel in the house again and our lovely lone chick from this year seems to fit the bill perfectly.

Although I handled him often as a chick, since fledging and being in the aviary he has become quite wild so it will be quite difficult to make him very tame.  The first day he was in he spent most of the time peeping over the edge of the cage to see what was going on.

Pichu The Cockatiel

Pichu The Cockatiel

By the next day he had brightened up and was sitting on his perch shouting loudly along to an Abba song! Today I have been putting my hand into the cage just to rest next to him several times a day. Already he seems a bit more settled with me doing this and doesn’t panic too much. Hopefully after a few days of this he may be ready for me to offer him some millet in my hand. I know these early stages can take several weeks so I will be patient and record how we get along.

Pichu The Cockatiel Sitting On A Perch

Pichu The Cockatiel Sitting On A Perch

 

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The Cockatiel Chick Has Grown Up

The Cockatiel chick is 13 weeks old and has done so well. We have bought him into the house today to keep our house cockatiel Sammy company. He has got a bit wild flying around in the aviary for several weeks but he has had the benefits of parent feeding and weaning which builds his immune system for the future. Hopefully with work and patience he will become tame and enjoy his new life with our family, I will record the progress as we teach him. I have made the first video of his life as a chick to young adulthood. We have called him Pichu.

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Molly The Pekin Bantam

We have four Pekin Bantams and I love keeping them. They are friendly, very tame and have a really sweet way about them. I would recommend them to anyone who wants to keep hens but are a bit short of space. Their housing is smaller and they don’t eat very much. They have cute feathered legs and enjoy being handled. The only downside I can think of is they often go broody but then that can be a plus point if you want them to hatch some eggs and those cute legs can get quite mucky in bad weather. They can be as noisy as full size hens though and Molly our Pekin Bantam often announces for a  full five minutes to the neighbourhood that she has laid an egg and yet we have one little Bantam called Honey that I have never heard utter a single sound! They have completely won me over though and now I cannot imagine a time I wouldn’t keep them.

It has been a warm day today and although this evening had the threat of rain as we walked the dogs it never happened and it was a beautiful end to the day.

An Evening Rainbow

An Evening Rainbow

We’re making the most of these summer evenings as they disappear very quickly and all we will have is our memories of these days until next year.

A Summer Evening In Stanley Park Carshalton

A Summer Evening In Stanley Park Carshalton

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