Category Archives: Wildlife

Big Moon and a Frog

24th July 2013 1.29 a.m -– just now as I turned to leave the kitchen to go upstairs to bed I realised there was a frog silently staring at one of the poodles asleep on her blanket.

I was slightly baffled – the back door was shut and the frog must have come in the house much earlier in the day.  I picked up a plastic pudding basin and popped it over the frog and found He who loves Frogs and used to rescue tropical ones from the bananas when he worked in Safeways and take them home with him and look after them when the zoo didn’t want to know.

He was asleep. I woke him. I could have maybe done it myself, I know I know, but I didn’t want to. He likes frogs a lot, I like frogs, but not so much that I want to have one jump up at me, because then I would jump and we would all scream a bit and the frog would get stressed.

So the sleepy Lord of the Frogs put on his Frog Catching Gloves and airlifted Mr Green to safety. I don’t think he really woke up, he is clever like that. He will think it was a dream in the morning.

Outside there is a big golden moon sailing high in the sky. lighting up the streaky clouds.  We saw the moon earlier in the evening and did that thing where you look at the moon upside down (easiest way is through your legs)  and it looks smaller. It worked.

Inula Hookeri

This post could do with a photo or two and I don’t have a picture of the moon, but here is a photo I took the night before of a flower in a front garden I walked past. There were lots of them and they had clearly spread through the garden in a slightly invasive way.

I asked on Twitter if anyone knew what it was and kind people made all sorts of suggestions and eventually came up with Inula Hookeri. It reminds me of something you would find stuck on a bathing cap from my childhood.  I think it is beautiful.

If I walk down to the back fence, there is this stalwart shrub covered in flowers. Every year I think it is going to die in the cold winds of winter. Its leaves turn red, and then mysteriously they turn green again in the Spring and by July it is covered in sweet white whirls of jasmine scented flowers, the shrub doesn’t grow very much but it is still here eight years after being planted in a planting pocket surrounded by concrete. It is a survivor. The Clock is telling me to Go To Bed once more.

I am becoming an insomniac blogger.

Night all x

Trachelospermum Jasmonides

Hedgehog in the Garden

1st July 2013

Watering Pot

Hot off the blogging press..

…early this morning about 6 a.m. one of the dogs met a hedgehog by the ‘chicken’ water pot and gave a little huff of puzzlement.

I last saw a hedgehog about ten years ago, out in front of my mother-in-law’s old house in Midsomer Norton.  I saw them as a child from time to time, once memorably finding a mother and babies in the field in the middle of the houses where we lived in Surrey. The babies’ prickles were soft, that I do remember, and I remember being told by a neighbour not to touch them because they would be full of fleas. I now know that hedgehog fleas rarely transfer to other animals, including us. We all have our own fleas apparently! I have a friend elsewhere in Bristol, whose home backs on to a railway embankment with a footpath along it and she has hedgehogs and babies every year coming into the garden for food.

Brian's Hedgehog

I know relatively little about them, except that you should not feed them bread and milk but cat food. as my friend Julia does when she has them visiting her home. If you are so inclined or think they need feeding there are organizations that rescue them and advise you on what to do to attract them to your garden and how best to feed them and so on. Here are links to a couple of them in the UK:

Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital

Snufflelodge.org

Hedgehog action shot

Hedgehogs can move fast and this one is probably on its way out to a more benign and food rich environment,  though I like the idea that she stopped for a drink on her way and had a good root around in our scruffy corners. Brian tiptoed out with his camera and took these shots catching up with her on her way out, clambering over bricks and spare roof tiles to find the gap in the fence to go next door to M’s where cats get fed on the porch and I suspect maybe she sneaks a few bits of kibble there.

There aren’t many points of access to the garden for someone of this size unless you can climb a fence like a fox or a cat, but under the gates giving on to the street there are gaps and the fence panels are getting a bit ramshackle and warped.  Wildlife sites always ask us to leave our gardens not too tidy, to leave dark and damp corners and a bit of rubbish here and there to provide cover and always leave water out somewhere for anyone passing who might need a drink. Hedgehogs are a good sign of a healthy environment and we should make it a little easier for them not harder.

Hedgehog exploring

LIttle hedgehog I celebrate your bravery in coming into the garden, I would put out food for you, except I don’t want to feed the neighbourhood cats and the dogs would eat it as well and they might get into a scrap with you.

You looked big and healthy and in no need of extra food from me today. I wish you well and a happy and long life and I have told our neighbour to look out for you too! Come back for a drink anytime!

This by the way is not a hedgehog but a Tawashi! Fantastic for gently scrubbing new potatoes and carrots and it doesn’t seem to get mouldy or stinky. I love my tawashi!

not a hedgehog

Footnote :

For those interested in pottery, the pot came from Hookshouse Pottery, Gloucestershire and was made by Christopher White. They have a beautiful garden which they open for the National Garden Scheme to coincide with an exhibition. We went last year, not this. I think the pottery is open throughout the year.

Robin Redbreast Again

Robin Copyright Zeb Bakes

29th May 2013

The English Robin or Robin Redbreast as she was known when I was a child was probably the first bird I ever learnt to recognise. Small and plump, bright eyed and endlessly curious about the world of humans, the little robin is part of the fabric of the suburban garden life of so many of us in the cities and towns of England. We never get huge gangs of them, as they are very territorial but we nearly always have one or two in residence, checking out what we do, looking in the windows and engaging in our lives.  They squabble and fight, quite badly sometimes and build nests in open fronted boxes and raise their speckly children happily there.

This is the one who you saw sitting on the whirly clothes dryer in the Back Door post. I have stretched my little camera to its macro zoom limits to take these so you can see her more clearly. (If you click on the image I think you might get to see it bigger, I have tried to link to where it is stored on WordPress) .  She sits on the corner of the dryer most mornings, looking down at the grass, and then whizzes down to pick up worms and grubs. Once she has a beakful she heads off over the fence to my left where I suspect she has her nest.

Brian is convinced that she bobs her head at him to tell him the feeder is empty and needs filling and I think he is right, these are the same birds who ask for you to spray the hose for them on hot days so they can take a shower. What adaptive mechanism is at work where a little bird can figure out how to get a human’s attention like that?  Currently we are putting out fat balls, finely chopped peanuts, husked sunflower seeds, and assorted fine seed.

marguerite

The bluetits are nesting and raising their babies, I can hear them cheeping in their box on the garage wall. The blackbirds too are on the hunt for food;  there are jackdaws off to the side in the neighbours’ chimneys. Greenfinches and goldfinches fly through from time to time; they dance in the tops of the silver birches trilling away, offering glimpses of their delicate feathers and making me catch my breath when I track them down.

Even when it has rained all day and the geraniums are collapsed on the path, resembling a  damp poodle’s top knot, sodden with water and formless, I console myself for our everchanging and unpredictable weather, because rain means insects hatching, and worms wriggling; all good quality high protein fresh food for the growing birds.

Borrowed Flowers

Psst.. wanna see some American Robin eggs and babies, head over to Ardys and take a peek!