Sunday, 22 February 2015

Winterwatch Part Two

I had thought that Spring was on it's way, the garden was a carpet of snowdrops and crocuses have begun to open on sunny days, but the last few days have put paid to that idea. A few days ago the sun was shining and temperatures were nudging double figures, but not anymore. While the weather was spring like I continued with my clear up in the garden, and soon discovered that I had a new best friend.

We associate robins with winter and even put their images on  Christmas cards, but robins find the winter a very stressful time and many of them die in consequence. They are largely carnivorous birds and as insect and grub life is in short supply during the winter months, when I began disturbing the soil and trimming the dead foliage from last years perennials the robin must have felt that it was its birthday. Each time I reached for my border fork he, or she, as both sexes appear the same, was sitting on the handle, and as soon as I moved on to another location the robin was picking over the soil. When I reached for my wheelbarrow to fetch more compost for top dressing there he was sitting on one of the handles of my wheelbarrow.

I've been having a few problems by losing goldfish from my pond and I put it down to the neighbours cat, but as the water is deep and the fish are semi-hibernating at the very bottom I figured they'd be safe throughout the winter months but I couldn't have been more wrong. When I went  to the back of the house, with my wheelbarrow, there was a grey-heron helping itself to my prized fish only yards from my kitchen door. The heron flew away, on seeing me, but it will be back so I've been forced to net the pond until the water lilies grow and cover the surface of the pond.

In the wintertime roe deer often come down from the surrounding hills. I often see them  on grazing land but sometimes they come into the village in the early hours of the morning. I discovered evidence of deer activity in my garden, they'd been scratching on the garage wall and leaving tufts of hair behind. Children, waiting for the school bus, were upset, one morning, because one of the poor creatures had been killed outside of my house. It must have walked, or run, straight out of my drive and in front of moving traffic, as there was blood and hair on the road where the collision had occurred,  but the poor creature had managed to cross the road and lay dying on the grass with blood running from its nose. Roadkill deer never stay for very long because the next time I looked out of the window it had gone, probably into someones freezer, or more likely to be sold at the kitchen door of a local restaurant.

My greenhouse is like mouse city during the winter. Field mice bury into pots containing overwintering plants and create tunnels. From their tunnels and chambers they nibble away at the roots of my plants and any new shoots on the surface. They also eat their way through the plastic bag which contains food for my goldfish and devour my fish food. They are only being mice, and being field mice they never come into the house, but they will  have to go. I've bought an ultrasonic rodent repeller and plugged it into a power socket in the greenhouse, That seems to have done the trick.

I'm looking out of the window as I write this blog and watching the snow. This blog should have been entitled Springwatch, but it's definitely still winter. 

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