To protect the raspberries and strawberries last year, we put up a frame of bamboo canes held together by tennis balls and fitted some netting over it. The protection worked and the frame has remained standing since last autumn when the netting was removed.
I had been watching to see which birds landed on the frame and had expected to see robins coming to inspect it. Robins always seem to be curious about anything new in a garden and are often the first to investigate. It was a surprise, then, to see a bluetit (Cyanistes caeruleus) on a tennis ball, pulling vigorously at the felt covering until it had a beakful and then flying away with it before coming back for more. The tennis balls are now looking distinctly tufty on top and I’m wondering how long it will be before they are bald.
In other wildlife news, we’ve noticed that, after a long absence, house sparrows (Passer domesticus) are coming into the walled garden at home and we’re wondering what’s attracted them. They spend most of their time in a rather unkempt Cotoneaster horizontalis and it is my guess that they like the thicket of upright stems as we often see them perched amongst the upper growth. It’s lovely to see them again and even their incessant squabbling cheeping makes me smile. It sounds like a pitched battle, but on watching them, all they seem to be doing is jumping up and down at each other.
Elsewhere, the recent rain – 15.5mm in a week! – is very welcome and should be pleasing to the earthworms, who will have gone into suspended animation and have curled up in deep burrows. They should by now be more active and have returned to moving through the soil. The rain wasn’t enough to leave many puddles, so all the dishes of water put out for wildlife must be topped up daily. They are being put to good use and a great deal of splashing goes on, which doesn’t take long to empty them out!