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  • A sparrowhawk visits the garden

    Miranda Hodgson on 15 Jun 2012 at 10:23 AM

    After writing about the joy of seeing so many birds coming in to the garden, I can’t really protest the visit of a sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus). Coming home for lunch the other day, going into the kitchen, reaching for the kettle and automatically glancing out of the window looking onto the garden, I saw feathers drifting through the foliage of the Magnolia tree. It could mean only one thing: a sparrowhawk. As we later discovered from the feathers (useful feather identifcation page here), this one had taken a goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) and was up in the tree making a meal of it.


  • Sparrows, and other birds, return to the garden

    Miranda Hodgson on 08 Jun 2012 at 12:58 PM

    In February 2011, just over a year ago, I said that there weren’t any sparrows (Passer domesticus) coming to the garden, but that there were plenty of them in gardens on the other side of the green. I wondered if we didn’t have enough plants to attract them and vowed to plant more. I did plant more, lots more, but as luck would have it, nearby neighbours were changing their planting and I acquired several rose plants which are currently sitting in temporary containers in the courtyard before going to new homes. Some of them had aphids on the flower buds and it was during a period of dithering about whether to spray, squish or wait for the ladybirds to turn up and sort it out that the sparrows came to the rescue. Looking out of the window, I noticed movement amongst the stems and foliage of the roses and, to my delight, realised that a male and a female sparrow were carefully picking off all the aphids from the flower buds and leaves. Good birds!

    I’ve been thinking about what has changed, because this year we do have sparrows – not in big numbers, granted, but we see them and hear their cheeps and chirps almost every day. They often gather in the top of a large Cotoneaster glacialis, which has been allowed to increase in size with the idea of it providing nectar, fruit and shelter, and cling to the slender upright stems, from where they can see into this garden and also into next door’s. They have discovered the food and water under the Magnolia and also spend time rummaging about the plants in the borders, which are now starting to fill out with a range of shrubs and herbaceous perennials


  • The young Great Spotted Woodpeckers have left the nest

    Miranda Hodgson on 05 Jun 2012 at 12:45 PM

    It’s was clear that the young great spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) were growing fast by the increasing volume of their voices. What started as a fairly quiet squeaking, akin to a wheel catching on something as it turned, fast became a loud and incessant ‘Tchick! Tchick! Tchick!’. The parents’ call was similar and mainly distinguished by being outside the nesting hole. Our woodpecker serenade started at first light and only ended when night fell and the woodpecker family at last went to sleep.