Wildlife Diary 2012

January '12

Weather This Month
Max Temp = 10°C   Min Temp =  -4.7°C   Mean Temp = 3.6°C  
Max Wind = 34mph    
Day's Of Rain Over 2mm = 20   Rain 24hr Max =  27.2mm   Rain For Month = 176.6mm   Rain For The Year = 176.6mm
29th. I took part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this morning...did you????? If you did not there is time and if you did don't forget to submit your sightings. Click HERE to find out what it is about and submit your sightings.
Here is the results from the Whitworth Jury.
Jan 29, 2012 8:10 AM - 9:10 AM , Clear skies -1.9ºC - 0.9ºC.

17 species

Common Wood-Pigeon 2
Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Eurasian Jay 3
Common Magpie 2
Coal Tit 2
Great Tit 1
Blue Tit 1
Long-tailed Tit 8
European Robin 1
Eurasian Blackbird 4
Mistle Thrush 1
European Starling 11
Dunnock 1
Common Chaffinch 5
European Greenfinch 2
European Goldfinch 29
Eurasian Bullfinch 1
28th. A break from the garden wildlife had us making use of our RSPB membership on Saturday the 28th.
After a heavy flurry of snow the evening before and a hard frost the following morning I found it increasingly difficult to walk with the mattress attached to my back.
Non the less having defrosted the car Mandy and I set off as we had never been to the Old Moor RSPB reserve before. The temp at 08:00 was -2ºC  but as the day progressed it reached about 5ºC with lovely clear skies.
We stayed about 5 hours with a leisurely walk around the six hides and screens. It was the usual RSPB reserve setup and a good cup of coffee and a sarny could be had. It seems it could be a good place for wild flowers as Mandy noted the many seed heads of lot's of wildflowers.
I was interested in seeing a few Yellowhammer as I had failed to see any of these for some time. The visitor centre is quite informative as a huge map also includes a long circular walk outside of the reserve which looks quite good as many other flashes and agricultural areas are encompassed.
Anyway what did we see
55 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  15
Mute Swan  6
Common Shelduck  2
Gadwall  30
Eurasian Wigeon  50
Mallard  100
Northern Shoveler  10
Eurasian Teal  30
Common Pochard  5
Tufted Duck  20
Common Goldeneye  1
Goosander  2
Common Pheasant (Ring-necked)  20
Great Crested Grebe  1
Great Cormorant (Eurasian)  20
Grey Heron  1
Little Egret  1
Common Buzzard  3
Common Kestrel  2
Common Moorhen  10
Eurasian Coot  50
Northern Lapwing  100
Common Sandpiper  1
Common Redshank  2
Common Snipe  2
Black-headed Gull  50
Feral Pigeon  10
Stock Dove  15
Common Wood-Pigeon  100
Eurasian Collared-Dove  2
Great Spotted Woodpecker  1
Green Woodpecker (Eurasian)  1
Common Magpie  30
Rook  1
Carrion Crow  30
Willow Tit  1
Great Tit  7
Blue Tit  3
Long-tailed Tit  3
Eurasian Wren  2
European Robin  3
Eurasian Blackbird  4
Fieldfare  30
Redwing  2
Song Thrush  2
European Starling  56
Dunnock  2
Pied Wagtail  2
Yellowhammer  5
Reed Bunting  20
Common Chaffinch  10
European Greenfinch  20
Lesser Redpoll  1
European Goldfinch  9
Eurasian Bullfinch  7
Tree Sparrow  12
27th.  A tricky journey home tonight as very large snow flakes started to fall...it seemed from nowhere as it was just plain old rain all day. I had not noticed the temps had dropped and sure enough at 16:00 it was down to zero. It was filling in very quickly and a slow drive home was the order. As it stands at 19:00 it has scraped to 0.3C and has stopped snowing. It could well make for bad driving tomorrow as clear skies are now being forecast. The birds no doubt will appreciate the food if the temps drop below zero and it does make the garden look very atmospheric. I shall try to take a picture of the snow in the lit pergola as i thought it looked rather nice in the dark.
19th.  Another visitor which is becoming reasonably regular now considering it has been a real rarity around the area in the past. It seems to favour next doors Sycamore with the odd dash to the same neighbours Silver Birch tree. It takes it's time climbing the main trunk of the Sycamore before flying back to a low point and starting again...yes a Treecreeper. I managed a poor pic (again) as it is quite a distance and looking through double glazing does not help. It's still a welcome visitor but I just have nothing to get the beauty into the garden to have it as a new garden bird. Mature large trees are the thing but as I planted all of the garden only about 7 years ago I have nothing with anything with girth. 
15th. The fine weather continues with the lowest temps for the year being recorded as it got down to -4.7ºC on Saturday morning. It dipped down to -4ºC last night but has recovered a little today as at 12:00 it is almost 3ºC !
As I looked out of the window this morning I noted a Skein of Pink footed Goose flying over the house. More or less 74 of them flew East to West. Quite a welcome sight as although they are recorded passing through Rossendale it's not something that I regularly note myself.
I tried again to get a shot of the Snowdrop in the garden but it still is proving difficult
I recorded the first flower last year on the 1st Feb so we shall see if the warmer temps this year can shave a little time off that.
12th. Wow....some sun finally made it through! It started off pretty gloomy today with drizzle until about 11:00. I had the afternoon to myself and was hoping that the weather forecast would be correct...and it was. I managed to do a few tasks in the garden and whilst I got on with cleaning some feeders I noticed a welcome sight. There has been much talk of early flowering in the countryside due to the mild weather and the unopened flower of the Snowdrops were present in the garden. I took a few photos but they are out of focus quite badly so i will have to try again come the weekend. they are in an awkward spot so I could not check what the camera was focused on.
The other great thing, to me anyway, is that the temps are supposed to dip down to below zero for the next 3-4 days. I hope this means clearer skies as seeing the sun today reminded me how much I like it.
8th. A belated Happy New Year to all.
To start I thought I would mention a few figures for last years weather. I tracked down the averages for several data sets of weather for the North West and having inputted this into my weather station data it was no surprise to see the rain was very high to the region averages but the interesting thing was that having noted the Met Office stating the warm year of 2011 was duly noted in my weather stats also. The average data sets are taken from 1970-2000.
November was 2.3ºC warmer. December was 0.3ºC warmer and the year in total was 1.0ºC warmer than the regional average.
February had 167mm more than the average. Sept had 116mm over the average.December had 183mm over the average. Notable other rain data was the lack of rain in March with 24mm below the average and April 16mm below the regional average. It is no surprise that over the year the total amount of rainfall was a huge 851mm over the regional average. 
The garden finished last year on a high with the visit of a Brambling and despite still having plenty of Chaffich visiting the Brambling is so far failed to show again. I was, however, please to note the reappearance of a female Great Spotted Woodpecker that had been missing for quite sometime. She made the now customary dart to the sunflower feeder before heading to the more traditional feeding place of a suet block. It is always strange to see a shift in behaviour and the woodpecker feeding from the tube feeder is most certainly a modern (in real terms) feeding habit. I took a quick snap of her early this morning with the P&S.
Whilst it is a little premature to think spring is here I have noted that a few changes in behaviour of the birds. Granted this could be more to do with the warm temps we have had so far in January but I have always thought that breeding takes hold once the light levels change and with the shortest day over with the birds are acting ever so slightly different. A very dominant male Great Tit is now shadowing his female and will not tolerate other Great Tits in the feeding area. The Robins are now showing signs of sexual tension and the Mistle Thrush has already well and truly claimed his territory with his singing daily from local Poplar trees.
The pointed tips of snowdrops are now showing well in the hedgerow of the garden and the lovely Oregon Grape has plenty of flower buds in preparation of the early and very important flowers.
I thought to sum the garden the word "Frisky" would suffice.

February '12

Weather This Month
Max Temp = 14.4°C   Min Temp =  -8.3°C   Mean Temp = 3.1°C  
Max Wind = 17mph    
Day's Of Rain Over 2mm = 10   Rain 24hr Max =  22mm   Rain For Month = 94.5mm   Rain For The Year = 271.2mm
29th. A walk out into the garden tonight after work had me looking into the pond for spawn....and there it was some 1 1/2 weeks earlier than last year (9th March). Only one clump is evident but I am sure this will be added to in the coming days as the temps are supposed to stay reasonably warm. I do worry though as a cold snap could damage or kill the spawn this early in the year. I have not looked out this evening but I am sure the skies must be clearing as the temps have dipped considerably to a low of 3.2c at 21:00.
28th.  The garden has come alive with a few welcome visitors being noted. Mandy first alerted me to the Frogs in the pond on the 23rd. We then noticed a night time prowler in the shape of the fantastic hedgehog. I started putting a bit of food out for him and he usually arrives to dinner at around 22:00. He has been every night so far and we now hope he can find a mate.
We also were glad to hear the first Blackbird song early evening from the confines of the garden which was quite nice. Other bird song is now plentiful with the Tit families now in song, Dunnocks, Starlings and Greenfinch.
The other nice treat is the belated return of the Lesser Redpolls which  was beginning to wonder if they would return. This bird is surely another species that has taken advantage of the food put out at peoples feeding stations. If you are wondering about Lesser redpolls don't worry they will come to a feeder near you...just think about the Goldfinches story! 
23rd.  Pancakes......i've had enough now. 
The weather forecast was once again spot on even though this morning as I made my way to work it was drizzle and thick cloud....but it was already 10c. It soon felt warm and I took a few chances to feel the fresh air outside....Spring was on my mind. I was surprised to note that the temp had indeed was warm for the time of year but this day beat all records for Feb hands down. At 14:14 today it topped 14.4c and as stated is the hottest temp in Feb I have recorded since I began recording in 2006. The previous high in Feb was 12.3c in 2008 so this was a huge record increase. The other end of the spectrum has been reached also this month as the lowest record for Feb was smashed as the previous low was -6.7C in 2008 but now the record stands at -8.3c....so far!
The winter acconite I planted on Sunday have responded well to the temps and sun as a lot of them were in full flower...very nice yellow flowers were rather cheery.
19th.  What a day......perfection aplenty! I could only describe the garden of late looking "grubby". It can get like that as I choose to leave the dead plants etc from last year to help the hibernation of insects. The forecast today was for a clear day and whilst it was cool (-2ºC - 3.5ºC) it was beautiful...a day you are glad to be alive.
I started around 10:00 this morning and finished about 15:00 and I got a reasonable amount done. I had to build a small cold frame which was good fun!?!. I trimmed the Elder tree and some pyracantha that was encroaching into next doors garden and I planted 250 bulbs with a mixture of snowdrops, winter aconite and wood anemone. I have bought some of my favored verbena bonariensis and Rubekkia Goldsturm so I have kept them happy as Mandy has given room to them on the kitchen window bottom for now. I have also bought a small heated propagator which I shall use to help bring plants on this year.
I had a few breaks as I let the birds feed....it's impossible not to hear them as they sit in numbers all chattering away impatiently waiting for a safe time to feed when I disappear.
A queue of Thrushes as two Mistle Thrush, One song Thrush, Two Robins and at least six Blackbird all made it to the sultanas to feed when I went into the house.
The peace has been shattered at least four times today with a splendid Sparrowhawk whipping through the garden looking for Collared Doves. It has failed on each occasion but it did pose briefly in the garden as a Blue Tit sounded a call as it was within 2 meter of the Hawk....to much trouble for a large female

8th.  The weatherman again were proved correct as the coldest temps of the year so far were recorded last night as it dropped to a chill -8.3c. It is possible that tonight may also hit very cold temps as at 20:00 tonight it is already -4.9c. The snow is still with us around the area due to the continued cold weather and there is an uncertain edge to whether this will be added to this week. We shall see as the week goes on and if it does we may get a long staying Siskin as Mandy checked it in today at 12:30.
5th. The snow which was widely reported hit bang on as forecast at 12:00 Saturday. I was full of optimism that we may get a fair amount and it almost happened as it fell until about 23:00 that night although it did become rather grainy. Fog appeared this morning and then quite a thaw took place as the temps managed a massive 3.5ºC.
I made sure all the Thrushes had plenty of sultanas to keep them happy as it had been bitterly cold over the last 2 or 3 days and I was rewarded with Mistle Thrush, Song thrush and plenty of Blackbirds. I took a picture of these two beauties.
I have not often recorded two individuals close together like this so could it be the softening effects of the upcoming arrows from cupid I wonder?
I was also very pleased to record a irregular visitor to the garden and is surely a welcome sight. It's a poor picture but the Niger seeds did the trick. Siskin is surely one of the prettiest small birds to visit garden feeders.
A flurry of pictures today as this scene made me smile as this group of some 16 Long Tailed Tits crowded round in a similar fashion to us around a wood burner at this time of year.

March '12

Weather This Month
Max Temp = 22.8°C   Min Temp =  -2.7°  Mean Temp = 7.2°C  
Max Wind = 20mph    
Day's Of Rain Over 2mm = 4   Rain 24hr Max =  15mm   Rain For Month = 35.6mm   Rain For The Year = 306.8mm
Please bear with me at present as a few technical issues are causing problems. I hope to remedy this shortly as some text and a lot of images are missing. It only affects certain browsers and some users.
29th.  The honeymoon is over......at least it seems as yesterday and today have been a few degrees cooler with a quite cool wind picking up at about 15:00 on each day. It has been great though and It allowed Mandy and I to get the garden ready for this year. I have made up a lot of nest boxes this year and I plan to make a few more as replacements for some local ones I put up about 6 years ago. I have given a few to friends and I built another for a gift and placed a camera inside as a alternative to watching Coronation Street.  
The cubs and beavers gathering last night went quite well and I was impressed with their knowledge in general....I wonder how much this has to do with the superb Springwatch and Autumnwatch programs. The funny thing I noticed that when I showed pictures of Blue and Great Tit, Robin and Blackbird it was a good response with many knowing what they were....but......a House Sparrow that was once a common garden bird was shown and out of about 25 youngsters only one guessed correctly. A sign of the decline seemed eveident with that but non the less the eagerness returned when I showed a picture of a Sparrowhawk having it's tea! They just love birds of prey don't they?
27th.  Not content with a hat trick of record temps we now have another hottest temp as again the sunny cloudless skies produced a high of 22.8ºC at16:00. Now I am reading that this is slowly set to fall away with a more seasonable 12ºC being recorded come Friday this week. For now though I am loving sitting out on the decking after work listening to spring! 
26th.  What is going on????? Another day another record temp for the garden. Today it took until 17:15 before the 3rd consecutive record temp was achieved this time reaching a very pleasant 21.8c. I even topped up my vitamin D levels with a lunch sat out in the sun....in March you would normally require a fleece and possibly a umbrella and or snow shovel. This recent high temp run will drive the average temp for the month most probably to a new record also and the other amazing thing is the amount of rain we have not seen. March is turning into a very interesting, and might I add, welcome month even if it's not the norm!
I had a site visit tonight in preparation for the nest boxes to be erected in a memorial garden that has undergone restoration locally. I will be talking to some beavers and cubs on Monday as I hope that a little interest will lead some to put there own boxes up.....by the way have you put one up this year?? It's not to late!
25th. Well.....that record temp did not last long as today went and smashed the record for the garden as at 16:18 the temp reached an incredible 20.3ºC. We had the day ay home today with yesterday's exertions and I made full use of despite the 1 hour loss as the UK switched to BST and boy did it seem like summer!
OK it's as close to twitching as I get and considering we had a day at Leighton Moss planned I thought I would seek out the wonderful and illusive Hawfinch. We called in at the National Trust Sizergh Castle and even though we arrived at about 8:00 there were already a lot of big lens boys and plenty of optics already trained on a few spots in the car park. Most people hung back and I was pleased to eventually get a few record shots of this life tick for myself and Mandy.
Truly an impressive Finch with a huge bill and it dwarfed the Chaffinch it fed alongside.
24th. Some time away from the garden today as a mini twitch with a regular RSPB birding haunt. Anyway I shall input my bird sightings and a few photos tomorrow as whilst my sensitive skin felt it had been slightly burned I was wondering what the temps at home had been as In Lancaster is felt warm! It was still a surprise when a new record for March (since 2006) had not just been recorded but smashed as the previous hottest temp in March was last year at a very reasonable 16.6ºC. This new record was quite amazing and today at 15:40 at topped out at 18.9ºC. It did feel lovely and warm and tomorrow is supposed to be nice although not quite as warm.....just dry would do me for a while.
A special bird for tomorrows diary and a lifer for me and Mandy!!
PS Don't forget to change those clocks!!
22nd. Well since Spring proper sprung it has compounded it with the warmest temp of the year so far as today at 15:15 it hit 15.4c. The great thing about this weather at the moment is that it's supposed to stick around at least fro the foreseeable future so I have made the most of it with a couple of walks around my local patch Cowm Res. I was hoping to see the first real migrant of the spring but as I searched many drywalls as the light failed, I had to conceed that I shall have to wait a little longer. I know they are now coming through but not at Cowm.
The Hedgehog is still like clockwork as at 22:30 it generally turns up to supper as a mix of food I put out is always cleaned up by morning. I am looking forward to the clocks going forward at the weekend as it gives us a little more light in the evenings.
Funny as I have had a flurry of requests for nestboxes at the moment and I am down to speak about nesting birds to the local Beaver and cub group. I have also arranged for a few nestboxes to be erected around the local wood which will hopefully stir a few naturalists amongst the youngsters. After all who does not enjoy watching our native birds nesting in a box you have put up?
9th.  A text at dinner from Mandy telling me that feathers were all over the garden. I know it should always be sad but I am pretty much OK with the possibility that nature is sometimes not really Bambi-esk. Anyhow I have in the past thanks to my trail cam had front row seats of a male Sparrowhawk having a Starling for lunch. Well I had put the trail cam out a couple of days ago to record the hogs return to the garden and was more trying to capture if a pr of hogs were frequenting the garden.
It started lovely with a lovely shot of a Song Thrush taking sultanas
We soon followed this up by another Thrush it's larger cousin the Mistle
Then a few night shots
Then a Wood Mouse braved the open to snatch a little peanut.
Then the feathers that greeted me tonight.
Then this wonderful female sparrowhawk showed why the feathers.
1st. Another cracking day...so I had the afternoon off. I have become involved in a local project which has had me donate 5 nest boxes to the cause and hopefully a hoard of children will find the boxes and their sighting interesting as I am down to be accompanied by a responsible adult that has been CRB checked so that the children can talk, watch and learn about the birds and the boxes!!
Anyhow having built the boxes in sunshine I was happy to hear all the right sounds and see all the right sights to show that spring may well have sprung. Blackbirds, Mistle Thrushes, Robins, Dunnocks, Chaffinch, Lesser Repoll and Greenfinch all went about singing and just as Mandy was telling me about a Bumble Bee that she had seen on her way home I went one better with 3 Bumble Bees (bombus terrestris) and a butterfly that I was sure was a Small Tortoishell.
On checking the pond I was surprised that no more spawn had been laid but that may be down to the fact that it was down to 2.2c overnight. I counted at least 10 this afternoon as they clearly were loving, as was I, the warming rays of the worlds sunshine.

Weather This Month
Max Temp = 18.6°C   Min Temp =  -3.2°  Mean Temp = 5.7°C  
Max Wind = 17mph    
Day's Of Rain Over 2mm = 16   Rain 24hr Max =24.8mm   Rain For Month = 149.4mm   Rain For The Year = 455.8mm
30th. I have decided to run a log of the nesting birds in a separate place for easy reading so I have placed them under the new tab on the left hand side called Nesting Diary.
Well a total surprise today with the weather and it was a pleasant surprise indeed. It was by far best day all April regarding the temperature which reached 18.6C at 16:23. As most of the media has already well publicised the fact that it has been the wettest April for 100 years and not to forget how cold. Anyway it seems that it has been the wettest April also for the garden...just....as in 2008 147.1mm of rain was recorded so it has just been beat at 149.4. I mention the cold also which seems a shame considering the really warm spell in March. It has been cold with the third coldest max temp recorded a second coldest temp at -2.3C and an overall mean temp of 5.7C.
I wonder what may will bring?
I almost forgot to mention but I noted My first Swift tonight locally which was a real lift to the spirit.
27th. It is difficult to see the eggs due to her covering them up whenever she leaves the box. I was therefor surprised to see five eggs already laid only expecting to see three on the morning of the 27th. I have amended the timings and schedule above
A note regarding the weather on several fronts as it looks like it may be the wettest April I have recorded in the garden and so far it has the lowest maximum temp of April ever recorded. Drought? Where?
26th.  All is well in the Great Tit nest box and I will catalogue dates here. She is roosting in the box quite early in the evenings and getting up quite late as the male calls for her at first light but I noted that she finally braved the outside at about 06:00. I shall try and keep up to date with the coming and goings a little better.
The rain is falling as I write this at 23:30. It has rained most of the day and so far it has put down almost 25mm of rain. The Hogs are still visiting us for food but I have not noted any visits to the hedgehog box.
19th. Finally some time away from work and what a good day.....despite the constant rain. Anyway I thought I would keep an eye on the nestbox at the far end of the garden as I had noted that Blue Tits were interested in that one. Sadly no cameras are available for that box but on looking round the garden this afternoon I noticed that a few Great Tits were showing interest around the bottom end of the garden where two nestboxes do contain cameras. I had a few jobs to do in and around the garden so it was not until I turned the computer on upstairs and thought I would just check out the camera boxes that a pleasant surprise awaited.....Great Tits was a description as well as an exclamation as they were already well along with the nest. She was busy from about 14:00 until about 15:30 as a Sparrowhawk flyby disturbed proceedings. The bottom of the box at 18:00 is toatlly covered so I just hope that after a too long of an absence we get to watch the miracle of bird cam big brother style. I shall keep things up to date with that as best I can.
The other news is that the Blue Tits are well along with their nest also and already they are using the soft nesting amterial I put out in a holder for them.
I strange visitor that I got a poor shot of came and fed and I am sure somebody locally will be upset at their loss. I shall post the picture a little later on when I get a little more time.
15th. I was desperate to get out locally and hopefully catch some of the migrants that others were reporting and today was the ideal day for a wander over to Whitworth quarry. Mandy and I both heard the years first Willow Warbler on the arduos incline and before long I spotted a pair of Northern Wheatear....lovely. We picked up a few resident breeding birds on our way around to the reservoir and I half heartedly looked for a wildflower meadow that was supposed to be a feature in a meadow at the bottom of the quarry....no chance!
I was missing a House Martin and on arrival home I thought it would of been nice to see one still...so I craned my neck toward the skies from the office window and at about 18:00 I spotted one hawking in the sky. I tipped my hat like I always do to a well traveled and much respected bird.
A note I failed to mention from a couple of nights ago after mentioning that I had seen two hogs feeding in the garden, they went one better and now we have three. One of them seemed quite happy to have me nearby and I even fed him peanuts on the ground in front of me. The noise they make is quite comical as they munch away on the food.
5th. A late night foray into the garden to put food out for the hogs had a nice surprise as the snuffling sounds of a pair of hedgehogs could be heard. They were cavorting in the hedgerow area of the garden as the male circled the female.
They most certainly equate my presence in the evening with food as within a few minutes of my return to the house they almost run to the food as they tuck into a mix of mealworm, peanuts, insects and a little honey.
A note that I saw my first Swallow of the year over the garden on the 10th. It was a dark end to the day so the Swallow was flying hard and fast Northwards. It must have known what was in store as 5 minutes later the skies went black and a barrage of hail covered the garden. Africa to Rossendale.....what a shocker.
4th.  It seems that questions regarding the weather abound everywhere with newspapers and the media asking us what is going on with the weather? Well to be honest whilst this morning the forecast snow did appear it is not a strange thing as March and April are regularly candidates for snowfall. The only strange thing was the really warm weather in March. Sensationalism abounds in the press and purporting that it's all crazy. Yes the warmth was unusual but snow in April...that is not. The temps are markedly different granted but really I hate how things are construed. The other note is that it's very much a regional thing that seems to being reported about the rainfall or lack of. It's only of late that the media have actually reported that some counties are not short of water are indeed overrun with it! It's not global warming it's just Ruppert Murdock-esk! That said here is a nice shot of the garden at 07:00 this morning as two inches fell overnight and into the early hours. I shall get off my soapbox now.
Just to even out the scene and remember the warmth over the last few weeks I thought I would snap a few goings on around the garden.
The tadpoles are developing at a rapid rate although for the first time over the last 6-8 weeks the hedgehog did not eat any of the food I put out....I hope it was just tucked up somewhere warm.

May '12

Weather This Month
Max Temp = 28.5°C   Min Temp =  -1.6°  Mean Temp = 10.7°C  
Max Wind = 16mph    
Day's Of Rain Over 2mm = 10   Rain 24hr Max =19.6mm   Rain For Month = 74.2mm   Rain For The Year = 530.4mm
31st. The warm had to come to an end and with 10 day's straight without rain it ended last night with a sharp shower or two later in the evening. Today as been mostly damp and a max temp of 13c....back to the norm.
The month draws to a close and I wonder what June has to offer. I hope for plenty of young birds, warm temps and time off....I may have to leave these shores for that!
24th.  Balmy.....that is the best word for it. Yesterday was the hottest day of the year reaching a very hot 28.5c. Today was also a little warm but just reaching 28.4c. In truth it possibly felt a little warmer as the wind was absent for large parts of the day although it did cloud over a little as we ate tea out on the decking. This is set to last for a little while longer but sadly I have to work a seven day week this week so even Sunday will be wasted! 
21st.  I have not mentioned it before but a lone magpie visits the garden on occasion, normally when it's quiet in the late evening as when it does visit in more normal times other magpies bully it. The bird was tatty and very small in it's overall appearance but the thing that made it special was it had it's bottom mandible misformed and it's top mandible was only half length. I often led it feed at night even though it was the hedgehog food as I was aware of it's problems both socially and physical.
Yesterday I noted a bird under a wooden structure I built and when I got close it was clear it was dead and a Magpie. I was not surprised when it was this bird. It felt rather sad knowing it had most probably been bullied to death but Magpies are very hard birds although I make no secret of my liking of such maligned bird.
Lot's of plants went into the garden this weekend and it was just in time as today was a scorcher! At 17:30 today it topped a huge 20.8c and it was lovely. The Great tit chicks were not brooded all evening that I saw and plenty of food was to be had. Summer is around the corner...well it must be as I saw two people enjoying and Ice Cream and a Lollipop.
17th.  The garden it seems is stuck at the moment as the temps and weather in general are so variable with several below zero temps being recorded over night. The plants as much as anything are confused as they seem slow to break into full leaf let alone flower! The John Downie apple tree is in flower and a few red campion flowers have dared show there faces but not much else is really that keen. A nother trip to the garden centre of late had me wondering which month I was buying plants for as the temps have struggled to reach 11ºC in the daytime. and as a show of that it is reading 10.2ºC as I write this at 14:42.
I have been assured that it will be mid way through June before any warmth
A few weeks back I noticed that a white bird was visiting and we narrowed it down to a Leucistic Chaffinch....boy it stood out. I wonder how it has survived although I have not seen it for the last week or so.
I forgot to mention that on the 15th I saw the first young of the year in the garden in the shape of a Dunnock which was quite well defined so it must have been quite an early bird. I also noted this morning that a lot of Long Tailed Tit noise was about and I took this poor shot of a lone young bird.
I was then saddened as a nest site a few gardens away for the Long Tailed Tits was being raided by a Jay. I waved my arms around to scare them off but I know it was in vain....only an inpenatrable nestsite could be any use so this afternoon I was heartened to see an adult flicking around the site. Let's hope that conifer was barrier like.
It's all happened today as I almost had a repeat of a few years back when a Sparrowhawk took my nesting Female Great Tit whilst there were young in the nest.....as this years male was out searching for waxworm in the garden a male Sparrowhawk zipped in and chased him for far to long......I did not see the conclusion as the bushes obscured the view......a few minutes later he showed at the nestbox...phew!
7th May.  Time away from the garden with a few bit's of shopping under my belt for our fast approaching trip. The thing of greatest importance of late is my birthday.....no no not that birth date but my rebirth....as of today I am confirming what some might think and that is I am now a two year old.....but a two year old that is cancer free.
The rain was with us today after a reasonable amount of sunshine on Saturday and Sunday. It was a shame as Mandy and I headed to our second home the National Wildflower Centre in Liverpool. In fairness it was cold, damp and boring. Not many plants on show so after a quick run round the centre a cup of coffee and a purchase of another 20 plants we headed home....and at 18:00 it's still drizzling.
3rd. An afternoon off today and it was dry......so I mowed the garden for the first time this year as well as planted a few plants. Rudbekkia Goldsturm is a huge favourite of mine so I renewed a few plants and did quite a bit of weeding and pruning.
A Wood Mouse is risking life at the moment in the garden as it was brave enough to emerge from the log pile around the pond as a worked nearby. The risk was the the cat was also nearby watching what I was doing and i had to hit the pile to make sure the Mouse lived to see another day. I also put the wooden furniture out and up which seems to have been a long time coming. 
I have a lot of stuff to sift through before we go to Cape may and New York but I just seem to be running out of time with other things to do.....or in truth it feels like I have no time but at present I seem to be good at doing very little! Mind you watching the Great Tits live on TV is not helping. Just a reminder that I have now set up a separate page on the left hand menu under nesting diary to follow more closely the goings on of all things nesting.

June '12

Weather This Month
Max Temp = 22.7°C   Min Temp =  3.4°C   Mean Temp = 11.9°C  
Max Wind = 16mph    
Day's Of Rain Over 2mm = 25    Rain 24hr Max =75.6mm   Rain For Month = 256.5mm
28th.  Still struggling to find time at present to update the diary for this month but sadly the only news that I can let you know about is that a new record was set in the garden as on Friday a massive 75.6mm fell in 24hrs. This has wiped out any previous records by some margin and whilst we were away on a break at the weekend I was aware of a massive amount using my Android phone to check in on my weather station....I thought it was an error at first but the amount of boulders and silt that had been deposited on the main road near our home suggested something not very welcome had occurred. Sure enough some colleagues and friends had been hit badly and I can only begin to imagine the devastation something like this does to homes.
The weather whilst still wet has now decided to become oppressive with dew point rising making things uncomfortable. Where is that sun.....it is almost July!
23rd.  Well we are still sifting and amongst me a year older, our Anniversary and a big date with the Boss things are quiet........
What a time we had last night at the Etihad stadium as the Boss produced a show that most musicians would struggle to both match in quality and quantity as this baby ran for 3 hrs 20mins.
It was the show Mandy and I had both been waiting to see as the last one 3 years ago, whilst great was just not top notch. This one was for us and despite the torrential rain from the early hours, even the rain new who was in charge as when the E Street Band stepped on stage the Gods took note as the rain for the first time in 19hrs stopped!
Here is a cracking remembrance of the Late, Great Clarence Clemons who was the foundation of this great group.
15th. Fresh back from our trip to North East USA I have lot's to update for the trip over on the world birding trip reports page as I go about the task of sifting through about 5000 pictures!
Just to some up thing at present I would like to say RAIN.

July '12

Weather This Month
Max Temp = 26°C   Min Temp =  4.6°C   Mean Temp = 14.1°C  
Max Wind = 13mph    
Day's Of Rain Over 2mm = 17    Rain 24hr Max 38.8mm   Rain For Month = 162.2mm   Rain For The Year = 949.2mm
31st.  Another month over and it sadly is feeling like the summer has been indeed lost. I wonder how breeding birds have done this year as high wind, torrential rain and cool temps will no doubt have had an impact. Can you imagine river nesting birds? One thing I can console myself with is that apparently the single Siskin that visited the garden for a week or so has proved not that strange this season, as I was reading an article from the BTO about this species of bird being reported nationally at feeding stations this summer. They attributed this to the good spell of weather early in the year as they tend to be early nester's and to some degree with all the coniferous woodland that is now maturing to provide nesting and food. The other very local news to me is that no diseased birds have been seen around the feeders so I just hope this carries through into next year as last year it was a shame to see so many Finches being struck down with Tricomonasis, with the young Bullfinch being the real losers.
I have to mention that today has been damp and it never reached about 14.6C all day and whilst having dinner tonight Mandy and I both said that there was a chill in the air........oh joy!
29th.  I hate to say this but over the last few day's I have noticed things are changing. The plants that I also think of late flowering have started to flower, the Spindle tree has started to turn colour. The birds are changing also with the first Willow Warbler of the later season passing through the garden with only a "huit" as clue. The Swifts are starting to group together possibly family parties as they feed up and strengthen bonds before they begin their migration....and the British Birdfair is only 18 day's away!
Rain today with the odd sunny spell has already at 13:30 left us with 14mm of rain and a high of 13.8ºC. The strange weather has stuck with us and the only hope is an Indian Summer.
24th.  A very warm day today with a top temp again for July in 2012. It reached a respectable 26C by 16:00 and the dewpoint reached 19.9C which rates at uncomfortable to very uncomfortable, and it felt like that to at times. I decided a late night update and even at 22:30 its dewpoint is 17C which is classed as OK for most, but it still feels sticky!
I wonder what tomorrow will bring...I wonder with all these high temps, humid days and plenty of moisture if it will bring thunderstorms? I just hope the upcoming Birdfair at Rutland gets a little lady luck weather wise this year.
22nd  Well I guess it could of happened but moreover it should have happened. Yes shock as today was the warmest day of July so far as it topped out at 16:00 as it reached 23.4. Trouble is it was accompanied with a constant strong breeze which made it feel considerably cooler. 
I had some HSE commitments I had to look through today for work and I also promised myself I would find time to update our trip report to the States. Well I did both....well a little even though the weather outside was pulling me toward the garden. In truth apart from the usual there was nothing to get me excited as no butterflies and not many bees were about. Sad really as the wildlife garden has taken on a rather wildlife free garden. I almost put the moth trap out last night but having been to see a bat of a different kind I missed the opportunity.
Let's hope the warmer weather continues...at least until November!
18th.  Nothing of importance to note but I thought I would mention that summer arrived for a short time today as it reached almost 19C. The sun could finally be seen and if the weather reports are correct this is the start of a reasonable period. Let's hope that is correct as I would love to be able to go out without a jacket or hoodie of some kind.
17th.  As many are finding at the moment all these cool temps and wet days are perfect for plant eaters. Yes the slug and snails have really appreciated my recent restock of fresh plants in the garden and the French marigold have particularly gone down well. They should be renamed slug food on the label. At least the cosmos and bonariensis have so far survived the onslaught. I always make a late eveing run up the garden to put food out for the hedgehogs and I now have to watch where I put my feet as it truly is a sight with all the slugs.
 The Male Siskin has now been visiting every day for the last week which is quiet nice at the moment as the normally quietening of the bird life in the garden has not really taken hold yet. I hate that moment I realise that the birds have deserted the garden.
15th.  Mandy and I made a break for a trip to the RSPB Leighton Moss today. Arrived at 08:30 and headed to the saltmarsh where great views of loads of Little Egret, Avocet and Black Tailed Godwits were lapped up. Onto the main reserve and I was hoping for a year tick with the Spoonbill but it alluded us all day. The Hobby I saw last weekend was great but I hoped one would show for Mandy but although others had seen it it seems we were always minuted behind it. One lady in particularly seemed to see everything and a worrying aspect was not that she called an Osprey when in effect it was a juvenile Marsh Harrier. Now don't get me wrong everybody makes mistakes but it was the authority with which it was called that had me thinking about what this kind of birdwatching achieves.
Anyway a great day was had and the food at this place, whilst expensive is great. The sausage and bacon set me up for the day....even though I had a toffee cake later as well!
54 species were recorded and whilst the Otter was not seen we did have to laugh at the lively Stoat which ran up the road in front of the car. Is is me or do Stoats always have the look of a cat on permanent hot coals?
12th. I woke this morning and thought it felt a little cooler than of late and sure enough the months lowest temp was recorded overnight as it dropped down to a chilly 6C. One thing it id give rise to was a clearer sky and I could actually see the sunlight.....would it last as I had the afternoon off? It did on and off but at least it allowed us to have dinner on the deck for the first time in months, and I mean months.
I was bleary eyed a couple of mornings ago but it's funny how you can still notice something a bit different in shape/size as when I raised the bins it was a lovely Male Siskin. It fed from the feeder and has returned on a couple of occasions over the last few days. I wonder if it has bred somewhere local?
A strange thing noted this afternoon as two pairs of Magpies were going hell for leather with each other on next doors lawn. It was no play fight as feathers were all over....I then spotted a dead squirrel on the same lawn and wondered if this was a scrap for the meat. I got a quick video which I will try to upload.
8th.  Flying solo as it were I settled on a trip to Brockholes Quarry Wildlife Trust reserve and I was glad to hear that the car parking charges (which is the same price for members and non members) had been revised to a much lower fee. 5 hours previously cost £10 but now a very reasonable £5 was charged. I arrived at about 10:15 and walked around trying to get a few pictures of the Sand Martins as they picked up small flecks of dried grass on the path. I tried to set up a stage but struggled to catch any reasonable images of them as they choose comically large strands of grass which may have been token rather than useful as they struggled to fly with them as they headed down to the very high river Ribble.
It was a lovely sunny day that had me a little over exposed but boy was a bit of vitamin D welcome. It seemed strange as I wiped off sand from America as I pull down the legs of my tripod. Plenty of Brown Hawker Dragonflies were about and lot's of Meadow Brown butterflies also.
The big bonus was the Hobby that was hunting high over the pools as the temperatures began to rise this cracking bird showed us it's cool hunting style. What a bird! 51 species were seen which I was pleased about including a Little Ringed and Ringer Plover.
7th. Yesterday started out very grim has by 09:00 the torrential rain had started and it did feel like it could have been a repeat of what happened exactly 2 weeks ago. In truth whilst the rain fell most of the day it eventually eased off to a light rain so instead of the 75mm two weeks ago we managed a high yet less troublesome 38.8mm for the day. As I write this I have time off for good behaviour as Mandy is away all weekend but I still have not decided where to go! Today is supposed to be the best chance of any half decent weather so we shall see.
5th.  I should never have mentioned the nice r=end to the evening as within half hour a clap of thunder and rain like stair rods burst from the clouds! Today has been mostly OK with rain threatening from the afternoon again and by 18:00 the usual rain occurred with a few sharp and heavy showers leading to a rainfall of 6.6mm so far. Sadly the topic is all consuming but it is becoming a real problem for those with flooding possibilities as Friday has been given another flood warning as another large amount of water has been forecast for parts of the North West.  I hope it does not occur as wildlife and man will again suffer greatly.
4th.  A brief spell of cheer in the garden where a young of the lovely and valued Bullfinch arrived on the 3rd. I have wondered if any would manage to fledge due to all the rain and strong winds over what feels like the entire summer. We have had two males and a female visit and the vocals from them have increased which had us hoping and finally a well developed youngster showed himself as Dad was feeding up on the sunflower heart feeder.
A very nice end to the day today despite the forecast being for heavy rain which was a surprise. The garden is almost unusable though as everything is just sodden, seating, turf, plants and to some extent our spirits due to the continued wet weather. Even though the sun is out tonight we have still had 7.2mm of rain which has come and gone all day.
I have looked at the long range forecast and I just have no words to describe the feeling!

August '12

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 27.5ºC    Min Temp = 1.7ºC    Mean Temp = 14.6ºC
Max Wind = 14mph
Day's Rain over 2mm =  14  Rain 24hr Max = 23.4mm    Monthly Rain = 140.4mm    Yearly Total = 1089.2mm


21st.  Fresh back from the Birdfair at Rutland water and I feel a big expense coming on as Swarovski have gone and produced a scope I would like for birding and my digiscoping. The new form factor is modular and is available in three sizes the 65mm, 85mm and never seen before 95mm. They have quite a few aces up there sleeves here and the new digiscoping bracket produced for this setup really is quite a design.
I was dealt with very poorly from Zeiss when I had to send my zoom eyepiece in for repair under warranty. They sent two very substandard units back to me as you get a replacement rather than a repair to your own when sending them in. I was told lie after lie by the head man at Zeiss UK with an inference that I had put a scratch on one of their replacement lenses they had sent out telling me it was a brand new one! I took pictures of the "new" one and it was a joke so the only power a customer has got is not to buy a product from that company again....the only problem was I had spent a lot of time and money in getting my digiscoping setup just right and in truth I was, and still am, happy with the performance of the scope with nothing else really offering me anything better until now.......
I checked on a trade in price for my scope and as expected I wanted more....we shall see as the straight version is not released until January 2013 and I just don't get on with angled versions (released Sept 2012)
Just in case you have been off the birding planet HERE is an article about the new scopes
15th.  Wow another huge downpour this afternoon at 16:00. In a five minute spell 14mm rain fell and boy was that noticeable. The sky went dark and a huge quick drop in air pressure occurred before the heavens opened and huge drops of rain had the roads flooding very quickly. It soon calmed down to just rain and now at 18:30 it has stopped altogether. 
It seems that the weekend is going to be a mixed affair so I hope we get more sun than rain as we are heading out over the weekend. My father is risking it with a camping trip to Sheffield for the Spoonfest event....I hope he does not need to whittle a canoe!
9th.  Afternoon off had me mowing the lawn and a general tidy up although due to the bad weather I seem to be behind with things and when the weather is good I want to relax in it. Today I have tried to do a few things but a cup of coffee seems to be better! The warmest day of August so far has been today topping 23.3c.
After all the extra plants I have planted the garden does have some colour at last with Cosmos, Verbena, Foxglove and Rudbekkia is now in bloom and what a difference to the garden they make. I just need a few insects to visit now.
I again got some slug food, otherwise known as marigolds but before I had planted them most of the leaves have been eaten! I will not use slug pellets due to the poisoning of Hedgehogs but I have found it hard working loving them when they have been so destructive.
4th.  Mandy and I headed to our nearest "real" reserve today with Brockholes Quarry. We met a few characters to say the least and although the bird numbers were low we did enjoy seeing other wildlife namely Dragonfly, Butterfly, Froglets and a good number of wild flowers.
I guess the best bird of the day at least was this juvenile. It was a new bird for this sight for me and whilst I thought the ancient Boilton wood would be the place to see it I was surprised when I came across this juvenile at the opposite end of the reserve on the public footpath.
We were lucky to catch up with this lovely bird, the Spotted Flycatcher, before it heads off South to much warmer climes....although in between the heavy showers the temps suggested we were in another Country. The other birds I have not seen here before were noted as we were leaving as they fed from a bird table near the visitor centre. Tree Sparrow were tucking into some food which I was quite pleased about seeing as they are just that bit smarter then the regular Cockney Sparrow. I am hoping Mandy will share some of the pictures she took today with the point and shoot as Butterflies were great, but the Horseflies were marked down.

No Hobby today!
2nd  A few Gremlins have once again slowed up my progress on various pages of the website, particularly on the section regarding trip reports abroad. Please bear with me at present as customer service is frankly not the best from my host parents.

September '12

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 24.5ºC    Min Temp = 0ºC    Mean Temp = 10.9ºC
Max Wind = 15mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 16    Rain 24hr Max = 45.2mm    Monthly Rain = 226.2mm    Yearly rain Total =  1274mm


23rd. A gorgeous day right out of the, well, blue on Saturday but it was at the expense of cooler temps overnight. The first 0 temps of the season had me scraping the car but it was a good trade off for the clear skies. I turn my excitement to migration now and I hope I can spend a bit more time than last year doing a bit of vis-mig in the earlier mornings. I am going to book a little time off nearer the time and head up the hill and hope I get an influx of winter Thrushes.
This picture is one of the reasons for my lack of updates and if you are that way inclined may be of interest. I will post a few pics shortly as one or two are quite nice with the cases of some being superbly crafted. This one is and American pocket watch with Railroad significance. It's always a wonder thinking about what this watch will have been through in it's life as this particular watch was born in 1925. It is a 992 grade, has 21 jewels and is adjusted to 5 positions. It has a double roller and is lever set as part of the railroad spec.
20th.  The garden and it's diary seems to have come to a grinding halt at present as my time seems to be given to other things....all of which are other interests as we visited an air show, my first, and we have been looking at a few items of antique furniture, some vintage mantel clocks and some of my favourite things watches,,,,this time not wrist but pocket and they are gorgeous. I will post a few pics of these when time permits. I mention the weather as present non stop in the diary and it feels a bit same old to me.  I can tell you that a Great Spotted Woodpecker has visited today which is always a treat. Again the trend is that at this time of year a youngster turns up. Mandy spotted it and confirmed the red on the head so it may well be a young one again

October 2012

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 13.2ºC    Min Temp = -0.9C    Mean Temp = 7.3C
Max Wind = 17mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 13  Rain 24hr Max = 17.8mm    Monthly Rain = 151.8mm   Yearly rain Total =  1430mm


27th. The month is closing fast and the temps have realised what time of the year it is and promptly fell by 10 degrees over night registering the coldest temp of the season at -0.7C. It has made for some lovely days though with a little sunshine here and there. I add that tomorrow sadly is set for rain although I may try and do a little bit of local vis-miging in the morning. My favourite spectacles always seem at this time of year and the thousands of Thrushes have begun to arrive....with any luck a few will be about tomorrow.
14th. I forgot to mention that we have a mystery I am struggling to unravel at present. I love to use wood in the garden and I have a couple of old 10" wide and about 4' high tree stumps. Many things use these for feeding, nesting and so forth. I then noticed something has been making use of those insects that have bored into the trunks and possibly laid eggs. There are strips of the trunk strewn about the garden from two of the stumps. I used my trail cam to try and catch the culprit but as yet to no avail. I am hoping it is the young Great Spotted Woodpecker that as clockwork turned up in the last month or so but I cannot rule out squirrel.
A few of the plants are really gorgeous at the moment and two of the best in show are the splendid mountain ash and a spindle that are both competing to be the redest plant in the garden. No doubt others have noted the superb colours so far this autumn has held for us and I wonder if this is to do with the moisture rates?
Talking of the Autumn season we have for the last to nights had our first recorded below zero temps. It has not produced any frost but it has dropped to -0.3ºC on both occasions. Amazingly the weekend has been lovely despite highs of just about reaching double figures as it has been mainly clear skies particularly today with a mostly cloudless sky. I have not made the most of it as the cat flap had to be renewed and for the past two weeks I have been under the weather with a terrible chest infection!
I seem to be busy doing nothing at moment as I have not yet cleaned out the nest boxes for possible homes for the winter... I should also check the cameras as one box may already be in use.
12th. Mandy and I took a three day trip out to one of the best places to watch a little migration, Spurn Point on the East coast. We called in at the RSPB Fairburn Ings Reserve and in truth with all the flooding it was just a good walk rather than a bird watch. We were grateful of seeing a Blackbird in the end. Anyhow that was a journey addition as the main event was a two night stop at the Crown & Anchor at Kilnsea. Saturday morning had us up early on despite a few whiskeys the night before. I had come down with the lurgy but I was not going to give in to it. The day was on the whole quiet despite the many thousands of waders and ducks. We paid our £3 and headed to the point late afternoon and spent a little time with a counter. I was lucky enough to spot a SEO going out over the North Sea heading to Lincolnshire before it hung mid air over the sea as though it fancied itself as a Gannet before finally deciding better and carrying on. I love the Thrush arrival and I was hoping to see a few but it was only Two Fieldfare late on as they called "chack chack chack" that had us excited as a good spell that had Brambling and Redwing leaving us thinking Sunday maybe different as the winds changed to a more North Easterly. 
Sunday again up early having enjoyed another round of Whiskey...well it was medicinal. Again it was clear that not only was there not much in the way of movement but anything that had been around yesterday (100s of Goldcrest) had also cleared out leaving a mostly standard kind of day. Plenty of Little Gull, Red Throated Divers, a few Skeins of Pink Foot and a pair of Great Skuas were probably the highlight. I was a touch disappointed as I was hoping to see Yellow Browed Warbler, Red Breasted Flycatcher and a Firecrest so I will just have to go again.

November 2012

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 12.8ºC Min Temp = -3.9ºC Mean Temp = 5.0ºC
Max Wind = 23mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 16 Rain 24hr Max = 23mm Monthly Rain = 145.6mm Yearly rain Total = 1614mm


29th. I cold one today but what a lovely change over the last couple of day's. OK so it's the coldest recorded temp so far this Autumn at -3.9ºCthis morning at 08:00 this morning, but it has been dry and mainly cloudless skies. I noted via my weather station that a full moon and a solar eclipse would occur on the 28th. Well sadly it was only a partial eclipse with a shadow only slightly noticable at about 16:00. I could not detect anything on my way home at 16:30 but on further reading it would be difficult due to UK moon rising times etc....so that was a shame considering the clear skies and what looked almost like a supermoon effect earlier that morning.
It's still -3ºC as I write this at 09:18...I have a day off due to another vampire session at the doctors.
I am keen to keep an eye on the garden today as the cold temps may well bring in a nice visitor as the larder is well stocked and the weather is a time to feed up to survive the nights.....we shall see.
28th. David Greenwood sent another photo of the winter influx of birds, this time Pinkfeet Geese over Bacup in Rossendale. They were also recorded over Crawshawbooth that morning.
22nd. The weatherman has been right but wrong today as whilst they got the wind right with gusts reaching 20mph so far the heavy rain they said by lunchtime have not materialised.....yet and it's almost 15:00.
No Blackcap sightings since first mentioned but I did note a Great Tit hanging around the nestbox on the back of the house. I turned the camera inside the box on and sure enough it was inside pecking away and checking out the decor. I then checked as dark fell and was pleased to note that the box must have passed the fit to roost description so we have a tennis ball looking bird in residense. I am hoping that this will secure another chance to watch nesting activity...but that seems a long way off. I have yet to spot if it is male or female.
17th. The garden has been busy lately with this being mirrored out in the wider country as lot's of birds have been flocking to our little island to seek refuge and food. No Waxwings have visited but we now have 4 Jay's, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Starlings and the other morning a already noted Brambling. The late afternoon on the 16th threw up a unexpected bird when a male Blackcap came and spent ages feeding up on the fatball feeder. It was a real smile maker watching as a Squirel took charge of the mentioned fat balls with a queue of the Woodpeckers and then the Blackcap forming. The Woodies became increasingly impatient and eventually fed from another fat cake that is not really enjoyed. The Blackcap eventually snatched beak fulls as the squirrel ate from below.
I have been busy most of today so I have not managed to check if the Blackcap returned....I hope it did.
10th. I had been noting sighting of Waxwing over the last few weeks as they have flooded in...but nobody in the local club have recorded a Waxwing sighting in the valley so I was pleased and surprised when a gentlemen with an interest in photography more than birds sent me this image asking if it was a Waxwing? Indeed it was and it was recorded at the Calf Hey sight.
Sadly I am fitting a satellite dish for a family member tomorrow so I will not get the chance to see it for myself so I hope others manage to get a sighting. Non the less David Greenwood is credited with the pose of this winter gem....well done.
4th. In line with the time of the year the weekend has gone with a bang. The usual fireworks which are always nice to see but I did cringe when one neighbour was setting them off 6' away from the house gable end with children totally oblivious to any danger.....please be careful.
Anyhow back to the garden and a real cold spell resulted in the really cold morning this morning as at 08:00 it registered -1.9C. It has finished off the rudbekkia plants but did bring in a few winter birds. Blackbirds are now regular again with upto 7 being present and sultanas being eaten in quantity. Mandy alerted me to a real winter visitor this morning as the buddleia was the subject of great observation as a possible Brambling was seen.....and after a little while it sure enough began to feed from the fat ball feeders of all things. It was a cracking male bird probably one of the best marked birds i think I have seen anywhere as most of its dark hood was still present and flanks had lovely markings. I took a photo but we looked at it for so long it had reached the top of the sycamore so it was a poor one. I hope it returns. A Mistle Thrush is also visiting the sultana feeder which is always a nice treat.
It got me wondering about the food crops in the scandanavian countries as particularly seeing the Brambling so early, as opposed to Jan-Feb time it visits on occasion, or if at all. We shall see if this is a trend...so I will be keeping my eyes on the garden a bit more than usual....for Siskin.

December 2012

Weather This Month

Max Temp = 10.7ºC Min Temp = -6.5ºC Mean Temp = 3.2ºC
Max Wind = 19mph
Rain Days Over 2mm = 19 Rain 24hr Max = 34.8mm Monthly Rain = 254.6mm Yearly rain Total = 1868.1mm


29th. Well it's almost over and I was beginning to think I was not going to hear the customery song of the Mistle Thrush before the new year starts....but as Mandy was flattening some clothes in the front bedroom she called to tell me that one was singing...and indeed it was. It seemed to be working as 5 Mistle Thrushes all at distance flitting around some tall tree tops. I like the song from the Mistle Thrush as it seems to signal a new start rather than an end. That start may be some time in the plant world but some birds are already looking to the new year and indeed a new bit of fluff!
The other thing Mandy noticed has answered a wondering in the garden. I mentioned some time ago that I have some tree trunks placed in the garden upright to use for feeding places and wood is always a great boring/nesting place for insects and fungii. I had been noticing lots of chunks of bark being pulled off and I was unsure of what was doing it. I failed to catch anybody on the trailcam but the culprit was spotted today....a Great Spotted Woodpecker was using the stump nearest the house to search for insect life or larvae. What a result to witness as that was one of the reasons in placing tree trunks in the garden as you can see the circle of life unfold.
Funnily enough he just returned to have another go and it's clear that he is finding plenty of grubs hiding. I took a few pictures but whilst poor give the idea.
28th. A local Twitcher/Birder sent me a text about a few lovely birds that were hanging out at the local Res, Cowm. Sadly I could not get around but I did receive some pics which are below. Thanks Dave
26th. It's again starting to rain and even though you would think that 183mm is more than enough the skies think we need a bit more! Have you noticed it's now getting lighter as the winter solstice has passed? No neither have I but every day we are getting a touch more light with todays Sunrise at 08:26 and Sunset at 15:53. The other bonus I guess is that all the talk about the world ending on the 21st.....well we are all still here!
I have yet to clean the feeders for the birds as I have let them run down of seed...oh joy of yoy jobs. I have also to write some HSE notes for work which in truth does not excite me although I do have to do it.
25th. I hope all went well for those whom have indulged in todays delights. I hope you all found plenty of things you were hoping for under your trees and I hope a lot of those things has very nice glass parts to them!
The weather again as been horrific with highs of over 10ºC and grey wet conditions....what happened to the cold? We have even turned the heating off. 
Birds in the garden seem fewer no doubt due to the temp rises although traditionally that will all change come February.
It seems to be coming upon us fast now our holiday to India and when you say it's only 5 weeks today I feel a little under prepared a touch. I am sure that will change as the time passes....it probably gets worse!
17th. An update in the diary as a new front door has confined the cat and I to upstairs. I took a picture the other day as the snow fell and it eventually throughout the day put about 2" of snow down. I actually had the afternoon at home and at times it was quite heavy as the flakes seemed unusually large.
As we head to that all imortant date in December....no not the 25th, but the 21st....huh you say....it's the shortest day! Hurrahh I hear you cry it starts getting lighter.
After the snow came the big freeze reaching a low of -6.5ºC on the 6th. I have to say it made driving for about three days very dangerous and even though our car has four wheel drive we still had one hairy moment despite us not even being in the car! Lady luck was shining on us that day I can tell you.
Temps being so low drew the birds in as the sultana count rose to 1kg a day. We have upto 10 Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush and a Mistle Thrush. No more Bramblings have visited but one of the Great Spotted Woodpecker still makes us smile every so often when he visits. The Jay, AKA the cookie monster, is unrelenting in it's pusuit of monkey nuts and it seems that it can sniff them out like the bisto kids can gravy! I can put some out and within two minutes up to 4 appear and fight over the spoils with the squirrels.
2nd. I set out to beat last years no heating on in the house (central) until the 4th December as last year it was the 3rd. Things conspired against that as I was heading for the target but the tumble dryer broke down and nowhere to dry the clothes!
It also fell at the same time as the coldest temps recorded for the season with last night dropping to -5.8ºC and the night before -3.9ºC. I reluctantly under pressure gave in and put the central heating on. It feels good but once that heating goes on it's difficult to turn it back off and I really don't like the idea of British Gas getting fatter on my money....and I am sure I am not alone.
New dryer ordered so who knows I might get back on track...of sort

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