The Garden Diary

March - 2002 (Part 2)

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16 March - Today, well most of it, was a real Spring day. In bright sunshine the temperature got up to around 15C in the morning. The afternoon cooled down as it became cloudy and then wet.

There was more bird activity in the morning . A blackbird pair, including this male, were here to feed frequently. A couple of Greenfinches were seen flying in and out of the Leylandii, and a pair (?) of Chaffinches were visitors to the bottom of the garden.

The Dunnocks were about most of the time and I saw the male robin take away mealworms for the first time. He headed for the area behind the shed (or just in my neighbour's garden).


18 March - On a very wet morning the female Blackbird is nest building. She is gathering bits from amongst the Irises by the small pond. She headed down into the Leylandii, behind the Ivy tree. In the meantime, her partner was seeing off a juvenile male that had come to feed on the mealworms.

The rest of the day was wasted, trying to establish the cause of a hard drive problem on my laptop. The damned thing has to go off to get a new hard drive (under guarantee, fortunately).


19 March - On a dull but so far dry day I've had had my first chance to use the Olympus to take pictures of the Chaffinch pair that visits the garden. They usually stay low but , for once, the bold coloured male visited the bird table. The female stayed low and I was only able to grab one image before she flew off.

Click on the picture to see a larger version.

I missed a chance to get a picture of a male Greenfinch at the feeder.


21 March - It has been a pleasant Spring day once early dullness cleared. Despite that, bird activity is pretty limited at the moment. The Blackbirds look as though they are nesting in the Leylandii but Ihave seen no other nesting activities, other than the Blue tits.

The Collared Doves are regular visitors to the bird table, usually a pair with occasional extras. They seem to want to trust me and I am often allowed to get quite close as I put food for them.

Click on the picture to see a larger version.


22 March - The pleasant start to Spring continued today with the temperature in the garden reaching nearly 17C this afternoon.

Back on the 11th I included a picture of the Hawthorn buds that were just starting to burst open. Today, on the lower branches I can see not only the leaves opening up, but also groups of flower buds. These are a couple of weeks ahead of last year.




Six weeks after the first flower appeared, the Lesser Cellandines have had a good crop of flowers in the last couple of days. Also, I see that one of the Snakes-head Fritillary flowers is close to opening.


There were a couple of bird moments to note today. Firstly, I looked out the garden just as a Jay left and headed for the Brickfields Country Park. A Rook landed in the top of the Leylandii and seemed to be after nesting material. Yesterday I saw one fly over with a large twig. The tree tops were also visited by a trio of magpies that seemed to be playing follow-the-leader. The robin continues to feed without taking anything away, and I don't remember seeing the female today.

23 March - Very little attention paid to the garden today, but a couple of things to note. The female Sparrowhawk paid a visit (nothing caught) and perched in next door's apple tree. Unfortunately her head was hidden from view so a picture wasn't possible. Also a pair (M and F) of Greenfinches were at the feeder again - the second visit seen this week.


24 March - A beautifully sunny Sunday has brought the first flowering of a gardener's friend - a Dandelion!

These are allowed to grow in my garden in the area by the Birch tree and the Ivy tree, although I control their appearance elsewhere. I will come back with an attempt at identification later on.




Greenfinches were here again early in the morning and also, a pair of great Tits. I managed to get this picture of the female, but the male, with his much bolder chest stripe, stayed hidden by the branches of the Hawthorn. As soon as I open the door to get closer they leave.



26 March - Another pleasant day, although a cold breeze made quite a difference when the sun disappeared behind a cloud, as it did increasingly in the afternoon.

The Sparrowhawk made a brief appearance this morning, and there were a number of visits by a trio of our local Wood Pigeons - one of them is pictured here.



28 March - A beautiful day but I am still not getting to do much in the garden. I did, however spend a bit of time having a look at what needs to be done. Hidden from the sun behind some daffodils I found this common dog violet flower (Viola riviniana), a few days earlier than my first sighting of one last year (on 2 April).

Before I forget again, yesterday I spotted my first Peacock butterfly in the garden. Although it landed on a paving stone there was no chance to get close enough to take a photograph. There has been at least one Queen bumblebee around this week.


Tonight Simon, one of my tree surgeon sons, drew my attention to a hedgehog in the garden. This is the first one seen here since last October.

I found it hidden under a bush and had to use the Olympus at full zoom to get this closeup before leaving it in peace. There are plenty of slugs about, so I am happy to see it here.


29 March - This morning saw the female blackbird make a cautious visit to the mealworm dish. The blue cast on her feathers reflecting light from the very bright and clear morning sky. You can see the mottled texture of the breast, compared with her partner (pictured on 16 March).

A little bit later I looked out to see both robins standing in this same dish! Needless to say the camera was out of reach.





30 March - As the good Easter weather continues I caught sight of a Two Spot Ladybird in the morning sunshine. It was dashing about the leaves of our big bamboo plant, searching for the aphids that seem to be getting off to a good (!) start this Spring.


In contrast to the brightness of the lady bird, this drab little Owl-Midge (family - Psychodidae) was spotted on a window this morning. A small, hairy insect, with relatively large dull greyish wings which measure about 3mm long. Their larvae live on decaying matter. and are attracted to lighted windows.

Click on the picture to see a larger version.


Numerous Bumble Bees visited today, and although I could not get a close look at them there were Buff-tailed and/or White-tailed, and one Red-tailed bumblebee. I saw just one butterfly, Its bright yellow colour suggesting a male Brimstone.

The Sparrows are not as vocal at the moment, and I think there are less of them about. There were a number of mating related tussles, although I have not seen any nest building activities yet.

The Starlings are quite regular visitors at the moment. This one spent a minute or so investigating the glass tank which has tadpoles in it.


It was on its way behind the tank as I took the picture, showing its vivid spangled plumage. This is its Winter colouring, although my bird books say that its bill's yellow colour appears in the Spring.


31 March - The clocks changed to BST (British Summer Time) this morning, and it seems to have brought an end to a week of sunny weather - it is now dull and damp!

As I write this at 10.26am the male Chaffinch is in the Hawthorn, calling for all his might. A short while ago he and his partner were feeding together on the bird table, and although he left before I could take a picture, the female stayed just long enough for this shot.

Both Robins have been feeding at the dish again and the picture is of the female (none of the white feathers that 'our' male has.

Click on the picture to see a larger version.

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