Wildlife Diary 2010

January '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 6.7 °C                 Min Temp =  -8.4°C
Max Wind = 17.2 mph              Max Rain in 24 hr Period = 20.7 mm
Max Rain in 1 hr Period = 3.6 mm          Total Rain For Month = 50.7 mm
Live Local Weather HERE
31st  Our RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch was undertaken by myself, Mandy and our cat Ferly. It was a good cross section of birds that I would normally see with a few omissions like Greenfinch, Wren, Mistle Thrush or Long Tailed Tits. It was a very cold morning with -2ºCbeing recorded at the beginning of the count at 09:40 and the temp only rose to -0.8ºC at it's end at 10:40. So in Euro Style...Here are the results from the Wild Rossendale garden
Song Thrush x1      Blackbird x9     Blue Tit x3     Great Tit x2     Coal Tit       Dunnock x1      Jay x2
Chaffinch x4        Goldfinch x3     Robin x3      Starlings x12     Collared Dove x2      Magpie x2   Feral Pigeon x1   

30th.  I shall be completing our RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch tomorrow morning at some point so for those who have forgot or who have never before done this then click the ling to find out how to get involved.

28th.  Not much chance of looking at the garden today but one welcome visitor was seen early morning as it sat proud as punch in the Sycamore tree surveying the area. The stunning male Bullfinch is a bird I think of great character with his bold colour, nervous disposition and his very quietly confident song that is so hard to pick up on and hear. I hope this visit is the start of many visits as thoughts of the breeding season start to creep in.
26th.  Whilst my curve ball pages are taking most of the limelight I am still not deaf to the world around me as this morning I was stopped in my tracks at 07:25 outside of work as I heard the melodic tones of my first Blackbird song of the year. I stood still for a while as I enjoyed his solo performance whilst the light of the day was still absent. I stopped to wonder if this chap new that his song would allow me to take such strength and came to the conclusion that he sang just for me. 
The garden is looking tatty at the moment with residue of bird food scattered around the garden which was thrown out when the snow was down. I can already see the emergence of Spring with Snowdrops showing signs of life here and there. I hope that my recovery is in sink with the seasons as so much of my enjoyment has come from this most basic, but vital changes in the Northern Hemisphere.
10th.  Wild Rossendale has had some dark clouds surrounding it of late and it looks like the forecast is for those clouds to stick around for some time yet! My trip to the consultant on Friday the 8th of January 2010 was indeed a day where a "Curve Ball" was thrown. The initial signs that I have alluded to in the diary have finally come to life in that the lump in my neck which I had removed on the 30th Dec 2009 has turned out to be a blood cancer. Specifically, Non Hodgkin's lymphoma. Mandy and I were both semi prepared for this final realization after our first visit out of three with the consultant as coupled with the size, position, firmness and stubbornness amongst other things of the lump were noted as very suspicious. When the consultant told us the news on the 8th it was, and still is, a very bitter pill....very bitter! I have to attend other hospitals for more tests whereby I will be staged and told what strain of the disease I have. I have decided that I will run a separate entry on the website of my journey with this as a record for myself and to keep friends and family informed. It's page name may change as my or Mandy's feelings to it do. I use very few expletives in my private life, with the website also containing very few. The word I used when it was first becoming clear that cancer (I use small case for the word cancer at the moment in a mark of disrespect) was in the truest sense of the word, that being "Bastard".
A record was set today in the garden as the Goldfinch numbers have grown to the point where 62 were counted late in the afternoon as they hung around in the top of the Sycamore. The collective noun of these welcome beauties is a "Charm" and that's just what they are.
6th.  No more record lows as yet but if the forecast is correct we may well see another low in the next few days. At 11:22 today it is still below freezing at -0.7ºC but it's a beautiful day with the thick snow which fell again on the night of the 4th & 5th. The sky has largely blue skies with no wind although every so often a few clouds come over a a very light flurry of snow wafts around making you wonder if it is snowing or if it's coming off trees or houses nearby.
Plenty of Thrushes are visiting the garden with upto 12 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes and a single Mistle Thrush all taking sultanas but still I can not attract any of the migratory Fieldfare or Redwing. I did see about 10 Fieldfare flying over the garden the other day but they should no interest in stopping as the garden is not really the habitat for these beauties. The Redwing is far more a reality of seeing in the garden but I have been surprised at the lack of sightings since the big freeze began in mid December. 
The Goldfinch numbers have reached a good number with 45 being present in the Sycamore tree. A picture here shows quite a good number of that 45 present. I was surprised to note that this amount was not a record due to having had 47 recorded in December 2008.
4th.  BBBrrrrrrrr.......very cold. Another record low in the garden has been recorded with a low of -8.4ºC being registered at 08:11 this morning. The temp is taking it's time to recover as at 09:20 this morning it is still -8.1ºC! My first enforced day off work is a strange one as I really wish I was joining the mass on the first day back in the New Year....my neck is recovering nicely and I hope to be back to work for next week if not before. I was told my biopsy results would take two weeks to come back but I am due to see my consultant on Fri the 8th, which will be another brick in the wall in this journey.
The snow is sticking around due to the freezing temps which is making feeding for the birds nigh on impossible. I hope people have found time to put out some bird food or table scraps as this weather is set to continue so any food you put out could well be a life saver. I am surprised we have not had so many visits from the finch family with only the Goldfinch and Chaffinch really showing up...where are all the Greenfinch? The Woodpecker also seems to vacate the garden when it is either cold or snowy...why I wonder? Surely the food is reason to stay around the area? I have up to 4 Robins all chasing one another at the mo which when they do rest up on a perch look quite stunning against the white snow.
2nd.  A surprise awaited us this morning as when Mandy had a look through the curtains a thick layer of snow of at least 2" had been put down and the snowflakes that were still falling were increasing in size to a point where driving was becoming troublesome for the cars I could see on the main road. I was not allowed out so Mandy kindly volunteered to fill up the various feeders to make sure enough food was out for the visiting birds. I have been putting a few little seeds and such like on the window sill downstairs where the Robin has now taken to eating. It seems strange as he heads straight for the window before holding out his wings to act as a breaking system. He keeps peering above the window frame to check on our whereabouts in the kitchen then makes a quick get away to the ivy tree. As you can see in the above picture the most common visitor to local gardens is the Snowman....I have stolen this image from next door who had this chap built in no time!
It seems the weather is going to stay cold for at least the next week with more snow forecast. I have been told to stay at home for 2 weeks but it is about 15 years since I have had that much time off through illness and am hoping to be back at work in some capacity within a week. The temp is again beginning to drop as I write this at 15:30 and is just holding on to 0.4ºC having held at 0.6ºC for most of the early afternoon.
1st. After a brief stay in hospital I am now recovering after having a lump removed from my neck which has been sent away for analysis. Fingers crossed that the findings are positive. I am male and fall into a large category of men whom are cowards when it comes to needles or anything remotely to do with foreign instruments in my body. It seems the life as I have known it until now may change beyond all recognition as the results from the biopsy will be definitive. The have a happy and healthy New Year catchphrase used at this time of year is more poignant to my family this time round so myself and Mandy would like to wish all a Happy and Healthy New Year and would also like to wish any NHS staff a particularly happy one as the service I have received so far has been excellent.

February '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 6.5 °C                 Min Temp =  -4.1°C
Max Wind = 14.7 mph              Max Rain in 24 hr Period = 16 mm
Max Rain in 1 hr Period = 3.6 mm          Total Rain For Month =72.5 mm
Live Local Weather HERE
25th.  The long awaited arrival of our first Siskin of the year and it was Mandy who spotted him feeding on a feeder tray of sunflower hearts. I hope he tells his mates that no doubt will be accompanying him. Not far away from the garden is a stand of Alder trees which are a winter favourite of this little beauty. He stays to feed and rest for quite a period of times and is actually quite hard to shift even when something spooks the other finches and starlings in the garden.
Weather has been very strange with quite an amount of snow around over the last week or so. 2-3" at a time seems to come down overnight but then rising temps through the day often shifts it only for another wave as the overnight temps begin to drop..
I have just had to replace my ageing computer with a new one inc the new windows 7 and it all went rather well. The time reinstalling all my little programs and making sure I back up all my data and photos is the time consuming bit. The new computer is ultra quiet in comparison to the old one and is much quicker at multitasking. A few little downsides is that I no longer have a com port (ageing kind of data port), DVR card to watch my nestboxes through the computer but I hope to get around these problem in due course. 
21st.  We awoke today and were surprised to see 2-3" of snow had fallen overnight. The birds were keen to feed up and they soon polished off 500g of sultanas. It was great to see not one but a pair of Song Thrushes that visited the sultanas side by side which were closely followed by a pair of Mistle Thrush that always amaze as sometimes you forget how big this Thrush is as it stands with chest out. The other very welcome sighting was of 4 male and 1 female House Sparrows. I know a lot of people will wonder why this is so great but they are just not that common in our garden. They hung around a while and fed from the mixed seed feeder. I hope they hang around as their chiruping sounds are music to the ears. The woodpecker has not been seen for a few days...hope he is OK.
Bought a few more plants on Sat from of all places Aldi as for 99p each I got another Oregon Grape (superb plant) and another flowering currant. They are bare rooted so i hope they will romp away when planted.
15th.  Not much in the way of change in the garden with even the weather not having much to say for it's self. The rain total so far of 25.9mm for the month is quite nice and reinforces the quietness. A nice weekend weather wise was even had at the weekend with quite a few sunny spells, particularly on Sunday. I had a watch of the garden for a good few hours over the weekend and I was rewarded with a sighting of a pair of Bullfinch..hurraahhh. The male sat high up in a Sycamore and his bright pinky/red breast and military style black cap stood out lovely against the blue of a clear sky. The female sat lower, and as I willed them down to feed a chaffinch had other ideas and harassed them around the tree top until they left. Not to be outdone I was soon watching the male Great Spotted Woodpecker jabbing away on the fat feeder. I really hope he hangs around the area ....and dare I mention the possibility of a family! The other welcome visitor was a lone male sparrow which came to a seed feeder for a brief time. I love the sound of the chirrupping they make so I hope that as in last year they eventually return to the garden to feed. My schwegler  sparrow nestbox is up and ready and also ready to accept a new resident!
I noticed that the snowdrops are well and truly up although considering the amount I planted it is quite a low count. I have also seen the shoots of Bluebells which will be interesting to see if they have fared any better. I am looking forward to seeing a few trees and plants from last year and how well they come on and in particular the two Mountain Ash.
8th.  The garden is looking shabby still as by now I would be out there cutting back and moving plants. I am sure the time will come when I feel more up to doing it but for now it's status quo. The birds don't seem to mind the mess as I am still getting regular visits from the lovely Long Tailed Tits, Pr of Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and male Great Spotted Woodpecker. Up to four Robins are now squabbling in the garden with much head back and red breast feathers extended. I wonder if we are to have a family in our ivy tree this year...I do hope so. The Tit boxes on the side of the house with cameras in have not been visited so far but a Blue tit box in the Sycamore tree at the far end of the garden has already had a pr in the box which is always nice to see even if a little early. 

March '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 12.9°C                 Min Temp =  - 6°C
Max Wind = 58.3 mph              Max Rain in 24 hr Period = 21.7 mm
Max Rain in 1 hr Period = 4.1 mm          Total Rain For Month =  91.6mm
Live Local Weather HERE
31st. Wow what a difference a few day's make! The last day of March and the snow has returned as last night a good 2" or so fell on the garden. It is as I write slowly melting away due to the damp that has followed rather than any warm temps of the day (1.8ºC at 11:38) Staying with the weather it has been a strange month indeed as what seemed like it would be a dry March in the first half turned out not to be so in the second half. It seems that the rainfall figures show that since 2006
rainfall for month = 2nd highest total for garden
rainfall for 24hr period = 2nd highest for garden
rainfall in 1 hour period = lowest recorded for garden
The Robin nesting excitement has now passed as the nest has been abandoned as the Robins have be seen carrying material elsewhere...Dam
I thought you may be interested in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Results. In the first table the top 20 from LANCASHIRE are shown whilst the bottom table is a NATIONAL result
Position  SpeciesAverageRank% of gardens

PositionSpecies Average Rank
1house sparrow 3.77
2blackbird 3.28
3starling 3.13
4blue tit 2.58
5chaffinch 2.19
6woodpigeon 1.91
7robin 1.49
8great tit 1.39
9collared dove 1.33
10goldfinch 1.29

26th. Spring is certainly upon us as my father recorded his first Willow Warbler of the year in Blackburn centre last week! A very early recording. I notice that a few of the Rossendale birders have recorded migratory sightings already to with Wheatear and Swallow being seen. Lovely indeed as the move toward lighter and warmer nights and day's. Saying that I have been watching the weather forecast and for those who have tucked the woolly jumper away fro the year....you may like to get it back out by the middle of next week as below zero temps and snow are forecast!
My over excitement regarding the Robins building a nest in the nestbox has been cut short as it looks as though the Robins have now abandoned the idea. I don't know why work has stopped but I have not seen any further visits for the last 3 days. A real shame if that is the case as the box is enclosed in mesh that would help stop any would be attackers. The strange thing is that not only have the Robins not been to the box, they have not really been seen around the garden...we shall see.
24th.  A great bit of news for the garden was recorded yesterday as I noticed a Robin flitting around the ivy where I have a nestbox. I stood back in the kitchen to watch and sure enough she was carrying dry leaves into the ivy...but was she taking them into the box? I checked upstairs in the office as the box in the ivy has a camera inside. It did look like some new material was in there and although the picture quality of that camera needs attention, there was no mistaking when a Robin hopped into the box and scattered some dry material around the box! I am so pleased if the Robins go ahead with the nest as it is quite a few years since I have been able to track nesting birds via my cameras. This morning no Robin visits have been seen but this is probably to do with the rain at the moment.
The other unusual happening was a dark figure that watched the garden for some 20 minutes looking for something to feed on!
This male sat on the fence watching anything that moved for 20mins which allowed me to get my digiscoping gear set up.
It sends a shiver down a lot of garden birdwatchers spine...but in this garden it is a respected and welcome visitor.
22nd. Another patch of spawn appeared on the morning of the 20th. The warmer temps and the start of the rains seemed instrumental in helping the process along. Another sign of brighter times arrived on the 20th as whilst outside at the front of the house I startled a Bumble bee that took to the wing. I have not seen any in the garden as yet though.
A day away from the garden on Sunday the 21st as Mandy and I went to one of our favourite places, the national wildflower centre in Knotty Ash. The weather was kind with some warming sun mixed with a few cool breezes.  The site was expected with not much in flower apart from a few Fleabane, Snowdrops and our first flowering Daffs. It was great to sit by the pond and listen to all the bird song happening around us and watch as a pair of Woodpigeon romanced one another. The highlight was watching a pr of Nuthatch at work building up a suitable hole size on an existing Tit box. The home made food available in the cafe would rival an expensive eatery and we would recommend anybody to spend a couple of hours at this very special and tranquil place.
19th.  We had our first spawning in the pond this year on the 15th. Quite a large amount but this has been the only spawn which is a little surprising as the temps overnight have been quite good with daytime temps reaching another high for the year at 12.9ºC on the 17th. I have also noted that the Robins have starting nest building as I watched what I thought was a male singing. He suddenly darted to the floor and began routing around and found a dry leaf that he flew off with to next doors garden and disappeared behind some trellis. Now I am aware that females do sing in winter so is it that females will also sing "in season" or is it that this male is particularly attentive and helping with the nest?
I managed to plant my Rowan tree in place of the not very well John Downie apple tree. I have not chopped the apple tree down as it will help with the problem of Starlings weighing down the wiry branches of the young tree. I hope this Rowan takes off as the berries would be a great addition to the Autumn/Winter garden.
14th.  First off I would like to wish all Mothers, and indeed, all would be Mothers a happy and fulfilling day. 
The garden is still not showing any Daffodils at the moment although plenty are growing. The temperature yesterday reached the warmest recorded this year with the dizzy high of 7.8ºC being reached at 15:30 on the 13th. The Frogs have responded well with upto 23 being counted by Mandy. They thrash around and certainly enjoy the sunshine that reaches the pond by 10:00. No spawn as yet but I get the feeling it's not far away.
Bird wise it's been great as apart from a pair of Bullfinch visiting on occasion we had a very close flyover from a Raven that caught both Mandy's and my own attention even though Mandy was in the front garden and I in the back garden. It was very low at about 80' above us and calling as it did a full circle..very nice! The other great thing is that this morning our breeding pair of Lesser Redpoll returned for the first time this year. The male fed from the niger feeder whilst the female sat in a tree above him before they both flew off North East to Cowm res where they most probably breed. They usually bring young later in the year so I hope this trend continues.
The Robins are up to something at the moment as I think they are nest building somewhere at the back of the garden. I am yet to see where but I do hope they have chosen wisely!
7th.  Life in the garden continues to stir as whilst the night temps are still dipping well below low daytime temps are almost up to 7ºC which has been enough to bring out 20 Frogs in the pond and back on the 5th my suspicions were raised as I noted a few animal droppings in the beds and so the night after I spotted the culprit...a hedge pig. I always love to see this little critter snuffling around the garden as they are truly one of the British Isles gems. I scattered a few peanut nibbles near it and placed some specialist hedgehog food out on a slab which by 06:00 this morning had gone. It is a gorgeous day as I look out with blue skies and no wind...a good day to be alive!  The temp at midday has only reached 0.8ºC but it's lovely. The birds seem at peace as they take in the suns healing rays. I keep looking into the garden to get going as a lot needs to be done but.....I just can't at mo. My interest in the frogs has been ignited as they fall into amplexus with upto about 6 of them...but no spawn as yet.
4th.  I am not able to get into the garden at the moment due to my illness as the muscle,joint and kidneys conspire against me. The picture above seems well outdated as we have had almost wall to wall sunshine since the 1st March. I did manage a bit of time in the garden tidying up on the 2nd but boy am I paying for that! I spent several hours readying the garden for the new season but you can hardly tell i've been in there! I have a few plants to add to the garden but these will just have to wait. Nestbox activity is increasing with Blue Tit's and Great Tit's all spotted looking into available nesting sites. Again I am disappointed as non of the boxes given any real attention are the ones with cameras in! I thought I might have seen the first sign of Robins building their nest but as yet, whilst I have noted pairings, no nest material has been seen. The Woodpecker returned back on the 2nd...phew as I thought we had lost him. I have not seen him since but hopefully the courting ritual will be taking up most of his time...I keep listening for drumming but nothing as yet.

April '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 19°C                 Min Temp = -1.5°C
Max Wind = 19.4 mph              Max Rain in 24 hr Period = 9.3 mm
Max Rain in 1 hr Period = 4.6mm          Total Rain For Month =  34.7mm
Live Local Weather HERE
28th. Mandy and I visited the National Wildflower Centre to see how it was progressing and I thought a video of this place would show the strange yet lovely tranquil qualities. I hope to do more videos as the seasons change.

21st. The weather is actually rather good at the moment. It is cold out of the sun and with my predicament with having chemo and radio I can't really take advantage of the warming rays of the sun but non the less it's far more enjoyable. The down side to the clearer day's and the direction of the wind (predominantly) from the North it has made night time temps plummet to below zero which some of the garden plants have not at all liked including the Marsh Marigold, Water Avens, and Alliums. It will be interesting to see their recovery once the sun hits them as at the moment the flowers of the marsh marigold look like they have been sprayed with weed killer.
Good news also today as I spied my first House Martins of the year as three of them flew Northwards over the house. I like to see these back and hope that they again choose the area to nest at.
18th.  Mandy and I had a good walk round our local res on the 16th where we had our Willow Warblers accompanied by their restful song. I was also treated to a sighting of something very special, something I have only ever seen at a nature reserve once before. I was looking over a little feeder stream that runs into the res really looking for Kingfisher or Dipper but a little Water Vole decided to trundle down the banking and swim across the stream and into a snug on the other banking. This revealed it's eating place as a lot of plants had been toppled due to the Voles liking of the base of vegetation. What a sighting! Both Mandy and I had no camera so another visit will hopefully give us some pictures.
In the garden we are already seeing the Blackbirds carrying food away to this years new life. Things in general have gone a little quiet as the birds spread out to find territory along with the long sitting on eggs that has to be undertaken. It's great to see nesting birds in the garden but again frustratingly Blue and Great Tits have decided that they will nest in boxes with no cameras in! The Blue Tits are in a box high up in a Sycamore tree at the end of the garden and the Great Tits have bizarrely chosen a nestbox on the backside of the shed that is designed for Starlings!! The Great Tit's in particular have cracked on with the task of nest building with the cat hair I put out being used as a final soft, thermal, water resistant layer. The box is a little exposed to predators so I will keep an eye on things as best as I can.
Something that has never been seen by me before as due to the Icelandic Volcanic Eruption the garden and indeed most of Europe is witnessing skies that are not only quiet but free from the criss cross of vapour trails from aircraft. I wonder, aside from the direct impact to the people of Iceland, this ash will have on any migrating species of bird as a key time for migration kicks in. 
11th. Spring finally sprung in this neck of the woods yesterday with a high temp of 17.3ºC being recorded. The wind remained light from a ESE direction. It felt glorious and I made the most of that warmth to get some tidying up in the garden done along with some seed planting. I planted a mix of annual seeds like Californian Poppy, Corncockle, Corn Marigold and Corn Flower. I have never really done much with seeds but I had a couple of small patches that I thought would be great as a seed bed and thought it would be nice to see how well seeds would do.
As you would expect a lot of Bumblebees were present throughout the day as a few Queens were still trying to find a nest site. Other bumblebees were about and were instantly drawn to yellow. A wasp was noted on some old branches I placed around the pond. The Hedgehog is still being fed at night although I am still only seeing a single hog which I hope will change. He has marked his territory alright as the droppings are evident in most places in the garden. I had a few shrub cuttings put to one side as I wanted to put them in a heap within the woodland edge part of the garden. I stacked them up vertically in the hope that this may encourage hogs to nest here. The two hog boxes that are already in the garden have so far proved unused.
A trip up to Leighton Moss on the 9th had us enjoying views of Marsh Harrier and the lovely Marsh Tit. A little Egret showed briefly as they continue their march further northwards. My digiscoping efforts were poor but Mandy fared better with some great shots of Marsh Tit and Avocet.

May '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 27°C                 Min Temp = -2.3°C
Max Wind = 16 mph              Max Rain in 24 hr Period = 1.5 mm
Max Rain in 1 hr Period = 1.5mm          Total Rain For Month =  24mm
Live Local Weather HERE
25th. I forgot to mention that we have noted a Queen Bee exiting the decking area quite regularly and now as the workers emerge it looks like the garden will have it's own Bumblebee nest for the first time ever. The queen is the Buff-tailed bumble bee - Bombus terrestris which is our largest Bumble bee. Whilst not in an ideal spot under the decking next to our dining area we are excited to see the goings on over the season. 
21st. Not much in the diary at the moment as time enjoying my getting back to some sort of normality has had me doing lot's of tasks that is helping me attain a higher fitness level as I set myself a return to work on the 24th! I did however manage to fit booking a holiday in for December this year. I never envisaged being able to do this. To be honest it is a little bit of throwing caution to the wind as I have to wait at least 4-5 weeks to find out if my treatment had worked.....but it just has to......there is no other option for me. 
The garden has experienced it's warmest temp today with a lovely 25.1 being reached at 14:22. It's clouded over a little and dare I say that it feels a little clammy? The dewpoint reading has confirmed this with a reading of 16 degrees and this is classed as Ok for most but it certainly feels different. Another visit to the wildflower centre on Thursday and it was amazing seeing areas of the gardens needing watering as over the last two months very little rain has actually fallen....this is in line with the very precarious national weather forecasters that are saying a very good July-August is in store for us.....and no this does not include the Met office forecast!
Of note we have Great Tits doing OK feeding young in the nestbox at the back of the shed and I have witnessed young Robins and Dunnocks being fed. I am sure I heard the calls of young Starlings which cannot be far away from invading the garden!

June '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 25.1°C                Min Temp = 2.9°C
         Max Wind = 12 mph            Total Rain For Month =  40mm
Live Local Weather HERE
29th. A lovely trip with some friends to watch Simply Red in concert at Dalby Forest near Pickering and a little sight seeing in York was enjoyed over the weekend. As we were traveling to North Yorkshire I was surprised not to see any Red Kites and it was not for the want of trying. The weather held lovely for us all and whilst it went cool in the evening of the concert it stayed dry! It was a task whilst visiting York on Sunday not to find out the World Cup scores of Germany v England but as we sat at the river eating lunch we kept hearing the cheers and groans which the staff passed on as 2-2 but then the goal being disallowed. I managed to get home not knowing what took place in the second half although some of the faces I saw on our return in local pubs suggested a negative result....and so it was as I watched the recording I made we capitulated and went down 4-1!
Well my talking of the need for water was answered last night with a fantastic storm with thunder, lightning and something falling out of the sky that made all things wet! In fact in total for the last 24hrs we have had 12.2mm which mostly fell this morning on my way to work. It was a talking point with many of my customers as the storm created power cuts for many in the valley. As I sit out on the decking at 15:30 this afternoon it hardly seems what all the fuss was about as the sun is shining, clouds are few and the temps are touching a lovely 19C. Is this a sure sign of our changing weather patterns....who knows!
25th. The often joked about topic of hose pipe bans looks increasingly real for us in the north west of the country. The very dry winter and now a very dry spring has left water supplies well below average for this time of the year. If by the month end no water falls the real possibility of water bans will be looked at. In May of this year only 24mm of rain fell and this month as the figures show only 27.8mm of rain has fallen. When looking at the long range that covers the rest of June then it seems that next week does not give much in the way of rain to come and certainly nothing before next Tuesday! The water butt I use to fill the pond is bone dry lets hope the reservoirs do not have the same problem!
17th. A good weather week all in all, so much so that even though world cup has not had me watching TV. As I write this at 17:50 the temperature is a lovely 24.2 C and the wind is light....perfect for aiding recovery!
A few more sightings to report with the first of the much anticipated Mistle Thrush young being seen waiting for dad to feed him. The other nice treat is the rarely seen Blackcap which has been singing quite close to the garden for the last three weeks. This morning as I sat on the decking eating breakfast I noticed his song was getting stronger as he made his way up through the trees around the area. I saw him flit into the trees above the garden whereby he sat singing for a few minutes. I could not locate him and before long he moved on again. Strangely tonight I have not heard any song...has he failed to attract a mate and this mornings song was his last as he moved on to pastures new I wonder?
Sorry for the lack of pictures at the moment as I struggle to regain my zest for a few of my hobbies and loves in life. I am sure this will return. matters away from the garden as quite a busy few weeks coming up with our 11th Anniversary, my 36th year of life, fathers day and a much anticipated Simply Red concert to attend at dalby forest.....I hope for good weather....and that it has not peaked to early!
10th. Another round of youngsters have decided to visit the garden. Yesterday morning I could hear the noise of a Great Tit family as they chased their parents round several trees begging for food. They eventually came into view and there were three of the little beauties. This morning was the turn of another young family to show it's face with the calls of Goldfinch being followed with a few fly bys before they settled four meters away from me as I sat on the decking eating my breakfast. The washing line seemed to be a good perching point for all three eventually but as soon as the parents flew off the feeders and into the trees the young followed quick smart with begging calls at full volume! I seem to be getting a lot of goldfinch adults at the minute with up to six individuals taking seed. I note they have also gained a taste for the Niger seed again at the moment which most probably helps them recover from this hard time as the Niger seed can act as a tonic.
5th. Well after noting last month that we were very pleased to have our very first Bumble Bee nest of the species Buff-tailed bumble bee - Bombus terrestris I was amazed to see another nest at the back of the garden...in an old nestbox that has been sat on my outside work bench as a reminder to replace the box in the woods at the side of the garden. I was disappointed with the first nest placement as it was under the decking so i would not be able to see the nest results in future...not so with this one as the nestboxes I make have a fully removable front panel so that I will be able to see the wonderful structure when it has been finished with. 
I think that the Great Tit's may have fledged but if they have they are keeping a low profile as I have not seen them...and more crucially not heard them! The Lesser Redpols are still visiting with the Bullfinch pair being an irregular visitor. For reasons I do not know it seems that the Blackbirds have had at least 3 nests fail. I cannot detect where their latest one is but it is close as the Male is singing most of the day nearby. The picture above of the lovely Mistle Thrush is a picture I took from the office window. It loves the Ivy berries and often when I am sat out on the decking under our parasol it will fly in and take berries as we sit listening to the radio some 5 feet away!
My choice not to feed mealworms this year for the first time in many years has me a little sad as the opportunities that mealworm feeding gives are sadly missed....few sparrows, no feeding Great Tit's from the hand and no scrabble by the Tit's to feed their young. I don't miss the cost though as at the peak of usage I could spend upwards of £70 per month...don't tell Mandy! My decision was made due to the allergies I was having that at first my Doc stated was hey fever. The allergies got worse and worse and the length of time the allergies hung around (often 8 months of the year) were debilitating to the point where I became asthmatic. Having taken time to single out things I thought it may be it was soon clear it was the dust of the mealworm! Two years on I have no symptoms and feel I can enjoy summer again. I also decided not to feed the worms at all...no matter what quantity as I have it in my mind that this illness of my immune system may well have opened the door to me getting Lymphoma....something I am keen not to repeat.....no matter what the cost...including the birds!

July '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 24.6°C                Min Temp = 6.7°C
         Max Wind = 18 mph            Total Rain For Month =  152.2mm
Live Local Weather HERE
27th. The garden is falling under the quiet spell that starts to occur at this time of year. The weather has put a dampner on sitting out enjoying the summer as since the hose pipe ban came into effect it has done nothing but rain! It is also quite cool in the day with only small periods that are warm enough to sit out. The latest seems to be that the ban is to continue for now as water levels are still lower than usual. I have been treated to a new pr of binoculars (more info here) so I am looking forward to testing these out at some point. They are mainly for our up coming trip to India as my existing bins are 10x magnification and are harder work in a forest environment.
A note about the two bumblebee nests in the garden....well now it seems like one as no bees have been noted visiting the old nestbox at the back of the garden. The nest under the decking is still being used with regular flyby bees being about, which is nice to see.
Butterflies....where are they all?
15th. Wow we had a real storm last night at 21:00. I was out at the time and as I was driving home the skies darkened and the lightning soon followed which was spectacular. The rain, interspersed with the odd hail stone, began and within 5 mins or so 8.4mm had fallen. After about an hour the storm passed and the skies were brighter. Today has been wet and windy with the last 24hrs putting down 32.8mm of rain and a wind speed of 15mph being recorded. No doubt this rainfall will not ease the water shortage due to it being the wrong sort of rain!
14th. Mandy and I were discussing the lack of butterflies in the garden over the last month or so as whilst whites and Orange Tips have been noted we have not seen any "coloured" beauties. As I sat out this afternoon the first Red Admiral stopped off on a common vallerian for some time. Has anybody else noted a lack of butterflies? This seems to be even more strange as the weather has been warm and dry...or maybe just like other wild creatures the wider countryside is offering enough food so they do not need to visit the garden for food.
The two bees nests are still doing well with much coming and going that is not causing any harm or problems at all.
As most will know us in the North West of the country are on a hose ban but a little respite from the dry weather occurred yesterday as 9.2mm of rain fell. While this is not a lot it amounts to a large proportion percentage wise when looking what has fallen over the last three months.
12th. An early morning update before work. I finally added a picture to the diary and what a beauty
A small Magpie Moth
11th. A lovely sight today as Mandy pointed out a small bird flitting around our black Elder tree. It was a Willow Warbler and if I remember correctly it is the first in the garden for quite some time. It flitted around for a short while before slipping away undetected. The garden seems to be without much in the way of colour at present with many of the early flowers gone but many of the plants still waiting to bloom. The cornfield annuals that I sowed in a few places are just starting to flower and so far I am quite pleased with the results. I purchased some of my favourite plants at the garden centre yesterday, verbena bonarensis is a superb plant that butterflies just love later in the year. 
No young Blackbirds have been seen in or around the garden this year which is rather sad and as the year progresses it is looking more and more likely that other factors have got the better of our families.
One thing that has been numerous this year is a new visitor to the garden in the shape of a small magpie moth. I saw it flying the other night in the garden and this morning one is inside the house so I managed to get a few pictures which I hope to upload later today.

August '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 22.7°C                Min Temp = 3.3°C
         Max Wind = 18 mph            Total Rain For Month =  103mm
Live Local Weather HERE
30th. Well a very strange thing today.....the sun, as I think it's known, has broken free and is showing what a difference a little sun in the garden can make. The shortage of garden butterflies has been simply down to the wet and cool weather we have had for the last 8 weeks but today a little warmth has had Whites and several Peacocks and a single Red Admiral take up sunning and feeding positions around the garden. The buddleia is obviously a favourite spot but on occasion they have wandered to the corn marigold, verbena bonariensis and the tall hemp agrimony. Talking of plants we have a lovely, very tall plant that must be a bi-annual as last year it was just huge leaves but this year it has flowered. It has reached about 8' and has many sunflower yellow like flowers on it. Not much in the way of insects have been seen visiting but I am hopeful that this produces sunflower seeds that may appeal to the visiting finches come winter.
I may even get the chance to mow the lawn!
27th. A shocking great hole in the diary has had my usual readers wondering what has happened! Well nothing really as I am still recovering from our recent trials. I am back at work full time and once again the things in life that I love get squeezed in here and there. Mandy and I did however manage to have a fantastic time at this years Birdfair in Rutland. The celeb lecture this year was from Mark Carwardine and he focused on his recent hit series with Stephen Fry "Last Chance To See". Mandy and I both thought it was excellent and so did friends. It seemed most were impressed with his ability to talk publicly in both a natural and humorous tone.
The garden is still busy-ish with hedgehogs still being fed, young birds being taught life lessons and the bees nest is still going strong despite the shocking weather that has stuck around since early July now. I now just hope that an Indian summer is in prospect as this can be a lovely time of year.
I have fitted a new kitchen after much pressure from Mandy...I some how found myself doing it before I realised what was going on!
Bird trip ideas abroad are coming thick and fast at the moment and after booking for India at Christmas I am already planning a few trips for the future. New York birding excites me somewhat and should be a challenge to relish. A also fancy a return trip to either Majorca or Lesvos, possibly in the Autumn this time....we shall see. I really should make a list of the places I really fancy looking at.

September '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 23.2°C                Min Temp = 2.7°C
         Max Wind = 18 mph            Total Rain For Month =  231.4mm
Live Local Weather HERE
19th. The garden can only be best described as wind swept and....not so interesting. As you can see above the rain total so far is now huge which seems strange considering the hose pipe ban back in July/August time. The sometimes, heavy rain has also been accompanied with very strong wind gust and......wait for it....hailstone, yes hailstone!
Due to this feature of the weather the butterflies and insects in general have been finding life difficult and sightings of butterflies have been fleeting. We have a orphan Buddleia at the front of the garden that has flowered a little later than the two others in the back garden. The front plant colour is a very pale purple and looks a little insipid but the butterflies and bees have found it is to their liking and so on the odd good day this plant has been full of Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshell, and Red Admirals.
The Autumnal Equinox is soon to be upon us. September 23rd is the date that the equinox will happen whereby the night and day is of equal lengths. I like autumn as a season but I dislike the now already shortening daylight hours and this year it looks like any idea of an Indian summer is well and truly out of the window.
Of note is the hedgehogs which are still visiting after dark and I can happily say that the Sparrows are now regulars to the garden and the food I put out for them. I am already looking forward to next years breeding as I am looking to build new boxes with cameras inside and hopefully attract our first home grown Sparrows!

October '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 17.7°C                Min Temp = -3.4°C
         Max Wind = 19 mph            Total Rain For Month =  151.2 mm
31st.  Come on now how many of you forgot to change your clocks???? I was looking forward to the change to winter time clock but yesterday as I got into work I attempted heavy and awkward items to lift and after spending half an hour on the floor I had to call for help and have two people lift me and take me home....within an hour of starting work I was at home totally immobile and in quite a bit of discomfort. I was hoping to have a nosy round the area today for waxwing as they continue to pour into the country but I am still pretty sore and heat treatment is now in use to relieve any swelling.
I forgot to mention that last week a lone female Bullfinch paid us a visit for a short time as she fed on the seeds of candelabra primula. The Starlings are also now visiting with more regularity and in greater numbers. The Jays are also still visiting to take advantage of the monkey nuts that go down a treat!
25th.  Again the weather shocks the garden with a temp of minus 3.4C being registered this morning at 08:07. It was very beautiful to see the ice and frost shards on the lawn and trees. The Dahlias finally succumbed to the cold spell and keeled over. Other plants large and small reacted in shock to the very cold night. The leaves from the neighbours Sycamore tree have left the tree looking a little less full as the continue to fall. Colour from the garden is still eveident if not from the lovely fruits from the pyracantha, snowberry and the burnt orangey red from the mountain ash.
I looked up into the skies to note any migration but I never saw a thing but it seems the Fieldfare have been seen but have come in under my radar. The other migrant which is very much an irruptive species is the wonderful Waxwing. they have been seen the last week or so around the country and they have been seen locally so I shall be checking every Starling in flight!
Mandy and I have been out on our winter walks in the evenings and tonight as the light faded we were lucky enough to get within about 50' or two Roe deer most likely a male and female. It was a nice surprise as they leisurely leaped the fence that surrounded them.
17th. The garden has experienced it's first zero temp of the Autumn which arrived this morning at 08:15. I was later up this morning due to my day's exertions at Spurn Point on the East coast. I was hoping to see a noticeable Redwing migration this morning but I did not note a single one....was I up to late though! Non the less I have seen 3 Mistle Thrush locally this morning and to my relief the exile of the Blackbirds from the garden has ended with three individuals being present. I went out to put some sultanas out and also restock the feeder with monkey nuts for the three visiting Jays. The weather this morning is gorgeous with little wind and a cloudless sky although at 09:25 it still only registers 1º outside.
12th. The day was yesterday when things happen in the skies that for some reason make me feel like something is going to happen....even though this feeling is more like an anticipation of something happening. The strange thing is that I know exactly what is happening! Strange I know but the site of Redwings, Fieldfares and other migrating birds is always a great time, and for me the Autumn migration is more special than the spring. The good weather of late is still with us and the winds also must have been right as I watched early morning for any signs of migration......I was not disappointed as plenty of Redwings were already overhead with parties numbering 50 or so flying high and south. I had one eye on the skies as I drove to work and the whole journey was littered with Redwing....brill.....but today nothing has been seen!

I look toward my visit to Spurn point shortly and there I can really indulge in my love of Thrushes.

November '10
Weather This Month
Max Temp = 13.8°C    Min Temp = -9.7°C   Mean Temp = 3.6°C 
         Max Wind = 33 mph            
Day's Of Rain Over 2mm =12   Rain 24hr Max =  49mm   Total Rain For Month =  196.4mm
29th.  I have enjoyed my four days off and to be honest I have done very little in the way of constructive deeds although lot's of constructive thoughts have taken place as I have had time to put my mind to work on our upcoming break to India. I always like to have a plan to follow on certain days, but already our 3 week holiday is feeling like it is not long enough due to all the things I would like to do. I remember talking to a person about his visit to Goa (fellow birder) and he remarked "what do you find to do for three weeks?" Bloody hell he needs to get out more I thought after that remark! 
Anyway back to the garden...it's continued cold but not as cold as the -9.7ºC the other night, already the temp at 16:00 is down below zero at -1.5ºC and I hear that by the end of the week may may see a new record low of over -10ºC. I have done much garden bird watching over the last few days and as I mentioned in an earlier post I was looking for something a bit different to visit the garden. Well late yesterday I got the visit of a Brambling....and that carried on throughout the day as she clearly enjoyed the sunflower hearts. Today she returned on and off to feed but this time I also noted our first, for quite some time, Goldcrest as it zipped around the garden frantically trying to find food before vanishing. Then a couple of summer visitors turned up, a first for the winter time at the feeders, a pair of Lesser Redpolls...very nice. A song thrush kept the sultana begging up and a lone female Bullfinch fed on a couple of occasions. I was happy with those little visitors and the cake was iced with a foray into the garden from a male Great Spotted Woodpecker....good do I thought! A few poor pictures will follow. 
28th.  Amazing......not only a record low for November but also for the entire time I have been keeping records. A low of Minus 9.7ºC was recorded at 07:35 this morning. Normally speaking January or February is by far the coldest months as a rule and the previous record low was -8.4ºC recorded in January 2010. The other thing of note is that the record low for November is -3.3ºC in 2007, which shows just how cold this November has been so far.
It is still literally freezing as I write this at 09:50 with it still at -7.1ºC and I am hopeful that this continued cold spell may bring in a surprise to the garden.
I now have to brave the weather myself as I need to fill up the odd feeder and replenish the sultanas. I hope all of you have remembered yours also!
27th.  Snow......yes......but just not enough! A light covering of 6mm max. Mandy told me as she peered out through the blinds this morning. It was not as cold either as it only, only he says, reached minus 5.2C at 01:00. Strangely tonight at my writing this it is again down to minus 5.2C already so we may see a new record cold temp for November.
As I peered out of the upstairs window this morning I noticed mammal prints on the driveway....I guessed at Rabbit tracks but Mandy was adamant they were Mink, we were both wrong as with a little more Sherlock undertakings we were both in agreement they were of all things the boring tracks of Grey Squirrel.
26th.  Brrrrrr! Wow a record low for November since I began keeping weather stats. Last nights low of -6.1C was indeed cold yet we were not party to any snowfall that some counties have encountered. It is again looking like a cold night ahead with -3C a;ready being registered at 19:00. The all time record low for any month is -8.1C....will we beat it?
Birds are obviously taking advantage of the food on offer in the garden with a few welcome visitors noted like the Song Thrush and a lone female Bullfinch. We shall see what tomorrow brings...hopefully snow!
14th.  As promised a few images that are in stark contrast of excitement and sadness.
This is a Pied-billed Grebe that is way way way of coarse indeed belonging to coastal regions on the east of North America, and most probably often holidays in Florida....but this was taken on Hollingworth lake in Rochdale! It is digiscoped which was rather difficult for various reasons but I was surprised I got this image which I am more than happy with. I took the afternoon off on the 11th and joined a merry group to say hi....and more than likely goodbye as the chances of it finding it's way home are slim.
The following images may be a bit to graphic for some so don't look if seeing deceased birds is not your thing.
Sadly this female was brought into my place of work by John Earnshaw whom had found it dead close to his house. After a few questions and and an examination it was clear that it had most probably broke it's neck flying into the all to common windows of houses.
The interesting thing about these two images for me was the first being the size of this bird. The £2 coin shows this wonderfully as most people exclaim when seeing in the air..."it was massive" In fact the female is quite small in structure with a male being even smaller. The size is belied in it's wing design of quite broad proportions that allow for it's niche hunting style. The second image shows a hole in the chest. On inspection and rotation of the head suggests that the impact was head on with a solid surface which pushed it's head into it's own chest whereby the bill conversely did it's job and pierced it's flesh. The thing I thought about was, how many birds does this occur to which survive the initial impact but succumb to infection if indeed a puncture like this occurs?
The last two images show superbly how this bird is such an efficient killer. Of most note is the massive middle finger and claw...perfect for plucking prey out of the air.
This final image shows the ear opening and placement. What I did not know is that quite clearly it looks like they can close of the ear opening as and when needed. You can also make out the translucent membrane that covers the eye as well as the eyelid.
All fascinating stuff really.
11th.  A few pictures that I have taken are due to be uploaded soon. Due to my curve ball I have not picked a camera up much but a few happenings away from the garden had me reaching for the camera.
Tonight looks like a rough one for the garden as the winds are really getting up. I have already witnessed some of the feeders losing parts as the strong gusts take effect. I hope no more problems occur!
I also forgot to update the diary the other day as a very welcome visitor briefly alighted on the pergola with a group of Chaffinch. It's funny as I was only chatting with a fellow birder the other week about how I felt something was due to turn up in the garden this Autumn/Winter and sure enough a female Brambling duly obliged. This afternoon I went into the garden where I put up a Song Thrush...first one in the garden for quite some time.

Weather This Month
Max Temp = 6.7°C    Min Temp = -12.2°C  Mean Temp = -1.5°C
         Max Wind = 21 mph           
   Day's Of Rain Over 2mm =5   Rain 24hr Max =  13mm    Total Rain For Month =  44.2 mm     Total Rain For The Year = 1196.4mm
12th.  The last few days have been fairly dull with almost balmy days in reality due to the temps finally going above zero. Several days reached over 6ºC and it was really noticeable. This morning as I write this the temp is back down to below zero but only just!
I also noticed that the food consumption had dropped to almost nothing for 3 days and this perplexed me as the food intake recently has been massive. As I looked into a neighbours garden It was a bit clearer as a pile of feathers were strewn across the snow. No prints so not a cat, more likely a bird of prey...low and behold two minutes later I hear the calls of birds as they scatter and in the sky is a female Sparrowhawk! I most probably think this is the reason as the density of birds in the garden of late would make it ideal for a strike.
One thing I must stop doing is throwing food on to the lawn when it snows as when the snow melts it makes the lawn area very unkempt in appearance and it may attract vermin.
No Brambling or Bullfinch have visited of late but the antics of the long Tailed Tits are keeping up appearances along with the Great Spotted Woodpecker.
2nd.  My child like love of snow has been semi encouraged as the snow has again fallen....but the 4-6" over the last 3 days is truly not enough! 
It has stayed very cold with most days not getting above zero, with temps at 15:00 only reaching -1.3ºC. If the forecast is to be believed, and why not as they have been very accurate so far, then we may well see temps dipping down to -10ºC over the next few nights. The birds are no doubt finding this hard going so I hope anybody reading this spares a little time and energy to put out some food and fresh water....pretty please. A few photos from the other day and today that show the garden all festive with a few lovely visitors acting as the decorations. The pictures are pretty naff but I could not get the energy up to go outside so from distance through double glazing.

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