Archive for April, 2014

April 18, 2014

Goldfinch or chaffinch nest?

18 April 2014

I was doing things in the greenhouse at the far end of our garden three days ago, when I took down a plant tray that I use to store odd tools and things off the top shelf – you can see it in the photo below: it’s green.

Green seed tray on top shelf in greenhouse, with nest in it

You can see the tray on the top shelf of the shelves

To my amazement, there was a bird’s nest in it. Looking carefully, it seemed to have some small areas of fungal growth in it, so I thought it was abandoned.

Checking the next day, however, to my amazement, there was an egg in it!

Single egg in nest

Single egg in nest

Trawling round the internet, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is either a golfinch nest, or one belonging to a chaffinch, and we see both in the garden regularly. We have never seen a bird fly in or out of the greenhouse, but then it is the other end of the garden, so unless we are working up there, we wouldn’t see it.

Not wanting to disturb the nest again, we checked today with a hand mirror, and there are now three eggs.

Three eggs in the nest, viewed via a hand mirror

Three eggs in the nest

I’m very chuffed it has honoured us with its presence: I just hope it realises how hot it can get in there when the morning sun is on it. I can’t say it’s very convenient for us, as when the female bird starts incubating, she won’t want us going in and out of the greenhouse, which means all my plants need to come out. At a time when I’m overwhelmed with plants coming on for my own garden or for sale, this is quite a problem, which is being temporarily solved by using the vegetable bed where the runner beans are going to go – it won’t be in use until the end of May (the earliest I’ll risk planting out anything frost-tender), so it gives me some time to see how things evolve.

It’s brilliant – like having Springwatch in my own garden. Wonder if I can set up a video link somehow……

I’ll keep you updated as the story progresses.



April 11, 2014

Orange Tips arriving

11 April 2014

After a few not-so-good days, the sun has come out again, and with it the first of the real spring butterflies: the Orange Tip. The male who appeared moved around my forget-me-nots for a while before flying over to a flower on my perennial wallflower (erysimum). He was quite distinctive, having a notch taken out of one wing, presumably by a bird; it is amazing how much wing a butterfly can lose and still keep flying (see my blog from last July for an amazing photo of half a Speckled Wood).

Orange Tip male on purple perennial wallflower

I’d highly recommend the perennial wallflower for attracting butterflies to your garden – this is one which is easy to get, called Bowles Mauve. They tend to flower on and off all year, so they often supply nectar early and late when it is really needed.

The forget-me-nots seem to me to attract more small bees and flies than butterflies, though the butterflies will use it. I’ve got an area of garden I reserve for annuals, and I let the self-seeded forget-me-nots come up under the annuals so I’ve got a show of them for the following spring. It is not really accepted gardening practice, but it works for me – they do form a lovely haze of blue once they get going.

View of the garden looking out from the patio

You can see the forget-me-nots in the photo above, behind the red tulips. The purple behind them is a variety of honesty that is confusingly called lunaria annua, so you expect it to be an annual, but actually it is at least semi-perennial, and very easy to grow – it’s name is ‘Corfu Blue’. I’ve also got the perennial honesty called lunaria redeviva, and that is now out (Corfu Blue was out before it), but I don’t think the butterflies like it as much as Corfu Blue.

I’ll leave you with a shot of the garden from the other direction, so you can see the marsh marigolds out in the pond and the two cats by the bench. Happy gardening!

View of garden looking over pond towards cottage

View of garden