Is February the most annoying month?

The weather is horrible I hate and love February one day there can be sunshine and warmth enough to make us feel Spring has arrived the next can plunge us back into an arctic winter. Gamy wing the starling is still with us and I now wonder if it might become a permanent fixture. I should mention we have two other disabled avian residents Gamy leg a male blackbird who has a healed broken leg, he has been with us for at least three years and the year before last raised at least two broods. The third not quite right resident is Hoppy a Pheasant with a dodgy leg.

There are a few signs of Spring the Dunnocks are chasing each other and flapping at each other. Pigeons are wing flapping, Wood peckers are drumming and the amount of song seams to increase daily.

Saw a large Hare cross the field opposite the kitchen window this morning whilst making coffee.

Found this very interesting Grey squirrels in North Yorkshire are being given contraceptives in their food in a bid to control their population http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-38880095. I would love for there to be a Bowland Red squirrel reintroduction project.

Sparrowhawk wins a meal and a surprise visitor

Witnessed a Sparrowhawk take a Starling, I was outside changing the gas bottle when I heard a noise behind me, which sounded like a very muffled explosion. In the field behind me was a compact ball of Starlings the ball was much denser than the ball the form when moving around feeding and the sound was much louder. At first I only saw the Starlings and then a fraction of a second later I saw the Sparrowhawk swoop at the ball  from the right with its back to me looking like a fighter plane, part of the ball fragmented with a few Starlings peeling off from the group one in particular headed to the left as the main group headed to the right. The Sparrowhawk with a few twists and dives was immediately on the tail of this one Starling heading left. There was a few microseconds of move and counter move with eventually the Starling flying low over the ground where it was overtaken in mid flight and I lost sight of the Sparrowhawk  with its prize as it went into the trees.

Whilst taking Louise to work we spotted a white bird feeding with the sheep next to the track the bird turned out to be a Little Egret. It was very tame suggesting it was very hungry/exhausted unfortunately we only had the compact camera with us but got a photo from the car to prove it had existed, amazed at how yellow its feet are, which unfortunately are hidden in the grass. Sadly it was gone by the time I got back.

Little Egret
Little Egret

Cat portrait

Decided to have a go at drawing Cat's portrait using Derwent Studio coloured pencils, I just haven't used them for a long time and thought it would make a change from acrylic painting. I graphed Cat out as I was worried I'd lose my place with his markings. I've managed to make him look a lot sterner than he really is, he's a big softie - although the mice in the barn probably think differently.












Getting ready for Spring

Decided to revamp the pond before any frogs turned up. Last year we had a single male take up residence and over about a week five lots of spawn appeared. So dug out the waders baled out some of the water into water butts along with some of the pond weed and algae. Then waded in and started digging, managed to deepen the centre by about a foot, so  now it is about one meter deep in the centre when full. I was hoping to add a liner but the pond was filling so fast I gave up on the idea. I am quite pleased with the ponds ability to resist drying out last summer I only had to top it up a few times though the level did fluctuate dramatically.

Pond

Also hard pruned a section of the boundary hedge amazingly this has added about one and a half meters to the wet meadow area.  Important to get this done before any nesting activity starts. The bird ringers visited us on Sunday and over a hundred new birds were rung, mainly Coal tits as usual. The injured Starling is still with us the wing is noticeably still drooping but it seems to be flying ok. A Brambling turned up the day after  the Garden bird watch (typical). Now starting to see a few Siskins and Gold finches. Robins are pairing up but occasionally make mistakes and attack their partner.

The wild primroses in the stream bed have put out a few flowers out but in the garden the only things in flower are the Snowdrops and Dames violet which has never stopped flowering.

Wild Primrose

Discovered today the rats or mice have been eating my chainsaw, my fault for using vegetable oil as chain lubricant.