Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Garden Nursery

When I was six years old, I loved to tiptoe quietly into the garage to peek at the silhouettes of baby blue tits in the bird box my dad had built into our garage wall. The back of the box was glazed and covered with brown paper which gave the birds a sense of privacy while allowing us the opportunity to see something of their lives. My dad died the following spring, but the seeds of my fascination with the natural world were already sown.

Nowadays we don’t need to head into the garage to see silhouettes of chicks in a nest. For Christmas I received a bird box with a camera in it. I suspect that the gift is part of a cunning plan to encourage domesticity as the nesting box is sited directly opposite the kitchen window under which there is a sink. Since the sink is required to fill the kettle, the domesticity plan has backfired to the point that far from motivating me to attempt kitchen chores, there has been a significant increase in the quantity of time I spend sitting down. I have always drunk coffee on the hoof, but if there is any activity around the bird box while I am filling the kettle, I fire the remote at the television, plonk myself into a chair and ogle the nest while enjoying a lovely warm drink and wondering what Dad would have thought of this wireless camera bird box. 
The nest taking shape
The most astonishing accomplishment of this piece of technology is that it has caught the attention of my own offspring. Instead of the usual fare they enjoy on television, they have been spotted watching nature. Out of choice! Surely this is a healthy form of screen time?
Feathering the nest
From the comfort of the kitchen we have also been watching over a mother who hatched 11 ducklings. The nest is in the lavender which I have yet to cut back after flowering last year. I don’t cut back plants until spring because of the shelter they offer to minibeasts. I hadn't considered that the same plants might offer shelter to much larger creatures. Of course, my lavender tends to fall apart more quickly than it would had I shorn it after flowering, but it is easy to strike cuttings so I always have a ready supply. The courtyard where the ducklings hatched is a former boar pen. In the two years since it was converted into a garden, 22 ducklings have made their way into the world under the cover of the plants.
The garden feels like a dating disco. Our feathered friends are busily pairing off and doing the bird equivalent of The Birdie Song while dancing around their handbags, or in the case of Mr & Mrs Pheasant, tiptoeing through the tulips, (aptly named Tulipa 'Night Club'). At this rate - and with any luck - we will be inundated with offspring!
Mrs P doesn't look impressed. 
Perhaps she doesn't like the tulips.
There is a baby boom in my office too. Since I don't have a greenhouse, the office floor must double up as a nursery. Butternuts, tomatoes, peppers and Cosmos are jostling for light and waiting impatiently to fledge. It is hardly the ideal start for a plant, but they are safer indoors than in the cold frames where they would become frazzled with frost in no time. I rather like sharing my office with them; I only wish that the greenfly hadn't followed them in. The office greenfly are clearly very happy with the food and shelter on offer as they are procreating like it is going out of fashion. One solution will be to bring in the ladybirds. This is all putting a most unlikely slant on the notion of a busy day at the office. 

I am joining with Wildlife Wednesday at https://mygardenersays.com/ Why not pop over there, grab a drink and spend some time marvelling at the wildlife in gardens around the globe?


38 comments:

  1. Hi Sarah, a love of wildlife is a wonderful legacy from your Dad, I'm sorry to read he died when you were so young. Wonderful too that your own children are enjoying the activities in your nest box, I would love one here, I can imagine how addictive they are. Greenfly are one of the most annoying creatures, hopefully this better weather will enable you to get some of your plants outside.

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    1. Thank you, Julie. A few plants are basking in the sun outside my office door today - it feels like a giant step towards reclaiming my office space. I consider this to be the most dangerous time of the year. The sun is shining and it looks like summer, but we can still get frosts. Throw a gardener who rarely looks at the weather forecast into this precarious mix and we have a recipe for disaster.

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  2. Your bird box is brilliant! I'm fascinated by nesting birds and was so excited to find a blackbirds nest in the ivy on our back wall, and the female sitting in it! I've been tiptoeing over every day to see if Mrs Blackbird is still there and can't wait to hear the little cheeps of the babies soon.

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    1. How exciting! Ivy is a wonderful plant for wildlife.

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  3. What a lovely legacy your father left you, though I'm very sorry for your loss with his death when you were a child. This was a terrific post and so cool about the camera!! Until our camera stopped working (right after mama owl laid her 5th egg) it was so fascinating to watch. Glad your children are enjoying watching...you're leaving them with the joy of nature that your father gifted to you. Nice! Thanks for joining in this month.

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    1. An owl box with a camera in it? Guess what I'll be asking for this Christmas!

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  4. This is my first time participating in Wildlife Wednesday and visiting your lovely blog. I enjoyed reading about how your love of the natural world was sparked by your Dad's bird box. And now it seems you are passing that along to your children. How wonderful! The little ducklings waddling behind their mother are adorable. And the pheasant is gorgeous. Such a treat to have them in your garden.

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    1. Welcome Tracy. Thank you for popping by and taking the time to comment. It is a treat - and a privilege - to share the garden with these creatures.

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  5. Awwww, how sweet are those ducklings. Our own Mr P has a woman somewhere in the shrubbery although I haven't seen her recently. But by all the flapping and squawking that's going on something is afoot. Isn't Spring wonderful?

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    1. It is wonderful! Our Mr P now has two ladies in tow.

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  6. Oh my look at that birdhouse with camera....and such precious ducklings.

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  7. I think our nest box with camera is going to be vacant again this year. Last year two great tits started to use it but then a third great tit arrived and after much squabbling they all disappeared.

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  8. Spring ring has certainly sprung in your part of the world. If people new what was going on in the world of nature they would never watch television again!

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  9. Hi Sarah, You have so many wonderful birds! I love the birdhouse with a camera....what a great idea.....I'm afraid I'd only stop watching to eat and sleep! The house work will be there when the birds have flown the nest....

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    1. The range and quantity of birds we see here is increasing each year. Why would we do housework when we can garden and watch wildlife? If we are outside gardening, we are not making a mess indoors so surely there is no need to do housework.

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  10. Wonderful post! I had not heard about the bird boxes with their own built-in nestcam. I'll have to check that out.

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    1. Oh do Dorothy! I am so pleased I finally got one for Christmas!

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  11. What a wonderful wildlife sanctuary you have! Id love to be able to peek inside those bird houses and watch all the activity. :o)

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    1. Every year things are improving for wildlife here. When we first took over, there wasn't a great deal going on, but now we are seeing so much more. It is astonishing the difference that a few steps to improve life for our wilder friends can make.

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  12. Your very own birdcam! That is a great idea. I always wonder what is happening inside the birdhouses, but I never peek because I don't want to disturb them. One of my greatest delights is sharing my garden with the birds.

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    1. It is a delight. I have placed one of the feeders close to the house and every morning I wake up to see small birds feeding from it and all manner of shenanigans going on between various other birds over the dropped food. It always makes me smile.

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  13. What a lovely gift! Here we have two bird houses designed for blue birds. Usually they are used by swallows. So far I have seen swallows examine it a couple of times but they have not started nest building yet. They blue birds try to use them but swallows chase them away.

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    1. It seems that birds rarely read the label on the nesting boxes. It reminds me that I saw a lovely photo on a blog recently of a bird nesting in a tree right next door to an empty bird box which had been put there for nesting.

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  14. I found it interesting that your love of the natural world was inspired by your father at such a young age - I lost my own father at age 6 but have always wondered if memories of time spent with him in the garden inspired my interest in the same. I certainly can't account for the interest otherwise as no one else around me had the slightest interest in the pass-time. But, as to what's going on in your garden, it seems you're running a fabulous nursery of your own. How wonderful it must be to see a mother duck leading her ducklings out your own gate!

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    1. I am sorry that you lost your father at such a young age. How wonderful that you have memories of the time you spent together in the garden and that you have continued to garden.

      Last year when the mother was ready to lead out the ducklings, our whole family were home and could enjoy the spectacle. This year I was alone - it was such a shame the children missed it.

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  15. The bird cam is a terrific gift, especially since it is something your children can also enjoy. We have a birdhouse with nesting Chickadees in our back garden.

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    1. How fabulous! I love the name chickadee!

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  16. A camera in a bird box is a terrific present and wonderful to watch in spring. It is lovely to read that your family are all interested in yours. And ducklings are always adorable. We haven't had any ducks nesting here for about three years but I'm hoping to see a procession of pheasant young in the near future from our nesting pair. It's so rewarding providing different nesting and nursery sites for wildlife in the garden.

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    1. It is extremely rewarding. I suspect that we will be adding more nesting boxes to our collection by next spring. I'm sorry to hear about the ducks, but baby pheasants are lovely. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a couple of healthy young families - Mr P still has 2 Mrs Ps following him around.

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  17. A bird box with a camera in it...so amazing!! I could watch the springtime birds for hours and hours...

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    1. Me too. I am wondering if there couldn't be an initiative whereby anyone interested in wildlife gets additional holidays to just sit and watch wildlife?

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  18. This is the time of year when I find myself wishing I didn't have to work with so many interesting things going on elsewhere. Yes greenfly here too enjoying the new shoots and no sign of any ladybirds yet.

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    1. The ladybird numbers seem a bit low here. They are about, but not in any quantity.

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