Monday, 19 January 2009

Garden Birds At Barleycorn In Winter

In spite of the clocks being changed last October, so that it would appear to be brighter in the mornings, today was the darkest one so far this winter. It looked so inky black when I looked out of the bedroom window, I thought there had been a powercut.
After Cookie and Taz, the barn cats, had been well fed, and had been for their stroll around the garden, and were well ensconced in their cosy nests in the barn, my hubbie went out and filled the bird feeders.

Within seconds the garden was filled with a variety of birds which had flown down from their roosting sites to feast on the goodies. We were both busy watching their antics , when suddenly, as if by magic, large flakes of snow came fluttering down, changing the panorama from blackness into a bright, shining landscape.
Taz suddenly re-appeared to explore the snow, but his tummy was too full by then to be bothered by the sight of twittering birds squabbling over the pecking order at the feeders. As a lover of wildlife, I appreciate the presence of the birdlife in winter when there are less insects to admire and the ponds are frozen; so I have to make doubly sure Cookie and Taz are not around when the birds are getting their feed.
In spite of the thorny question of having cats in a garden, it is still possible to encourage birds to the garden and maintain the interests of both. The main thing is to make sure the cats are well fed first, before seeing to the birds.
While the snow was falling I stood, warm and dry, just inside the back door and took a few photos. Then I did the same from the front door, and from some of the windows in the house. The snowfall was too heavy to be out walking in, while trying to balance an umbrella to keep the camera dry, and take photos.
Besides, whenever I walk around the garden, regardless of the kind of weather, Taz follows to keep me company. Cookie does the same when the weather is warm. But, being an old cat now and quite frail, she seems to feel the cold in winter and almost hibernates in her downie, which is inside the drum of an old tumble-drier in the barn.
When we go to feed her in the mornings her little head pokes out from inside the drum to greet us...and when I stroke her, she feels so warm and cosy. She used to live in a different part of the barn, but, increasingly, we found her in the drum on a rug. So, my hubbie halved a downie and made two nests, hers and Taz's.
Occasionally, they come indoors, but they prefer to be out and about, roaming freely. Though they came of their own volition to live in the barn, and were not especially chosen by us as Baby, Jaffa and Monster had been, I am very fond of them. Taz is an excellent mouser, and both are friendly and very lovable cats.
Watching the birds, as we do, from our little 'hide', through the patio windows overlooking the back garden, the birds feel safe. Taz stays away when I am indoors too, so this position gives me the opportunity to take little videos as well as photos.
This morning was no exception, as you will see from the little video below. There was no sound save for the quiet ticking of our clock. If I had opened the windows the birds would have flown away.

Happy New Year, Everyone!
If you are a bird lover, the Royal Society For Birds (RSPB), is giving everyone the opportunity this weekend, 24 and 25 January, to participate in the world's biggest garden birdwatch. The details are below. Enjoy...and happy birdwatching :)
'He made their glowing colours, He made their tiny wings.'
from: All Things Bright And Beautiful.


shirl said...

Hi again Wildlife Gardener :-) Thank-you and wishing you a very good New Year too!

Lovely images from your garden – sounds like the snow appeared in the same way as in my garden this morning. My feeders got busy pretty quickly too :-D

I know you have taken part with the RSPB Birdwatch for many years – do enjoy your count. I’ll be counting too but I have another fun challenge up for Thursday. Pop over if you would like to get details :-D

Have a great week :-D

Sally said...

Cornell University does the same thing over here W.G. I've participated in the past and probably will again this year. Strangely, all the birds seem to have disappeared lately. I haven't had more than a couple at a time at my feeders for 2-3 weeks! It's very un-nerving. My friend across town says it's the same at her feeders. Maybe it's just too cold for them and they all decided to fly south. Ya think? LOL

Have a great week.

jamjar said...

Lovely photographs and very much enjoyed watching your video, the snow arrived here late this afternoon, the hills are glowing white in the dark night now. I shall be doing the 'count' at work this weekend as I work at a countryside visitor centre, we have got the RSPB leaflets next to the binoculars hoping to encourage others to take part.
Happy new year to you.

martin said...

Happy new year to you too. We have a garden in our new house, it will never be as wonderful as yours, but perhaps I could send you some pictures and you would be kind enough to pass on some wisdom about what we can do with it ?. xx

Libby said...

Such a beautiful sight a snow covered garden. I know exactly what you mean about filling up the bird feeders, the birds seem to come from nowhere!!
Love your puss cats too, I do like a ginger cat!

Ruth Welter said...

Hi Wg, your grounds looks beautiful in the snow...


Cheryl said...

Dear Wildlife Gardener....I do hope that you had a wonderful time in Paris and feel somewhat rested after the ups and downs of 2008.
A Happy New Year to you to...

You are remarkably organised with the cats and birds. I have a terrier and she has to be controlled to enable wildlife to feed and live in the garden. It has taken time but I have got there in the end.

I do love the snow photographs....your garden looks beautiful in all seasons.......

Jeanne said...

Love you
Love all you share

A wildlife gardener said...

Good afternoon, One and All, and a warm welcome on this very cold day here at Barleycorn :)

* Great to have your company, Shirl. Happy New year to you and yours :)

your offer sounds very I'll pop over ASAP :)

* Lovely to see you too, sally..and a warm welcome to you too :)

I hope your little garden birds come back soon. We tempt ours with seeds, fat-cakes, and dried raisins...that seems to do the trick, as they have scoffed all the berries now :)

* how wonderful to work in the countryside Visitor Centre, Joy. when our boys were small we met so many lovely, friendly and helpful, people in these centres, who taught us so much about wildlife and inspired our boys :)

Happy New Year to you and yours. thanks for popping in :)

* A Garden, Martin? Never!...Only joking :) I'd love to be of any help. Just send me an email with those photos.

Happy New Year to you and Wendy and those gorgeous boys :)

* You and I love cats, Libby...strays or specially-chosen...they're all welcome...especially with all those fieldmice we have hereabouts.

Happy birdwatching, happy exotic gardening in 2009 :)

* Sending you Happy New Year Blessings, dear Ruth. Lovely to have your company today :)

* Lovely to see you, dear Cheryl...and every blessing for 2009 :)

Paris was very cold, and, sometimes freezing...but, wonderful for walking and exploring the beautiful city, as long as we had thermals on...we had a lovely relaxing time, thank you :)

I can't wait to catch up with all your news :)

* Great to have your company today, too, dear Jeanne. Thanks for popping in :)

Q said...

Dear Wildlife Gardenr,
So lovely...Thank you for the video.
I almost felt cold...
I enjoy the birds too. You had many coming to the feeders on your snowy morning.
Blessings for 2009. I am filled with hope.

SandyCarlson said...

Beautiful, still, and wonderful.

Sheila@Simple Indulgences said...

Lovely photos. I have noticed far more varieties of birds since feeding them this winter.
We have a cat next door (Billy, a black and white cat with character)
and while I've never seen him attack a bird he sits on the fence and watches them.
It's been so cold this winter the birds really appreciate their feed..!

Kathleen said...

I think birdwatching is one of the greatest pleasures in life (aside from gardening) so you know I enjoyed this post. I love the first photo (of your cat) too. It is looking very frosty there at Barleycorn!

kari and kijsa said...

Just catching up on our blogging...stopping by to say hello!
kari & kijsa

A wildlife gardener said...

* Lovely to have your company, Sherry, on this cold day. Glad you liked the little video of the birds. Blessings to you :)

* Thanks you for the generous comment, Sandy. Always a pleasure to see you :)

* Great to see you too, Sheila. Glad to see you blogging again :)

You are quite correct...the bigger variety of feed we put out, the bigger the variety of the birdlife that comes to our gardens :)

* I love coming to your blog, Kathleen to see all the amazing photos you take of the birds, as you are an expert in photography and capture them so well :)

* Welcome to you both, Kari & Kijsa. Great to have your company. Blessings to you both for this coming year :)

bondbloke said...

Wonderful post, thank you for the distraction from my studies, it just makes the history seem so boring right now...

Barbara said...

Have a wonderful year too (not only with regard to the garden !), all the best wishes to you Sherry! Unfortunately the little video wasn't available, but maybe I can see it later. The pictures of your garden paradise are outstanding, one gets the feeling of being in a winter fairytale. I also like to watch the various bird feeders from a warm place inside the house. I placed them in the way that it is very comfortable to observe and take pictures of all the birds (far better than TV watching !).
Stay warm and have a good time!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

It's a bit hard on the outside kitties when they get older and it's so very cold outside. Fortunately they are clever enough to find a warm and sheltered spot. My 2 outdoor boys do too although I had Jeeves inside on New Year's Eve as he was so very frightened of the fireworks (his first time ever) and he slept in my bedroom when it was minus 15 C outside. He purred all night long.

Lovely pics of your wintergarden and outdoor kitties.

I feed the birds in my garden too and both my outdoor cats leave them alone. Wish I could say the same about the poor shrews.

Bimbimbie said...

It's such a lovely contrast to see your birds feeding amongst the snow whilst ours struggle with the heat of summer ... hope you had a good bird count this weekend for RSPB*!*

Sandy said...

Beautiful winter scenes, wow. I love the photo of your cat! Nice to catch up somewhat, here.

linda may said...

G'Day, Nice to see you back at the keyboard with your camera. I can't believe that ice and snow in your garden. It is amazing to look at and certainly something we don't see where I live. Is that ginger kitty grinning and winking?

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Yah, Wildie, I have missed your posts. Our "Backyard Bird Count" is taking place at the end of february; it will be the first time I participate. Barn cats rule!

farmingfriends said...

Hi Wildlife Gardener,

Happy new year. I just love cats and bird spotting. Saw long tailed tits feeding on fatballs for the first time this year. What lovely photos of the snowfall.
Kind regards
Sara from farmingfriends

Duxbury Ramblers said...

Lots of wonderful photos, I am never disapointed when I visit, hope you & yours have a wonderful new year.

A wildlife gardener said...

Good afternoon , Everyone, and a warm welcome to our little corner of paradise :)

* Lovely to have your company, Blondbloke :)

I remember well what it was like to be studying...but, believe me, it is worth it in the long run. There are so many people out there looking for work..and the employers look at qualifications every time. After that comes experience and it is worth its weight in gold...hang on in there :)

* Great to see you, Barbara. I agree with all you say about our feathered friends. By feeding and caring for them we are repaid many times over, with birdsong, being entertained by their antics and the beauty of their plumage :)

* You are so right about the outdoor cats, outside is hard on them.

They were very wary of our three well-fed cats when they first came to occupy the barn, though ours tolerated them well because they saw me feeding the strays and speaking to them in a gentle tone of voice.

As they lived in the barn from the outset, it became their home, and though we lost our cats, one by one, the strays continued to sleep in the barn, though when Taz nearly lost an eye recently, after a cat-fight, I kept him indoors for three weeks as I was putting an antibiotic in his eye twice each day.

After his eye improved he couldn't wait to be free again. His caterwalling from the kitchen kept me awake most of the three weeks when he longed for his freedom. Now one eye is marginally cloudy, but the vet is so pleased, as she thought he would lose his eye. I am so delighted he didn't.

After four years of good living, having been fed on a diet of the occasional egg, fish, chicken and dried catfood, Taz and Cookie have doubled in size :)

* We had an excellent birdcount, Bimbimbie, as you will find out from my next post..and a beautiful visitor as well :)

* How wonderful to have your company, Sandy. I have missed you in the garden. come and sit while I pour you a glass of wine...and Cookie will sit on your lap for a cuddle :)

* Great to see you, Linda May. I have missed you too :)

The ginger cat is Cookie and she has a misaligned jaw...when her real owners neglected her and she came to live in the barn I was told that Cookie had been the victim of an air rifle attack...poor thing. I didn't ask any details...I just took her under my wing and she looks wonderful now...though she scarpers whenever any of the family come down my drive...

* Hey, Garden Faerie, I've missed you too. I'm glad to hear you will participate in the birdcount...very worthwhile exercise :)

Barn cats rule indeed :)

* Hello again, Sara. Great to have your company :)

Long-tailed tits come here fleetingly in the summer. I love their distinctive. their tails are so acrobatic, too :)

* Thank you, Duxbury Ramblers, for the compliment. I reciprocate your feelings, as your posts are always full of delight :)

Lynda Lehmann said...

I know what you mean! The presence of ANY wildlife is a comfort, especially in the starkness of winter.

You are a noble cat-owner to make sure they are well fed before you turn them out. We have a neighbor who seems to do the opposite, and only the universe knows how many little winged creatures have been expunged from our back yard and the other nearby.

Sounds as if your kitties are happily accomodated in their drums! The thought of their cozy lairs makes me want to take a nap!