Sunday, 30 January 2011


Yes! We've been waiting all winter for this past week - and now it's all done - well, almost....

Last Friday, a vast delivery arrived from Landford Trees (Salisbury), and last Saturday a big cultivating machine arrived from Brandon Hire. Straight after canvas on Saturday, we drove down, and with the lengthening evenings (yippee!) we were able to get the entire hedge line along the western border rotavated - still quite waterlogged and claggy in paces, mind you!

Sunday morning was given over to tree planting - 10 big bare-rooted trees safely in the ground - Sorbus, Malus, Liquidambar, Amelanchier canadensis, Acer griseum and Euonymus europaeus all in and raring to go - fantastic.

One of the trees, done

With the homeowners already aching, the afternoon was given over to the first tranche of hedging - about 130 plants per 25m - Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Guelder Rose, Dog Rose, Hazel, Dogwood, Crab Apple, Holly, Lonicera nitida, Field Maple, Alder Buckthorn and Spindle. Really hard work, but we got the 25m done!

Skipping the very stony bit which we'll come back to later (!), we did another 25m on Thursday afternoon, then another on Friday afternoon (exeat - another yippee!), and the last bit on Saturday morning. Done! 100m of hedging in and growing - already the buds are bursting and life is showing. Spring! (Or possibly outrageous optimism....)

At about the half way point!

Even Elli the Cat gives her seal of approval

In other news, a massive bonfire was had to say goodbye to the winter (more optimism), Snowdrops are up in the garden, we are getting regular visits from two Foxes, there have been heavy sightings of Goosander overhead, plus more Herons than usual, Little Egret and Snipe - only our second of the last.

Bonfirus maximus

On the Reserve, recent sightings have included Bittern, Smew and (presumably the same) redhead Red-breasted Merganser. Brambling numbers are holding up in both garden and further afield, and we have had a Redpoll or two - but not as many as last winter.

Still (third time - getting the message?) - WINTER IS DRAWING TO A CLOSE!

Monday, 3 January 2011

An overdue garden addition.....

Four Ravens were croaking, flapping about and tumbling over the garden this morning - we really should have seen one before now, but we haven't, so that's 91, and the first new garden species for 2011.

And I (Simon) finally managed to see the Bittern at Ivy North Hide today - in a ridiculous scrum of Bank Holiday punters. Also a 1st winter drake Smew on Rockford Lake.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

2011 arrives - and so do more birds

Not so much in the garden now all the snow has melted, although we still have plenty of Bramblings, but still more action on the reserve in recent days.

While we've still not managed to see the Bittern on Ivy Lake (mainly as a result of not wanting to do battle with the mobs of visitors!), there have been other goodies - a (or the?) redhead Smew for a couple of days on Ibsley Water, a different (juvenile) Iceland Gull the last two nights in the roost, three Red-crested Pochards, and even a Black Swan flying over this evening!

Iceland Gull juv - photo courtesy Alan Hayden

Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls - photo courtesy Alan Hayden

But I have saved my very own Red-breasted Merganser until last - here's a photo to add to the "appalling record shots" collection.....