July and August

The local mallard continue to hang around the garden attracted by the corn I provide. The spotted flycatchers never returned to the nest site. During July redpoll and siskin were regular visitors to the Niger feeders however during August their numbers declined and now only the odd siskin pays a visit. To compensate there are still plenty of chaffinches, sparrows and tits to empty the seed feeders every day. A nuthatch drops in now and again but I can not recall seeing the GS woodpecker for quite a while now.

For a few months I experimented with streaming the red squirrel feeder to YouTube and picking up a link for the website. This allowed me to make two live streams available to watch. However, last month, Google/YouTube decided, unilaterally, that unless I went through a ridiculously complicated procedure I could no longer link to my website. So I in turn, unilaterally, closed my account.

Work on the track for the ‘toy town railway’ goes on, as it has from the middle of May. The noise and disturbance it creates can at times be quite overwhelming. Only time will tell what the effects of the destruction of the scrub trees and undergrowth along two miles of the old track will have on our rather limited wildlife! In this case the National Lottery can be proud, they have been instrumental in destroying more than forty years of what was a natural recovery of the land in favour of plants and animals along the old railway.

A few days of warmer weather, together with the flowering of buddleia and sedum has brought in the butterflies. Where they have been, up until now, I do not know. Over the past eighteen years, I cannot recall a poorer year than this for butterflies or should I say the lack of them. A few cabbage white were all I had seen in the garden this summer until the past week.



May and June Activity.

I heard my first cuckoo on the 3rd of May this year calling, as usual, from the other side of the valley. Only one of the four small boxes in the garden was occupied, this year by a blue tit family. Six eggs were laid from early May onwards they hatched on the 24th May and fledged on the 12th June. As usual jackdaws laid in the red squirrel box, the eggs hatched on the 6th May. On the 19th May a spotted flycatcher turned up to examine their usual nesting site under the eves of the house,  but never returned – it must have found something better elsewhere. The two mallard families which first appeared in the garden as tiny ducklings are now fully grown – seven new birds in all. They appear to regard the garden as their home and present themselves, at regular intervals, in the yard for corn handouts.

The usual selection of bumblebees were around taking advantage of whatever was in flower beginning with the flowering currant bushes and progressing to the foxgloves. Few butterflies apart from cabbage white so far this year, this should improve when the buddleia bushes come into flower.

The plants around the ponds are now in full foliage with the flower heads of angelica standing tall around the small pond. I have planted a number of hemp agrimony around the ponds for the insects. I grew these from one packet of seed, an economical way for any gardener.


P1000103 (Medium)

Birds are nesting and plants are growing – at last.

It has been a cold and wet April which seems to have delayed occupation of the nest boxes in the garden. Jackdaws were, as usual, the first to begin with one pair in the red squirrel box having six eggs and later another couple occupied the tawny owl box with three eggs todate. Only one of the smaller boxes has been occupied, by a bluetit who has spent over a month preparing the nest. She visits every day and tinkers with the nest but as yet she has laid no eggs. Because of the time she has taken to build it this must be one of the most luxurious nests in the area. A bumble bee tried to take up occupation this morning but was soon evicted by the indignant owner.

bluetit nest 2016

There are young blackbirds in the yard and two families of mallard in the garden. Both are now down to five ducklings each having first appeared with nine and twelve respectively.

At last some of my plants are beginning to grow. Around the small pond the angelica is on the move. Apart from being structural it produces those lovely heads of tiny green flowers which attract hoverflies and bees in the summer. Nearby another structural plant is waking up; Gunnera ‘giant rhubarb’ which is a native of South America. In no time at all the small pond will disappear behind greenery.

small pond (Medium)

‘To a green Thought in a green Shade.’

During the winter a trench was dug through the garden for my fibre broadband, to enable me to stream my cameras. At times I also had up to 50 mallard visitors, for the free corn. This has really messed up parts of the pond surroundings.

Pond surrounds 1Pond surrounds 2  Pond surrounds 3

So in an attempt to recover, yesterday I bought some wetland plants from C.J. Wildlife, and they arrived today. Purple Loosestrife and Blue-Eyed Grass. These plants were well packed and looked healthy on unpacking and were modestly priced.

CJ Packing (Medium) P1000075 (Medium) P1000076 (Medium)

Now all I need is the right conditions to plant them.

Sound and Wildlife cams.

Exploring the web for wildlife camera streams I find very few that have sound. Yes, in some cases, it is not practical because of background noise, traffic and similar problems, but some of the time it is ignorance of the importance of the sound track. Even in professional wildlife filming, until relatively recently, sound was an after thought, I am sure you can remember tv documentaries where the sound track was an obvious add on.

Let’s leave the professionals behind and only consider us amateurs streaming cameras from our gardens, just like me. Some cameras have a built in microphone but with others you will need to add an external mic. You can pick up external CCTV mics. for just a few pounds from Ebay.

These microphones need a power supply and as much protection from the weather as do the cameras. In fact even more so since wind noise can be a major problem. However with a little ingenuity and a few odds and ends this can be acheived.

This post is not intended to be a tutorial on how to capture and stream sound but a call to arms to all those with silent webcams.


Activity during the past month.


Visitors to the feeders have include siskin, see above left, goldfinch, above right, chaffinch, greenfinch, dunnock, nuthatch, starling, blackbird and of course jackdaw. I have seen an odd fieldfare in the garden as well as a couple of moorhen who are becoming regulars at the pond. There are still about a dozen or so mallard about everyday – nothing like the 50 or so I was getting earlier this year. No doubt most are now seeking nest sites in the surrounding countryside. Even the house has had it’s share of visitors with three field mice caught in a live trap during one night. I released them into a great heap of brashings which I keep at the bottom of the garden for the wildlife.

The nest boxes are now getting regular visits from the tit family and from a nuthatch. I even spotted a starling with its head in one of the boxes they have alreading filled a artificial swallows nest with material, see below. I have it under the eaves of the house and in each of the last two years a family of spotted flycatchers has been raised there.


The curlews are returning to the hills but I have yet to hear or see any lapwing display. There is no frogspawn in the upper pond yet, maybe because of the ducks.


A New Website

Knarsdale Nature will now be my main website with South Tyne Nature held in reserve. The link to the live cameras will operate from 1st. March, during daylight hours.

This winter, apart from the usual birds and mammals, I have had up to 50 mallard visting the pond, taking advantage of the free food, and an occasional solitary moorhen. Recently, in preparation for spring, I have been doing maintenance on the bird and mammal boxes making them ready for the breeding season. Plans are afoot for this summer, when the butterflies & bees visit the buddlea in the garden, to have them viewable on the live stream. I also have bats roosting in my loft, which I think are common pipistrelle, so I hope to have video and modified audio available on the website, live or otherwise.