Freezing, wet, windy- the garden is in suspended animation just waiting for a few warmer days to burst into spring life. In fact the only sign of spring being around the corner in the garden is the birds. They are frantic!
We have never seen the bird station so busy all winter- over 20 goldfinches at one time, swinging from the black nyger feeders, blue tits, coal tits, greenfinches, tree sparrows squabbling, starlings, the floor is running with rosy breasted chaffinches, blackbirds and dunnocks. A spotted woodpecker has been and gone together with a a stock dove, and always the pheasants are hoovering up below- they are getting quite territorial now.
But what I want to know is what are the house sparrows up to under the rosemary bush? They arrive in gangs busy themselves and disappear- are they collecting the old leaves to line their nests? Very aromatic!
Looking out over the gravel garden (which I’m itching to cut back and tidy up, but can’t because the birds are still eating the seed heads)- the sparrows are busy collecting dead, tufty Stipa tenuissima- they carry it up to their nests in the eaves, dropping half of it in the process, so I have twice as much to tidy up now- but this is what our garden is about- sharing it with our wildlife.
In fact the gravel garden – now in its second year- has brought an astounding amount of bird life up to the house. I suspect it has created a microclimate for insects, with its free draining mulch of gravel- certainly the wrens and other smaller birds love hopping amongst the plants and picking through the gravel. We leave all the seed heads through winter – goldfinches sway like acrobats from the wiry Verbena bonariensis stems and enjoy feeding on Echinacea seeds, and the grasses like Pannicums and Miscanthus.
I suppose the one good thing about all this cold weather is the snow drops- they have flowered forever! I have started spreading them around the garden and have visions of a snow drop walk down to Hannah’s Wood- I wonder if the family could be persuaded to spend some quality snow drop planting time with me- probably not!