BLACKCAP (Sylvia atricapilla)
On Christmas Eve my front door was open and I caught a glimpse of a bird I had never seen before sitting in the cherry tree. It was about the same size as a sparrow, but had a creamy grey breast and a brown cap, it wasn't part of the flock of chattering sparrows and flew off without visiting the feeder. I dug out the bird book and think it must have been a female (or juvenile) Blackcap.
According to the book some of these birds overwinter here, often visiting gardens and bird tables, but the majority arrive in April and leave by October. They are warblers, the males are greyish, browner above with little strong pattern except a dull black cap which is narrower and more peaked than that of a tit. Females have a brown cap and the juveniles more rufous ones, as the one I saw was a rich reddish brown it may well have been young.
Blackcaps spend much of their time in bushy undergrowth in in woods or gardens with trees.They can sometimes be seen in autumn feeding from honeysuckle or elderberry bushes. They nest in a bush or hedgerow and lay 5 eggs which hatch in 10-11 days. The young will fly 10-13 days later.
They eat mainly insects and berries.
Their song is rich and clear after a scratchy start, bursting into a rapid phrase of warbles, but also includes a hard 'tak' which, coming from a thicket or tree is usually the sign of one of the Sylvia warblers.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
There isn't much colour in the back garden at the moment, but my Mahonia Japonica makes a welcome burst of sunshine amid all this rain we're having lately. The bright yellow flowers will be followed by purple seeds. It lives at the far end of the garden and is hidden from view until I get 2/3 of the way down the gardenpath, however if I am working in the shed I can see it from the window- a cheery sight to give me inspiration.
Mahonias are full-half hardy and prefer shade or semi shade, so my one is perfectly at home under the willow tree. They like a well drained, fertile soil, not too dry. they are evergreen and grown for both foliage and racemes of sometimes fragrant yellow bellshaped flowers. Some of the taller varieties have deeply fissured bark.Taller ones make good specimen plants while he low growing varieties are good for groundcover.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
so I grabbed my camera and took the following pictures while the sun was shining.
This week has been another week of gale force winds and driving rain with not much opportunity to do anything outside.
The archway which supports the clematis has collapsed. I.m not sure what to do about it as it has buckled under the strain.
I did pick up another of those cute little double primroses at the market this week for my tub outside the front door, also another cyclamen and a primula which I am assured will flower all winter! The cyclamen are all coming into bud now, if you peek under the leaves you can see them starting to push through. Also there is one flower on one of the wallflower.
I did manage to repot my little Fuschia cuttings I took about a month ago, as you can see they look quite happy, there were two that didn't make it though. I'm determined to have some colour in the garden next summer!