Over the next few weeks, quite a few of my blog posts will be from, and about, my Mums garden. The reason for this is Mum has Cancer. Last week she was in hospital for five days having intense 24/7 chemotherapy, now she's recuperating at home for a few weeks and having daily radiotherapy sessions, before going back in for more chemotherapy at the end of May.
So while I'm out of work, I will be keeping Mum company most days, and making sure she behaves herself which is a job in itself ! My Mum is the most active and strong-willed person I know.
This morning before heading off to the hospital for radiotherapy, we had a wander around Mums garden. She is very fortunate in that her garden backs onto a small field, which in turn backs onto a canal. Over the years she's had some lovely birds visiting. One year a pair of Blackcaps over wintered, a couple of years ago a female Reed Bunting stayed around for a whole summer and she often has Lesser Redpolls on her feeders. A juvenile Sparrowhawk spent a few months visiting, and before the recent storms damaged one of her larger trees, each early summer the resident Great Spotted Woodpeckers would bring down their newly fledged youngsters for food.
Mum wanted to show me three nests that she'd discovered. One looks like an old and unused Robins nest. Another one is a Blackbirds nest but it looks to have been abandoned. The third is also a Blackbirds nest. It's the closest one to the conservatory and Mum had seen a female there yesterday. This morning the nest was empty. Or was it ? More about that later.....
The first bird of note I saw today was this gorgeous juvenile Robin, my first of the year. It's just reaching the stage where it can fly short distances. This photo is of it in the neighbours garden.
Mums not been able to top up her feeders because at least one rat is running around at the moment, and as we have found before, even putting a tray under the feeders does not stop the food being scattered on to the ground below. But at this time of year, with plenty of insects around, I don't think the birds miss the feeders too much. We did put some scraps out on the bird table which attracted a stunning Jackdaw.
There's a man made small stream in the garden which attracts lots of birds wanting a bath. This Starling had just finished its morning wash.
At the bottom of the garden there is a very healthy population of around 30 House Sparrows. They frequent the garden and some are nesting under the eaves of the neighbours roof.
Almost seen daily are Red Kites soaring over, but today I also spotted a Buzzard.
Great Tits and Blue Tits are also abundant in the garden. The little Bluey below is looking particularly scruffy but it is probably busily feeding a growing brood of chicks nearby.
And here is a photo of Mums garden pest at the moment, a rat.
So back to the Blackbird nest. Despite this morning at 8.30am there being no sign of any bird on the nest, and after I peered in there also being no visible sign of any eggs, we sort of dismissed the idea that they would nest so close to the house. However after getting back from Mums 'zapping' at the hospital, the first thing we saw was this........
We have a live nest. The little beauty has cleverly constructed her nest inside one of Mums old wall hanging baskets. Over the months the ivy had covered the basket, and it hadn't been until Mum had decided to cut back some of the ivy that she discovered the nest and quickly backed off. Of course Mum was in hospital all of last week, so the bird had been left completely undisturbed to build her nest. It's positioned about a metre from the conservatory and right next to the shed door, so we're now using a different door to enter the garden so we don't disturb her (the bird that is, not my Mum).
When I'd peered into the nest this morning it was apparently empty. I had also put my hand briefly on the inside edge to feel if it was warm, and it wasn't, but I didn't explore it fully. Looking back now I think there may have been an egg in there. At 1.30pm today Mrs BB flew off to the bottom of the garden, so I raced outside and peered again into the nest. Two eggs were clearly visible. I doubt if she laid two within the space of five hours, so I think I missed the first one this morning. Anyhow I don't recommend anyone does what I did today. If you see a nest, don't touch it, don't peer into it and generally leave it alone. Now we know we have a live nest, we will just observe it from the conservatory. Just before I left today I checked on Mrs BB and she had started re-arranging the ivy so it fell over her.
Here are a few Blackbird facts. They generally lay 3-5 eggs, but can raise 2-3 broods per season. The same nest site could be used for the subsequent nestings. The female incubates alone and the chicks hatch after about two weeks. Once hatched, both the parents feed the young. The chicks are ready to fledge after another two weeks and are flightless for a few days. Fledged young are generally left in the care of the Dad. He feeds them and protects them, whilst Mum prepares herself for the next nesting attempt.
So it looks as if my Mum will be kept very busy monitoring her new garden lodgers.
Elsewhere in Mums lush green garden, early flowering plants include wild garlic...
The stunning aquilegia....
and one of my favourite plants, Dicentra. These are just starting to go over, but are still a welcome splash of colour. This one large shrub was planted by myself as a small pot plant many years ago.....
and this beautifully marked self-seeded hardy geranium has made its home right by the conservatory doors.
So not a bad day out really. Whilst Mum has her frequent rests, I sit in the garden or the conservatory. It's only the beginning of her journey, but one which I hope is made a little better by watching and observing the birds in her garden. Hope you feel better soon Patsy xxx