Monday, 19 May 2014

All Things Bright and Beautiful

We've been having a proper nature-fest lately - I just had to share here!

I actually started to drive very short distances last week, which was lovely, although am having to take it easy again this week - but even without the car, there is so much nature on my doorstep to enjoy!  On Thursday last week I really fancied a short walk (that turned into a rather long - 2 hour - walk!)  It was simply lovely - we found a new walk with beautiful views where we had never been before, and on the way we passed a field with a gorgeous, very friendly horse who came over to see us and wait patiently for us to feed him the long grass that was just out of his reach.  The farmer noticed us feeding him and asked if we'd like to come and see his three orphaned black lambs - just too sweet, with their soft little noses!

While we were out I heard from the BHPS (British Hedgehog Preservation Society) - confirmation that I am booked onto a hedgehog first aid course I was hoping to attend.  This was great news, as our garden is now very popular with the prickly ones, and I have decided to become a registered carer.  Until then though, I've just been enjoying watching our healthy, happy visitors enjoying the food I put out every evening!

Also at the end of last week we received this year's batch of caterpillars for our butterfly garden.  We've raised a batch every year since we started Home Ed now, and there's just something so fascinating about their life cycle - and something utterly delightful about releasing them to fly away at the end.  Hopefully by waiting until May to start, we stand a good chance of having decent weather when it's time to release them.

the day after they arrived


Indoors, our sunflower seeds had gone a bit out of control and definitely didn't fit in the little pots on the windowsill any more.  The peas that we sowed did really well and needed potting out, although the carrots are still small, and the pepper seeds have only just started to sprout - I think they may turn out to be too late for this year.  So this weekend saw a trip to the garden centre.  The carrots, leeks and onions that we planted last year did well (although the cauliflowers were totally decimated by the small white butterflies)Last year's crops did well (mostly), so I was encouraged to have a go at growing some more this year - and now I have a whole host of small plants growing in the garden, in the hope that in time we'll be harvesting strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, courgettes and peas... and of course, there will be some sunflower seeds for the birds to enjoy too!

propping the sunflowers up outdoors after they got all spindly

tomatoes... looking good so far

just one each of courgette, pepper and cucumber, and four little pea plants too...


strawberries - an impulse experiment.  We have a lot of birds visit the garden, so I'm not convinced the fruit will last!

Speaking of birds, while I was doing the gardening on Saturday, I noticed some blue tits flying to and from the nest box that I had thought was unoccupied...

The nest box (with camera inside) was a birthday present last year and we had watched it faithfully all spring in 2013, but although we had visitors, none made a proper nest - and thanks to my recent back issues, cleaning the box out ready for this spring hasn't been a priority, so I hadn't really expected any birds to move in this year.  Imagine my delight then when I plugged in the cable to my laptop on Saturday and saw not only a nest, but a slightly harrassed looking mum and seven tiny blue tit babies, mouths wide agape!  I'm now kicking myself for not plugging in sooner, as we missed out on the eggs hatching - but nonetheless they are still young - only about a week old I reckon, so hopefully we'll have a couple of few weeks of viewing still.  The stills quality (taken on Monday) isn't great, but I had to show you anyway...

seven wide mouths (and one adult blue tit tail)!

If you look at the nestling in the bottom right corner you can see that it's starting to grow little feathery tufts above its eyes :)

Here's the chick on the left having a good stretch, showing the first pin feathers coming through on its left wing

The biggest clue to the chicks' age being seven days old: the nestling on the right has tiny slits where it's starting to open its eyes!
So there we are!  The forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday) is a bit less conducive to outdoor activities, so we may be n the house more - but if it does rain, it will encourage me to rest, which is needed - plus it'll be good for the garden, and will bring all the bugs out for the blue tits to feed their babies, so it's all good!  Here's looking forward to further updates, particularly regarding our family of nestlings! 

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