Monthly Archives: October 2010


As well my garden nest boxes, I look after a nestbox scheme in a nearby nature reserve, where I sometimes find a pile of dry leaves on top of the old nest at various times of the year.

A tip if you come across this is to use a long twig to prod the nest before diving into it to take out the leaves and old nest.

The reason for this is woodmice like them as homes too, and can nip fingers if present!  occasionally there can be more than one in the box.

 In the autumn I once found the neat little round nest of a dormouse, that had built it on top of a completed blue tits nest. this was a good record for our reserve in west worcestershire, as no one had seen a dormouse for some time.

They are always in very small numbers in suitable woodland and hard to prove their presence.



Thanks Garth.  How lovely.  It’s strange to think that dormice are scarce.  It was not always the case.

Nest boxes are not just for birds it seems.

We’ve had a wasps nest in ours and dormice take advantage.  Wonder what else takes advantage  of these boxes.

Garth, you must find it enjoyable doing the wildlife conservation.  What a lot you must know and see.

thanks for sharing it with us.


It is important to clean nest boxes out after the breeding season has ended.  Some birds use the nest boxes as roosts in the cold winter days and nights. 

Some birds stay for 16 hours a day in their roost – which could be the nest box that you bought

Here is a link to an article which gives some of the reasons why –

I was reminded how important it is to clean nest boxes out when I saw two sparrows trying to get into a nest box that had been used as a wasps nest this summer!

I wish I could have got a photograph  of the sparrows.  They kept poking their beaks in and then flying away.

We left the wasps nest alone during the summer as it was not doing any harm.  It was out of the way and the wasps never came near to the house. 

Please read the article above about cleaning out nest boxes.  It isn’t the nicest job, but it helps birds survive the winter



We have had a report / survey done on the farm where I live

Part of the report says this is a rich agricultural landscape and has been the scene of intensive human activity /farming for the last 10,000 years. 

 This means the same soil we are growing food on now has been used by farmers through the ages.  That is the Yorkshire Wolds for you!

Pity at the moment it’s so difficult in farming. 

There has been a dairy herd here since the 1940’s but we cannot afford to keep it going.

But it’s great to think that the soil of the Yorkshire Wolds may be providing food for the next 10,000 years.



I came in last night to find a juvenile sparrowhawk finishing off a collared dove in my back garden. 

Five minutes later, an adult sparrowhawk had reduced my regular tree sparrows to hiding in a thorny bush in the front garden. I have to say that I knocked on the window to scare it away as I felt responsible for the dove’s demise.

Unfortunately, again tonight I saw the feathers remnant of a kill at the front of my house and I discovered another, barely alive pigeon on the ground outside my front gate.  Obviously the subject of another attack.  When I went back out again to see if the pigeon was still there 5 minutes later, it had gone. So in two days, one dove and two pigeons have been killed.

I think I shall have to feed my birds in the morning only as I tend to feed about 7.30am and 4.30 – 5pm every night at the front and back of my garden.  There is an abundance of wood pigeons, collared doves, tree and house sparrows and other varieties of birds. 

I am realising that this is really like the ‘serengeti’ for the sparrowhawks as I have encouraged the birds to come at this time to eat the seeds. I also read that if you put the seed in various feeding places rather then in one area at the front/back garden, this might help and also break the ‘hawks line of sight with bamboo canes etc. whilst allowing the feeding birds a clear line of sight.

I also read on the RSPB that the ‘hawks tend to be later risers so I am just going to feed them in the morning now and discourage them in the late afternoon when they are so preoccupied with feeding and easy targets for the ‘hawks.  I think it must be mother and daughter sparrowhawks as they are taking the larger birds (could be wrong?) and it looked like the mother was teaching the juvenile how to find food, which is why I might have had the two pigeons go simultaneously tonight.

It was a bit eerie though that they have ‘cottoned’ on to the time that I feed the birds.  Probably more that there are just so many birds coming (at least 40 sparrows. 10 pigeons and 8 collared doves).

I will let you know how it goes!


Thanks K for getting in touch.  What a problem you have.

It shows how useful thorny bushes are for birds.  Planting a hawthorn bush, say , really can save birds lives. 

It sounds like is is a parent teaching a child to hunt.  I see sparrows teaching young sparrows to feed and come to the feeders.  This is how birds survive.   

Birds do get used to food being put out at the same time.  I have a blackbird that chirps loudly in a morning when I appear.  They know seasons,so I suppose they are bound to know time of day. 

You could also camouflaged the  feeding area with various plants and shrubbery so that it would have a hard job getting to the birds.  Or feed birds under bushes

Covered ground feeders are a good way to feed smaller birds.  The one I have is really useful and it’s great seeing sparrows and other smaller birds feeding safely inside the mesh covered feeder.

You could also enclose a birdtable – this may help the smaller birds

The trouble is – how to stop hawks getting the larger birds.  This is more difficult. Maybe the only way is to hide the food or put canes up.  But you can’t put canes up all over the garden!

This begs another question – are there more hawks than there used to be!

Take a look at this website called SONGBIRD SURVIVAL

Let me know how you get on

All but three of my swallows have gone

All but three of my swallows have gone and I’m concerned for the last three that are left.
Does anyone think they will leave on their own or perhaps will they stay.  There was a swallow in S.England that survived the winter in England last year. I’m North East and on a very exposed cliff top site.   Christine


Hi, Christine,

I think it is very unlikely the swallows will survive.

The parent swallows must have known they would not survive the flight.  Swallows have more than one brood and these swallows could  have been from the last brood.


Photographs of a White Tailed Crow in Alaska

Took a few decent photos today of a crow with it’s outermost two tail-feathers completely white.

Could not catch a photo of him in flight, but have several sitting. He was clearly a crow. With a large group of crows.

Location. Haines, Alaska. Happy to forward photos to anyone interested


I’m really pleased Ned from Haines, Alaska contacted me.  He’s now sent some photographs – see below 



White tailed crow in Alaska

White tailed crow in Alaska

There's a white tailed crow in town

There's a white tailed crow in town


 Thanks for sending the photos Ned, I’ll put the other in later in the week

We have lots of crows near us.  Crows and Rooks.  What a noise they make.  Wonder how they spread so far and wide.

To find out some of the reasons why black birds sometimes have white feathers click the link below


National Geographic – 4×30 Binoculars with built in compass


National Geographic - 4x30 Binoculars

See what you can spot with these pocket-sized 4 x 30 magnification binoculars! This fabulous binocular features 30mm glass objective lenses, rubber eyecups and strap. A perfect starter set for young naturalists! The compact size is ideal for little hands and the built-in compass enables you to take directional bearings! Kids will love using these on their outdoor adventures!

To find out more click this link below  –


For years I always had dunnocks in my garden and they had youngevery year,

 however this year I have neither seen or heard any.

Is there a problem with them.


I have had this question posed to me.  I’m sure I have had dunnocks in the garden, but they are so timid and creep  about under cover of hedges that just take them for granted.

Have you seen any dunnocks about?   I  hope so.