Monday, 23 January 2012

Watching Birds in the Garden: A Great Kids Activity

Just now there is quite a lot in the media about garden birds. Next weekend 28/29 January 2012 is the RSPBs Great Garden Bird Watch and people have been noting that they are not seeing so many birds in the garden during this, so far, mild winter.  This article reckons there are staying in the countryside.

In our garden this week we have seen our resident wren, starlings, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits, 2 robins, pigeons, a greater spotted woodpecker and the blackbird shown above eating berries from the ivy.

Spotting and identifying birds is an ideal activity for children this time of year. You can see them through the window and you don’t necessarily have to use binoculars. Binoculars are not always easy for small children, who may have difficulty finding and focusing on the subject. A bird table or feeder will encourage the birds as may a bird water bath. The birds in our garden are attracted by the oak tree next door and our shrubs with berries.

It is useful to have a bird book or identification sheet close at hand to help with deciding what has been seen. Spotting birds from upstairs windows and also from the front of the house adds a bit of variety. We only ever see sparrows in our front garden. Possibly because there are more hedge type plants in front gardens. You could also pop outside to check which birds you can hear. Our garden is rarely without birdsong or noise.

Spotting birds is a great skill for your children to have. It makes walks and journeys far more interesting and helps them appreciate and learn about wildlife. I can’t now resist in showing you below what I spotted last week. No, it wasn’t in my garden, but just off the river Thames in London. If you are lucky enough to be close to a kingfisher, it must be one of the easiest birds in the country to spot.

Kingfisher on the Thames

The whole family is looking forward to the garden bird watch next weekend. We will try and complete our hour before midday as usually there are more birds about. Hope you find the time to do the same.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Six Resolutions for my Garden in 2012

What are Yours?
Spending time in my garden, gardening with my son, and thinking and reading about all things horticultural, provide me with inspiration, stimulation and a sense of purpose. I’d be lost without a garden. So the New Year brings new thoughts on how I get to grips with my garden. This time last year I looked back at my garden. This year I am looking forward.

I resolve to:-

1 Do what all keen gardeners want to do – get out into the garden more often. Building work in my house means that I can now see my back garden from my kitchen and also better from the living space at the back of the house. So I am hoping that this new visibility will entice me out more often. The housework will suffer, but what the heck. I will also join the ranks of the early risers for the odd spot of gardening before breakfast and before the rest of the household has risen.

2 Plant those plants. All too often plants get bought and seedlings get germinated and then stay in their containers far too long, drying out, getting root bound and dying. I say no longer in this garden as I go out to pick up the azalea (still in its original pot) which has been blown over by the wind.

3 Keep a wildlife garden diary with my son. I garden organically and hope that our plot is wildlife friendly. At times we spot our garden toad and we all love seeing the different garden birds. A record will help start to identify who lives with us and visits us. It may also encourage my son to write some entries in the diary and me to think about planting more to encourage wildlife into our garden.

4 To get daddy out into the garden. My brother in law is just about to start a vegetable plot with my niece and nephew. This got me thinking that whilst I love performing my earth mother role with my son perhaps it would be good for my son not just to identify gardening with me.  A bit more daddy in the garden would be a good thing.

5 Use that greenhouse. Last year I was lucky to have acquired the use of an all singing all dancing greenhouse, with light, heat and electricity. I am ashamed to say I hardly used it as I found it rather intimidating. This year I will go for it big time and hopefully grow more exotic and tender fruit and veg.  It is not just going to me who will to be bold in growing, my son already has a packet of white sunflower seeds to experiment with.

White Sunflower Seeds

6 National Gardening Week. The RHS are running a National Gardening Week commencing Monday 16 April 2012, including a new campaign for School Gardening.  Such a good idea, can’t think why it hasn’t happened before. I am actively going to publicise this locally and perhaps organise some local events. So watch this space.

Please let us know what your plans are for going Out2play in your garden this year.
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