I recently received a cardboard bird box as a gift and decided to put it up this weekend past. It comes 'flat-packed' and is very easily assembled by simply folding it together and pushing tabs into place. No glue or scissors required. Finally a wooden dowel pushes through the middle to act as a perch.

Apparently it's waterproof though it's slightly hard to believe. Perhaps a bigger problem is that it's so light I was worried it would simply blow away. It has a hole in the back to hang off a nail/screw, but I added some garden wire to try to hold in place more securely on my old apple tree. It will be interesting to see whether it finds favour as a home for birds. I will report back in due course.

Update, 22 July 2012: and report back I have.



Like many people I was revelling in a beautiful weekend and spent much of it out in the garden. When the sun was shining it felt gloriously warm on my back and it was a tantalising taste of spring, maybe even summer!

Plenty of animals were also living it up. I saw several bumble bees, including a massive one buzzing around my shed that rather surprised me when I went in. I found a few caterpillars as I went about my weeding, which certainly seem like soft and delicate things to be out amidst the frosts. Identifying the green one above is left as an exercise for the reader – let me know what you reckon in the comments.

I also happened across a flat-backed millipede, below – though not exactly a harbinger of spring. See my previous blog post for more on them.


Evidently I've not been keeping my ear close enough to the ground as this rather snuck up on me, but there's a one-off Winterwatch on BBC 2 this evening at 9pm. Also available in glorious HD. Chris, Kate (she's back!), Martin and a remote Michaela will be telling us all sorts of interesting things about wildlife in winter. Surely a must-watch.

Here are some things I've noticed recently:

  • Fieldfares and Redwings finally descended on my garden in the last week, having been notable by the absence before now. The snow an ice has finally driven them from the countryside. That's a Redwing in the picture above camped out in the neighbour's holly bush. You can just see the red/orange patch peeping out from under the wing.
  • I saw a wasp today crawling along the ground in London. I presume it was a queen woken from hibernation by the much milder weather today.
  • Bulbs of all sorts have been pushing up over the last month or so. Snowdrops are in decent form right now.
  • As ever, you get a much better idea of the activity on the ground in your garden when you can see all the tracks in the snow, of cats, foxes, wood pigeons and blackbirds.


Those TV gardening programs always tell you to leave certain plants' dead seadheads standing over winter so the birds can eat them, but I had never actually seen it happening until today. Four Goldfinches parked themselves in the remains of my Rudbeckia and feasted away for quite a while. They do seem to have a habit of staying put once they've found some food – they do the same on the bird feeders.

Their beaks are just right for prising seeds from difficult places, classically teasels. Here's what those same Rudbeckia flowers looked like a couple of seasons previously. A nice reminder of glories to come whilst we persevere through the cold.


With no leaves on the trees and a white backdrop to everything, it's much easier to see the birds in the garden. There's almost nowhere for them to hide.


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