DISCLAIMER:I made a unilateral decision to administer tablets to my dog by this method and he did not come to any harm. Before attempting what I have done here you should consult your veterinary for advice. I take no responsibility for any harm caused to other animals by using this method. If you don’t like it don’t do it.
If you have ever tried to give medicine to an animal you’ll appreciate how hard it can be giving a dog a pill or tablet. Our dog Leo (a Border Collie) is required to take two worming tablets every three months. These are large as tablets go. Large enough to be shaped like a bone. My wife offered one to him. He sniffed it and walked away.
Why aren’t they supplied inside some meaty treat to encourage a dog to just woof them down?
The red squirrel shown in the featured image was seen in Doxford, Northumberland.
Pine Martens To The Rescue
Apparently predatory pine martens are saving the red squirrel (see image above) as they are inclined to eat grey squirrels which they find nice and plump. The pine martens can catch the greys because they move slowly. This has been found in a study of red squirrels in Northern Ireland where the pine marten isn’t so rare as first thought.
Spring 2014 is on the way and I want to see goldfinches eating nyjer seed again. So after a wet winter I have cleaned my bird feeders. I’ve only had a Nyjer Seed feeder for two years and have kept it out during both winters. I might not do that next winter since the rain soaks into them through the feeding holes and ruins the Nyjer seeds below the top perches of the feeder. Some start to grow, the rest rot and go mouldy. Any goldfinches that come along can’t eat the seed and in the end it’s just wasted. Above the perches it stays dry so it can be salvaged. In my case I separated the good seed and made sure it was dry by spreading it out on a dustpan in the sunshine.
I completely dismantled my feeders for mixed seed and nyjer seed and washed all the parts in soapy water and then reassembled them when dry.
Fieldfare – Turdus pilaris – a member of the thrush family.
When Fieldfares visited Alvaston Derby I was ready with my camera.
On 22nd January 2013 Fieldfares visited Alvaston Derby. I saw them in my garden and the garden of a friend in the same street. Fieldfares migrate to England in winter from northern Europe but this was my first sighting of them. It was a bad winter in early 2013 So I’m sure they came looking for food.
Here are some pictures of one sitting in the snow on my lawn. It was very good of it to stay settled for quite some time while I took these pictures and two videos:
The first continues to show the same bird as in the still photos sitting in the snow.
The second shows a pair hopping about in a tree and feeding on berries in my friend’s garden.
What a wonderful experience. I wish I had taken a photo. I looked out of my lounge window and a young goldfinch was resting on my patio within 0.5m of the window. It didn’t attempt to fly off so I went outside. I knelt down on the ground and got within 0.5m of it. It was trying to sleep with its head resting over its back. Its wings were neatly folded so I thought it looked OK and not damaged.
I knew it was young because it still had down and it did not have a red face. I was bothered that a neighbours cat, which regularly visits, would catch it. So I called a friend from over the road and he came to see it. We agreed that the best thing to do was to get hold of it and put it on the bird table if possible. So I knelt down behind it and made a slow move to grab it. (I have picked up wild birds before when they have been injured.) Well it never flinched, it was nice and warm. I put it on the covered bird table and it stayed put. I put a small pile of niger seeds next to it but all it did was put its head over its back and go back to sleep.
Half an hour later I saw it had moved to a different position on the bird table. A good sign I thought.
About an hour later another friend arrived and we went to have a look at it. When we got near and started talking it awoke, put its head right up and looked all around then it took flight and went to a nearby bush. I’m so pleased it was OK. I think it might have flown into my lounge window and been stunned as pigeons often do. I’ve noticed that goldfinches rarely settle on the ground or on fences, preferring to sit in bushes, trees or on their feeder. They are a tree-dwelling bird.
For some while I have been using a white rectangular butcher’s meat tray as a bird bath during freezing winter months and dry summer months when birds need access to fresh water. It has rested either on the ground, or on a garden seat, or on top of a large Victorian plant pot when the summer flowers have died back. The stark whiteness of the tray and the depth of water (10cm) have, I think, put birds off. The only ones I have seen using it have been occasional blackbirds. Also I feel they need it near the ground but not actually on it.
My New Bird Bath
So yesterday I realised I could make the bird bath, shown in the featured image, using a plant pot and the type of saucer that plant pots stand in. Probably any would do so long as the saucer holds water and fits neatly into the top of the plant pot which is used as a stand. The saucer I used has a half round lip which I suspect suites birds feet. The terracotta colour suits my garden and so far I have seen dunnocks (hedge sparrows) and a starlings drink from it. The depth of water is 4cm (1.5″), the internal diameter of my pot is 35.5cm (14″), the external diameter of my saucer is 38cm (15″) and the height of my pot is 30.5cm (12″).
All I have to do now is move it around the lawn every day or two so the grass doesn’t die off. I might seek a spot on the border. Also VERY IMPORTANT change the water and keep the saucer clean and keep breaking the ice in the winter. Animals and birds need clean water just as much as we do.
I just want you all to know how successful my bird bath has been this summer. It has been enjoyed by many of my garden visitors. blackbirds, sparrows, dunnocks, starlings have often been seen having a drink and a dip. They flutter their wings to splash water all over themselves. The blackbirds have sometimes spent several minutes in the water, hopped down onto the grass and then shaken their feathers to get the water off only to go back and do it all again. Young blackbirds have done it too.
I haven’t seen wood pigeons bathing but I have seen them drinking. They bend down and scoop the water into their beaks and then hold their heads up and stretch their necks to let it run down their gullet.
Over time it gets green stuff growing on the plastic. To clean it I spray it with HG Mould Spray (a strong bleach) and leave it for 15 minutes. This gets rid of anything nasty. I then give it a very thorough rinse with clean water before refilling it.
2nd Review – 23/01/2013
I had a problem with my bird bath in the autumn (fall). I acquired a dog (border collie) and when we play outside he goes over to the bird bath to take a drink. This isn’t a problem for the birds but he (Leo) had a poorly tummy and we suspected he may have been drinking dirty water from this source even though I tried to keep it clean as per my previous posts. So with all the rainfall we’ve had in the UK I have put the bird bath away for winter. The birds can get water from my neighbour who has also set up bird feeders and a water supply. I will have to come up with a new scheme in the spring so watch this space.
There was plenty of Northumberland wildlife – Red Squirrel included – near Doxford Cottages this May (2012). I have seen the following within 6m of my living room: Brown Rat, Red Squirrel, male & female Great Spotted Woodpecker, male & female Chaffinch, male Robin, Blue tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Green-finch, Nuthatch, Wood Pigeon, Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Sparrow, male & female Pheasant, male Blackbird.
All these creatures have been attracted by a peanut feeder, wild bird seed feeder and a squirrel feeding box. The birds, and brown rat, that can’t feed from the bird feeders (and those that can) have been attracted by the fallout from the feeders on the ground beneath.
Surprisingly the following birds have been able to feed from the seed feeders: Rook, Crow, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon. The Jackdaw can cling onto the feeders with wire mesh which holds peanuts but they can all reach the transparent seed feeder by perching on the wooden squirrel food box. All the feeders are attached to a telephone pole so they are close to each other.
Pictures and Videos of Northumberland Wildlife – Red Squirrel Included