Our first cold snap of the winter arrived a few days ago and looks set to continue for at least the next week. We should have regular overnight frosts and potentially some snow. Apart from the fact that I really like snow, I have been waiting for such a change in weather to see if it has any impact on the activity in the garden, particularly the birds.
I undertook an hourly garden bird survey on the 30th, just before the arrival of the cold weather, and already the recorded activity was much higher than anything previously noted. This was both in terms of number of different species seen during the hour and the number of birds.
The activity at the feeders was fierce during the hour, I guess that they knew cold weather was coming.
At this stage I haven’t particularly seen any different birds in the garden, nothing to add to the log of 27 garden bird species. However I’m hopeful as bad weather can bring some different birds into the garden.
A few I may be looking out for during a cold snap could be Hawfinch, Redwing, Redpoll and Siskins. My very good friend and very knowledge naturalist Roger Baugh is often telling me to keep an eye out for these during the cold weather. So I’ll be hoping for some luck.
It is also a good idea to keep on an eye on your nest boxes. In bad weather groups of small birds may decide to use them as an overnight roost to keep warm. I’ve seen this for example with wrens where big groups bundle together inside a box.
I have a nice new, warm and dry nest box to offer the birds in my garden. Following the problem of the damp in the Great Tit bird box I have now replaced it for a more watertight model.
In the end I went for a box of a different design as I had one which I’d purchased a couple of years ago already available. I think it came with my very first nest box camera kit, but I had never used it.
A few hours after installation it was interesting to see a Great Tit checking it out, you can see the beak in the video below.
I’m sure that the resident Great Tit pair are carefully watching the box and fully intend to use it for nesting. I hope that the change of design and the light does not put them off this year. I did tape over the side window as I thought it was providing a bit too much light and visibility. Not a very beautiful job, with masking tape, but it will do for now.
I’ve updated the web page with all the info on the new Great Tit box and you can find more details here.
I’ve also cleaned and equiped with a camera a Robin nest box. I’ll add some details onto the website for this box and also the Robin in general. I’m hopeful I’ve got a good location for the box which will temp my resident pair. If it does it will of course be available to follow on my site during the Spring.
An image below of the inside of this new box. The light quality is not fantastic but I think it will be good enough to follow any activity.
I have also been working to refurbish and equip the Swift nest box but I have a little more time as they will not be back until April. The Great Tits and Robins will be checking out their nest sites from January and depending on the weather nest building may start in February, especially for the Robins. All this is only a few weeks away, exciting times ahead.
A final note on the hedgehog activity. Following it’s first sighting I did spot it during a couple more nights before it safely tucked itself away before the cold weather. I’ve updated the Hedgehog log and you can read about it here.