A week before Xmas

It is a week from Xmas, and there are still a few flowers holding out against the fading of the year. There are still a few nasturtium blossoms (and plenty of leaves) climbing the fences around the garden, and a single borage plant is still flowering amongst the cobble path. I planted a packet of borage seed a few years ago in the back garden, and now there are borage plants growing from every nook and cranny. I don’t mind – like the nasturtiums, I planted them for the insects so the more the merrier. Similarly with the few wild mustard flowers still visible – there might not be any bees or other insects around right now to enjoy them, but it’s a sign that there will be plenty of flowers (and therefore pollen) next year.

I’ve started the Birdwatch Ireland Garden Bird survey , which started a few weeks ago (it’s never too late to join – at Birdwatch Ireland Survey). There are many things to curse about the arrival of Covid-19 but I’m lucky enough to (a) be able to work from home and (b) have a garden. Since the room where I work overlooks my back garden, I can observe the comings and goings at the birdfeeders, and it is amazing how many species (from the survey list) call to visit on a regular basis. Of the species that visited regularly last year, there has been a few that have made their reappearance in the last week. The blackcaps have returned, though it is just the female that visits the garden regularly. I also spotted a redpoll a few hours ago for the first time this winter. There has also been a couple of new visitors.

A male bullfinch has been visiting for the last couple of days, feeding on what’s left of the blackberries (and that’s not much). There’s an old water barrel that collects rainwater that all of the other birds had ignored until the bullfinch landed on it. Once it started washing,  a bunch of chaffinches immediately tried to land on the edge of the barrel and drive off the bullfinch. The bullfinch was well able for them all.

Another visitor (a first for the garden) was a jay. Our house is close to the NUIG campus, and I assume it has come from there. It has discovered an easy supply of food and I’ve spotted it on a couple of days. Both movies above were recorded though a somewhat translucent double-glazed window. Hopefully, I will be able to get better pictures of both birds over the Christmas holidays.