It has been a little quiet on the NB front, I know. But, then, it's been an odd year and a bit. While I don't want to jinx us all by suggesting that things are back to normal, for us at NB towers, a new normal is starting to develop.
So, focusing only on the good parts of the pandemic period, we moved! To what we hope will be our forever home in rural Dumfries and Galloway. We've even found a place with our own little patch of woodland to look after, resident kites and all; it's perfect.
|Orchids next door|
The move is part of the reason for the downtime on the blog. We have been redecorating some of the rooms in preparation for our first Christmas at home. We've also been spending the summer patching drystone walls in the garden, taking out a few worryingly leaning trees and replanting with hazel, blackthorn and guelder-rose to increase the number of species in the wood, and shifting some turf from the new herb beds to the site of a former firepit. Otherwise, we have been out walking and getting to know the surrounding area and adjusting to returning to the real world and the onset of a new term.
|New hazels planted in an area of cleared bracken|
One thing that I missed over the summer was the nestbox cams. I had taken them down early at the old house in preparation for the move, then we moved far too late to put them up. While I saw lots of evidence of breeding in/near to the garden (including a lovely goldfinch nest visible from the new office, the active and successful kites and wrens, and spotted flycatchers feeding fledglings at the wood edge), there isn't that much cover and scrub for breeding birds.
I decided that we needed a few more boxes to help remedy this. Jack was in charge of starting our bird list, and I set about matching box types to birds on the list and adding in a few for dream birds which I know breed within a few miles of us (like redstart). Then I went a little mad on CJ Wildlife and Greenfeathers! As well as increasing our breeding bird numbers, my plan for the coming years is to monitor occupancy, activity and success, and use these numbers to support my teaching. Any excuse to sit in the garden with the bins, right?
|Upgrading Granny's Palace|
|First box out!|
|"Last" box out (I need to borrow a tall ladder for the owl box)|
Since moving in we've seen plenty of evidence of wildlife in the garden. On the herpetological front, we have common frogs, toads, newts and lizards. We regularly see stoats, hedgehogs, rabbits, and voles. There are pipistrelles in the roof (and, occasionally, the bedroom). We see the odd red and (unfortunately) grey squirrel, and have even had a water shrew in the shed, but are low on larger mammals. There was a wonderful mix of fungi too. Birds-wise, we have a mix of the common, upland, and woodland species, many of which have taken to the feeders in a big way. I even flushed a woodcock from the wet area of the woods last week (but have only put the trail cam out in there this evening - what this space).
What I haven't done is any moth trapping. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because Jack put the moth trap bits in the most spider-infested bit of the porch/utility. It's a shame, moth trapping was my life-savour at the start of lockdown when we were in our rented house. Hopefully, as we get into the new year I'll get back to it (before it starts getting light super early again!). Similarly, lack of lockdown (fingers crossed anyway!) and less focus on redecorating should also enable me to get back on the bird-train. Whatever life throws at us, there should be lots going on. Watch this space!