February was a very variable month in my garden especially where the weather was concerned. Cold and frosty conditions dominated the first week and the garden was full of siskins. There were still lots of fieldfares around too, feeding on the apples in the orchard, and a single lesser redpoll continued to use the feeders daily. As the first week ended the clear cold weather became damp and misty. A single heron visited the big pond looking strange and almost prehistoric in the swirling mist, and both a male and a female sparrowhawk appeared frequently in the garden. In spite of the changing weather great tits were singing and one was seen investigating the nest box on my potting shed. Blue tits were also preparing for breeding and the tiny, wobbly nest box on the front of the house, which hardly looks fit for habitation, was soon busy with both birds popping in and out. This box is the only one in the garden used without fail every year.
The second week of February was milder but with wind and rain. Twenty to thirty siskins fed in the garden daily and the males sang constantly from the trees around the house. A huge group of chaffinches fed under the feeders in the back garden where snowdrops were now in full bloom. On the 13th a perfectly pristine small tortoiseshell butterfly flew into the house through an open window. It was easy to gently catch and put back outside into thick ivy where hopefully it was able to find a suitable sheltered place to spend the colder nights. The clear weather encouraged several of the local buzzards to spend time soaring and displaying over the garden.
The month continued with more gentle weather. Great tits began to investigate other nest boxes around the garden and a song thrush sang from the woodland next door every morning and evening. On the 15th a stunning male brambling fed with the chaffinches under the feeders and a skylark was heard over the garden on several occasions. On the morning of the 17th a good quantity of frog spawn had appeared in the small garden pond with several adult frogs in attendance. The siskins continued to sing and take nyjer seed from the feeders outside the back door, giving me great views of these gorgeous little finches – one of my absolute favourite birds. The last week of February saw a change in the weather with the warmest February temperatures ever recorded in the UK, although here it was probably rather cooler than over in the east of the country. The small daffodil varieties began to flower around the garden and several queen bumblebees were seen zigzagging their way over the grassy areas looking for dandelions to feed on. The month ended with a song thrush singing and the first primroses in flower. In all February was a delightful month, but all that was about to change as we moved into March’s wilder weather.