The Wildlife Garden in February

More Snow on the Mynd

At the start of the month the early catkins were still in flower all around us – we are fortunate to have formerly coppiced hazel woodland all around the garden and at this time of year the garden is full of these lovely ‘lambs tails’ as my country born and bred mother called them!  On the 2nd of the month there were two wild mallard on the Big Pond but they didn’t hang around.  Having them breeding with us creates huge challenges for us as they completely dominate the garden and there is no way for the ducklings to get out except onto the adjacent road.  Thankfully this pair flew out of the garden and into the large pond in the field next door – a much more suitable habitat for them! There was no sign of a sparrowhawk which was rather unusual – we tend to see a large female here very regularly – but the now seemingly resident pair of carrion crows was around constantly and there were several long tailed tits feeding in the garden every day.  Numbers of blue tits continued to increase and there were twelve using the bird feeder on the 4th of the month.  As the week came to an end our lovely snowdrops all burst into flower and the ones that have now escaped onto the roadside verge put on a magnificent show.  The weather continued to be cold but very sunny.

Greenfinch

The second week of February was overcast and cool but spring continued to creep up on us and there were celandines in flower along our roadsides and a single bright dandelion was in full flower in the garden.  Large numbers of birds were still using the feeders including one marsh and one coal tit.  There were also six greenfinches feeding in the garden – a real pleasure to see as numbers have been low through the winter.  A single frog was splashing about in the marshy pond on the 8th and frog spawn appeared on the ninth with more on the 10th, in all about 7 large lumps!  A song thrush was seen feeding the Big Meadow on the morning of the 10th.  The weather was very mild towards the end of this week but in spite of having a thrush around, no song was heard.  A single colourful jay visited the garden from time to time and more celandines and snowdrops burst into flower.

Lots of Frogspawn!

At beginning of the third week of the month a bullfinch was around most mornings, eating the new buds of hawthorn. Two wild mallards appeared in the pond again one morning but again flew off to the big pond next door.  A marsh tit continued to visit the feeders daily but we only had one siskin visiting the garden daily and no bramblings at all, in stark contrast to this time last year. The weather continued to be quite mild, but windy and wet weather set in on the 16th.  Overnight very windy weather arrived here and the forecast was for more of the same over the next few days. More spawn appeared in the pond on the 17th and we were now up to 9 blobs – a good amount for quite a small pond!  On the 18th fiercely windy, stormy weather again hit us and yet again on the 18th causing disruption over the whole country.  Many trees were damaged over the UK but miraculously all ours survived. Overnight of the 19th/20th Storm Eunice arrived with winds of up to 60-70 mph – the worst of the storms coming through from the west. There was snow on the Long Mynd and the   garden and the lane outside our house were badly flooded with the ditch full and overflowing and unable to take away the floodwater quickly enough. Thankfully my office remained dry as we were able to divert some of the water that was overwhelming the garden. And then, amidst all the terrible weather and chaos, a song thrush began to sing in the little copse of trees in the garden – a complete joy! Further North the River Severn burst its banks and many areas of Shrewsbury were badly flooded.  Two more slightly smaller storms followed and more torrential rain arrived with yet more floods, but on the 21st the sun shone!

Song Thrush

However it was still very windy for the next few days but I was cheered up by the sound of a wren in full song on the 23rd.  As the month came to an end there was still windy weather but it was bright and more spring-like. Many of the smaller bird species returned to the garden feeders, especially female chaffinches, and blue tits were cleaning out one of the bird boxes.  Spring will soon be with us.

About Dinchope Diary

I am a plant ecologist, specialising in wildlife gardening for more than 30 years, writing books and teaching. My blog is about the two acre wildlife garden I have created in South Shropshire.
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