Early January and I’m Hunting for Flowers

We’re almost on cue with last year… Just a few days and a few centimetres behind!

Snowdrops were a little further along on 05.01.13 and I estimate this year we’re a couple of days behind.

We had Cyclamen buds on the 5th last year, this year I haven’t noticed any but they may be hiding and I will have to look for them.

Winter Jasmine are currently blooming, as is the autumn Cherry and Garrya, plus we have Stinking Hellebores almost opening (Niger and Argutifolius are open). So some things at least are the same.

Most pleasing, over the past few days/well I’ve noticed Song Thrushes are back. Generally I only get them in snow or extreme cold. So far we’ve had neither – yes we’ve had cold days, but it’s been a while since we had a frost and most days it’s reaching at least 8C. So I assume either all natural food is gone – we had a bumper year for berries though – or their population locally is increasing. I’m hoping it’s the latter.
However, they are being bullied by the Blackbirds – no surprise there, as BBs are very territorial – so I’m throwing bread out around the garden for them to give the Thrushes a chance. (I only throw food on the garden in snow, so I’m being a bit naughty and worry because we have at least 13 cats locally. Hence why I don’t usually ground feed.)

I spotted a young Bird’s foot trefoil near the snowdrops, I will try to remember to take this with me when I move. The adult plants aren’t easy to move, so I aim to take advantage of this little seedling that may have come from seed from one I moved or perhaps they easily grow from roots left behind?? I don’t know. The Quince bloom is far too early. Last year I have photos of them in early April. Maybe I just didn’t take photos of them until then and there were buds/blooms earlier? I can’t imagine it took me 4 months to take photos!

Copyright 2013 Liz.
All rights reserved. Content created by Liz for Gwirrel’s Garden

20 thoughts on “Early January and I’m Hunting for Flowers

  1. Seek and ye shall find Liz! You garden is way ahead of mine. You do the same with the blackbirds as I do with starlings,magpies and jackdaws! I always throw something to grab their attention so they leave the smaller birds alone. The only bird I’ve not seen so far this winter are the goldfinches.
    I do hope that little seedling transplants for you.

    • Hi Angie,

      I’m surprised there’s much difference between the gardens; has it been particularly cold up there? I know it’s been much windier – well I assume it has, as the forecast often said Scotland?
      I rarely get Starlings in my garden; for some reason they only visit as juveniles and then never come again?? Very odd, as we do have them around and I often hear them. No Jackdaws here but I do have Magpies and generally they don’t cause any problems – only in spring.

      We have Goldies and Greenies back. Both have been very much absent for the past year or so. Not sure why though as I always had a very healthy population visiting. I assume a favoured tree or habitat was cut down. Actually, saying that they have chopped some of the wood down near us for houses. Most annoyed actually. Haven’t really seen any Bullies either and they always used to come and go from the direction of the woodland. The Goldies, however lived in a tree/hedge across the road, this was cut back a few years ago…. OK, another jigsaw puzzle in place. Guess that’ll answer that mystery too. Bit slow at working that one out!

  2. I shall be reporting some early oddities in my post too, Liz – what a joy to always find something in flower, although those that really ARE too early are taking a bit of a risk in terms of the weather. We too have noticed a sudden change in the bird population – green and goldfinches are back, and a small flock of long tailed tits too, oh and there was a chaffinch today, none of which we have seen for a couple of months at least. The sparrows are extraordinarily cheerful and industrious – and no sign of the starlings – hurrah!

    • Hi Cathy,

      Are your LTTs in a mixed flock? Often over autumn/winter they form large mixed flocks with other tits and even other birds such as Robins, Chiffchaffs and occasionally finches. The LTTs usually only come to me if I have fat balls out – they also love sponge cake if you want them to come more often – and usually I hear them all coming through the gardens before they get to mine (Bt, Gt, Ct and Ltt). My finch numbers seem to have declined over the past couple of years; I suspect due to their nest site (a hedge) being cut back the other year. I’m also a little concerned that they’re being pushed out by the Sparrows. I’ve got a niger feeder purely for the finches, so hopefully they can still get food without being hassled by the Sparrows.
      I pretty much never get Chaffinches – only in snow and occasionally for a few weeks after – considering they’re one of the most common garden birds I am yet to live in a house that has them visit frequently… I don’t see how they can possibly be apparently so common.

      I can see the attraction of sparrows and I think if I move and we have none, I will miss them. Just we have so many here, I get fed up of them. Sometimes it feels like I have a murmuration of them. Numbers usually decline a little over winter and into spring though… But I do wish I only had say, 10 or 20. Not 100+.

      • Hard to do a head count of our sparrows!! We live in a semi-rural area and one of our neighbours had long tailed tits regularly for years before they found their way further up the lane to our feeders, but we have them periodically now, perhaps when they fancy a change of diet! I am not brilliant on bird song (the Golfer knows his stuff though) but it was good to hear a different chattering from them.

        • Hi Cathy,

          I once took a photo of them flocking in the tree/hedge/feeder and circled them all in photoshop. In the photo there are over 50, add into the equation that they fly in and out in – what I assume – families. As one group arrives, another leaves. So I estimate their numbers to be around 100 when it peaks at the end of summer and they’ve often had two/three broods. Then in spring their numbers go back down to around 30-50 before booming again. At the moment I’d say there are still a lot. Too many. I can’t afford all the seed, and at the back of my mind I’m concerned they’re too reliant on me and will really struggle once I move.

          Birds can be very fussy and never visit one garden, but always the next… Weird things sometimes ;)
          I know most garden bird songs, OK I know all garden birds but I’m no twitcher and wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference between a herring and great black-backed gull call or would struggle with less common garden birds like redpolls or bramblings. Confusingly, birds will also make other calls – alarm or chatting calls; for example tits will constantly make little chirps to let each other know where they are – but also they will have different calls depending on the time of year – mating calls in pigeons/doves for example.

          • Wow, Liz – I am impressed with your knowledge. ‘Our’ sparrows definitely had 3 broods last year and the third was quite late in the year. It is indeed noticeable that numbers drop as soon as the feeders are empty – so if your house is bought by people who don’t feed birds…..

  3. Pingback: Correct me If I am Wrong…. | Rambling in the Garden

  4. It will have to stop raining before I venture forth flower hunting! I’m glad your Garrya is flowering, we have a super bush which was covered last year, I gave it a trim after flowering as usual and this year, no flowers at all! On the other hand my Chaenomeles by the back door flowers on and off all winter, or is yours a “proper” quince?

    • Hi Pauline,

      We’ve had a good few days recently – although saying that rain arrived late in the afternoon and I can hear the wind in the chimney again so it’s obviously picked up. I think this week is supposed to be OK weather-wise… Unless they’ve changed their minds since I last checked??
      This year my Garrya has a very poor show too! I have only two clumps of tassles on my shrub. It’s still only relatively small – compared to yours anyway – as it’s about 5 years old so isn’t yet as tall as me. But still. I didn’t cut it last year either, so that’s not the cause.
      I don’t believe the Quince is a ‘proper’ one, but rather a flowering Quince. I can’t remember the name – it was given to me as a birthday present so I’ll have to check its tag.

  5. Haha, I could hunt for a long time and not find any flowers around here! But spring will come soon enough. I’ve been spending time at the piano instead of in the garden recently. Hope things are going well with the house sale and all that.

  6. Beautiful photos! Lucky you for your buds and blooms! I haven’t seen any signs of spring just yet. After this bitterly cold snap we are having now, I think things will warm up some, so maybe then there will be a few brave bulbs beginning to push up. We do have camellia buds, and they will be blooming in the next month or so.

  7. January can be so exciting with so much promise and so many flowers beginning to show themselves Chaenomeles often starts flowering in winter. it is quite hardy though so it should be all right.
    ,I love the ‘murmuration of sparrows’, is that what it is called? Much nicer than a ‘murder of crows’
    Chloris

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