Latest posts by hypercharleyfarley

Woodpeckers and squirrel proof feeders

Posted: 26/04/2014 at 20:39

I don't know exactly which particular so-called "squirrel-proof" one which would work best or which might be available ready-made.

I reckon that if I were trying to make one which really would work, I'd get a circular tray made from metal or really strong plastic - at least 30" diameter - and make a hole in the centre which would be large enough to push a metal spike-type bird-feeder post through it. You know the sort of thing - usually black & with a hook at right angles at the top from which you'd normally hand a peanut feeder or suchlike.

If you push the spike through the hole & fix it so's the tray can't move, then squirrels can't climb up & over it it to reach anything which is hanging above.  I think I'd try to get the tallest pole I could find, and make sure that the tray was at least 4 ft from ground level.  The tray would need to be upside down, so that any lip pointed downwards - that would make it even harder for a squirrel to climb over.  A small tray wouldn't really be any good - they can reach quite a long way!

where to put my compost bin

Posted: 24/04/2014 at 14:47

Hello again - yes, the council bins are fine.  I don't bother about daisies etc but don't put dandelion heads in the bins.  In theory if they've not got to the "mature seed" stage it shouldn't matter much, but it's easy to pull the flowers off anyway.  If you're putting any twiggy shrub prunings in the bin, its best to cut them up into small pieces so's they rot down more quickly, so you'd need to keep the secateurs handy!

where to put my compost bin

Posted: 24/04/2014 at 10:22

As artjak says, it's a good idea to have two bins so that the contents of one (when full) can be left to decompose whilst you are filling the other one.  Compost needs heat and air - so you should ideally "stir" the contents of the bins as they fill.   Siting them in a warm place helps too, as is the fact that the council's ones are usually black & thus absorb & retain heat well.  When the first bin is full, it's a good idea to empty its contents into the second bin and then begin all over again with the first one.  Soon after that the composted stuff which you started with will be OK to use, but sieveing it helps too especially if you want to use it to fill pots/planters etc.

I reckon it's best to put the bins on a paved surface with small gaps between the paving slabs.  That way the worms can get in & help get the whole composting process going, and if the gaps are less than half-an-inch wide, mice can't get in there.  Another idea is to put the bins down on the ground with some small-gauge wire mesh underneath.  However, this doesn't stop some small rodents!  As others have said, compost shouldn't smell bad - if it does it's probably because the contents don't consist of stuff which is suitable in the first place.  A mixture - in shallow layers - of all sorts of green stuff is good, plus shredded paper/vegetable peelings/twiggy stuff cut up into small pieces etc as this helps keep some airy space in the bin.  It's not a good idea to put a large amount of lawn mowings in unless this is scattered/mixed with the rest of it. You can put weeds in too - but not if they have seeded, otherwise you'll only be spreading the weeds themselves when you eventually use the compost.

I have two black bins, plus a big heap of other garden waste which is left to decompose in the corner of the field beyond the fence at home - the only unwanted visitors I've ever found in the bins are the odd slug or two.  The stuff in the corner of the field takes longer to break down because I don't "stir" it - I used to leave the curious cattle to do that,  but now the field has been planted with potatoes so the heap will have to be left to its own devices & will take longer to be useable.

Talkback: Swifts

Posted: 21/04/2014 at 20:44

Hello again - I've only seen red kites in Buckinghamshire - they've not got this far north yet.  I gather someone near High Wycombe used to feed them regularly from his back garden & thus more chicks survived than might otherwise have been the case.  Used to hear a cuckoo regularly when I was a child - would even make a note of it when it changed its call-sound.  Until a few years ago I'd hear one on the local common but now have to go in the other direction to a wooded hillside where I've heard one for the past few years - but that's the only place.

Ref swifts - I read somewhere that they only nest in tall buildings as they need quite a bit of space below in order to achieve a safe take-off.  The birds of prey round here (not owls, unfortunately) seem to be doing well - we used to have a barn owl nesting where I spent my childhood.  The farmers are being encouraged to put some wire netting or similar a few inches below the surface of cattle water troughs, so that owls which accidentally fall in can then get out again & don't drown.  The cattle can still drink easily - the troughs fill in much the same way as a lavatory cistern (with a ballcock float thing) so no problems with the water level for them.

There are peregrines nesting nearby too - I once saw one in the garden here - it was plucking a woodpigeon!  For some reason the peregrine eventually flew off & soon afterwards one of the local foxes came through. It was before I made the garden fox & badger-proof.  It crept around the carcase for a while - looking up into the sky from time to time - before making off with a more-or-less "ready meal"..Made me laugh, as the dead pigeon was breast-upwards on the lawn & looked just like an oven-ready chicken - plucked, but not drawn & dressed! 

Talkback: Swifts

Posted: 21/04/2014 at 19:07

Hi Welshonion (or are you a leek?!) - if you re-read my previous post you'll see that I wondered whether swallows have actually been helped to expand in numbers due to the availability of more nest sites - i.e. buildings.  We see lots of swallows and housemartins round here, though the sandmartins I see each year nest in the banks of the River Trent.  Did you watch Countryfile the other night?  They had a section about British birds and the fact that modern farming practices have caused a considerable reduction in many species over the past half-century.  I've been interested in this sort of thing since childhood - a very long long time ago - and the only birds which I see now - but didn't then - are buzzards.  Lots of birds which were common in my childhood - e..g. skylarks, thrushes, cuckoos, plovers and so on are rarely seen or heard round here these days, and the TV programme's content showed that it's a sad-but-true fact in the UK these days.

 I had what you might call a "magic moment" a couple of months ago when a red-footed falcon decided to take a rest on my back-garden fence.  I always have my Bird Book and binoculars handy, and it took quite a while for me to establish just what it was. Luckily it stayed put for quite a while before flying off somewhere, so I was able to look at it for about 20 minutes.  Never seen one before - they are apparently rare visitors here - and I probably won't ever see one again. 

Just in case you were wondering - probably not, but I'll explain anyway - my Board Name is that of one of my much-loved (now departed) whippets.  I used to sign off with "Ma" - and that's how David K and Frank (aka Palaisglide) might refer to me.


So - Cheers!  Ma.

Help...marestail and other nasties...

Posted: 20/04/2014 at 19:31

The Roundup/glyphosate only works properly when a plant is actively growing, so best not to use it over the winter months.  It's absorbed through the leaves, so putting it on bark won't work at all.  In order to prevent it reaching stuff you want to keep, one way of dealing with things is to cut off top & bottom of a plastic container (one of those very large plastic milk cartons works well) put this over the plant, pulling up the leaves into the container, and then spraying it.  If you need a bigger "shield", a cheap plastic bucket with the bottom cut out would do the trick.

Compost bins on soil

Posted: 20/04/2014 at 15:15

Hi Tricia - I don't think it matters ref attracting rabbits.  They'd far prefer to have something that's still growing!  I've never seen rabbits on the compost heap I have in the corner of the field - and there are rabbits galore everywhere else in my garden............ If you're still worried about it, why not simply cover up the vegetable peelings with something already on your heap.  They don't tend to dig for food  -  they just dig to make latrines on my lawn and burrows & bolt-holes in the shrubberies.


Posted: 19/04/2014 at 15:05

Looks like bindweed to me!

Talkback: Swifts

Posted: 19/04/2014 at 15:01

I think the problem is that there are now fewer nesting sites for swifts in that we have relatively few old and crumbling/badly maintained properties here in the UK than in other parts of Europe.  Swifts and housemartins don't have the same type of nests - in that the latter make nests in much the same way as swallows do, whereas swifts nest in nooks & crannies in roof spaces rather than making a nest of their own with mud etc. on the outside of a wall.  In warmer countries, such as those round the Mediterranean, not only are there proportionately more older properties than we have in the UK,  but it seems to me that people there don't have the same need to make sure their homes are well-insulated & maintained in order to reduce fuel bills.

Saw swallows round here this past week - one pair has "returned home" to one property locally, whereas the others must have been in transit to somewhere further North.  I usually make a note of the first time/place I see them each year - last year the first sighting (by me) was 21st. April.


One thing that's always puzzled me  - ref swallows etc - is where did they nest before we built houses etc?  I see sand martins' nest-holes in sandy/pebbly riverbanks and assume that rocky outcrops would have been suitable for swallows - but did swallows etc begin to flourish when they had more available nest sites with the advent of mankind's creation of permanent settlements?    Where did they perch before there were telephone lines & roofs?  I've never seen one fly out of a tree!  Anybody know the answer?

p.s. just been out in the garden for a bit - saw two swallows on the telephone wire - definitely a pair 'cos they were "at it" (!) already.  Also disturbed a sitting wren - which I didn't know had its nest in the ivy on the wall near the back door.  I was trimming away some of the new growth on the wall and she almost flew in my face - her wings brushed my forehead!  I didn't look too closely to count just how many eggs, but  hope she goes back soon.   The nest is only about 5ft from the ground.

The dreaded JKW?

Posted: 16/04/2014 at 20:42

Sorry - but I can't tell what it is from the picture.  However, if it is JKW it isn't "a little devil" but a rather big one!  There are a few other threads about it on this site - but if you can't find them right now perhaps it's best if I say that on no account should you put it in a council recycling waste bin.  There are all sorts of rules & regs now as to what you "may" put in these bins, and JKW has to be dealt with in such a way as to prevent it spreading.  Probably best if you google around a bit and you'll get the picture!

Discussions started by hypercharleyfarley

ID please!

looks like a cross between grass and foxglove 
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