Wildman of Pershore

Latest posts by Wildman of Pershore

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Sparrowhawk dilemma

Posted: 20/06/2012 at 12:57

Perhaps a sign would help with the eviction!

I have hawks here at most times of the year, although it tends to be the males that hunt the smaller birds at my feeding stations. They do indeed have a role to perform in ensuring the fitness of bird populations and a study recently showed that they are vital in protecting songbird nests.

Basically, small birds nesting within the hawk's territory are protected from corvids and don't become a menu choice until later in the year when the chicks fledge and need plenty of prey nearby. In this way the songbirds raise a brood or two with lower predation pressure. As the male does most of the hunting in the early days, smaller birds are targets but once the young are old enough to be left by the female she'll target pigeons and doves that last the family a bit longer. 

In previous gardens I've used trellis to limit flight paths and enable small birds to escape but here I do nothing and enjoy the balance. Hawks don't catch much and last winter a one-eyed brambling was a regular for three weeks, despite two male hawks hunting the feeders. She disappeared with the other migrants.

Slugs and snails

Posted: 08/06/2012 at 08:39

I'm lucky here, mallards visit the garden regularly and do their bit but the key defenders of my hostas here seem to be less glamorous creatures such as pygmy shrews, ground beetles and newts. There's a small population of slow worms but oddly enough no frogs or toads apart from the frog spawn I introduced this year from some evaporating ponds nearby.

Boltgirl is right to suggest ducks - all domestic breeds will eat them. Expect a bit of impact though as they do like creating muddy puddles and although far less destructive than chickens, those webbed feet are great for trampling delicate plants! Properly handled they're terrific pets and breeds such as khaki campbells will lay an egg a day year round more or less.

Buying Pond Plants - which is best?

Posted: 06/06/2012 at 09:27

I always think of water lilies as being a bit like Acers. Sycamores are cheap as chips and the same goes for big lilies - plants such as N. alba soon make a rootstock you can hollow out and live in, whereas pygmies like N. helvola spend a lot of time on nurseries growing up to a saleable size. So many people buy cheaper lilies and end up having to give them away or hack them up when they outgrow their pond. The same thing happens with ghost koi..

I'm even tighter still - much of my wildlife pond stock comes from cuttings collected locally.

Nectar-feeding woodpeckers

Posted: 31/05/2012 at 08:38

Like many people, I have a resident pair of great spotted woodpeckers using the garden and currently busy feeding nestlings. I've noticed over the past two summers that the male in particular enjoys feeding from the flowers of red hot poker, so much so that I've added a few more plants. The flowers certainly seem to be designed with bird pollinators in mind (probably sunbirds in the wild) and he's definately not looking for anything other than a good slurp of nectar.

Anyone else seen this behaviour?

Grass snake in the pond HELP !

Posted: 31/05/2012 at 08:31

I've been making a sneaky pile of grass clippings and twiggy matter just in case passing grass snakes want somewhere to lay their eggs - told the neighbours it was just a compost heap!

If it's any consolation, even a big adult will only eat a fairly small number of prey items a year..

Talkback: Cleavers

Posted: 29/05/2012 at 08:11

My tortoises love them but right now I could feed half of galapagos with the growth they've put on in the warm, wet conditions!

Buying Pond Plants - which is best?

Posted: 22/05/2012 at 12:17

They're quite a big chain Maidenhead Aquatics, maybe there's one near you? http://www.fishkeeper.co.uk/storelocation.aspx

At £7 a go for pots, I'd definately go with the plugs if that's your only sourcing options! Most native aquatics grow like the clappers but species that invest a lot in their rootstocks like Butomus or Sagittaria might be better as more established plants.

Buying Pond Plants - which is best?

Posted: 22/05/2012 at 09:03

£7 a go is about twice what I'd expect to pay - my local aquatic centre sells most of them at £3.49.

Pond plants often go short of iron, particularly if they're submerged and not potted into the right soil. A specialist pond or aquarium fertilliser will give them what they need without adding nitrates and phosphates to fuel algae growth.

Murky water in Pond

Posted: 14/05/2012 at 09:49

I'd get a bag of daphnia or water fleas from an aquatic store and add them. They eat greenwater algae and bacteria as long as they don't get eaten by fish or damaged by pumps. They breed quite quickly but they'll take a bit of time to conquer it - perhaps a few weeks. The more you add, the faster they'll tackle the murk. As with most wildlife gardening, it's the base of your trophic pyramid that's the most vital.

Watercress is also a fantastic native biological control which will grow from cuttings, or more usefully, supermarket bunches. Remember that submerged plants won't grow well in murky water due to low light levels, so as has been said marginal or tender floating plants like water hyacinth are more useful until the water clears.

Do I need a filter in my wildlife pond

Posted: 07/05/2012 at 16:39

If you've not finished the build how about running the cascade from it's own reservoir and having the pond separately? Daphnia keep my wildlife ponds clear but they won't survive a pump or fish, although they thrive despite a bit of use from mallards! they also do the job in the open, sunny amphibian ponds with little shade..

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Discussions started by Wildman of Pershore

Nectar-feeding woodpeckers

Anyone else witnessed this? 
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