Bird Food Blog https://www.haiths.com/ Sun, 24 Jan 2021 00:00:00 GMT https://www.haiths.com/ en hourly 1 Trying out new things https://www.haiths.com/trying-out-new-things-/ https://www.haiths.com/trying-out-new-things-/#comments Thurs, 14 Jan 2021 00:00:00 GMT Haith's Community https://www.haiths.com/trying-out-new-things-/ The jackdaws have been keeping me amused during the past week and four of them are coming regularly to my feeders at various times during the day. The jackdaws have been keeping me amused during the past week and four of them are coming regularly to my feeders at various times during the day.<br/>The other afternoon on what was a very cold day and frost had barely cleared from the grass, the jackdaws were taking advantage of the pigeons&rsquo; bird bath for a drink.<br /> <br /> One jackdaw went over to the tray and had a drink, stepped back as much to say well that was alright and went forward to have some more. A second jackdaw being inquisitive came over to see what it was doing, also went over and had a drink, backed off and appeared to be thinking yes, that&rsquo;s good I&rsquo;ll have some more, went and had a second drink and then they both flew off for the day. One of the jackdaw group always seems to be in an agitated state and very fluffed up around the others and often cackling.<br /> <br /> There have been some colder days in the past week although now it&rsquo;s not quite so cold as I&rsquo;m writing this on Thursday, but after yet another wet night and persistent rain this morning, once again I&rsquo;ve got puddles on the lawn and a bit of standing water on the patio, so it will be interesting to see if any of the birds avail themselves of the opportunity again of a drink there rather than from the proper bird bath trays. A pigeon this morning was sitting on the top of the dead tree stump where I hang most of my feeders, facing into the very light breeze and taking an impromptu shower. I managed to catch a photograph.<br /> <br /> Some of the days this past week have been grey and foggy and the birds have been disappearing for the day much earlier than normal. Some of the regulars in the pigeon group have certainly been seen and the one I call white wing or the boss pigeon, comes most afternoons and his favourite food place is to hang on the peanut feeder, flip the lid up and help himself to the nuts, providing they are not too low down inside. He generally will shove the others out of the way although sometimes concedes and is pushed out the way himself, but the other day he was frantically trying to flip the lid up on the feeder, but as another pigeon had landed on the lid, he was on able to do so. Then on another occasion he managed to get the lid up and was pecking away at the peanuts inside, when another pigeon landed on the feeder lid and momentarily, I think his head was trapped inside the feeder. No harm was done and he returned to the same antics again yesterday.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Pigeon" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/pigeon(1).jpg" /></div> <br /> I have seen a few more seagulls and one or two have come down for some food but there are certainly less now than around Christmas. I&rsquo;ve not seen any crows landing in the garden but have seen a few flying around and the feral pigeons seem to scramble and go for a circuit around the neighbourhood when they see them. That in turn of course means that the smaller birds such as the starlings then also go off from the feeders, but they probably sneak back and have a quiet feed before the pigeons return.<br /> <br /> Since Christmas I&rsquo;ve been putting out a small amount of the seed called Beggars Banquet in the tray under my seed feeder, which is apart from most of the other bird food. The sparrows have been helping themselves to some of this food and on a couple of occasions a blackbird has landed in the tray and also had a tasty snack along with the robins. There have been quite a few blue tits and great tits coming to the suet log and they seem to enjoy sitting on top of it and pecking away. This morning the last of the suet log has slipped off the plastic spike so I will have to brave the rain and put out a new one. I mentioned at the beginning that the jackdaws have kept me entertained, well earlier in the week one landed in the cobnut tree and was side-stepping nearer the suet log to see if it could reach it, but where I&rsquo;ve put it is deliberately in a position where only smaller birds are able to feed, as there is plenty of suet and food to be had elsewhere in my garden.<br /> <br /> Written by Margaret Emerson 0 New year and some new visitors https://www.haiths.com/new-year-and-some-new-visitors/ https://www.haiths.com/new-year-and-some-new-visitors/#comments Thurs, 07 Jan 2021 00:00:00 GMT Haith's Community https://www.haiths.com/new-year-and-some-new-visitors/ Since my last blog shortly before Christmas, the weather of course turned much colder and so bird activity at the feeders increased dramatically. Since my last blog shortly before Christmas, the weather of course turned much colder and so bird activity at the feeders increased dramatically.<br/>The really wet days we have had in Kent this past week though has meant that the bird numbers have been a little bit more limited, certainly as far as the starlings and sparrows are concerned, as I think they were probably sheltering somewhere.<br /> <br /> One slightly comical scene the other afternoon, after some pretty persistent rain left a puddle in the middle of my lawn, was a collared dove who decided it didn&rsquo;t need to use the bird bath but could have a nice drink from the puddle. It is nice to see four collared doves coming into the garden, as for most of last year, it was just a pair. The feral pigeons are still coming in their different groups at various times of the day and it&rsquo;s noticeable now with just slightly lighter afternoons, that some are probably still around after 3pm and on a really bright day, such as yesterday, even an hour later.<br /> <br /> There have been plenty of seagulls round and about since Christmas, as I imagine people have been putting tasty snacks out and my bird table has been no exception, as I had some offcuts of fat from a ham joint and also a few small bits of sausage meat and odds bits of chicken from my Christmas meal. They were soon devoured by the jackdaws, the starlings who thought Christmas had come again, and the seagulls. It always amuses me with the seagulls as they fly around for ages seeing if they can actually land on the lawn and it was the same in the neighbour&rsquo;s garden. Then, eventually, one managed to come down followed by a few of its mates. This always reminds me of aviation in that a pilot can do a &lsquo;go around&rsquo; if they are not able to land safely and they were certainly doing plenty of that, and also the concept of touch and go, where if a pilot is practising landing and take-off they will touchdown and immediately take off again.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Sparrow Hawk" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Sparrowhawk.jpg" /></div> <br /> I mentioned that there were some new visitors and a couple of days ago a wagtail was walking up and down my path. I do see them from time to time usually on the grass verge outside the front of the house, but I think that&rsquo;s the first time I&rsquo;ve actually seen one in the garden for some years. Another visitor, although I see one from time to time was a wren, but I think I have to be in the right place at the right time to see this shy and very small bird. I&rsquo;ve mentioned sparrow hawks before in my blog and shortly before Christmas one was sitting in my cobnut tree and stayed there for a while preening. Needless to say, all the other birds scarpered but it sat there long enough for me to get a couple of photographs, so that is my offering to go with this blog.<br /> <br /> Written by: Margaret Emerson 0 Mosses and how to create your own miniature rainforest https://www.haiths.com/mosses-and-how-to-create-your-own-miniature-rainforest/ https://www.haiths.com/mosses-and-how-to-create-your-own-miniature-rainforest/#comments Tues, 22 Dec 2020 00:00:00 GMT The Coopers https://www.haiths.com/mosses-and-how-to-create-your-own-miniature-rainforest/ Mosses are to be found almost everywhere in Britain- in towns and cities (see previous blog) as well as in villages; on trees, on the ground, on walls, on roofs; on stones and rocks; in woodland, in marshland and on hillsides. Mosses are to be found almost everywhere in Britain- in towns and cities (see previous blog) as well as in villages; on trees, on the ground, on walls, on roofs; on stones and rocks; in woodland, in marshland and on hillsides.<br/><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Moss on the bole of a tree" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Moss-on-the-bole-of-a-tree.jpg" /><br /> <span style="font-size:12px;">Moss on the bole of a tree</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Moss on a tree stump" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Moss-on-a-tree-stump.jpg" /><br /> <span style="font-size:12px;">Moss on a tree stump</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Churchyards are often excellent sites to see plants and animals, including mosses. And a bike ride to an old church provides good exercise too!" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/O-Church-and-bike.jpg" /><br /> <span style="font-size:12px;">Churchyards are often excellent sites to see plants and animals, including mosses<br /> And a bike ride to an old church provides good exercise too! &nbsp;</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mosses on gravestones" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Mosses-on-gravestones.jpg" /><br /> <span style="font-size:12px;">Mosses and other plants, especially lichens, flourish on old gravestones.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mosses and rabbit droppings on gravestones" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Mosses-and-rabbit-droppings-on-gravestones.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Mosses growing on a horizontal gravestone. Can you also see the rabbit droppings?</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Churchyards attract other animals too. These are freshly excavated mole hills; they were plentiful around the graves." src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/These-are-freshly-excavated-mole-hills-they-were-plentiful-around-the-graves.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Churchyards attract other animals too. These are freshly excavated mole hills;<br /> they were plentiful around the graves.</span></div> <br /> The word &lsquo;moss&rsquo; comes from an old English word &lsquo;mos&rsquo;, meaning a boggy location. There are similar terms in Dutch and German. This reminds us that these plants &ndash; properly called &lsquo;bryophytes&rsquo; &ndash; are associated primarily with wet places. Many mosses have prodigious ability to absorb water &ndash; rather like a sponge &ndash; which they can store in drier weather.<br /> <br /> There are several hundred species of moss in Britain. Many have popular names that are not necessarily recognised scientifically but which describe aptly their appearance &ndash; &lsquo;hair moss&rsquo;, &lsquo;feather moss&rsquo;, &lsquo;cushion moss&rsquo;, &lsquo;carpet moss&rsquo; and &lsquo;scale moss&rsquo;, being examples.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A close-up picture shows the feather-like appearance of this species of moss" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/A-close-up-picture-shows-the-feather-like-appearance-of-this-species-of-moss.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">A close-up picture shows the feather-like appearance of this species of mo<em><strong>ss.</strong></em></span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><img alt="Moss that has completely covered an old tree stump. Again note the fine feather-like appearance of the fronds." src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Moss-that-has-completely-covered-an-old-tree-stump(1).jpg" /></span></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Moss that has completely covered an old tree stump. Again note the fine<br /> feather-like appearance of the fronds.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A dense bed of hair moss, growing on the edge of an old stream" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/A-dense-bed-of-hair-moss%2Cgrowing-on-the-edge-of-an-old-stream.jpg" /><br /> <br /> <img alt="A dense bed of hair moss, growing on the edge of an old stream" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Hair-Moss.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">A dense bed of hair moss, growing on the edge of an old stream</span></div> <br /> Mosses provide cover for other types of plant and animal and can be considered in many respects to be like forests in enhancing biodiversity.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A fallen tree is colonised by mosses and bracket fungi and thereby provides a home for many invertebrate animals" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/A-fallen-tree-is-colonised-by-mosses-and-bracket-fungi-and-thereby-provides-a-home-for-many-invertebrate-animals.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">A fallen tree is colonised by mosses and bracket fungi and thereby provides a<br /> home for many invertebrate animals.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="There are mosses, toadflax and spiders’ webs on this wall" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/There-are-mosses-toadflax-and-spiders-webs-on-this-wall.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">There are mosses, toadflax and spiders&rsquo; webs on this wall.</span></div> <br /> Exact identification of mosses may involve the use of a microscope and this will not be discussed here. A hand-lens (x10 magnifying glass) can, however, be a great help. It will help decide as to which group of mosses a specimen belongs. At the same time a close-up view enables one to see in detail the beautiful structure of these plants.<br /> <br /> One characteristic of most mosses is the presence on the tip of the long, unbranched stems, usually at certain times of the year, of &quot;capsules&quot;, which contain spores.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Moss growing on the top of a wall. Capsules are visible" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Moss-growing-on-the-top-of-a-wall.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Moss growing on the top of a wall. Capsules are visible.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A closer photo shows the capsules, silhouetted against a wintry sky" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/articles/A-closer-photo-shows-the-capsules.jpg" /><br /> <span style="font-size:12px;">A closer photo shows the capsules, silhouetted against a wintry sky.</span><br /> <br /> &nbsp;</div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="On a frosty day the capsules (top left) of this moss stand out clearly, looking rather like erect icicles." src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/On-a-frosty-day-the-capsules-of-this-moss-stand-out-clearly.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">On a frosty day the capsules (top left) of this moss stand out clearly, looking rather<br /> like erect icicles. The intricate pattern of gossamer of a<br /> spider&#39;s web can also be seen (centre).</span></div> <br /> The life cycle of mosses is complex. It includes a &quot;protonema&quot; stage where the moss resembles a thin layer of green growth, rather like felt. This can easily be mistaken for, and is sometimes mixed with with, green algae - referred to in the previous blog.<br /> <br /> By far the most spectacular and varied species of moss are to be found in woodland &ndash; for example, in the Norfolk nature reserve shown below.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="argaret Cooper is sitting on a fallen silver birch trunk on which moss is growing." src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Margaret-Cooper-is-sitting-on-a-fallen-silver-birch-trunk-on-which-moss-is-growing.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Sustained with a mug of coffee, Margaret Cooper finds an ideal spot on a cold day for studying mosses and other plants in a woodland reserve in Norfolk.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Margaret is examining a bracket fungus (see previous blog) which is growing on the tree stump on her right" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Margaret-is-examining-a-bracket-fungus-(see-previous-blog)-which-is-growing-on-the-tree-stump-on-her-right.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Margaret Cooper is sitting on a fallen silver birch trunk on which moss is growing.<br /> She is examining a bracket fungus (see previous blog) which has fallen from the<br /> tree stump on her right (on the left in the photo).</span><br /> &nbsp;</div> Anyone interested in seeing and identifying different species of moss can do so easily in such a forested area. The mosses found can be observed and photographed where they live or small pieces can be removed for examination with a hand-lens.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Examining mosses" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Examining-moss.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">John Cooper carefully handles a piece of moss prior to examining it.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Immersing a piece of moss in water will help display the finer features of the moss" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Immersing-a-piece-of-moss-in-water-will-help-display-the-finer-features-of-the-moss.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">John Cooper prepares for closer, more detailed, examination of a moss. He<br /> is using a plastic container, to which water is being added.</span><br /> &nbsp;</div> Immersing a piece of moss in water will help display the finer features of the moss. Many are complex in structure - and beautiful to observe.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Immersing a portion of moss in water in order to examine and help identify it." src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Immersing-a-portion-of-moss-in-water-in-order-to-examine-and-help-identify-it.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">A piece of moss has been immersed in water. Its fronds are opening and<br /> expanding, allowing it to be examined in more detail.</span><br /> &nbsp;</div> <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Examining mosses in the field using a magnifying glass. " src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Examining-mosses-in-the-field-using-a-magnifying-glass-1.jpg" /><br /> <br /> <img alt="Examining mosses in the field using a magnifying glass. " src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Examining-mosses-in-the-field-using-a-magnifying-glass-2(2).jpg" /><br /> <span style="font-size:12px;">Examining mosses in the field using a magnifying glass.</span></div> <br /> Many mosses are characteristically found in certain habitats, dictated by such factors as the type of substrate, including its chemical structure and pH (acidity/alkalinity). The species known as &ldquo;fire moss&rdquo;, sometimes &ldquo;bonfire-moss&rdquo;, is correctly termed <em>Funaria hygrometrica</em>. It commonly colonises patches of disturbed, often bare, soil, especially where there has been a fire in the past.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Funaria growing in a bare patch on the site of an old railway line" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Funaria-growing-in-a-bare-patch-on-the-site-of-an-old-railway-line.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Funaria</em> growing in a bare patch on the site of an old railway line. The capsules on a<br /> long &ldquo;swan-neck&rdquo; stalk, characteristic of this species, are not visible here.</span></div> <br /> A remarkable number of species of moss can be found in towns &ndash; in an urban car park, for example, as shown below.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img a="" alt="Margaret Cooper points out pads of " cushion="" in="" on="" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Margaret-Cooper-points-out-pads-of-cushion-moss-on-a-wall-in-town.jpg" wall="" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Margaret Cooper points out pads of &quot;cushion moss&quot; on a wall in town.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mosses are sometimes found in the most urban settings" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Mosses-are-sometimes-found-in-the-most-urban-settings.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Mosses are sometimes found in the most urban settings even if these initially<br /> appear unpromising for natural history - as here, where there is a luxuriant<br /> growth of moss next to the waste bins.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="A corner of a car park" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/A-corner-of-a-car-park.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">A corner of a car park. This old wall provides a sheltered home for many species<br /> of plant, including mosses and a young male fern.</span></div> <div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div> <div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp; <img alt="The cotoneaster and moss" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/The-cotoneaster-and-moss.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">This crop of moss contains red berries that were dropped by blackbirds when<br /> they were feeding on a cotoneaster plant on the wall above.</span></div> <div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div> <div style="text-align: center;">&nbsp; <img alt="This crop of moss contains red berries that were dropped by blackbirds" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/This-crop-of-moss-contains-red-berries-that-were-dropped-by-blackbirds.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">The cotoneaster, now caked in frost, on which the blackbirds had been feeding.</span></div> <br /> Mosses often grow on roofs, where they are readily dislodged by rain, wind or birds. They may then fall to the ground where again they are often turned over by birds, looking for food.<br /> <br /> Alternatively unwanted moss may be swept away by a householder or a conscientious neighbour. Under such circumstances the discarded pieces of moss can be collected for closer examination.<br /> <br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Margaret Cooper clearing moss" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/MEC-clearing-moss.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Clearing moss from a damp area just outside a garage. Ideal material for study or a moss garden.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Moss for a moss garden" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Mosses-for-moss-garden.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">&nbsp;</span>A lush carpet of moss that is making this driveway slippery and potentially<br /> dangerous can be a suitable source of material for a moss garden</div> <br /> One way of studying and learning more about these fascinating plants, especially if you live in a flat, is to make a &lsquo;moss garden&rsquo;. First you need a suitable container. Two examples designed for cultivating plants are shown below. Used plastic items from the kitchen, such as an empty margarine container, are also suitable.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt=" A tray designed for garden plants makes a suitable receptacle for an outdoor moss garden" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/tray-designed-for-garden-plants-makes-a-suitable-receptacle-for-an-outdoor-moss-garden(1).jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Trays and other receptacles designed for garden plants make a suitable outdoor moss garden. They may need to be protected from birds (see earlier).</span><strong><em>&nbsp; </em></strong><br /> <br /> <img alt="An enthusiastic Hilda Cooper holds aloft a suitable container for a moss garden" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/An-enthusiastic-Hilda-Cooper-holds-aloft-a-suitable-container-for-a-moss-garden.jpg" /><br /> <span style="font-size:12px;">An enthusiastic Hilda Cooper holds aloft one of the containers above before<br /> she starts her search for mosses. </span><br /> &nbsp;</div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Pieces of moss collected and placed in a suitable (white) plastic container provide the beginnings of a moss garden" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Pieces-of-moss-collected-and-placed-in-a-suitable-plastic-container-provide-the-beginnings-of-a-moss-garden.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Pieces of moss collected and placed in a suitable (white) plastic container<br /> provide the beginnings of a moss garden.</span></div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Hilda Cooper collects moss for a moss garden" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Hilda-Cooper-collects-moss-for-a-moss-garden.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Hilda Cooper collects moss for a moss garden.</span><br /> &nbsp;</div> <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Success! The start of a new moss garden" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Success-The-start-of-a-new-moss-garden(1).jpg" /><br /> <span style="font-size:12px;">Success! The start of a new moss garden. </span></div> <div><br /> The container needs to have 3-5cm of water added.</div> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Preparing a moss garden indoors. Water is carefully added" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Preparing-a-moss-garden-indoors-Water-is-carefully-added.jpg" /></div> <div style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:12px;">No, not John Cooper&rsquo;s breakfast! He is preparing a moss garden indoors.<br /> Water is carefully added to a small white dish in which a piece<br /> of Hilda&rsquo;s moss has been placed.</span><br /> &nbsp;</div> <br /> How do I get the moss for my &ldquo;garden&rdquo;? The easiest way is to collect pieces that fall off roofs (see earlier) or are dislodged naturally from walls. A clump of &lsquo;cushion moss&rsquo; or another compact, robust, species is probably the best choice initially, but strands of the more aquatic species, such as <em>Sphagnum</em>, can also be used. Sometimes such strands of moss will grow. Once again, as discussed earlier, because the moss is in water, its structure and beauty are clear and they can be easily studied or photographed.<br /> <br /> Specimens suitable for your moss garden can also be collected when garden lawns are being raked or if paths need to be cleared to facilitate access or to reduce the chances of people slipping (see above). Mosses should, however, only be deliberately &lsquo;picked&rsquo; in this way if you are the owner of the property or have his/her permission to do so (&quot;an authorised person&quot;). The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 S13 (&lsquo;Protection of wild plants&rsquo;) states that it is an offence if &lsquo;any person&hellip; not being an authorised person, intentionally uproots any wild plant&hellip;&quot;. Mosses do not have roots as such, so it is not clear whether that legal restriction applies to them. It is probably best therefore to be cautious and take only moss that has already been dislodged as described above.<br /> <br /> Your moss garden can be kept out-of-doors or brought inside. A moss garden outside will collect water naturally when it rains; at other times, it must be kept damp. A moss garden that is inside the house is best kept on a window ledge where there is plenty of light for the moss itself and to aid observation.<br /> <br /> Check your moss garden each day. You will see changes as the green fronds grow. Stems bearing capsules may appear. The rate of growth and development of these structures will be greater indoors because of the higher temperature. Always make sure that your moss garden does not dry out!<br /> <br /> If kept indoors, other plants, brought in with the moss, may appear. Animals can also sometimes be seen - some of these will be relatively large, such as worms and woodlice, others only tiny (use your magnifying glass to spot them).<br /> <br /> Your moss garden is in many respects, a tiny &lsquo;Amazon rain forest&rsquo;. It is green and luxuriant, it produces oxygen because of photosynthesis, it holds, retains and liberates water, and it provides a secure home for other living things.<br /> <br /> You do not necessarily need to keep your moss garden for a long period of time. 2-3 weeks may be sufficient. The contents can then be returned to the place from which they came &ndash; and you may like to start again with a new species.<br /> <br /> In this blog we have not told you too much about actually identifying mosses. If you are interested in doing this, we recommend a book by our friend Dr June Chatfield &ldquo;How to Begin the Study of Mosses and Liverworts&rdquo;. This was published by the British Naturalists Association in 2008. See:<br /> <br /> <a href="https://bna-naturalists.org/product/how-to-begin-the-study-of-mosses-and-liverworts/">How To Begin The Study Of Mosses And Liverworts &ndash; British Naturalists&#39; Association (bna-naturalists.org)</a><br /> <br /> Publications &ndash; British Naturalists&#39; Association (bna-naturalists.org)<br /> <br /> If you become really keen consider joining The British Bryological Society:<br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.britishbryologicalsociety.org.uk/">British Bryological Society</a><br /> <br /> Mosses can give us great pleasure during the apparently dull and drab winter months. They are a daily reminder, throughout the year, of how green the world is and of the inescapable fact that there is Nature all around us. Looking for and studying these plants can be stimulating and fun. Creating a moss garden can provide an opportunity for you to tend, observe, and enjoy these remarkable plants in your own home.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Image by Dr Jeffries" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Dr-Jeffries-image-1.jpg" /><br /> <br /> <img alt="Image by Dr Jeffries" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Dr-Jeffries-image-2.jpg" /><br /> The above images were taken by Dr Jeffries</div> 0 Feathered friends https://www.haiths.com/feathered-friends-/ https://www.haiths.com/feathered-friends-/#comments Mon, 21 Dec 2020 00:00:00 GMT Haith's Community https://www.haiths.com/feathered-friends-/ The past week in Kent has not been as cold and bird activity does vary from week to week according to the conditions, but that’s not to say that I haven’t had a good number of birds coming into the garden. The past week in Kent has not been as cold and bird activity does vary from week to week according to the conditions, but that’s not to say that I haven’t had a good number of birds coming into the garden.<br/>Starting big and going small, the feral pigeons have been sharing their food between my bird table and the neighbour across the road. The number coming to each location I think is the same overall and I&rsquo;ve seen some of the regulars; &lsquo;&lsquo;white wing&rsquo; as I call him who tends to come in the afternoon or quite late in the day for a quick feed before dusk and the other mainly white pigeon who I&rsquo;ve seen more recently, who I think was the third in the original group. The jackdaws have been coming in twos or fours generally in the early morning and afternoon and also the collared doves. The latter take the opportunity when either the pigeons haven&rsquo;t arrived in the morning or have left for the day, to come along and feed at the bird table. I&rsquo;ve not seen any seagulls in the garden or around and about this past week but I have seen a few crows flying about and also a magpie, early in the morning in the main, hopping about on my lawn.<br /> <br /> The starlings are still coming in their flock to a greater or lesser extent depending on the weather and also take the opportunity when the larger birds are not around to have a good feed on the peanut feeder, the suet balls and suet square. If they are really hungry and feeding before leaving for the day, they are happily mixing with the other birds. They also of course have the suet log which they share with some of the smaller birds. I have seen at least three blackbirds, a male and female and a second male, hopping about early and late in the garden.<br /> <br /> Moving onto the smaller birds and it&rsquo;s very nice to see blue tits, great tits and coal tits in singles or couples on the suet log and the feeder. They sometimes take the opportunity to pop across onto the suet balls or the peanut feeder as well. The sparrows are still amusing me by hopping about between various bushes and this morning, three of them were sitting on the low fence in my front garden having just come across from the holly bush. I have a small string of Christmas lights in the holly bush by the front door, but I&rsquo;ve made sure that it is relatively low down as the sparrows go up in the top of the bush, having come from the roof.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Robin" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Robin(19).jpg" /></div> <br /> This is my last blog before Christmas and so my next one will be early in the new year, but of course I have to mention the robins. I often see a robin sitting in a tree or bush and flitting between feeders and suet balls, on the bird table and so forth and I tried to grab a picture, but unfortunately it was too far away to really show up and the image was too dark. There are at least a couple of younger robins as well hopping about on the path, picking up seed and suet that has dropped. As I mentioned, I&rsquo;m taking a break from my blogs but don&rsquo;t worry I shall still be feeding the birds in my garden over the Festive period and watching the antics along with those of the squirrel and will update everybody in the New Year. The supply of food is well stocked, I have probably overdone it, but then if bad weather does come in January I will have plenty in reserve. The smaller birds will be enjoying I&rsquo;m sure, some of the Beggars Banquet food from Haith&rsquo;s as a Christmas treat. So for all the readers of the blog pages and all the staff at Haith&rsquo;s, who have served everybody so well during this difficult year, I&rsquo;d like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and best wishes for a considerably improved 2021.<br /> <br /> Margaret Emerson<br /> Armchair Naturalist 0 More comings and goings https://www.haiths.com/more-comings-and-goings/ https://www.haiths.com/more-comings-and-goings/#comments Thurs, 10 Dec 2020 00:00:00 GMT Haith's Community https://www.haiths.com/more-comings-and-goings/ With the darker mornings and some foggy mornings this past week, the birds have been arriving slightly later at the feeders and bird table. Some of the days have been very chilly and the birds have been eating more than they have done over the past months. With the darker mornings and some foggy mornings this past week, the birds have been arriving slightly later at the feeders and bird table. Some of the days have been very chilly and the birds have been eating more than they have done over the past months.<br/>The starlings and feral pigeons are still using the bird bath to drink, but they don&rsquo;t seem to be using it for bathing as much, as I guess it&rsquo;s not such good weather for doing such things and there&rsquo;s been plenty of rain to have an impromptu shower.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Comings and goings " src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Comings%20and%20goings.jpg" /></div> <br /> <br /> The starlings are making good use of the suet log and I think the pigeons are still eyeing it enviously as a couple will sit in the branch nearby and try to work out how to get on it. My picture this week shows the starlings. They seem to be a few squirrels around and about and on the colder days one has been coming to help itself to some of the peanuts. I know that can be looked upon as rodents in some respects but, love them or hate them, they are still part of nature and can give some amusement with their antics. The funniest sight back in the spring was of one removing a whole suet fat ball from the feeder and running across the garden and putting it somewhere else. I&rsquo;m not sure whether it ever came back to eat it or whether it was taken by other birds or animals, but that did raise a small at the time.<br /> <br /> Last week I mentioned that seagulls were trying to land in the neighbour&rsquo;s garden but a couple of days ago a very large seagull landed on my lawn, as I had put out a few scraps of ham on the bird table having dropped a slice on the floor. It came down wandered about, took the ham and flew off, but unfortunately came and went too quickly for me to get my camera anywhere near the window. The magpies are here a bit more now and I often have one in the garden first thing in the morning or later in the day, when the blackbirds are also still around.The sparrows are still coming as a group on the seed feeder and blue tits, great tits and robins are coming onto the suet log and sometimes my other feeders. A very nice sight this morning looking out my window was of a wren hopping along the top of the fence and disappearing down into the bushes. I hadn&rsquo;t seen one for several months so it was good it put in an appearance for a mention in this blog. The crows are still flying about but generally not landing in my garden but the jackdaws have been coming as a group of generally four or six birds. <br<br> With all the Christmas preparations taking place I&rsquo;ve made sure that I have a plentiful supply of a range of foods for the birds over the Festive period, as with colder weather the demand soon increases and if the weather turns more wintry, deliveries could be an issue. I would dread to think that they had come and found that food was in short supply, With the shortest day not far away now, I have to make sure that the last food of the day is out on the bird table well before 3 o&rsquo;clock as on the dull days the birds will have disappeared by then, although on a brighter afternoon one or two might linger a little bit later.<br /> <br /> Written by Margaret Emerson Armchair Naturalist 10th December 2020 </br<br> 0 Brisk weather and brisk business at the feeders https://www.haiths.com/brisk-weather-and-brisk-business-at-the-feeders-/ https://www.haiths.com/brisk-weather-and-brisk-business-at-the-feeders-/#comments Thurs, 03 Dec 2020 00:00:00 GMT Haith's Community https://www.haiths.com/brisk-weather-and-brisk-business-at-the-feeders-/ The days are definitely colder and there have been a couple of frosts in the past week and the last couple of days have been much colder, so activity at the bird feeders continues to be brisk. The days are definitely colder and there have been a couple of frosts in the past week and the last couple of days have been much colder, so activity at the bird feeders continues to be brisk.<br/>The smaller birds have been flitting across from one of my holly bushes which now seems to be partially depleted of berries, into my cobnut and then onto the seed feeder. I&rsquo;ve seen at least three blue tits in one group waiting a turn on the suet log but as they are flitting about it could possibly be more than that. It&rsquo;s often amusing to watch the blue tits as they will land either in the cobnut waiting to go on the feeder or suet log or near the suet balls and squares, but they then sit for awhile looking from side to side, presumably for predators. This seems to go on though for a long time and often means that they hear or see something and then don&rsquo;t actually feed at all. I think the coal tits do the same and I can see why they are being cautious, being small birds and brightly coloured, but you don&rsquo;t see other small birds being so wary, although perhaps they come in little flocks rather than just in ones and twos. The robins have also been around as usual and arriving early and going late in the day.<br /> <br /> The little flock of sparrows, which actually isn&rsquo;t that small now, have been busy on the feeders and in my holly bushes, which I can see from various windows. I&rsquo;m not sure what they have been doing though in the front garden as on a least three occasions now they have been climbing up my brick pillars which were built last year and pecking at the mortar. I wondered if they were taking salt from it but hanging vertically on a brick pillar is generally a case of any perch will do.<br /> &nbsp; <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Brisk weather and brisk business at the feeders" src="http://www.haiths.com/images/blog/haiths/Brisk-weather-and-brisk-business-at-the-feeders.jpg" /></div> <br /> I have at least one pair of collared doves which I have referred to before and they appear at various times of the day, but usually early and late. I imagine the pair have gone their separate ways for part of the day, as one normally arrives and waits for the second to appear towards dusk. That might mean waiting in my wild cherry, on the roof of the bird table or on the top of the lamppost outside the house, so I guess any perch will do. My picture this week shows one of the collared doves sharing the feeder with the sparrows.<br /> <br /> Among the other early arrivals in the garden are the blackbirds who I see often first thing when it&rsquo;s not properly light and they also stay later in the day as I&rsquo;ve mentioned before, but this morning when it still wasn&rsquo;t really light, being a dull start and still early, there was a magpie hopping about picking up the remains of the food which I put out yesterday afternoon.<br /> <br /> The feral pigeons are continuing to come both to my bird table and feeders but also to the neighbour across the road and I think they signal from my roof to the other and vice versa to come for food. Most of the time though the numbers are still lower than they had been earlier in the year so I don&rsquo;t know whether that&rsquo;s because they have two sources of food close at hand or whether they&rsquo;re feeding elsewhere. A few weeks ago somebody was working in my garden and a big group of pigeons had been feeding at my bird table in the afternoon and then flew off in the direction of the town, prompting me to say that perhaps they&rsquo;ve gone for junk food scraps for their dinner in the town.<br /> <br /> I&rsquo;ve not seen any sight of my more unusual visitors this week such as the long-tailed tits or the woodpecker but there was a large group of seagulls attempting to land in a garden near mine, but I&rsquo;m not sure that they ever got around to setting their feet on the ground. The jackdaws are still coming in a group at certain points of the day and the starlings too. At the weekend I counted 40 starlings on the feeders and the lawn, so there are still plenty of goings on in the garden.<br /> <br /> Margaret Emerson<br /> <br /> Armchair Naturalist 3rd December 2020 0