Garden Wildlife in Winter

From December onwards the garden is covered in Snow. It initially emphasizes all details, but eventually drowns everything and there is little to look at. Usually the snow cover disappears late March or early April – four or five months of this.
Wildlife can provide change to the scene if it is lured into the garden.

For the wildlife this means that seeds and other food on the ground are not longer accessible.

I am for the fourth winter feeding birds (and other wildlife) in the garden putting out feeders with seed and fat.

bluetit
A blue tit feeding

During the extremely short days around midwinter birds come to feed from early light through to dusk. Blue tits make the largest crowd with ten to fifteen taking their turn at the feeders. One or two crested tits make their appearance every now and then and the odd coal tit makes the occasional visit.

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A coal tit waiting for its turn to feed

A great spotted woodpecker turns up every year, daily at certain times, hacking away at the fat or making do with some peanuts.

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Hacking away – the great spotted woodpecker

Bulfinches turn up in pairs or flocks and on sunny days the red breasts of the male are adorable.

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A bright spot of colour – bulfinch male in the sun.

A pair of magpies, actually very shy birds, make do of the fat sausage when they come to feed.

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A magpie

From late February onwards common blackbirds come to feed and stay to make a mess of my vegetable patch and berry bushes later in the year.

Most entertaining are the red squirrels that sometimes empty the feeders in record time. When several show up at the same time, there is always some chasing and tail wagging. At most we had four at the same time.

squirrel
A red squirrel feeding seeds from the ground

Forrest mice live in tunnels in the snow and sometimes I can watch them feeding on seeds that dropped from the feeders. Although they certainly will breed well-fed as they are, I hope they will at least leave my plants be. They usually disappear into the forrest once I stop feeding in spring and I have not had problems with mice in the garden.

The forrest hares leave their give-away tracks all over the forrest floor and frequently pass through the neighbours garden. They do not seem to like our garden though as they have left my trees in piece so far. I have spotted tracks leading to the feeder, the hares probably feeding on dropped seeds.

hare-tracks
Tracks giving away nightly visits of a forrest hare

Although I have spotted roe deer and forrest reindeer from our living room on occasions, they fortunately do not venture into the garden. In summer I try to reinforce this by growing smelly flowers (of the garlic family) near to the forrest. I have seen elk tracks 50 meters from our garden in winter, but as far as I now, they have left my garden in piece so far.

One visitor puzzles me: last winter one feeder was ripped from 1,5 meters high and a 1,5 cm green branch snapped. The thick metal wire where the feeder hung from was badly deformed and the lid disappeared for good. My neighbour recons this could have been a wolverine or raccoon dog desperate for food.

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