a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France


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Baby birds in a French garden

Nothing gives us greater pleasure than sharing our garden with all the creatures that live among us and amuse us on a daily basis.  This has been even more important during these last few months when we have had to  stay mostly at home.

It is always wonderful to watch the courting of doves, or the antics of the sparrows which often reminds me of a bunch of school boys.

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During this hot period when the temperatures have been around 30C (90F), the birds need feeding,

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And equally important they need clean water for drinking and bathing.  The juvenile sparrow in the front does not appear to be sure getting herself wet.

young male sparrow

The young male sparrow is as big as its daddy, but is still more fluffy and appears to need more naps!

Juvenile blackbird

I must admit that I am particularly fond of blackbirds singing for us, and I am so glad that several pairs have raised their young in our garden.

young sparrow

I really wish I could cuddle that little sparrow with her downy feathers on the buddleia.

young redstart

Once again we have had several redstarts raising their young in the garden.  The juveniles are very cute and not as shy as the parents.

Juvenile tobin

For the last couple of weeks Amelia and I have been watching two baby robins in the front garden when we have been having our coffee.  Their bodies start speckled and still no red breast.

young robin (2)

Little by little the speckled front changed to red.

young robin

Finally the red breast become more prominent, but she still has not lost her cute fuzzy head.

  • Kourosh

 


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The Season Starts or Finishes now?

The beekeepers, consider that after the honey harvest in autumn, the next season just begins.  There is so much to be done to tidy the equipment and make sure that the bees have enough provisions to last them through the winter. We been lucky this year.

Honeybee on winter honeysuckle (3)

Even these last days of November, the winter flowering honeysuckle provides both nectar and pollen for our bees.

bumble Bee 1

It is not just the honey bees that interest us.  The bumble bees are frequent visitors at this time on several mahonias in the garden.

Beehives near la Seudre

Our five hives are tucked away at the end of the garden, and the autumn so far has been mild.  This has not been the story across France, where the French Union of Beekeepers (UNAF) have named 2019 as a black year,  UNAF has applied to the French Government to take the necessary steps to indemnify the beekeepers in the worst affected regions,  The cold spring and exceptionally hot summer contributed to the loss of many bee colonies across France.

Here the summer was so dry that even the sunflowers did not have much nectar, so the bees could not produce as much honey as usual.  Normally one hive can produce 20 or even 30 kilograms of honey in autumn.  The average in this region was around 5 kilogram per hive.  As I said, we were lucky as around us there are forests of sweet chestnut trees, so we collected a fair amount of all flowers honey as well as forest honey which is mostly chestnut honey,  Certainly enough for us and our friends.

In total we also collected 11 bee swarms that came to our garden.  We housed them and kept them for a few weeks and then passed them to friends who had lost many colonies.

Beehives near la Seudre. 1. jpg

During the past month we have had a lot of rain and after 18 months that the river at the bottom of the garden was dry, now la Seudre is almost full of water.

So, Amelia and I are already looking forward to next year beekeeping life.

For me, apart from occasional visit to see how the bees are getting on, the pleasure is to watch the birds. coming to our front garden.

Robin

The robin, specially at this time of the year reminds us of Christmas cards.

She comes regularly bathing in front of the dinning room.

Robin bathing 1 (2)

So does the sungthrush.

Song thrush bathing 1

Sometimes I wonder if the birds like washing themselves or do they, like children, actually enjoy bathing.

Song thrush bathing 1 (3)

I think this one was washing his ears!

At this time of the year Amelia likes collecting the leaves for composting, but some of the trees have not totally lost their leaves, The liquidambar leaves, however, are so pretty even on the ground that Amelia does not have the heart to rake them.

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So I wish you a happy autumn and together we look forward to the start of another year of beekeeping as well as gardening.

Kourosh

 


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A bird in the hand

One has a tendency to marvel at nature, at the wonderful accomplishments of simple creatures.

But let’s face it – they make mistakes too.

In my opinion it was all the sparrows fault.  They have a tendency to flock down on the patio and then when one decides to leave the others all fly off frequently sowing panic amongst the other birds.  My poor robin must have been startled and misjudged his trajectory on taking flight.  Luckily, I heard the bump and went out immediately to retrieve the unconscious ball of feathers.

He was treated to the dark box in a quiet place therapy.  I think a lot of birds must succumb when left motionless in the cold.  Yesterday it took less than an hour before the robin was back on his feet. He was able to fly from the box on ground level to perch on a phone line high above the ground before heading to a favourite bush to take cover.

I do like stories with happy endings!