A Good Year

Thus we come to the end of another year of wildlife gardening in our small suburban “nature reserve”. We have enjoyed telling you, week by week, what we have done and seen and enjoyed and we know from comments received that many readers of the journal have found something to interest them as we have travelled along. We will be continuing the journal in 2018 but it may not appear quite every week … though when it does, subscribers will automatically receive the link at noon on Sundays as before. If you are not on the subscription list, please consider clicking the button on the right or at the foot of the page and adding your address – you can drop out any time you like with a single click but this way you won’t miss an edition.

I am writing this on a cold, clear, blue-sky day with a garden temperature of -24C which, remarkably, is colder than the North Pole. It’s not that this temperature is unheard of here, far from it, but the NP is 36C warmer than it should be and that worries us rather a lot. Certainly the extreme cold gives us a very good reason to be writing about gardening and not actually doing garden things other than regularly topping up the bird feeders and planning for the year ahead.

There was a rather good snowfall on Christmas day though because of the problems referred to in the journal a couple of weeks ago with some trees suffering impaired abscission layer formation and retaining brown leaves we have to say that some trees and bushes do look strange. Nice snow though.

Today’s final journal entry for 2017 is illustrated with some favourite photographs from the past twelve months


We imagine that it is clear to readers that birds feature high in the list of creatures we try to attract to the garden – and, indeed, there is a list below of the many species we have recorded as visiting during 2017. Others do make their presence known/felt, however. We have passing foxes, a few skunks, eastern cottontail rabbits, gray squirrels (gray, black and cream forms) and high-speed red squirrels, voles, raccoons, toads, frogs and assorted small rodents such as different species of mice. All find food here and some enough shelter to settle in for the duration.

Insects are plentiful with many taking nectar and pollen from the native flowers we grow – several species of bees (native and hive), butterflies, moths, hover-flies, ants etc plus the vast invasions of Japanese beetles that we cull as rapidly and efficiently as we can otherwise there would not be a garden for the other creatures. Whoever was responsible for first introducing those beetles to North America should be taken out and shot at dawn.

Birds in the Garden

Not a bad year at all this year for birds, though not a record. In total we recorded between us some 64 different species of birds during 2017 – the species being listed in the table below together with the date each species was first seen. (The birds are in taxonomic sequence rather than alphabetical or chronological.)

Included were 15 species of Warblers, 5 Sparrows, only 2 raptors. The Canada Goose, Snow Goose and Turkey Vulture were just flying over but the Mallard paid a brief visit to the pond. As usual, the pond and waterfall were the magnets that brought a majority of the warblers down to the ground. It was really good to see the Carolina Wren(s) coming quite regularly, mostly to the feeders and especially so during winter months when for them to find food on the ground is a bit of a hard task.

Featured Images
(click to enlarge)

“A Zero-profit Company”

Regular visitors

SpeciesFirst DateSpeciesFirst DateSpeciesFirst Date
Snow Goose03 Mar 2017Red-breasted Nuthatch05 Mar 2017Blackpoll Warbler24 May 2017
Canada Goose02 Mar 2017White-breasted Nuthatch01 Jan 2017Pine Warbler05 Sep 2017
Mallard11 Apr 2017Brown Creeper22 Jul 2017Yellow-rumped Warbler30 Apr 2017
Turkey Vulture05 Apr 2017Winter Wren27 Aug 2017Black-throated Green Warbler27 Aug 2017
Cooper's Hawk14 Mar 2017Carolina Wren14 Jan 2017Canada Warbler07 Sep 2017
Red-tailed Hawk16 Feb 2017Blue-gray Gnatcatcher30 Apr 2017Wilson's Warbler06 Sep 2017
Mourning Dove05 Jan 2017Golden-crowned Kinglet20 Apr 2017Chipping Sparrow21 Apr 2017
Ruby-throated Hummingbird21 May 2017Ruby-crowned Kinglet16 Apr 2017Dark-eyed Junco01 Jan 2017
Downy Woodpecker03 Jan 2017Hermit Thrush16 Jul 2017White-crowned Sparrow14 May 2017
Hairy Woodpecker07 Oct 2017American Robin13 Jan 2017White-throated Sparrow17 Apr 2017
Northern Flicker16 Apr 2017European Starling20 Jan 2017Song Sparrow04 Apr 2017
Pileated Woodpecker03 Jan 2017Cedar Waxwing05 Sep 2017Scarlet Tanager23 Aug 2017
Eastern Wood-Pewee08 Jun 2017Ovenbird10 Oct 2017Northern Cardinal02 Jan 2017
Eastern Phoebe15 Apr 2017Black-and-white Warbler27 Aug 2017Rose-breasted Grosbeak10 May 2017
Great Crested Flycatcher30 Apr 2017Tennessee Warbler19 May 2017Indigo Bunting14 May 2017
Blue-headed Vireo27 Aug 2017Nashville Warbler12 May 2017Baltimore Oriole03 Aug 2017
Warbling Vireo27 Aug 2017American Redstart23 Aug 2017Red-winged Blackbird23 Feb 2017
Red-eyed Vireo16 Aug 2017Cape May Warbler19 May 2017Common Grackle26 Feb 2017
Blue Jay02 Jan 2017Northern Parula05 Sep 2017House Finch02 Jan 2017
American Crow01 Jan 2017Magnolia Warbler05 Sep 2017Purple Finch12 Jan 2017
Black-capped Chickadee01 Jan 2017Bay-breasted Warbler03 Sep 2017American Goldfinch01 Jan 2017
Chestnut-sided Warbler27 Aug 2017

Looking back twelve months

Click any thumbnail to see pictures at full size.