Male sparrowhawk. Photo (c) David Turner

Wildlife activity in my Whitley garden during January was good, despite the cold. There were no great surprises but there was a lot of activity. At the beginning of the year, I saw a female green woodpecker and a pair of great spotted woodpeckers, as well as a squirrel with mouthfuls of dry leaves clearly intended as nesting material.

During November and December 2018, I pollarded a willow tree in the garden that had started to encroach on neighbours’ gardens. Nothing from the tree was wasted; in January I cut the branches into a pile of logs and the twiggy lengths were used to create a willow fence. The rest was shredded and spread on the garden. Birds love to forage around in shreddings, and insects and mammals love hiding in log piles.

January temperatures averaged 5ºC with a high of 7ºC during sunny afternoons and a low of -6ºC towards the end of the month. During mid-January, when daytime temperatures reached 7ºC and the sun made it feel warmer, bees and ladybirds were happy to come out of hibernation.

Blackbird with leucism. Photo (c) David Turner

Some of the blackbirds showed signs of leucism, where some feathers become white. This isn’t rare, but it is unusual to see so many blackbirds with the condition in one area.

Whitley witnessed its first snow shower of 2019 on 22 January. The snow only lasted a few days and I was forever hopeful that fieldfares and redwing would show up; but sadly this was not to be.

I noticed a possible fox den under my decking area, surrounded by trees and log piles, on 22 January and I have set up a 24-hour trail camera to watch it. Although it has already recorded a pair of foxes, they’re not living in the den yet and they’re just using it to rest in at night.

My Whitley garden was featured on the Meridian weather programme on 24 January; it could be an exciting spring and I hope to post a few trail camera images next month.

Collared dove, wood pigeon and parakeet. Photo (c) David Turner

A bit about the author

David Turner retired from the timber industry with a keen interest in all things wildlife, particularly garden wildlife. He was a keen photographer at the age of 10 and now photographs the wildlife he sees every day as a permanent record. He also produces books each year on his findings as part of this exercise.

He has lived in Whitley for 45 years. His wildlife-friendly garden is 100% organic, which has allowed a lot of wildlife to use it, including foxes, mice, birds and all manner of insects.

In 2015, the BBC2 programme the Great British Garden Watch featured his garden in Whitley. This programme showcased gardens around the UK that had been developed to suit wildlife.

David intends to write an article for the Whitley Pump each month describing what he recorded in his garden.

  1. David Turner on Twitter and the Whitley Pump
  2. The natural and social pictorial history of a house in Whitley
  3. RSPB