Birds and bees
on Sunday, January 20 2013 - News from the garden
We woke this morning to hear a crackling sound from the frozen world outside our windows.
Every tiny twig on every branch was encased in ice. The sky was low and heavy, signalling that more snow was coming soon.
I often think of those tiny birds which live in the bushes and trees of our garden and wonder how they will survive this fierce cold.
We put out sunflower seeds, bread crumbs and oat flakes for them at least once a day.
Blue tits weigh only 11g (about a third of an ounce). These tiny scraps of life struggle to keep going in freezing temperatures.
They fly up at every tiny noise or movement, probably wasting a lot of those warming calories that seeds provide.
Great tits must also eat constantly. All the while, they nervously keep watch for bigger birds and cats.
Blackbirds seem to do better. The ones that frequent our garden don't even bother to fly off when we go out to fetch firewood or to replenish their supplies of food.
Here are two nice fat seed eaters. The haw finch is one of the largest of that family and the greenfinch comes next in size. Look at those powerful beaks!
I went to the Bee Garden this afternoon to see how deep the snow is over there.
All the beehives have thick hats of snow.
Are bees aware of icicles and snow or are they conscious only of the cold as they huddle their furry bodies together for warmth? They have a marvellous cooperative system of passing food to those furthest from their honey stores, changing places from time to time. In this way they work to keep the colony alive.
We humans keep warm with a wood stove. Hugh manages our stocks of wood by keeping logs for two years to ensure they are dry when we are ready to use them. La Borne is surrounded by huge forests so that there is always beech and oak wood available.
Food plays an important part in keeping warm and healthy. We eat salads like these of raw beetroot, carrot and celeriac.
A glass of red doesn't go amiss either!