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Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Return of the Birds - and Name That Bird

In a recent blog post, one of my local blogging friends, Dorothy, wondered where all the birds had gone this winter. 

In the six years I have lived here, it has seemed the we are surrounded by birds.  We hear them all the time, we see them in the garden, at the feeders and flying overhead.

But this winter it has seemed like they all just disappeared.  Even our year round birds, like the Cardinals, have been absent. The garden is silent.

I was really getting quite depressed about it, thinking it was because we now have houses on either side, where we used to have brush and trees.  

My little country garden that I loved so much when we moved here is rapidly becoming surrounded by suburbia. But I consoled myself that at least we still have the hedgerow (at least for now) across the road behind us.  It was always full of birds.

Where they went this winter is a complete mystery.

But at long last, I've started seeing some birds again.  Okay - so they are mostly European House Sparrows, not the most desirable of avian visitors.  But after the complete lack of birds over the winter, I'll take what I can get!

I also caught sight of this Carolina wren last weekend in the rain.  Perhaps they will nest on the patio again this year.  I hope so!  I heard and saw a Chickadee too, but couldn't get a photo of him.

The Southern Wax Myrtle seemed to provide a cozy dry shelter to these Mourning Doves, who stayed huddled under it for most of that rainy morning.  I began to worry that they might be injured but once it stopped raining, they flew off.

After weeks of cold wet, dreary weather, I was happy to see the sun shining in the garden this morning.  I was even more thrilled to see "Mr. Cardinal" on the wall, helping himself to the birdseed I had just put out.  Mrs. Cardinal was there too, but I didn't get a good shot of her.

As I was standing at the back door, taking photos of the sparrows and the cardinal, I realized that there was another bird with them.  At first I had assumed it was a sparrow but quickly realized it wasn't.  

As I wanted to identify it and add it to my "Life List", I took several photos.  Unfortunately, they haven't helped me identify it, either using my Birds of North America book, or the online tool at

This is where you come in.  I'm hoping someone can tell me what this is. And then I can feel like an idiot for not being able to identify it myself!  :-)

With those markings he should be easy to identify, but once I had entering in "brown back", "streaked front," "yellow markings," "chestnut crown" etc.  I ended up with nothing.

These three are the best of the photos I got of him.

Any idea what he is?  Please leave a comment :-)

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's January - that means it's Seed Catalog time!

It's a dark and dreary January afternoon. The garden is soggy and bedraggled, but our mailbox has been filling up with seed catalogs and gardening magazines. 

So I've been spending some time reading and dreaming. After all, what's a gardener to do when it's too cold and wet to get out in the garden?

Found on Facebook :-)

Most seed companies will be happy to send you a free catalog.

Here are some links to get you started:

Annie's Heirloom Seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Burpee Seed

Gurney's Seed and Nursery Co.

Native American Seed Co.

Park Seed

Seed Savers Exchange


If you live in the UK, you can request a catalogue from these companies

Marshall's Seeds

Sutton's Seeds

Thompson and Morgan


Of course, most of these companies have their full seed catalog available for online browsing, often with articles about seed starting and other gardening subjects.  But on a cold winter's day, I feel there's nothing quite like curling up in your favorite armchair with a mug of something hot and a pile of seed catalogs.

Happy armchair gardening to you all!

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.