Calendar and diary for March 2003 - one of the driest on record for much of the UK. Although often sunny and warm during the day, the clear nights were cold.
Diary and calendar
Spring clean your nestboxesMarch 2003 on the gardener's calendar...If you have any bird nest-boxes in your garden, you should now think about clearing out any debris left from the last nesting season. Ideally you should clear out old nests at the end of the breeding season in autumn - this helps prevent disease and parasites from affecting birds which use your boxes. If you did this and put in clean insulating material, such straw, for roosting birds over the winter, you should now clear that out too.
It's not too late to put up new nest-boxes either. In general, try to position them facing away from the prevailing wind and rain and out of direct sunlight. You can find more information on nest-boxes on the RSPB and BTO websites.
Reports of fish death somewhat exaggerated!Monday 31st March 2003 in the garden diary...After breaking the news of the demise of the goldfish to my heartbroken children yesterday (who insisted that they were to be classed as 'pets' and even, according to my youngest Oliver, as 'members of the family'), today I had to admit that I had been somewhat premature after Oliver saw one of them alive and well! Our fingers are crossed for the other one!
Frogs - the ups and the downsSaturday 29th March 2003 in the garden diary...I'm increasingly resigned to the fact that we've probably lost the frogs and goldfish that were in the new pond to a heron. The weather has been warm again today and I would have expected to see both frogs and fish. Clearly I'm going to have to look into ways of discouraging this lovely bird from visiting.
The old pond, which is a bit, too close to the house for the heron's comfort, has been very busy with spawning frogs all day and I moved about a third of a bucket of spawn up to the new pond.
Insects becoming more activeSaturday 29th March 2003 in the garden diary...Plenty of signs of new insect life in the garden today. I saw a number of bumble bees and my first wasps of the year - probably new queens looking for nest sites. I didn't manage to identify the wasps to species - I couldn't get close enough. The garden's first peacock of the year has just fluttered by the window as I sit at the computer.
Reed bunting visitsFriday 28th March 2003 in the garden diary...I saw a nice male reed bunting visiting the ground feeding station by my pond again today. I've seen this bird on and off for about two weeks now: quite an unusual sight in gardens like the mature ones we have around here. We're not too far from open moorland and rough pasture though; habitats where you would expect to see this declining species. I imagine that it was the pond which caught it's eye as it flew over in the first place, though its certainly the seed on the bird table which keeps him coming back.
No return of frogs to the new pondFriday 28th March 2003 in the garden diary...After yesterday's visit from the grey heron, there are still no signs of the frogs which had been very active in the new pond. I find it hard to believe that the heron could have taken them all (20 or so). No sign of my two goldfish either!
Heron visits new pondThursday 27th March 2003 in the garden diary...I came home from work today and as I entered the garden, some movement caught my eye at the new pond. I looked up to see a grey heron leaving the side of the pond. There were no sign of the frogs where had been actively spawning in there. I guess that they moved to deeper water or under stones etc when it arrived. My neighbour first alerted us to the heron's interest in the pond about a week ago she phoned us before the kids had gone to school to say that a heron was at the pond-side. We were all rewarded with a good view of the heron. There was no sign of any loss of frogs after that visit and the two goldfish which we have there were still to be seen.
Frogspawn in old pondSunday 23rd March 2003 in the garden diary...The first frogspawn appeared in the old pond. I moved this spawn to the new pond (as I will with all the spawn which appears there). The number of frogs in the new pond is now approaching 20 and more spawn appears regularly.
Sitting in the garden in the beautiful weather we have been having and listening to the frogs 'singing' has been wonderful.
Spring well and truly sprungSunday 23rd March 2003 out and about...
Today I've heard the first chiffchaffs of the year and seen my first commas, small tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies around Horwich.
Frogs begin spawning in new pondThursday 20th March 2003 in the garden diary...
One or two pairs of frogs have started to spawn in the shallow area of the new pond. I had not expected any to breed there this year (even though a few had taken up residence at the end of last year) - I thought that they would all return to the old pond to breed.
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