All About Garden Birds, Animals, Birds, Megan, Wildlife

Welcome to our next post in our garden bird series. Today we will be taking a peek into the lives of chaffinches, one of the most common finches seen in British gardens. Their colourful plumage and loud song make the chaffinch unmistakable and unmissable in terms of bird watching. To find out more about the common chaffinch, read on!

All About Garden Birds: Chaffinches

What Does a Chaffinch Look Like?

The common chaffinch, latin name Fringilla coelebs, is a small passerine bird, or perching bird, that lies in the finch family, alongside goldfinches.

juvenile chaffinch
Juvenile Chaffinch

The male and female chaffinch both have white stripes on their tails and wings, but they differ greatly in colour. Males have strikingly coloured plumage, with a blueish-grey cap and copper underparts. The vibrant colours of the males’ feathers become even more pronounced during breeding season when they are attracting the more plain looking grey-brown females. Juvenile chaffinches resemble the female but are smaller in size.

Where Will I See Chaffinches?

Chaffinches are not migratory birds, so you will see it in the UK all year round. You will find them in woodlands, hedgerows and parks as well as in your garden.

All About Garden Birds: Chaffinches

The chaffinch is present in most of Europe, Asia and northwest Africa and was introduced from its native Britain to many of its overseas territories in the latter half of the 19th century. It is one of the most common and widespread birds in the finch family.

When Do Chaffinches Breed?

Males start defending their breeding territories as early as February, but breeding usually begins in late April. It is largely dependent on the Spring temperatures, occurring earlier in the south and later in the north. Breeding can continue until as late as July.

Mating begins by the male attracting a female to his territory with bird song. Three out of nine calls present in the chaffinch during the breeding season are courtship calls. The first two, “kseep” and “tchirp” are made by the male to facilitate pair formation and the last, “seep”, is a call that signals acceptance from the female. Interestingly, during the winter months when breeding is over, the number of calls diminishes from nine to only two for each sex.

chaffinch perching on a tree branch

Once paired, the female will build a nest with a deep cup in the fork of the tree. Nests are often very well camouflaged and difficult to locate to the untrained eye. Nesting materials include grass, moss, cobwebs and lichen, and the nest will be lined with feathers and rootlets.

Clutches typically consist of four to five eggs and are laid in the early morning at daily intervals. Eggs vary in colour, from off-white with brown spots to blueish-green. They are incubated for around 14 days by the female before fledglings hatch. Young are fed by both male and female before flying the nest several weeks later.

As chaffinches like to nest in trees, it is worth putting up a bird box that will help encourage breeding and may attract chaffinches to breed in your garden.

What Do Chaffinches Eat?

During breeding season, chaffinches feed mainly on invertebrates, feeding insects and caterpillars to their young. They search for their prey by foraging in trees and may even be seen catching flying insects in the air. Other invertebrates in their breeding season diet include spiders, earwigs and aphids.

chaffinch pecking at the ground

Outside of breeding season, chaffinches eat seeds and also feed directly off of plants. They are ground feeders, so you are likely to see them feeding off seeds that have fallen around your bird table. You can always invest in a ground feeder too if you would like to see more chaffinches in your garden.  

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed finding out about chaffinches in this post! Keep a look out for the next in this series, where we will be taking a deep dive into dunnocks. If you’ve missed out on any post in these series, check them out here:

Robins

Collared Doves

Blue Tits

Goldfinches

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Gardening, Will

Our memory of the First World War tends to focus on the trenches and shellfire, but for hundreds of men held in Ruhleben Internment Camp in Berlin the war was actually spent tending vegetable patches and organising flower shows. When the war broke out in 1914, British men of military age who happened to be in Germany were interned within the confines of the Ruhleben Racecourse. In total about 5,500 men were detained there, and they created a community that closely resembled the one they had left in Britain. This soon included a thriving horticultural society, which is itself a fascinating story and an example of the positive power gardening can have in the most challenging of circumstances.

Source: RHS Lindley Library

The German authorities left the camp’s internees to run their own affairs, and in addition to public services, they founded a series of hobby clubs – including popular sporting, musical and theatrical societies. In 1916 the Crown Princess of Sweden gifted some seeds to the internees, which inspired the idea of an official horticultural society. In September 1916 the initial 50 members drew up a constitution, and the society quickly expanded – by the start of 1917 there were 454 members on the books.

A letter was sent to the Royal Horticultural Society in London asking for official affiliation. They apologised for being unable to include the usual fee, but the RHS did not see any problem with that, and sent a batch of bulbs and seeds to get them started. Gardening efforts were initially focused on growing flowers, with the camp’s joinery shop producing frames to help bring on the first seedlings. The flowers were prized as a way of distracting from the dreary daily reality of barbed wire, and were even sold to raise money for their families back in Britain. An array of different flowers were grown, including chrysanthemums, dahlias and over fifty varieties of sweet pea. A rock garden was also established near the wash house, which “redeemed one of the most melancholy views in camp”, according to a report by the society’s committee.

Source: RHS Lindley Library

In April 1917 the first camp flower show was held, which was organised with written directions and assistance from the RHS. The horticultural standard was high and the show was a great success. There were several further shows in the following years, which grew in size and popularity – in March 1918 600 pots were staged in total, and 2.000 pots were sold for a healthy profit.

In 1917 the Ruhleben Horticultural Society widened their focus to growing vegetables to supplement the internees’ diet, and took over a large parcel of land for that purpose. A loan from the German authorities also enabled the building of a heated greenhouse, which was used to grow melons and tomatoes. The vegetable garden was managed by a permanent staff of 18 internees, assisted by 10 volunteers, and by 1918 the camp was almost self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables, in stark contrast to the near starvation being experienced throughout Germany at the time.

Source: RHS Lindley Library

The society’s gardening efforts were not always easy; the soil at hand was dry and sandy, and sourcing manure was difficult – but they worked around the challenges to create amazing results. The Ruhleben Horticultural Society is a wonderful example of finding positivity in a time of hardship, and is a demonstration of just how life-changing gardening can really be. The internees were released in November 1918, and will surely have returned home healthier in mind and body thanks to the green-fingered efforts of their horticultural society.

Sources:

RHS Lindley Library

https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/59079105-fa9a-3b97-a7d1-78195115b711

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/10606906/Ruhleben-the-WW1-camp-where-gardening-blossomed.html

Will at PrimroseWill is a Copywriter at Primrose and spends his days rattling out words for the website. In his spare time he treads the boards with an Am-Dram group, reads books about terrible, terrible wars, and rambles the countryside looking wistful.

See all of Will’s posts.

 

Evie, Pest Advice, Pest Control

Fox-in-Garden

Are you concerned about protecting your small pets from predators?

Unfortunately, for many small pet owners, foxes are a worry when it comes to caring for your pets in outdoor hutches or cages. Foxes can strike at any time, day or night so it is always best to consider repellent options before it’s too late. Despite the fox’s success in breaking into your rabbit or guinea-pigs hutch, shock alone is enough to harm or kill your beloved small pets, especially if they are young. Remember, prevention is always the best cure.

There are a number of useful methods designed to deter foxes and protect your small pets. We’ve put together a list to help you decide the best option for your circumstances.

pet-rabbit

Scent Repellents

A popular option for many worried pet owners, is the Scoot fox scent repellent. This non-toxic formula is used to keep foxes away from your hutches and your garden for good. Scoot works to trick the predator into believing that it is walking in the territory of another fox, causing it to vacate the premises. The biodegradable product is safe for use on gardens and crops, working to mimic the scent markings of foxes and deter the attention of others.

Observing the behaviour of an existing fox will be highly useful in determining where to apply the fox scent repellent. If you are unsure of where to apply the product, it is recommended to begin with perimeters and places where existing fox scent can be smelled. Be sure to apply the product to any areas of “scorching” on lawns, as this is indicative of persistent fouling. Application will need to be repeated as advised, for optimum results.

Spray Repellers

Alternatively, a safe and effective option that also protects your garden from other pests such as un-welcomed cats or squirrels, is the Jet Spray Repeller. A motion sensor detects movement of a warm body, triggering a water spray response. Of course, if your small pets are likely to trigger the motion sensor, ensure that the repeller is triggered in an appropriate position away from their cage.The repeller connects to your garden hose, and it will not release the five second spray unless triggered, meaning no water wastage as a result.

Jet-Spray-PestBye-Repeller

Ultrasonic Deterrents

Ultrasonic repellers trigger a short burst of noise, designed to discomfort the fox. The frequency of the sound is too high to be heard by human ears, but it is effective for dogs and cats. Birds will not be deterred or dis-encouraged by the repeller from your garden. The sudden burst of sound typically lasts for around 25 seconds. Designed to operate day or night, rise or shine, the battery powered Advanced Fox Scarer by PestBye is easy to install and simple to use. For a mains powered option, the PestBye Ultrasonic Pest Repeller includes a strobe light combined with the ultrasonic to unnerve unwanted visitors. It is recommended to be mindful of your small pets’ hearing and responses to this type of repeller. However, its effectiveness should not be ignored. If you’d like to prevent unwanted visitors in your garden, place an ultrasonic repeller near where they enter your outdoor space, but far enough away from your hutch.

Fencing

Guard your garden by installing fencing in your outdoor space. The most optimum fencing will include chicken wire around the base of the trellis to prevent a fox from getting through any small gaps or anything getting out! Be sure to keep a close eye on any gaps or holes where a fox could gain entry to your garden, you’d be surprised at what small gaps they can squeeze through!

Electric fencing is also an option for protecting your garden from foxes. When touched, the transformer gives off a low and harmless electric pulse. The shock is enough to warn off unwanted visitors, causing them to avoid your garden in the future, without causing them long-lasting harm.

Keep your hutches safe, locked, and structured at all times to ensure your bunnies or guinea pigs are safe. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, prevention is always the best cure! View Primrose’s full range of fox repellents here.

Evie at PrimroseEvie works in the Primrose Marketing Team.

Growing up in the English countryside, she likes nothing more than to be surrounded by nature’s peace and quiet, with the addition of the family pets of course!

Evie is passionate about all things digital marketing and loves the challenge of combining creativity with online content.

When not at her desk, you’ll typically find her in the gym, posting on social media, or watching a popular series on Netflix!

See all of Evie’s posts.

Gardens, How To, Tyler

Let’s be honest, no one really likes the look of their wheelie bin and definitely don’t want to see it in their lovely garden when they look out the window. Worst part is usually there’s more than one! But the reality is we’ve got to have them in our garden/driveway… How can I hide my wheelie bin you ask? There are many ways you can disguise your wheelie bin in stylish ways! Read more to find out how you can.

hide-my-wheelie-bin

Wheelie Bin Stores/Screening

The first option you should consider if you’re looking to hide your wheelie bin is investing in a wheelie bin store or screening. These are fantastic at making an unpleasant bin become a feature in your garden. They come in sizes from single to triples has heaps of benefits such as reducing build up of odor, add security so that the wind can’t blow it down as well as keeping pests out. Best part is they are also adaptable which means you can start treating the wood and customising it how you want by painting it in different colours.

Potted Plants

Another great way to disguise your bin is by surrounding it with your potted plants! Take away the attention from your bin by the vibrant colours of your flowers, fruit trees and various other plants. Tall plants such as bamboo would work best due to its height.

Keep in mind, you will need to make sure that this isn’t placed where there isn’t much sunlight as this could prevent your plants from growing! If your wheelie bins are in a shaded area, artificial trellis is a great alternative as you won’t need to worry about sunlight and gives your wheelie bins more of a natural look…

brick-wall

Build a Brick Wall

For the DIY heads and you have plenty of space to work with, you have the option of building a brick wall around your wheelie bins! This way if you own more than 3 bins, you could potentially build a store big enough to fit them all in. Similar to a wheelie bin store, you can also customise/decorate the wall however you like. The only down side will be is building a brick wall isn’t as cost effective as the other options above.

Tyler at PrimroseTyler works in the Primrose Marketing team, mainly working on Social Media and Online Marketing.

Tyler is a big fan on everything sports and supports Arsenal Football Club. When not writing Primrose blogs and tweets, you can find Tyler playing for his local Sunday football team or in the gym.

See all of Tyler’s posts.