Creation of a mini biotope

Dear readers,

for so many years I took-for-grantedness, that the birds in springtime sing so nicely and twitter, just to make my day. And that, sorry to say, was about it. Of course I was able to differentiate a pigeon from a sparrow, but not much more.

This all changed as I discovered the stork colony in San Roque. My experience with the storks increased my interest and admiration for this wonder world of our feathered friends more and more.This for the first time for me really getting aware of the birds resulted in the eagerness, that I wanted to learn and read more about them. Soon reference books and bird-magazines piled up here. And with its help and many excursions to the countryside I succeeded step by step that not only 'question marks' are fling in the sky! But still I have big difficulties to differentiate between all this little brownish birds! And of course I am still far away to differentiate their calls and songs!

How can someone live for nearly 30 years near the Strait of Gibraltar and not recognize it as bird migration way? Don´t ask me, but I did it! But all this changed within the last years .....better late than never! So many experiences and so many emotions our feathered friends gave to me!!! The more I get engaged with the subject, the bigger my desire to give something back to them - or better said to give that back: namely a little piece of nature, in order to make for some of them the life easier and a little bit less hard.

The wish for a biotope in my garden was born ....

When I have once taken something into my head or something inspires me, nothing and no one can stop me! - in one of the books I read, that you don´t have to be surprised when in a garden with tutored lawns and a few decorative firs the variety of birds will not appear. I looked around in my property and realized my low-maintenance lawn, the cypresses and pines. Of course those were quite ok for quite some birds, like starlings, tree creepers, black birds, greenfinches and sparrows. But not much more. Not even a drinking water place was given to the poor birds during the hot summer months.

As first immediate measure a bird bath was improvised with an upside down flower pot on which I put some birdseeds as an invitation. But how shy the birds were ....! It took days until the first sparrow dared to come to the water-place. Scared he looked around again and again and soon flew off nervously. But he came back and brought some relatives along. Also collared doves and turtledoves gathered slowly. Of course they with the utmost caution. But soon the black birds enjoyed every evening their bath and finally it became a cheery summer for the birds in my garden!

After the obvious joy of the birds about this little changes in the garden and my observations and photography brought me after such wonderful summer months the intention to install a pond materialized finally! Quite concrete so to say, a big hole was excavated ......fleece and plastic foil prepared - dear me! how difficult it is to estimate such an unequal form! -, carried and glued and .... filled the creation many hours earlier with water as the instruction leaflet of the glue would allow!

Next day I was expecting eagerly at the unfinished pond what would happen. Nothing! Nobody followed my invitation! Well, well .... but then a wagtail appeared and eyeballed distrustful this new pond. Well maybe someday a lost stork would land here? That was my hope. At that time - still, because I didn´t have any idea that nature which is left to its own resources doesn´t have any respect for such human wishes, for a stork, like mine, but fulfills, thank goodness, itself!

After a short time the pond looked, thanks to different water plants, much better. Also the big lawn around the pond was removed and replaced by seeds of wildflowers. Because also insects should feel comfortable here! Bit by bit the biotope assumed shape.

And of course I also hoped for a frog to come into the pond, approaching by itself. And indeed very soon, one morning, I saw Fridolin sitting in the pond, just as if he always would have belonged to! And it should not only stick to Fridolin, because the news about the new waters were spread in pond-frog-circles like wildfire. To cut a long story short, nowadays about 400 pond-frogs - rana perezi - populate the big pond as well as the additional eight mini ponds which were created later. And from January every evening for several months a deafening tree frog concert from the biotope can be heard. The green 'smileys' or 'alga-kings' as I fondly call them, pinched the biotope. Lucky enough never a stork landed here, because I never would like to make a photo from the stork with one of this nice smileys in his beak! Regular visits from water snakes and the regular evening presence from Mr. Tawny owl work self-regulating enough.

And the birds? Well for them the continuously lie-in-waiting-position of the green smileys became soon scary. And so they got separated water places in flat flower saucers and discarded fry pans, where they can drink in peace and also take their bath.

When I look outside now and can watch amused the happenings out there, than I ask myself how I could stand for such a long time the sterile easy-maintenance lawn. It is just an every single day joy to watch all the happenings with all the animals out there. Did I present them a piece of living space? Maybe yes. But they return much more to me! May it be a bird, frog or insect .... how many insights in their so different lifes they gave to me! What a fantastic wonder world is opened....!

This wonder world and all the daily observations I tried to catch with the camera. And I would be very happy, it some of the pictures could show the fascination which I experienced, namely the fascination of nature!


All pictures ©copyright by Birgit Kremer
webhammaster Sabine Börsch
translation by Brit Haagna