Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Due to almost every member of the family suffering from flu over December, we became rather frustratingly housebound. We were saved our sanity, in part, by the fact that our living room has large glass doors and looks into the garden, the garden feels like and extension of the living room. In the garden we have a bird table constantly topped up, several feeders and various coconuts hanging from the trees - creating Bird TV - a freeview channel, with plenty of drama and great characters.
During our first few years living here we had a real dearth of birds in the garden - in fact apart from a family of very vocal and bossy blackbirds and the odd wood pigeon plumping down for a look around, everything else seemed to fly overhead and actively avoid our garden. I put that down to the fact that there had been several generations of cats living here prior to us. I chatted to neighbours who thought I was probably right but had noticed a decline in the bird population ever since an estate had been built on a nearby green field site. It was also suggested that I have a look in their gardens at what feed worked for them. Well, it took nearly two years of coaxing and wasted food but finally we have constant feathered visitors.
The first to be tempted back in were the goldfinches, who I'd seen hanging around in the chestnut trees at the back of us - watching and waiting - they are very fussy and only take (expensive!) niger seed from only one feeder, placed on exactly the same branch every time. Now they queue for it in our garden trees, with a bit of pushing and shoving. Any bits thats fall to ground are rarely hovered up by them but has attracted numerous skittish chaffinches.
"Fat balls are needed for tits" I was reliably informed by friends and websites, did they take any notice? - no - the tits sat and looked disdainfully at the round offerings hung here and there. It was only one day whilst making dumplings for a stew with vegi suet that I wondered if...if..I put few sprinkles on the bird table and a few in a feeder and to see what would happen....literally within minutes blue tits, coal tits and great tits arrived for the suet and have stayed ever since, eating spiders and making nests in the hedges. They now also deign to take from coconuts. Two weeks ago I fitted a peanut window feeder to the kitchen it is visited mainly by blue tits, delighting the children who get to see them close up.
...and so it went on black caps also like the suet, robins black sunflowers seeds and a family of cheeky starlings - anything! We even had a brief glimpse at a flock of waxwings in December who wheeled in stripped a bush of berries in a matter of minutes and wheeled out again - even more delight from children and adults that time.
It was commented on that I was out feeding the birds before the children in the snowy spell, but hey the demands of Bird TV, and hopefully helping out these beautiful creatures are well worth it.