The Birdwatch was announced as the week-end of the year when gardeners all over Britain could help and get involved in something that really counts – counting birds in our gardens. I haven’t participated before, I haven’t even had bird feeders out in my garden before, but just after Christmas I decided that I wanted to try catch some nice photos of the birds I can hear around here, but never really see. I bought a bird feeder and some nice all-year bird food and waited for the birds to come running – flying.
As I have reported before, none came, and I therefore had to put my thinking hat on, do some reading on the Internet and ask my dear visitors for some help. My garden is quite small, with a very tall conifer at the bottom right – which you never really see, as a photo of it would mean just a photo of the conifer and nothing else! The pictures of my garden tend to just show the trunk and not the crown, but it is there, way up! I also have a very big camellia to the left which I know is populated by birds in the summer, as I can hear them twittering from inside it, so that’s why I placed the bird feeder close to it. In addition I have fences they can perch on and smaller bushes they can hide in. Should be an ideal place to feed, if they can just find me.
But back to the Big Garden Birdwatch. I sat there in my garden, Saturday a week ago, perched on a big pillow with a woolly throw over me and my camera ready next to me and pen and paper ready, waiting for the birds. I quickly noted down the pair of wood pigeons on my roof that has been nesting there for a couple of weeks, I always have wood pigeons there, I think it has something to do with the half pipe there, probably an excellent place for their eggs. In the 11 years I have lived here there has never been a time when I haven’t had woodpigeons on my roof. They make a lot of mess and a lot of noise. Writing down the wood pigeons felt a bit like cheating, I was supposed to count the birds in my garden that day, the pigeons live here! But I did count them – and those two were the only two birds I saw that hour, and the next two hours I was outside too. I tried to get a picture with them both, but as soon as one of them came out of the pipe, the other one went inside and out of sight. They were two, honestly :-)
So, what about my attempt to attract birds? I did fill the birdfeeder all the way up, but I removed some seeds on the seed tray after it had rained badly, they were just mush. Has there been some birds helping themselves to a tiny bit of seeds here? I am not sure – I have never seen any birds flying around the feeder or actually perching on it so I don’t know. I can see the birdfeeder from my kitchen window and I try to look out whenever I am passing to see if I can see any birds, but after a whole month in situ I can safely say this seed mix is not particularly interesting.
After writing about the bird feeder in early January and getting some feedback from my readers I bought some suet balls and hung it in my tree stump. It should be visible for any bird flying around, and I have hung it up with a hanging basket easy-pull so it should be easy for me to refill with more suet balls. Unfortunately the easy pull is not of the most expensive on the market so when I have tested it, it can be pulled down very easy and I haven’t really figured out how to lock it properly. I think if an eager little squirrel should jump on this feeder, it could get a ride of its life, down to the ground and back again! I haven’t caught any squirrels on it yet so haven’t been able to test it out yet, I have no idea how much force would be needed to pull out the chain, but I think most birds would be safe anyway.
To be honest I haven’t seen anything the slightest interested in the suet balls, but a closer inspection reveals that something MIGHT have had a nibble on the lowest ball. Not really sure, but I can’t remember there being a dimple on any of them so… hurray! Something might have had a bite! Hope they go on eating, I’ve got 12 more suet balls waiting for more hungry birds...
But I can tell you one thing that has been popular, along with the suet balls I also bought some sunflower seeds, and they have been eaten! I can see this area from my kitchen window too, and I haven’t seen a single bird eating here, but they might have been here when it’s been dark. Do birds feed in the dark? I might have been feeding the squirrels with the sunflower seeds instead, or perhaps even a fox? I don’t know if a fox would turn down 2 handfuls of lovely sunflower seeds if they were given them on a plate like this? Or maybe a badger? The plate is an upturned biscuit tin with the lid stuck down with double sided tape – the only thing I could think of at the time. I might have to buy another bird feeder at this rate, I want these lovely seeds to go the birds, not the rest of the wild population of East London! And the sunflower seeds are really yummy, I can’t resist having a taste every time I refill this plate, really scrummy, no wonder they have been popular!
So there you go, the homemade sunflower tray is refilled and the suet balls are just waiting for more visitors. Soon I am adding a bird bath, not much point in doing it yet as we are still having very low temperatures so the water would probably freeze, but in a couple of weeks I will add that too. And what about the seed mix in the birdfeeder? If it isn’t eaten, how long can it stay there, through rain and sun, and still be OK to eat, and more importantly, appetising to birds? Some comments would be great here, how long should I let the bird mix stay before I throw it away and refill it?
And lastly, even though we have quite cold weather, and the nice spring temperatures we had in the beginning of January seems far away, the plants are slowly making progress. Here are some of my many types of daffodils to the right, hyacinths to the left and crocosmias at the back.
And my primroses are just waiting for me to find enough time to plant them out!
I was meant to start pruning my roses this week-end, but the ice-cold London wind discouraged me from even starting. I took my photos and went back in. The roses can wait till next week-end I think. Oh, by the way, I did report my 2 wood pigeons to RSPB, I suppose all entries are important, also those that haven’t got much to report, I just wish I had something more exciting than 2 wood pigeons to report :-) Until next time, take care.