Friday, 29 February 2008

Welcome Visitors .

As I've now collected the photographs I wanted , I can use this entry to wax lyrical about all the birds in my garden ! I mentioned the Siskins , who we all missed whilst they were AWOL for about 2 years !! In fact we have many avian visitors to our humble , unmanicured garden - let's settle on calling it "wild habitat friendly" !! LOL
Now , we are nowhere near to twitchers in our family enthusiasm for the birds , but we still take a very keen interest in them . For years we have had Family Membership to the RSPB - you get an informative quarterly magazine containing stunning photography , and entrance to the country wide bird reserves - I feel it is money well spent for a charitable cause that impacts on everyone's daily ( and future ) life .
I remember that when I was a girl it was considered positively detrimental to our feathered friends to put food out unless it was the depths of winter . Of course , we all know that's no longer the case due to hugely declining numbers - so putting up a range of feeders was the best "thing" we ever did in our garden . In a short time you can attract a wonderful variety of birds ; seeing them become regular visitors is a more than adequate reward . A quick tot up here includes : Sparrows ( massively in decline so we're quite lucky) Woodpigeon , Collared Doves (always visit as a pair , and roost up together on the slimmest of twigs !) Starlings , Robins (fiercely territorial so there will usually be the same few) Great Tits , Blue Tits , Greenfinch , Chaffinch , Blackbirds , Thrush , Wrens (hard to spot , but enchanting when seen !) Goldfinch and Siskin . We also get Magpies , but I don't encourage them as I've seen first hand the destruction they can wreak on breeding pairs of other species . Some years ago we were left with an empty Thrushes nest - eggs all smashed - after a Magpie mobbing right outside the conservatory ( the nesting site was amongst the climbing roses on top of an arch ) The nest itself was such a beautiful thing ; tightly woven , with a perfectly smooth interior hollow . I marvelled at how these birds must have toiled diligently to produce it - to me it seemed to be more than just "fit for purpose" .... a bit like the tiny , impossibly delicate hunting-wasp nest we once found in our loft - surely meriting a special category of natural art , or even architecture !

I was so surprised to look out of the kitchen window a couple of weeks ago and see the Siskins had returned ! I know they feed on seed ; especially conifer seed , but they obviously hadn't felt the need to return to my Nyjer feeder until now . They only colonise pockets of the UK , although they do remain all year round . I had to make do with a library pic I'm afraid , as they were misbehaving when Ashley poked his lens at them , but you can clearly see this little male's dark grey cap and yellow wing streaks . Females have a beige , stripey sort of plumage , particularly the underside.

I highly recommend buying a feeder (ordinary one for seed - not a special one with slits) , and a bag of little tiny black nyjer seeds , both of which are readily available in garden centres .The instant you get a Goldfinch visitor you'll be richly rewarded by their surprisingly exotic and diminutive beauty ! The females look the same as the males ; those without red heads which are paler all over are juveniles . Thistle seed is their natural food - they won't be remotely interested in other sorts of feeder .We have a special saucer under ours to collect the excess seed . From my conservatory I'm lucky enough to hear their tinkling little songs , whilst they take their turn "waiting" in the trees ; completely unmistakable once heard . I have to say Goldfinches are our No.1 Favourite Guests !

I'm looking forward to full Spring , when our garden gradually becomes a Picadilly circus full of new little fledglings whizzing haphazardly about ! Ashley's last photo reminds of the time he was surprised by a young Blue Tit suddenly jumping out of the Lilacs straight on to his hand ! It stayed stock still on his finger once it realised its mistake !

There's a wealth of information at

T.T.F.N Ruth x


Amanda said...

What a lovely blog post. We are going to design our garden soon and I would love to make it bird friendly. Its a building site at the moment. Only problem I have is my neighbour who feeds the darn cats, because she had a mouse problem. Any way around the cat situation?

Ruth said...

Hi Amanda !
Hmmmm , cats ?? I think the only reason we don't get lots is that both houses either side (plus our own) have dogs !! I have heard that they hate buried orange peel - in your borders . Also siting feeders (ours are grouped very near each other) can be tricky , and might need a bit of experimentation :0)
Huggies , Ruth