Bird feeder news

Bird Feeder News sounds like the kind of obscure publication that might feature on ‘Have I Got News for You’. If there isn’t such a magazine already well there certainly should be but in the meantime I will do my best to fill the cultural void.

The end of this month, January 30th and 31st to be precise, sees the 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch organised by the RSPB. They run what amounts to the biggest wildlife survey in the world every year and this year over half a million people are set to take part. I won’t be one of them I’m afraid. Well, not unless things improve considerably between now and then.

The last time I reported on the birds that had been attracted to our new feed station the species count was a fairly disappointing two. Things haven’t improved very much. I wasn’t expecting to see a ruby throated humming bird or flocks of parakeets on a weekend break from London. I don’t long for a glimpse of something rare and exotic or a windblown migrant from the arctic. I would settle for a blue tit blown from the blackthorn bush thank you very much, but alas no. Up until this morning our variety of birdlife still consisted of the beautiful male blackbird and the Exocet robin. The blackbird has definitely relaxed a bit and now he will sit for a minute or two on the food tray stuffing his face with garish red and yellow pellets. How he knows they are not poisonous is a mystery to me; I certainly wouldn’t eat them. The robin still makes lightning raids on the seed hanger but I think I caught him looking at me in the kitchen the other day. It was only a split second glance as he took another seed on the wing but perhaps his curiosity will outweigh his nervousness eventually.

Speaking of nervous birds, there has been one exciting development in the last week. I’m not one for too much anthropomorphising but indulge me for a moment. You see our Mr. Blackbird is a handsome fellow. He is always immaculately dressed all in black with a bill that looks like it has been freshly dipped in a pot of Dulux Sunshine Yellow each morning. It was only a matter of time before he attracted the attention of the local ladies and sure enough he turned up last week with a date. She was a bit drab in her plain, chocolate brown onesie but maybe what she lacked in dress sense she made up for with potential egg bearing capacity. I don’t know I’m not a blackbird am I?

Anyway, it wasn’t the greatest success as far as dinner dates go. He spent most of the time sitting on the feed tray stuffing his face while she, presumably due to first date nerves, hardly ate a thing. In fact she spent the whole time hopping around on the ground under the feed station occasionally picking up the odd crumb that Mr. Greedy Guts had dropped. It wasn’t the most romantic love scene I have ever witnessed and the robin popping in from time to time like a laser guided gooseberry probably didn’t help. I haven’t seen the blackbirds together since so maybe things didn’t work out but I am sure our regular visitor will find a mate soon. Blimey, if an 84 year old bloke with an extended paper round can attract a stunning 59 year old super model, I’m sure our dashing blackbird can find himself a girlfriend eventually.

There has been an exciting development since I wrote the above. To my great delight a wood pigeon landed in the garden just now and briefly eyed up the feed station. He didn’t stay long but if I can entice him back at the end of the month our species count could rocket by 50%. I might enter the Big Garden Birdwatch after all.

birdwatch

Life on the park, the bird watching experiment

We don’t have much in the way of a garden around our new home. Just a space occupied mainly by gravel, flagstones and a few pots that we haven’t yet planted up. It’s a bit barren. We do however back on to a large field and a thick hedge between us and the field provides a potential home for all manor of wildlife. Gill is keen to attract birds to entertain us and with this in mind she has set up a bird feeding station consisting of a tray with pellets of food and meal worms on it. A dish of water serves the dual purpose of thirst quencher and bathing facility and a hanging seed container and half a coconut shell full of fat provide for the more agile of our feathered friends. So far it hasn’t been a great success.

Dinner is now served

Quiet day on the feeder

We have seen a timid male blackbird taking food from the tray once or twice but the only other visitor has been a robin. The robin has targeted the seed feeder but not in the way that provides a lot of entertainment. His technique is to sit in the hedge protected from predators (he probably doesn’t realise that one of the park rules is ‘no cats’ or he might be more relaxed) and from there he launches his attack. I say attack because it’s more of a raid than a visit. He appears out of the hedge like a small heat seeking missile. Without missing a wingbeat he manages to grab a sunflower seed and is back in the hedge in about five nano seconds. It’s very impressive but it doesn’t really provide us with much in the way of bird watching. It’s more a kind of bird glimpsing, which isn’t really what we had in mind.

We have also glimpsed a kestrel and a hobby which was very exciting but doesn’t bode well for the prospect of exotic songbirds lounging around on the feed station and performing entertaining acrobatics for us while we are doing the washing up. I have noticed a profusion of small birds and animals around the park but they are entirely made of stone or resin and tend to be not to scale. (Some of the butterflies are terrifying!) We really don’t want to go down that road.

I suppose if the birdwatching experiment isn’t successful we could always join the majority of the other residents and just resort to watching each other. It seems to be quite a popular pastime.

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