Wild birds prepare for nesting season

Give and take

Nest preparation seems to be continuing apace with the birds this week and I have seen a female blackbird going away with a beak full of moss and then disappearing inside my clipped yew tree.

I wonder if they’re building a nest in there as it is fairly dense and the nest would be well hidden. It was a regular and rather straggly yew tree originally but it was pruned into a round shape, probably 15 years ago now, and then it is clipped over with a hedge trimmer once a year. I have also seen the sparrows hopping about in a flowerbed picking up blades of grass and tugging enthusiastically at weeds growing in various places. The sparrows are certainly roosting in my neighbours roof space again, as they are going between the roof, onto my fence and in the bushes and flowerbeds before heading back that way with nesting materials.

Several birds have now got used to using the new bird bath and water dish which has been in action for a couple of weeks. A magpie has taken to using it as well as some of the starlings and the feral pigeons of course, but I’ve not noticed any of them having a bath in it, so I’m wondering whether it’s actually deep enough. The blackbirds continue to use the other bird bath in the flowerbed and could often be seen there having a drink or a bath.

During the past week I’ve also seen a wren hopping about on my patio amongst and in the containers and my picture this week is of the wren, which usually darts down and away, but on this occasion stayed for several minutes. Going from the little to the large I have seen a couple of magpies coming regularly into the garden and they stay quite late after the feral pigeons have largely left for the day. Their antics trying to eat from the suet log have been amusing. There have been some crows too and I had a couple walking about on my lawn the other day, but they also seem to be scaring off some of the other birds and feral pigeon numbers are down. The jackdaws don’t seem to like them very much and it was a sad day on Monday this week when I heard an enormous thud and a jackdaw had flown into the door of the conservatory, broken its neck and died a very short time later. I have buried this magnificent bird in the flowerbed at the bottom of the garden where I have a number of cat graves.

I think it’s a case of give and take at the bird feeder and bird table, as one group of birds arrives and then another comes and takes over. A pair of collared doves tend to come when it is quieter and leave if too many other birds arrive. A wood pigeon eating from the seed feeder tray one side was looking round the feeder at the starling on the other as much to say, alright you can feed as well but this is my side. One of the jackdaws has been copying the feral pigeons in flipping the lid of the peanut feeder open and having a quick snack and of course it’s give and take there as well, because a squirrel will sometimes come and feed from it. The blue tits and great tits have been very busy on the suet logs and some smaller birds have been going inside the mass of ivy hanging in my cobnut tree and I’m wondering if they are either looking for nesting materials or indeed building a nest in there.

I haven’t seen what I would call my occasional visitors now for some time, such as the great spotted woodpecker or jays, but I imagine as breeding season is setting in they will be coming to pick up some of the food. I did see my first butterfly of the year yesterday, a cabbage white, and it was feeding from the wallflowers, which are in the brassica family. I have also seen several bumble bees on the brighter and warmer days. In my last blog I mentioned that a 17 acre piece of local ancient woodland was up for sale and unfortunately, despite the best efforts of some people in the local community at the auction yesterday, they were unable to purchase it for the residents and we now wait anxiously to see what the new owner does with it. The previous owner had allowed the public to walk in it freely for the past 50 years or more and it is a haven for wildlife including a white squirrel, birds and ancient woodland plants.

Written by Margaret Emerson

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