During the past week it has been frosty most mornings with white hoar frost on the grass and ice in the bird bath saucers, so I’ve had to add to my routine breaking the ice in the saucers first thing.
The coldness of the water doesn’t seem to have deterred either the pigeons or the starlings who have still been drinking and bathing on the sunny days in the icy water. The sunshine is warm enough I guess on the calm days. Not surprisingly with the cold weather, the consumption of food is considerably higher, although at the moment the birds don’t seem to be favouring the fat balls. The suet squares are still popular with the starlings but also increasingly with the blue tits and great tits, who are starting to appear regularly in the garden. I still have at least two squirrels coming most days for some peanuts and they have been either eating them straight from the feeder, rushing off to bury them or probably digging up some but they’ve already hidden. Since it turned colder though, they haven’t been around quite so much early or late in the day.
This week I’ve seen the robin several times in the garden and I make sure that when most of the other birds have gone for the day that some mealworms are scattered in the feeder tray or on the ground underneath, which are then enjoyed by both the robin and the blackbirds. Talking of blackbirds, there at least two coming regularly into the garden and two crows are still coming normally first thing in the morning and later in the afternoon for any tasty morsels that they can find. They will even come over to the bird table and take some of the suet pellets. The magpie tends to do the same and will swing around in the birdfeeder tray too, when there is some loose food to be had there.
Sightings of sparrows and dunnocks have been few and far between recently and I think I may have discovered why, as the central ports on the seed feeder were blocked. I know the collared doves and the wood pigeons had been coming to the feeder pecking and then going round the other side and pecking at another port, which is probably what they were trying to tell me as the seed wasn’t coming down into the feeder properly. Good hygiene is required anyway, but I emptied the food out completely and cleaned and restocked the feeder at the weekend, and lo and behold I’ve seen some sparrows and probably also a chaffinch feeding there now and the larger birds already mentioned.
I have been looking out for any sightings of the redwings as it has turned colder, but I’ve seen none so far and I haven’t seen the greater spotted woodpecker in the last couple of weeks. If this cold spell lasts, although it is not unseasonable, they will probably be about. The days are becoming noticeably longer now or at least as far as the afternoon is concerned, so I will keep a watch out to see if any of the birds have taken up residence in either the small bird nest box or the robin roosting box. The RSPB Bird Garden Birdwatch is not far away now and so I have made sure I have plenty of different foods to tempt my feathered friends and of course to see them through the coldest months.
written by Margaret Emerson