It’s that time of year again! I live in a suburban garden, 90 feet long by 45 feet at the rear, narrower at the side of the house and with trees and hedging at the front. It is a mixed garden with 2 lawns, herbaceous shrubs, containers of seasonal flowers and bulbs, a vegetable plot, a beech hedge and a few mature trees. During this current coronavirus crisis I am certainly lucky to have my garden and be able to work in it and sit out in it. I am just a few hundred yards from a green space, some woods and less than a mile from fairly open countryside, as I overlook the North Downs. It’s no surprise that a lot of garden birds come to my bird feeders and bird table and they are a great pleasure to me and my house cat also enjoys watching them from the window!
Time marches on and the birds certainly seem to think that spring has arrived and it’s time to be looking at nests. At the weekend I was watching wood pigeons collecting nesting material, small sticks and dried pieces of plant and taking them to the side of the house, sitting on the fence and then repeatedly disappearing inside a fairly large holly tree. I assume they think that is a good place for their nest this year.
I have a fairly large flock of feral pigeons who come to the garden and appear at regular times looking for food. The first pair arrived in the cold winter of 2009-10 and I now can have anything upwards of 50 on the roof on a really cold morning. I give them some food and then most of them will disappear with just a smaller number coming back from time to time to the bird table and especially a couple of hours before sunset. They mainly have mixed seed and some pellets and they’ve also worked out how to climb on the suet fat ball feeder and the peanut feeder. Some have even copied the jackdaws, by flipping the lid on the peanut feeder and taking a whole nut rather than just pieces out through the mesh. The jackdaws have always come to the garden from the autumn until about May. The antics of the jackdaws are probably only matched by the squirrel or squirrels, who come to the peanut feeder, take one and sit and eat it or bury it. The squirrels tend to come as well in the late summer as I have a cobnut tree in the garden. The tit family of birds certainly enjoyed eating the catkins.
The sparrows have also been collecting nesting material and have been gathering fluffy feathers that the pigeons have left on the grass. It is nice to see a good group of sparrows, who roost not too far away, as they had almost disappeared from this area of Kent. Early and late in the day the blackbirds and the smaller birds such as blue tits, coal tits, great tits and chaffinches, as well as least two robins, come to the feeders when the large birds have gone home or have flown off.
My late mother used to say that it would be terrible if we didn’t have the birds. I think that is certainly true and I am sure that they help in the garden too, as the tit family and sparrows certainly eat the aphids on the roses and other plants.
Over the coming weeks I’ll keep you posted as to what the birds are up to. I think I have a couple of jackdaws nesting in the chimney pot, which is unused now, fortunately, and they seem to have been there all winter as they keep popping in and out.
Written by Margaret Emerson