Matt’s ‘fly-through diner’ is prov­ing a pop­u­lar at­trac­tion with a wide va­ri­ety of birds

Bird Watching (UK) - - Conservation Bird Population - BY MATT MER­RITT

GAR­DEN­ING FOR BIRDS, I’m quickly com­ing to re­alise, has an aw­ful lot in com­mon with pol­i­tics – it is, es­sen­tially, the art of the pos­si­ble. So, my plans to get ahead of the game and put up some House Martin and Swift nest­boxes came to naught, thanks to nev­erend­ing gales, among other things.

On the other hand, the feed­ers we’d al­ready put up were an in­stant suc­cess, so I de­cided to add to them, of which more later. Dig­ging out the in­va­sive bam­boo from next door was hard work, and there’s still a small patch left, but that’s go­ing to be ripped out next month, to make way for a pond. In the area cleared so far, I’ve tried plant­ing some Bor­age, an an­nual herb that pro­duces plenty of seed food for birds, and hope­fully some food for us – you can use the leaves in a salad (or as a gar­nish in your Pimm’s, if that’s your thing!). Our big Field Maple of­fers plenty of cover, so I put up a cou­ple more nest­boxes, one for tits and finches, and the other for Robins, and I’ve put up our House Spar­row ter­race on the side wall – it’s well shel­tered. I snagged some tum­ble dryer fluff on bushes, too (see below), to give any po­ten­tial ten­ants a ready sup­ply of nest-lin­ing ma­te­rial. And so to the gar­den’s fly-through diner. The seed feed­ers have proved very pop­u­lar, with a win­ter seed mix get­ting re­peated vis­its from Great, Blue and Coal Tits, House Spar­rows, Chaffinches, and a Robin. Dun­nocks feed on the spilled seed, and one ven­tured right up to the house’s French doors! Peanuts have gone rather more slowly, while the mild weather has made the suet pel­lets and cakes less than es­sen­tial. Best of all, though, were two Nuthatches that ar­rived the week be­fore the Big Gar­den Bird­watch, and made fur­ther ap­pear­ances on the week­end in ques­tion. They, too, favoured the seed feed­ers, but also per­fectly il­lus­trated Adrian’s ad­vice about giv­ing birds ‘steps’ into gar­dens – they in­vari­ably ar­rive in the Field Maple, then grad­u­ally work their way down through the bushes and shrubs.

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