CREATE YOUR GARDEN PATCH FROM SCRATCH
Matt’s ‘fly-through diner’ is proving a popular attraction with a wide variety of birds
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.