Feeders vital in winter months
OVER the weekend many people got involved in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch, reporting sightings of all the birds they see on bird tables and feeders.
It is heartening that many people get involved in this annual event and it would be nice to know that a good percentage continue to record the birds and other creatures in their gardens.
All the information is useful in ensuring that our wildlife is in a healthy state or if not then we can do something about it.
Obviously the Wildlife Trusts and organisations like the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit and Lancashire Environment Record Network are always keen to hear of records of wildlife both rare and common.
And your garden bird table will be vital at this time of year as birds will be feeling the cold and need some food to see them through the final months of winter. It is also the time that they are considering matching up for the breeding season or flying home to Scandinavia – is food more expensive for birds in Sweden?
We have the usual suspects arriving on our shed and garden – blackbirds, sparrows and starlings that have been here all year round. I even caught a glimpse of the noisy wren last week.
This little fellow delighted me in summer when it popped in and out of the gaps in our stone wall. There it was in winter hopping onto the fence where it had nearly shattered my ear-drums with its song in summer.
The sparrows all inhabit a bush at the back and they make a tremendous noise even in the middle of winter. Sparrows have suffered over the past few decades and numbers have declined so it is wonderful to see this gang in my garden.
The starlings come flying in – about 20 of them – to feed on the seeds and raisins I put out every morning. They hang around a squabble until it all gets a bit too much for the dog, Alfie, who hurtles out into the garden to stop the party.
They are safely out of reach but scatter to places even higher where they can laugh and do more terrier taunting.
Our two blackbirds increase in number in winter with visitors from Scandinavia spending time here. Their duller beaks and lesser yellow rims around the eyes give them away. We still get quite a bit of blackbird morning chorus on milder winter days.
Blue tits and great tits join the sparrow throng and I am happy to say that my feeding of the birds has been rewarded with blue tit chicks over the past two springs. I have to say I do look forward to seeing the baby birds as we stride into March.
So well done to those who took part in the bird watch and please continue to stock up your bird tables with the right kinds of food and water.
These coming months are the most vital to build up the strength of our feathered friends so they are fit and well for breeding and feeding their young in spring.
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The Trust has 26,000 members, and more than 1,200 volunteers.
To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www.lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129.
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A blue tit perched on a branch