Winter feeding

The last month has been busy with Christmas preparations beginning. The disaster that is my Nativity play has begun. So blogging has been low of late. But now I’m getting past deadlines. Quite a bit has been happening in my garden and progress has been made on my school outdoor area, which I will try to update during the next few weeks.

After thick snow descended on Thursday the garden has been well coated with ice on snow. It had just thawed on Saturday. This has left the garden with lots of hungry birds struggling to find food.

Through Winter it’s important to help the birds. The water sources freeze, so I’ve been trying to get out to crack the ice in the bird bath. The food I put out disappears quickly. The seed goes in a few days. So as well as the seed I try to keep the peanut feeders filled with either peanuts or suet pellets. These seem to last a bit longer than the seed. So even when it’s been a busy week and I haven’t got out to replenish the seed I’m still leaving something for the birds.

Haith’s have been helping me out as they sent me a bag of their help to fly Autumn/Winter mix to review. This is a seed mix with high energy and oil content to¬† help give birds that fat and energy they need to survive the Winter. Haith’s bird food is put through a cleaner process. The grain dust created during harvest can be damaging if seed is not cleaned. Much of the bird food you buy won’t be cleaned in this way.

Haith’s sent me a bag of both the cleaned and the unclean mix. I wonder if from the photo you can spot the difference?

On the left is the cleaned and the right the unclean. I was surprised at how much of a difference I could see in the two batches. While I’m not able to do the test taste to appreciate¬† the difference I’m sure the birds will appreciate it at this time of year when food is scarcer.

Before filling the feeders I also gave them a good clean out. I’ve talked about it before, but it is important to clean feeders to limit disease spread.

Before I’d left the garden the birds were already sneaking in, clearly ready, for a feed.

Over the day I’ve seen a good mix of visitors: sparrows, great tits and blue tits got in to test it first. Then pigeons, starlings and jackdaws followed. Then had wrens, dunnocks and robins in and out.

Then a few herring gulls came in, although not for the seed.

Alice has enjoyed getting out to explore the garden again after several days of frost. She checked in on the bug hotel and gave the flowers a sniff.

Thanks again to Haith’s for sending the bird food to review. The birds seem to be enjoying it. It’s been nice to get out briefly into the garden and then sit in doing data input while looking up to see the birds enjoying the new seed.

Snow and Birdwatch

The last few days has seen snow come to Hornsea. It’s the first time Alice has seen snow. I wasn’t there to see Alice’s reaction, but apparently her face was a picture.

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With the snow unfortunately came a storm and has flooded the roads on the sea front. So we will be avoiding walks down along the front for a few days.

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This week I received my RSPB Big Garden pack. This is the worlds largest wildlife survey according to the RSPB’s claims. Simple idea, sit and watch your garden for an hour and record which birds come in. It has been going since 1979 after featuring on Blue Peter it went big. It provides one of the best long term studies of garden birds numbers. From the results the RSPB know which birds numbers are down and which could do with our help.

last year the top 10 were as follows:

  1. House sparrow
  2. Starling
  3. Blue tit
  4. Blackbird
  5. Wood Pigeon
  6. Goldfinch
  7. Chaffinch
  8. Great Tit
  9. Robin
  10. Long tailed tit

Within my garden starlings will probably come out top, but we may have some more unusual visitors being by the sea with various gulls visiting regularly.

The pack contains some useful identification sheets. A wildlife calender for what to look out for through the year. They even threw in some ground coffee to drink while watching. Although as a coffee hating tea drinker I will be giving that a miss.

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In the build up I’m going to be trying to makes sure the birds in my garden are being well supplied on the feeders. With the solid ground and snow they will struggle for food sources, so more than ever they need a good stock.

Alice is getting more mobile. She is pulling herself up, crawling and standing with small support. It won’t be long until she’s walking on our adventures out.

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