Keeping The Birds Happy This Winter

David and LizaMy wife Liza and I live in deepest Norfolk. The view from the kitchen window, which is where I do a lot of my bird watching, looks out on to the garden. There’s an orchard we’ve planted – apples, pears, plums, a quince and a nut tree – and at the bottom of the garden there’s a small vegetable patch.

My view beyond takes in the water meadows and an ash tree in which,when we moved in, we placed a Barn Owl nest box. They adopted it immediately. Last year they raised three young, all males.

Nearer to the house is the chicken run which is surrounded by hedging. The right hand hedge continues towards the house where it joins up with an ornamental pear tree. This is the bird feeding area. Alongside the hedge is a trough supported on two posts which we fill with black sunflower seed every morning. Under the silver pear tree hang containers dispensing more seed, pea-nuts and fat balls on which to feast.

I fill the trough first and a particularly bold robin shadows me as I do so. Then it’s on to top up the feeders under the ornamental pear tree. As I retreat to the kitchen Wood Pigeons, Stock Doves and Collared Doves, which have been waiting in the wings, swoop down to jostle one another on the trough feeder.

Clinging to the upright feeders are Blue Tits, Great Tits, Cole Tits, Marsh Tits and Long-tailed Tits. Helping themselves to the fat balls are four or five House Sparrows. On the ground underneath are Robins, Hedge Sparrows, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and three or four pairs of Reed Buntings that have come in from the water meadows. At any one time there’ll be fifteen or sixteen Blackbirds patrolling the area, quarrelling, squabbling over food. It gladdens my heart that we can help the birds cope with the winter weather.