Brilliant birds!

This winter my garden has been an absolute delight, there’s been so much to look at I’ve hardly been able to drag myself away from the window. What has kept me there when I should have been doing other things is nothing directly horticultural but much more a result of the prolonged spells of cold weather and my investment in generous offerings of peanuts, bird seed and fat balls!

It’s been just like Autumnwatch, the number and variety of visiting birds over the winter has been exceptional, especially as my garden is on the edge of a housing estate.
For sheer size of wingspan in such an enclosed space the heron made the biggest impression and was the most surprising with a pair of pheasants strutting up the drive a close second.
Less of a surprise but just as welcome have been the passing fieldfares and redwings dropping in and lovely to see that the solitary thrush who’s been around for a while now has a mate and has overcome his shyness enough to hop down out of the tree onto the hanging bird table,
In terms of sheer numbers, the blue tits, great tits, sparrows blackbirds and starlings were the indisputable winners but the goldfinches brought all their relations, encouraged I think by the ‘mixed finch’ seed I splashed out on. This has also been a bit hit with a flock of beautiful apricot coloured bramblings, they first came in ones and twos with a group of chaffinches, then suddenly increased to at least ten, flitting about too much for an accurate count.

With such a number and variety of avian visitors it does seem churlish to complain about species I haven’t seen in my garden but I was very disappointed that the beautiful waxwings which were spotted on Goldwire Lane passed me by. Apparently they are attracted by large numbers of berries and although I can offer them hawthorn, sloe and guelder rose as well as the more exotic Crataegus prunifolia
(a hawthorn relative with marble sized orange berries still hold on in January) they were obviously not impressed.
If only I had a bigger garden I’d plant a rowan tree especially for them.

I’ve found from experience that attracting birds, like any other wildlife can be reasonably straightforward. Provide food, water and cover and if they’re in the area they’ll find the garden, but I have made some mistakes too. In the spring I split and moved a big Miscanthus grass whose seed heads had brought in reed buntings and linnets last winter, but it hated being moved, sulked and refused to flower so not only did I miss its striking winter silhouette, there were no reed buntings or linnets either this year.
Oh well, winter’s nearly over and longer hours of daylight bring the opportunity for more time outside and a bit of a revamp. Another Miscanthus will be top of the list and if only I had room for a rowan… I wonder how well one would grow in a pot!