At the end of January, it was the RSPB’s annual bird watch. I took part and recorded the different varieties and number of birds that visited our garden in my chosen hour.
This year, we seemed to have more gold (15) and green (9) finches than last, though I was pleased to see a couple of both blue and great tits on my list too.
I’m not a Twitcher, but watching these feathered creatures brings me enormous pleasure.
It looks like we have serious activity in one of our tit boxes. There are 2 in the garden, and this is the lower of the two, though they are on different trees. For a few weeks, I have been intrigued by the comings and goings of two little birds, and yesterday I noticed just one taking things into the box. Hopefully this means that a brood is in the offing, and the other is sitting on the nest as her mate brings home the bacon so to speak.
It takes me back to our previous property and our first endeavours at our Des Res for birds. Hubby had downloaded details for the desired dimensions of a Tit Box, and we made three. We put them up along the back fence on alternate posts, and waited to see if we had any takers. We called it Tit Terrace, and jokingly said after that first week that we needed to put up a “To Let” sign.
Once the human smell had worn off to the outside elements, we were pleased to see a fair bit of interest in all three. However, 2 didn’t come to anything, but Tit 1 was obviously the best choice and we soon had permanent tenants.
They were busy little suckers. Twigs and moss were taken in all day, and whatever was unsuitable later unceremoniously thrown out. They were at it for days, and we discovered that dog fur was also being used so left the occasional tuft of it for them to acquire should they need it.
As time progressed, only one bird was seen going in and out, and we thought BINGO, babies, so made sure the feeders were stocked and that there was plenty of water available.
Whenever I went outside, I could hear cheeping coming from the nest box, and it wasn’t unusual for an adult bird to be sitting in the tree or on the wash line next door watching me until I’d finished what I was doing. Only then would he take his next ‘load’ to the box.
I had never had any real dealings with birds so I looked up several articles as to when the young would fledge because I didn’t want to miss it.
It was the May Bank Holiday, and as I came round the corner from the garage, a tiny puff ventured from the tit box. I stood back to watch as they came out. It amazed me how so many chicks could have fitted inside that little box. The bravery of their first flight must have been phenomenal, and terrifying. With the panel fence and trees, there were plenty of places for these little miracles of life to land and rest.
Later that afternoon, we’d let the dog out and he’d come back inside slightly agitated. It was obvious something was amiss, so I followed him out and he stopped on the pathway, looking intently at the ground by the fence and then at me. There, was a tiny fledgling no bigger than the dog’s nose, totally exhausted and unable to get back to the safety of the nesting box. He was a sitting duck for predators like magpies, jays or woodpeckers, yet our dog hadn’t even sniffed it, he just came to fetch and show us that something was wrong. Hubby got a tea towel, gently picked the bird up and put it back in the nesting box. We were afraid it might die of shock or be deserted by the parents, but we didn’t really know what else to do.
Shortly after, we heard cheeping, and saw one of the adults sitting alongside the box on the fencepost. The fledgling was balanced precariously on the edge and the parent was giving it some extra encouragement to take off. He fluffed up his feathers, then changed his mind and disappeared back inside the box. The older bird was apparently not impressed and the cheeping tone changed, so I guess Junior was getting a good telling off. Sure enough, he appeared again, and I’m convinced took a deep breath before taking flight. He landed safely if a bit awkwardly in one of the trees where the other parent was waiting along with several of its siblings. Hubby nicknamed him Kamikaze Pete.
We had broods in Tit 1 and Tit 2 the following year, and Tit 1 two years after that, but Tit 3 was never occupied. We have no idea why.
I have taken a general interest in birds even since, and living here, we have so many different varieties as regular visitors to our garden. Their behaviour and habits are fascinating to watch.
The first time we saw a yellowhammer, we thought a sparrow had got too close to some yellow paint, and a few weeks ago I saw my first Fieldfare.
Last summer, we saw what looked like a white sparrow in the hedgerow, and when I looked it up, it is about a one in a million occurrence.
These feathered creatures survive in the cruellest of conditions and in all weathers. Not for them warm centrally heated homes and the convenience of food in the cupboards.
Makes you feel kind of humble doesn’t it.