With the Cheshire Wildlife afternoon on Friday, I thought it might be a good idea to think about wildlife in the garden, so I will review bird life at Fieldcrest.
We are thrilled that we have a great tit brooding 7 eggs in our live camera nest box. There will be live pictures in the Garden Room for visitors to see. It is all very tense as there are lots of magpies/jays in the garden who are a constant threat.
A blackbird is nesting in the barn, with the nest resting perched on an old greenhouse frame at about head height. It is right next to the entrance, It amazes me that they ever produceoffspring as they seem to nest in the most vulnerable places.
There is a large conifer in the middle of the garden and every year there is competiton for nesting space by pigeons, magpies and jays. None of which are very welcome inthe garden. We’ll wait and see who wins – I think it is going to be the pigeons.
Long tailed tits
There is a pair of long tailed tits regularly visiting the garden and bird feeders (they seem to like both peanuts and fat balls). I’m not sure if they are actually nesting here, but they must definitely be nearby. Their nest is pretty unusual.
There are also lots of blue tits, robins, goldfinches and greenfinches about so hoping they are nesting here too.
We are lucky to have lots of natural nesting places here, having a lot of hedging around the garden. Hawthorn is good for nests as it provides a dense prickly cover. We also have beech and hornbeam hedging but this isn’t very good as it is not dense enough for nest building, but it will attract invertebrates.
Oak, willow and birch are all good for birds as they play host to lots of insects and other invertebrates, providing food for adult and chicks.
We also have lots of nestboxes scattered around the garden which we believe are well used.
Some birds will use boxes with round holes in them – the tit family in particular seem to take to them with alacrity, while others such as robins need a more open box.
Gardening for birds
Planting trees and shrubs with lots of ground cover will help our feathered friends for shelter, food and safety.
We had to remove some of our berrying trees and shrubs to construct the garden room, so have planted some more in a newly cleared bed by the boundary. Viburnum opulus, Elder, Rowan, Cotoneaster and Chaenomeles ( quince) Skimmia and Luzula have all been planted for berries, nesting sites and cover, so we are hoping this will mature nicely
Feeding the birds
In addition to encouraging insects into the garden and growing bird friendly plants, there is still a need for supplementary feeding. At the moment we are hoping to help the adult birds to keep their strength up with peanuts (in feeder), fat balls, grain plus some mealworms for the robins and young.
One final point. I wonder if anyone can help me identify a mystery bird in the garden. It is about the size of a mistle thrush, brownish (with a pointed beak?) it flies really quickly at low level across the garden, and clearly frightens all the other birds including jays and magpies. I do wonder if it actually is a mistle thrush, but it could be a kestrel or sparrow hawk.
Any suggestions as to it’s identity would be welcome.