What a winter! I have been doing my best to feed the birds which visit our garden. I do have quite a few berried trees which are supposed to be for wildlife but I must admit to feeling a bit peeved when my cotoneaster was stripped clean by a hungry blackbird – I suppose I have to practice what I preach and grin and bear it!

Our garden is surrounded by agricultural land which does not provide much food for the birds, so we do have to put supplementary food out. Fat balls are popular with all of the birds and our local woodpeckers and jays really love them – the woodpecker bores into the ball scattering bits of fat all over the place, which can be picked up by the smaller birds and ground feeders such as blackbirds, wrens and thrushes.

I also put out sunflower seeds in feeders, and seed mixes on to the birdtable itself and onto a ground feeder

Helen Yemm, who writes for the Telegraph, also recommended mixing porridge oats with cooking oil. I had a go and put the mix onto plastic plates and it was a great success.

I also put out quantities of peanuts and nyjer seed( for the goldfinches), but not so often.

The main drawback with all of this charity work is the cost – it is a dear do feeding our feathered friends — and also the pesky local squirrels who have got in on the act.

If you want to be environmentally friendly, and not break the bank, a combination of the fat balls and the oat mix should do pretty well.

Most garden centres now sell bird food and a wide variety of feeders, but there are also specialist suppliers such as the RSPB, CJ Wildbirdfoods and Haith’s.

My best birdfood buy was at a small garden centre in Grange over Sands, in case anyone reading this lives close by!!