Weathering the Weather

An Article by Mike Stentiford, MBE

 

A little bird tells me that the recent twittering around the bird feeders during January’s big RSPB Garden Bird Watch has now subsided and gardens are gradually becoming slightly less frantic.

 

Having scattered the seeds and counted during the big watch, we can now put away our pencils, notebooks, bird books and calculators and revert back to the simple joys of watching the garden visitors as opposed to counting them. Here in Jersey, we carry out our own separate garden bird watch at the beginning of each February and, by all accounts, our feathered neighbours appear to have coped with the winter rather well.

 

Such good news, of course, is entirely due to the kindness and thoughtfulness of all those wildlife gardeners who put out food and water when it mattered most.

 

Fortunately, the snow experienced here in the Channel Islands lasted for a much shorter period than in mainland Britain, a situation that put our local birds at far less risk. Harsh weather sets a challenge to all birds although it’s the small insect-eaters that experience a truly tough time.

 

The tiny wren is especially prone to hunger attacks during the bleak mid-winter although, from my own experience, the exterior of my garden shed appears to have provided one little chap with a fairly regular supply of spiders.

 

Faring far better are members of the finch fraternity not least because of their capabilities of tucking into all manner of mixed seeds. Watching either a greenfinch or a chaffinch tackling a black sunflower seed is a joy to behold and how they manage to tease the seed from the husk is a mystery! To appreciate how dexterous a finch’s stout beak really is just try eating from a packet of crisps with your hands behind your back!  Not easy is it?

 

But there, with luck and a benevolent weather forecaster, we’ll all soon be enjoying a bright new season when all those garden birds we’ve spent so much time looking after repay us with glorious bursts of tuneful melodies.

 

Nevertheless, supplementary feeding still has a major part to play in the annual survival stakes so a host of garden birds will be dependent on fully-stocked feeders for quite a few weeks to come.

 

For us then, it’s a simple case of scatter, sit back and enjoy.


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