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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Behind the Scenes

As I'm buying seed in bulk at the moment, my garden shed is pretty full of stock and I thought I'd show where I keep all my supplies.  In the photo, there is (from top left) general seed, then sunflower seed.  Top middle is Utterly butterly, then oats, and fat blocks.  I also keep raisins and peanuts in this container.  On the right are meal worms, niger seed and fat balls.  On the chair are suet pellets. Towards the left wall there are spare feeders and some empty coconut shells.

I think the main thing I'd stress is that I keep all food in rat-proof containers.  And I never fill feeders in my shed as any spillages might attract mice and rats.



Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Starlings

Starlings are presenting me with a bit of a moral dilemma.  They eat the food I put out - no crime in that, but they are starting to eat all of it!  They swoop in like a raiding party squabbling over the food in great numbers. If I put out meal worms, they are gobbled up within minutes and other birds don't get a look in.  Other foods that attracts them like no other are suet products - fat balls, Utterly Peanut Butterly, and suet pellets.  It has got to the stage where I'm thinking of withdrawing these foods. However this would be a real shame as other birds rely on these things too.  So, answers on a postcard to...



Monday, 1 May 2017

Sultanas and Raisins

I've recently experimented with Sultanas after seeing them advertised on the Twootz website. Unfortunately Twootz sell 12.5 kg packs!  I wanted to dip my toe in the water without commiting to such a big quantity so bought a Value pack from my local supermarket for 79p.  This works out at a similar price to Twootz.  I put a hand full on my bird table every day and they disappear in a flash!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Making my own Coconut Halves

I've bought coconut halves from Homebase with mixed success, so decided to see if I could do better making my own.  I gently melted on pack of lard and one pack of suet in a pan then poured in about 3 parts seed, 1 part porridge oats, and a couple of hand fulls of sultanas.  I aimed to have all the liquid fat absorbed by the mix and kept adding ingredients until this happened.  Finally, I scooped the mix into the coconut halves and pressed in firmly.  Finally I popped them into the fridge for half a day to set.

It's not been a roaring success, but they are attracting more birds than the Homebase product did, and I've had a bit of fun making my own product.  I think the home made version was possibly less economical than buying from a shop,  but I'm pleased to have produced a good quality alternative for my garden birds.

The raw ingredients.

Everything mixed together before being mixed with the fat.
The shop bought one is on the left, my home-made one on the right.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Gallery1

Photographs of some of the birds who visit my garden.

A Goldfinch

A Starling

A Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Chaffinches
A Peacock

A Robin

Pheasants


Thursday, 23 March 2017

A dozen of my top tips

Watching the birds come to my garden is a real and unexpected pleasure, and more than justifies any effort I put into providing their food.  On this basis I would really encourage you to give this easy hobby a try.  I've learned a few lessons along the way and below are my top tips for maximising the number and variety of birds that visit your garden.


  • Only offer fresh food.  If it is old or stale throw it away and put out fresh food.
  • Keep your feeders clean - it will help stop diseases.
  • Offer a variety of foods to attract different species of birds.
  • Use different types of feeder,  For example fat balls can be crumbled and put on a bird table as well as put in a hanging feeder.
  • Remember to offer a supply of clean water.
  • Don't put out too much food at once - it will go off if not eaten within a few days.
  • Don't let your feeders lie empty.  Birds will visit you every day and rely on the food you supply.
  • Don't scrimp, buy good quality food from a reputable supplier.
  • Store your seed in rat proof containers.
  • When washing and drying your feeders, use any spare feeders you have (and you might consider buying some) to provide an uninterrupted service to your birds.
  • Dispose of stale seed in bio-degradable bags - I pay less than a penny a bag on ebay.
  • Have a supply of kitchen roll at hand to give your feeders a quick wipe between more thorough washes.
These are the 5 litre waste bags I use.  They are less than 1p each

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Pests

Having a plentiful supply of food in your garden will potentially attract unwanted visitors.  I think the most common is the grey squirrel.  It's introduction to the UK has been something of a disaster with it all but eradicating the native red squirrel.  They also damage young trees, forage for birds eggs, and if they get into your home can cause damage.  So this is something you don't want to see!

Please do nothing to encourage squirrels into your garden, they are a pest of the first order!  If squirrels are a problem you can buy different 'squirrel proof'' feeders - there are lots to choose from.  I have also read that mixing chilli powder with bird food will deter squirrels - but not birds.  If they are a real problem you can buy humane squirrel traps, although be aware that once you have caught one, legally, you are not allowed to release it into the wild again, so would have to 'dispatch' it.

The other potential pest would be rats.  Keeping the area free of food spills will help here.  And make sure you put your seed in rat-proof containers.  I used those plastic boxes available in DIY stores.  A determined rat could get into one (I've had them chew through the plastic) but by keeping the area free of spilled seed, they don't even take a second glance!  If rats do become an issue, consider poison or spring traps to nip the problem in the bud.