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Birds of a feather

I confess I am no Bill Oddie but being the cool, hip (Young?) Dad that I am I have managed to coerce my family over the last 2 years into joining me in my hobby of bird watching. Now, I don’t mean that we sit in forests dressed in full camouflage gear looking through binoculars all evening no, but we do enjoy watching the daily visitors arrive at our bird feeders to feast on the various Suet Balls, Niger seed and Peanuts we have put out for them.

As a family, especially during this pandemic, we have enjoyed ticking off the different birds that visit and, even nest, in the garden. From Blackbirds to Coal Tits to the chirpy territorial Robin, we have an ever-expanding variety of birds tempted to visit each day. Each season brings new species and recently we were lucky enough to have a ‘Charm’ of beautiful Goldfinches arrive on our feeders! And yes, they really are charming when you see them in the wild. They didn’t stay for long, but it was great to see them in all their colourful and vibrant glory.

Each year The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds carry out their Big Garden Bird Watch which is a survey carried out by the public/ packs can be sent out to those wishing to contribute and join in each year as a way of recording which birds they see visiting there garden each year. This data is becoming more and more important as it also reflects the challenges faced by our wildlife fighting for survival against pollution, a rapidly changing climate and less and less green spaces available.

The casual hobby that I had has become more and more therapeutic due to spending more time at home and it’s been good knowing that the feeders are helping a variety of species surprisingly some of which are dwindling. Some species seem to be in abundance in our minds such as the House Sparrow or the iridescent Starling, but they are in decline according to recent records. Also for many people pets and wildlife can help us in many different ways, and more and more evidence is becoming available to show that a thriving, wildlife-rich environment benefits both physical and mental health.

You get to know the habits of the different species and what they choose to eat over time and even their different personalities and daily rituals. I would recommend anyone take up this hobby and even join in on the next Big Garden Bird Watch. Even if you don’t have a garden, feeders can go on ledges or outside windows, helping to feed our feathered friends all year round is a massive help to them and with garden centres, due to reopen very soon I would urge anyone to invest in a cheap bird feeder and some seed, you may be surprised as to who decides to come and visit.

Robin Cornock


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