As a gardener, I have a great deal of admiration, respect and gratitude for the plethora of wild visitors who work tirelessly to pollinate my plants and keep them free from the army of pests whose sole mission in life is to inflict as much damage as possible.
One corner of our garden is home to the discarded remains of several years of Mudville Christmas trees which have been left to rot down to the delight of the wrens, toads and hedgehogs who have either found plenty of food amongst the rotten remains to sustain them and their offspring, or shelter in the dark damp rotting environment the trees have created. The pond (or puddle as Eldest Mudlet calls it) has been pretty much left to its’ own devices, with minimal attention, since its’ creation seven or eight years ago, and is now a flourishing ecosystem for toads, frogs, newts, dragonflies and mayflies. All very well and good during the warmer Spring, Summer and even early Autumn months but not so good for our feathered friends during the colder late Autumn and Winter months.
This year, depending on which weather sites you read, it looks like we’re in for quite a hard Winter and as we’ve already had several hard frosts and the first snowfall, although much to Muds’ disgust and dismay, the white stuff didn’t stick around for more than a few hours, my thoughts turned to our over-wintering feathered friends and the potential shortage of food they face.
So one damp, cold day last week, I went hunting for the bird feeders, amongst the myriad of Land Rover body panels Mud has stored in the outside storage area. Unfortunately the damp, dark conditions of this particular area had turned both bird feeders green and some of the seed which been trapped at the bottom of the feeders, had added to the problem by either rotting into a black, mouldy mess or sprouting roots and shoots. Not ideal for filling with fresh bird seed.
A long soak in warm, soapy water was the first port of call, followed by a gentle scrub to get as much of the muck and dirt off as I could reach. Unfortunately the length of the larger feeder and the way in which the plastic for the feeding holes spans the tube, meant that try as I might, I wasn’t able to get all the grime our of the bottom of the feeder. That said both feeders were much, much cleaner by the time they were dry and ready for filling with the lovely fresh bird seed I’d bought a few days earlier.
I put the feeders out at 4pm last Monday (27th November) and by 8.30 the following morning, a dozen little birds were either feeding from, or waiting in the hedge and on the wall for their turn at the large feeder with half a dozen more hovering around the smaller feeder. Little Mudlet loves watching the birds, trying to identify which species are visiting but she was getting a little concerned that our blackbirds weren’t able to perch easily on the plastic rests and couldn’t access the seed and that our friendly robin wasn’t getting much of a look in either.
Mud pointed out that seed wasn’t really what the blackbirds and robin needed and so this morning a lovely fat ball, heavily laced with mealworms has been hung out alongside the seed feeders which, judging by the reaction of the robin, will ease Little Mudlets’ mind no end …… although I think that I might have to put a second one out for the blackbirds because, friendly though he is, our little robin is very protective of his/her space!