Garden Birding

Wildlife has adapted to suit urban environments like cities, and they may not be the first place you think of when the word 'birding' comes to mind. However, Northwest London's suburban gardens (like mine) provide a vital habitat for mammals, birds, amphibians and many arthropods. Many of these gardens have helped the residents birds by giving them food, water and shelter: my garden has a birdbath, nestboxes, a bird cafe (many feeders), a hedge and a pond. 

All year round, especially in the winter, Tits, Finches, Sparrows, Dunnocks and many more flock to the feeders and gobble suet, nyjer and seeds to their hearts' content. Once a flock of individuals knows a good, beneficial place for them, they will keep coming back for years, if not generations. That is exactly how the birds treat my garden: eight years ago, a Robin who I used to call Redbreast kept coming back every year to eat suet or find worms from the ground. Also, after his spring visits, juvenile Robins were spotted hopping about the garden. When I realised in 2017 that a typical Robin's lifespan was one year, I realised I was not looking at Redbreast, but Readbreast's great-great-great-great-great-great grandchild!

 Readbreast's descendant

Larger birds such as Woodpigeons (my most regular visitor is a male called Bob, who I fear has been killed by a local cat which I hate: RIP Bob), Starlings and Magpies occasionally come to the feeders, but surprisingly do not scare the smaller birds. All year round, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers hammer at bark for insects, Ring-necked Parakeets shriek in vast flocks and Little Egrets, Mallards, Canada Geese, Red Kites, Herons and many Gulls fly overhead. In summer, Swifts, Swallows and House Martins from Africa flit about and in winter, Redwings and Fieldfares from the Arctic guzzle berries. The rarest resident bird that has visited was a Willow Tit in spring 2016 and in the winter of 2015, unexpected visitors turned up: a Wheatear and a Snow Bunting from the Arctic!

In June 2016 a pair of Blue Tits nested in one of my nestboxes. The parents kept a watchful eye on me all the time, and I was lucky enough to see the yellow-faced fledglings leave the nest. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the fledgling photos days after I took them! However, I did take a photo of one parent with suet, ready to feed the chicks:

One of the parent Blue Tits 

Whether it is putting out food for birds, building nestboxes or digging a pond, anybody can help their local wildlife.      

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