Spring has definitely arrived and we have lots of birds on the farm. We kept the bird feeders full of mixed seeds over the winter in the hope that this would keep the resident bird population going during the cold weather. Anyway, it was fun for us to see all the birds flocking to the feeders. The small birds dropped a lot of seeds on the gound, so we had a lovely pheasant family turn up regularly, plus jays, magpies and pigeons, feeding from the seeds on the ground. We even had a red squirrel for a time feeding on the lost peanuts.
We were amazed that with six cats, we had no problems with them catching birds – maybe our cats are too well fed and too lazy? Horus caught two, Buttons caught one and we found one Bullfinch dead in the yard. Not bad, seeing that we kept a large flock of tits, finches, sparrows and other BLBJ going over the winter. Our cats seem to be more interested in catching mice, shrews and moles, and we have many more birds that last year, so I think that all the PC propoganda we get against cats for killing masses of birds is nonsense!!
Now that spring has arrived, we’ve stopped the bird feeding, so they will have to fend for themselves. They seem to be doing very well finding their natural food on their own, and natural food is better for their chicks than our expensive “wild bird food seed”.
We had one blackbird nest in the potting shed (4 healthy chicks which have just fledged), but it was a really stupid place to build it and they had their second brood somewhere else. I understand that blackbirds are even more stupid even than Pheasants, and I can believe that, as their first nest was low down and in full view, so we built a screen against the cats. Blackbird chicks come down to the ground from the nest when they fledge and can’t fly straight away – not a clever survival strategy? We have at least two Swallow nests being built, a blue tit with chicks in the nesting box high up in one of our trees and a sparrow nest through a hole that Peter missed filling this winter in our milking barn. I hear the woodpecker again, too, so I guess that they are building in the old apple tree in the wood, as they did last year. I’m sure that there are lots more nests around, but I haven’t seen them yet. I heard my first Cuckoo of the year a few weeks ago, so that’s a sure sign of summer on the way.
As I mentioned, we’ve had a lovely family of Pheasants with us during the winter and spring – a group of one really showy adult male, two females and one young male. In addition to checking out the seeds under the feeders, they came every day to graze on the lawn. They also had a go at my young Hosta plants, so I had to cover them all with chicken wire or there would have been none left!! Plus, there’s been another lovely solitary male pheasant trying his luck with the females, but he always gets chased away by the big male!
The swallows are back. Not as many as last year. One came into our blue spare room. It flew calmly around the room, flew around the house and then flew out of the front door. The next day it came back to the same room! We also had a Redstart in my studio, which I managed to catch and take it outside, where it flew happily away.
The Whooper Swans seem to have left now (we didn’t seem to get so many as last year), but now we have have some magnificent Red Kites to take their place. They circle low over our farm regularly and they look stunning. We have the usual collection of common birds (over 35 species so far) and it’s great getting up early in the morning and seeing them foraging. “The early bird catches the worm” is really true!!