Issue 4

Nature Watch Winter                        falling-leaves

Hi folks and welcome to Nature Watch. Unfortunately RobW is unable to write in this issue and so I, Andy, am going to look at the wild life that we can expect to see over the winter period.

Over two thirds of adults in Britain feed birds in their garden during winter. This helps overcome periods of natural shortage for the birds and enable the birds to be in good breeding condition in the spring; it also mean that different birds can be seen in our gardens.

Birds seen in Most Gardens:

The most likely visitors, even in suburban gardens, are starlings, house sparrows, black birds, blue and great tits, robins, greenfinches and collared doves

In many gardens dunnocks, song thrushes and chaffinches will hop around on the ground below the bird table. In more wooded areas you may be lucky enough to see great spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches and coal, marsh and long tailed tits. Look out for blackcaps, too - they are becoming common visitors to some bird tables in winter.

All thrush species - fieldfare, redwing, mistle and song thrushes and blackbirds - visit gardens for fruit and berries.

Magpies and black-headed gulls often pirate food from small birds. You may also see sparrow hawks and kestrels in search of prey.

Insect eating birds, such as wrens and tree creepers are unlikely to visit bird tables, but for tree creepers food can be pushed into cracks in bark and for wrens put beside an ivy-covered wall, a stump or along a hedge bottom.

Goldfinches are attracted to seed heads of plants such as teasel, and the seed supply can be augmented by refilling the seed heads with bigger seeds which they love. Yellow hammers have also started to feed at some bird tables but prefer mixed seeds to kitchen scraps.

Feeding Birds:

Put out food and water on a regular basis. If the weather is severe, feed twice daily if possible, in the morning and early afternoon. Never allow uneaten food to accumulate. Always use good quality food and scraps.

The value of winter feeding has been known for some time but in recent years it has become apparent that birds need feeding during the breeding period. Last year, Caswell Chat released two infosheets regarding feeding birds in winter and then the summer, please contact Paul, OT if you would like one or both of these sheets.

I would like to acknowledge the RSPB for their information and this can be obtained from them by contacting: RSPB, South Wales Office, Sutherland House, Castlebridge, Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff CF11 9AB Tel: 029 2035 3000