This is the latest instalment of the Caswell Chat bird watching section. The recent cold spell has reminded us how difficult it is for the wild birds at this time of the year. It is a reminder to us that winter is still not ready to give in as spring draws nearer.
The garden and surrounding grounds have been quiet of late. The resident birds have been visiting daily and the blackbirds can be seen turning over the wood shavings under the bushes looking for food. There have been sightings of robins and sparrows as well as a pair of magpies that have become regulars.
There has been a buzzard spotted high above the garden and a few thrushes and a wren have been seen.
The birds have been attracted to the garden by the bird table which is regularly stocked up with nuts and seeds and offers a good regular supply of food at this time of the year. The bird table along with some nest boxes (soon to be put in place) were made by the woodwork group and are of a very good quality. The nest boxes will provide good houses for the smaller birds to rear their chicks in the coming months.
The first birds to start nesting and laying their eggs are the robin and the rook. The robin has been known to lay two clutches of eggs on a good year with nests having been built by March. The rooks are members of the crow family and build their nests in noisy communal nest sites high up in the trees outside the Clinic. They will often return to build their nests in the same place year after year, adding to and repairing the nest from the previous year. This makes some nests look like a large tangle of twigs and branches, easily seen at this time of the year before the trees grow any leaves.
The native birds will soon be joined by the visiting birds from warmer climates. The first to arrive are house-martins and are followed by cuckoos and swallows. The noisy swifts arrive later and all will hope to nest and raise a family successfully.
The problem for some of these visitors is the lack of places to nest as modern houses do not allow for the birds to access the roof from the eves due to the popular U. P. V. C. weather boards used today.
The shortage of some of the migratory visitors of recent times has been due to the fact that as they journey to our shores from as far away as Africa where they have spent the winter the fields that some birds lay resting on during the long journey here are regularly netted. This is where people hunting them fire a huge net covering the field and trapping anything in its fine mesh. This has depleted the numbers of several species of smaller birds like skylarks and thrushes which are seen as a delicacy in other countries.
As the weather gets milder and the nights lengthen we will be able to see more activity around the gardens as all the wild life prepare for the spring and the hot, hot summer we hope to have this year.