As we’ve watched the garden develop over the five summers we’ve been here, we’ve also gained an interest in our garden visitors … with the apple and cherry trees and the unruly fig against the back wall, there are plenty of hiding places and a varying food supply throughout the year. We’re not such tidy gardeners, after all, so there is plenty to keep the insect population going, but I don’t go looking for them!
The birds come to us … and recently I added to their menu by putting up a bird feeder.

We’ve had all the common varieties of finch … but few tits although I know they frequent the garden … we hear them regularly. There was a great tit nest in the hollow trunk of the apple tree, but it was raided by a cat, so I’m not surprised, just saddened.

They’re getting through half a feeder a day of seed (not all eaten, they sort it through, throwing to the ground anything they don’t want … so there is plenty for the ground feeding black birds and robins, and I suspect also the occasional raid by pigeons and rats). I’ve since put up a nut feeder in the hope of luring back some of the tits, but it’s not as popular and is as likely to be used by finches as tits. Maybe the tits will return next spring.

One of our two cats had a bell on his collar but was still able to hunt as he knew how to move without it sounding, the other had lost her bell altogether … so I’ve now given them two bells each, much harder for them to move so quietly. We’ve had no kills brought home since, certainly!

Recently, we learned to identify the tawny owl by call … not the twit-twoo call, we know that well and hear it occasionally, but the screech of a location call. We know there are owls living in a steep, wooded valley behind the house … but having heard the call on SpringWatch (and recognised it from our time on holiday – see Bolt Hole) we were surprised to hear it one night at home … we ended up outside in our nightwear, watching as it looped round above the houses after dark.

Another surprise this week, to see a SparrowHawk perched high up in the conifer tree … I had thought earlier this week that something was upsetting the local gull population (some of them are nesting on chimneys down the road) and thought I saw a glimpse of a predator of some kind, but was unable to identify it at the time. This time it was gone before I could grab a camera, but we all had a good view and identification was easy!