For the Love of Birds

Since moving into our new house, we have worked on a small fraction of the garden; a modest rockery planted with a few salvaged plants from the gardens of others. The stone itself was retrieved from the depths of rubble, entangled weeds and grass. A dogwood that was rescued from this garden, albeit the only thing worth saving from the overgrown jungle, sits nicely in one corner of the rockery. Alongside it is a small shrub that remains unknown to me, a little aquilegia, fleabane, a tuft of cyclamen, ferns and finally, several foxgloves dotted around the stone at the back. To the left of the rockery, sits my redcurrant which has served me well for a few years at its previous residence - the allotment.

With time, this rockery will evolve and I know that I'll change patches of it, as one paints over areas of a painting until the desired effect is achieved. The process of pottering and changing things up is so satisfying in itself, which leads me to my point in writing this blog post... to highlight the sheer joy I feel when I see the birds and other wildlife enjoying the garden too.

Whilst I've been sat writing this and sipping my coffee, dozens of small birds have visited the feeding station that's been there for a couple of weeks now. Yet, before I built the rockery a few days ago, our only visitors were robins and the occasional bluetit. We'd spotted the wren exploring our neighbour's overgrown garden but we never saw it venture into ours. I can't help but wonder why the birds seem more attracted to the garden - or is it just because it's taken a bit of time for them to discover this new food source? You see, out of our little row of six terraced cottages, my boyfriend and I are the only ones to feed the birds.

In our slowly transforming garden, peanuts, sunflower hearts and suet balls full of insects each have there own feeder. A mealworm suet block, dish of water and tray of mixed seed and dried mealworms also have their own spot. In the fifteen minutes that I've been watching contently from my dining room window, I've spotted house sparrows, blue tits, robins, great tits and a single starling visit the feeders. Whilst they have feasted, a wren and blackbird have been hopping along the ground; collecting what I'd sprinkled especially for them, plus the bonus seeds dropped from the swinging feeders above.

For the past couple of minutes, none have visited the feeders. Instead, two chunky house sparrows have been perched on the low fence that divides us from next door... their little heads angling from side to side, as if they were curiously watching me in return. Five more sparrows have now joined them whilst a bluetit gently pecks the peanuts. Sparrows are one of my favourite birds because they have so much character - I could sit and watch them play and assert their family hierarchy all day.

We have only lived here for exactly one month today and have the vast majority of work left to do in the garden. So far, the jobs we've done include:

  • Scrubbing the gorgeous red bricks that lead you from the backdoor to the garden

  • Digging up around 1/4 of the total space and saving the recovered bricks and stone

  • Potting up some heather, pansies and cyclamen

  • Spending a couple of hours building a rockery with the reclaimed materials

Just completing this handful of tasks has massively improved our outdoor space. Now, I'm itching to spend a few hours digging up more land that has been left full of weeds and nettles for who-knows-how-long. I'm so keen to get planting and creating our own wildlife haven! The path acts as a natural divide, so we envisage a wildflower area, bog garden and wildlife pond in the first section. The second part will have more structured planting and a small ornamental pond, leading to a private area for eating and entertaining. However, benefiting wildlife will remain at the heart of our project.

As we live in rural Leicestershire, I'd eventually like to install cameras in the garden to monitor what creatures drop by. We often see buzzards perching in nearby trees and red kites flying over the house. Personally, I would love to spot a woodpecker on the feeder one day, whereas Jack would be pleased to see a newt in the pond or a badger!

It was an absolute pleasure to sit quietly in my pyjamas, at 8.30 this morning and take the time to watch our feathered friends. I shall definitely be doing it more often.

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