by Jan Curry Round Hill Reporter" December 2004
We can all be conservationists this winter - it costs peanuts!
The garden is slowly closing down now for winter. There are, however, lots of berries on various shrubs and the winter flowering honeysuckle rocks the garden with perfume on days when the sun breaks through.
A squirrel has taken up residence (driving our and our surrounding neighbours’ dogs crazy, as it leaps through the bare branches of the trees). The flower beds are full of tiny, newly-dug holes where he has buried fruits and hazel nuts, only to dig them up again to relocate elsewhere. [I reckon he’s been burying all the crocus bulbs he’s been stealing from my garden! - Ed]
I have put half a dozen cheap plastic hanging baskets round the garden, filled with earth.
Three hold dishes of water and bird food is scattered on top of the earth in the other three.
Having so many feeding stations helps the smaller birds get a look in.
One bird table just encourages squabbles and precious eating time is wasted. Sparrows, wrens, robins and blue tits are particularly at risk.
In winter, a bird will have less than eight hours to find scarce food. It converts food into fat and burns the fat reserves to survive through the long hours of darkness. Small birds cannot store enough fat to last more than one night at a time.
We can make such a difference by providing extra, easily obtainable food and, in return, they will bring the garden alive with movement, song and colour and next spring they will clear your garden of aphids and bugs in no time.
If you or your children have a moment to spare, it is well worth logging on to www.rspb.org.uk
. The website is full of ideas as to how to make gardens a real haven, including recipes given by TV top chefs for...... bird cakes!