Summer has finally departed, and the cold, damp weather seems to be settling in for the next few months. Among many other things, it’s time to remember our avian friends.
You will see plenty of pleas from other sources for you to put out food and water for the birds that visit your garden, but let me add my voice to them. When it’s cold, birds need energy to stay warm and keep alive. They don’t want to waste valuable energy in having to search for food unnecessarily, so please make it easy for them to find what they need. Put out loose seeds and nuts in feeders and suet-packed food in balls and blocks. Don’t forget to make sure that your feeders are kept clean, as disease from dirty feeders is a key reason for early fatality. Also, do not forget to put out fresh water, and change it daily.
Do this and you will be amply rewarded by seeing a splendid variety of birds coming to your garden. In the coldest weather, you are also likely to see rare garden visitors, such as redwing and fieldfare.
But, winter doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in the house. There is plenty more wildlife to be seen if you venture out – the sheer delight of it will more than compensate for a slight chill to your toes!
Try a visit to Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve, where a wide variety of over-wintering waders and wildfowl can be readily seen – blacktailed godwit, wigeon, shoveller, shelduck, teal, lapwing and oystercatcher will all be found there. In the harbour, you will find ringed plover and turnstone.
Look out for large flocks of brent geese at HMS Sultan and on the shore.
You may just see the odd rarity – a snow bunting, usually seen on the east coast as it migrates south, was at Meon shore last month.
Yes, there’s plenty going on, so feed the garden birds and get out for a breath of fresh air and see lots of others too.