The Rangers garden has been invaded. Fighting, shouting, food left everywhere. Rowdy gangs and shifty individuals. There’s even evidence that an amourous couple are trying to move in. Luckily we’ve got it all on camera…
OK, we did encourage this behaviour. Putting out food since November, and even building them a house…alright, to be honest we really wanted these colourful characters to visit. The dramas of the bird table are brief but passionate, and everyone’s got a favourite player. Little coal tits are definitely the underdog, the woodpecker a rare and celebrated visitor, and just this week we have a newcomer: with our new ‘live food’ feeder a robin has entered the fray. Oh, and the chickens. Not wild birds, but they are wild about the seeds that get dropped.
The ruckus is all the more entertaining when the perpetrators are dressed to the nines in every shade of the rainbow… muted shades and slick eyeliner give our elegant nuthatch a certain je ne sais quoi, a far cry from the gaudy red face masks and yellow streaks of the bolshy goldfinches, an avian troupe of clowns.
Let’s not forget our courting couple. Romance is in the air for a handsome pair of blue tits, and they are house hunting ready to start a family in the spring. What they don’t realise is that the nest box we’ve built for them has an infra-red camera hidden inside. If they do choose to lay their eggs there (and at the moment they seem pretty keen!) we will get some fascinating footage of these chicks being born and raised, with our camera right inside the heart of the family home.
Our beautiful British garden birds are a delight and really appreciate a little bit of support in chillier winter months. Get a couple of cheap feeders, a mix of nuts and seed, and next time you’re staring out the window as you wash plates you can witness more drama than a Scandinavian thriller and costumes to rival the best period drama.
Of course, most of the land we manage is a very different habitat to gardens, and we are lucky to play host to several rare and lovely species of bird that you won’t find at the bird table. The burbling song of sky larks has just begun to decorate the air, and they are looking for long grass to make their nests. Their favourite spot is the fields by Chute Wood, a couple of minutes from the Chiltern’s Gateway Centre. Take a stroll down the track over the next few months to hear their music, and you might also see their dazzling display flight. Just remember to keep your dogs on leads at all times (and wandering kids on the path), delicate eggs lie in that luscious long grass.