Birds visit the garden all year round, and nest here in the spring. During the colder months I feed them daily, and this attracts the less usual species, as well as helping the more common ones, like sparrows and blackbirds, to survive the winter. Seeing a garden full of birds helps me through the winter months too.

This is something else gardening teaches me. That when you lose something you gain something else. I'm saddened to see the garden collapse with the onset of the winter and the frosts. But having now been so close to a garden, so much part of a garden, for some years, I know that when the garden starts to fade and the summer is gone, the birds start to come. And that they provide the colour and the interest while you're waiting for the light and the flowers to come back.

One of the very first pictures I took of the garden, in the first winter we were here, shows a solitary blackbird sitting in a tree half way down the garden. Since that first winter the blackbird has been joined by more birds than I can count, and more species than I could have hoped for. 

Putting out hanging feeders filled with bird nuts and sunflower seeds, and leaving some of the apples on the tree, or on the ground where they fall, means the garden has attracted species of bird I otherwise wouldn't have seen. Greenfinches and goldfinches have now become regular visitors. The first goldfinch appeared in a cold spell in the New Year, then there were two. On 16 March I watched four of them feeding from the feeders. Thistle seed seems to have attracted them, though they eat the sunflower seed too.

Bird feed and feeders from

Two more unusual visitors sighted over winter were a fieldfare and a female blackcap, both attracted by the apples left on the tree when I harvested them in the autumn. (There are always some that can't be reached, and these usually fall to the ground, where the blackbirds eat them.) It is always good to see new species in the garden, even if they are only temporary visitors, as these were.

Related pages: Feeding the birds

Bird tracks in the winter snow

Above: bird tracks in the winter snow.