This isn’t intended to be a complete guide to Border’s birds, more of a hotch potch of birds Nicky has seen on her local lockdown adventures. A bit of light hearted reading for you, with some facts and some anecdotes.
What better way to start than with one of most common garden birds, the blue tit. Their chicks will soon be hatching so lookout for these fluffy beauties (or in this case, slightly grumpy looking balls of fluff) over the next few weeks.
One of the reasons blue tits are so common is that they have adapted very well to living alongside humans. Blue tits will gladly eat from bird feeders, and are the most likely culprit to peck a hole in a foil milk top to steal the cream. We’ve heard that there’s been a recent revival in doorstep milk deliveries as people choose this more sustainable option, sounds like a win win for the blue tits!
Blue tits will frequently nest in bird boxes (or holes in the wall, drain pipes or letter boxes for that matter). In fact, their population has increased by 20% since 1979 so keep putting up those bird boxes!
Did you know that a blue tit chicks need to be fed up to 100 caterpillars per day. With typical clutch sizes being between 8 and 12 chicks, that’s an awful lots of caterpillars for the parents to collect. It’s no wonder the adult is looking a little disheveled in these photos.
If caterpillars are a pest in your veggie patch, why not put up a nest box and the blue tits will soon sort them out! The RSPB even have instructions on how to build your own.
The good news is that there is evidence that their numbers are on the rise again, thanks to legal protection and new native woodland creation. We love seeing glimpses of their colourful plumage amongst the young woodlands at Carrifran and Corehead and with lots of hawthorn, blackthorn, crab apple and bird cherry on both sites, we have plenty blossom to go round.
Bullfinches are less common than bluetits, and their numbers have decreased by 36% since 1967 in the UK. This is thought to be partly due to loss of native woodland, changes in land use and historic persecution by some fruit growers who considered them a pest because they eat blossom buds.
Chaffinch are another woodland bird species thriving at Carrifran Wildwood. Borders Forest Trust carried out extensive bird surveys between 1998 – before we planted our first tree, and 2015 – by which time we had created a young woodland. Only 1 chaffinch was recorded during a 2 day survey in 1998 but this increased to 78 spotted during a repeat survey in 2015. We’re not sure who was more excited, us or the birds!
As well as putting up nest boxes, you could try making a bird feeder. Here is one that the Brownies have been making.
Or for slightly old children try making a citrus feeder. My Guides have been doing this (slightly messy) activity as part of their #AdventuresAtHome challenge.