Breakfast with the birds

In the latest instalment in our blog series ‘Celebrating The Everyday’, CPRE Bedfordshire manager Lois Wright shares how she came to realise that birds aren’t boring.

Until recently I thought that birds were boring – not a great admission for someone who manages an organisation that is all about the countryside!

My contact with our feathered friends was limited to the noisy pigeons nesting in the wisteria outside my bedroom, chip stealing seagulls in St Ives and being pecked by my friend’s budgie, aptly named “Beaky” – so not a great start. However, a trip to a cottage in Suffolk changed all this.

The garden of our quaint weaver’s cottage was a haven for birds mainly due to the presence of several bird feeders and a good selection of trees and hedgerows.  It was here I discovered that, contrary to my previous view, birds are not boring at all. Sitting at the breakfast bar that overlooked the garden we enjoyed a full English- a holiday treat- whilst observing the social and feeding habits of a range of birds.  Who got first dibs at the peanuts? Which birds shared? Who ruled the roost and who was brave enough to come close to the window where two strange looking humans were staring out?  During our four-day visit “breakfast with the birds” became a regular highlight and it was a pleasure to see wildlife so close up.

'Washing up has become much less tedious as I am now entertained by the comings and goings of these fascinating birds.'
Lois Wright

On returning home we purchased a number of bird feeders and then repurchased more robust versions after they were sabotaged by squirrels.  On opening the curtains each morning, I am welcomed by the sight of a variety of blue tits, finches and robins sharing food and filling our garden with activity.  Washing up has become much less tedious as I am now entertained by the comings and goings of these fascinating birds. There was great excitement recently when three woodpeckers came to visit and even our resident pigeons have joined in.

Judging by the amount of bird feed and paraphernalia available in garden centres and online, I am not alone in my appreciation of garden birds. Even if you live in an urban area this is a great way to bring the countryside into your back garden and feel a connection to nature.  It gives a chance to just stop and take a few moments away from a busy day and appreciate the natural world that is on our doorstep.

Birds are also an important part of our ecology. They are a natural way to control pests in our gardens as they eat insects and some birds are important pollinators. But birds need our help too. Providing food and water, particularly during very cold and very hot weather is important and there are many ways you can make your garden bird friendly.

The RSPB has a huge amount of information on how you can help birds in your garden and The Lodge Nature Reserve and Gardens at Sandy (the headquarters of the RSPB) is well worth a visit for walkers and bird lovers alike.

Jean Fitch
Quernmore landscape