Monthly Archives: November 2010


A while ago Mal got in touch as  dunnocks had disappeared from his garden – where they had been for years.

This is what he said the –

He’s been in touch again to say he has now got one dunnock in his garden. He still doesn’t know why or where they disappeared to.

I replied to him –

Really pleased you have got a dunnock back. And thanks for letting us know.

Do you put any bird food out?    Bird food would certainly attract and help dunnocks and other birds as well.

I use Nature’s Feast High Energy Supreme.  It is about £20 for a large bag! but it feeds so many garden birds. It  is the only bird seed i put out in the ground feeder and in places on the lawn.  Dunnocks come to the ground feeder to get this seed.

I put out other bird food though. 

You must have a hedge and maybe some shrubs where they can ‘hide’ and shelter

I live on a farm and we had someone from Natural England advising us on which bird food mix would be good on the farm for wild birds.  Through the kitchen window we could see a lot of birds, but he did not recognise a dunnock!   Dunnocks really do test your identification skills and powers of observation.

It’s great that you are trying to bring dunnocks back into your garden.  

The dunnock seems to love leaf litter and undergrowth.  I mostly see dunnocks on the ground – I put a lot of bird food out in a caged feeder and have surrounded a shrub with a type of ‘fence’ so that larger birds cannot get in.

The dunnock has a very thin bill and can only eat small things.   The bird seed I put out is very small and come to get that

thanks for getting in touch and I’m really pleased.  When I look out of the window and see a Dunnock I’ll try and think what is attracting it to my garden.

But I must say I live in the countryside and get a few birds from woodland nearby.


Hi Trisha,
a new member here. Can I put Trex into my bird cake as
I’ m a non meat eater and don’t usually have lard, although I will make an exception for the birds



It’s great that you are feeding birds and care enough to ask this question. It must be difficult for you to think about using lard.

Birds do need fat. They do not need vegetable oil.

Lard or dripping is good.

Amazing Fact –


So if we put bird food out (with lard if possible) we can help birds and help them save their energy and use it to see them through the freezing winter nights

Lard is good for birds in winter. I often melt some lard. When it is melted I pour it over bird food and mix it together. This does not make a fatball – it just gives birds fat coated bird food.

My daughter is vegetarian and I understand the reasons for being vegetarian.

I am a meat eater and think that as long as an animal is looked after properly then it is OK to eat meat and use lard or dripping. There are so many hilly / upland parts of Britain that cannot grow any crops, so grazing animals is a good way to feed the Nation.

Vegetable oil is not any good

Let me know how you get on.



From Elaine – 

Has anyone got any comments good and bad about the gardman camera nest box. We have just bought one and we  are putting it up at the weekend. we have tried it on the tv and it even has sound. Really easy to clean. Many thanks



Can we help Elaine?  Has anyone any first hand knowledge of the Gardman Camera Nest Boxes.  Just get in touch and let us know if you have.  I’d love to know as well



Robin chasing away blue tit and other robins

On a subject of birds being territorial, the boss robin, who of course chases other robins off has decided that the small feeding trough hung under the bird table is his!

I placed this so the wood pigeon didn’t clear all the seed up in one go but today I watched the robin attack a poor feeding blue tit, turning it on it’s back in the trough!!


Robin in Winter

Fiesty Robin

Timid Blue Tit


Thanks Garth.  I’m like you in that I place bird feeders in different positions to keep large birds off.  Glad I’m not on my own doing this bird table / bird feeder dance round the garden!

But it’s worth it isn’t it!  We can’t have large birds eating us out of house and home.

I bought a caged hanging bird feeder a few months ago.  What a good thing it is.  The rooks and crows balance on the feeder,but cannot get their beaks into the actual food.

This is what they used to do – 


House Sparrows – need food, cover and somewhere to nest

The tale about house sparrows was very good news, but I would guess that they were somewhere not to far away as they are quite sedentary birds. What they were missing has now been replaced and they have returned to an old haunt.

I live almost surrounded by woodland in West Worcestershire and have only seen one here, although I know there is a small colony less than quarter of a mile away.

In our three parishes we still have thriving numbers but usually in the same places that have the combination of food, cover and somewhere to nest.

When I read peoples observations on bird topics, I often wonder which part of the country they reside, which is why I usually mention my part of the world.


Thanks Garth for sending that observation.  I did not realise that house sparrows don’t move far.  When I see house sparrows feeding in the garden I’ll look on them in a different light.  They, like me, do live here.

Helping House Sparrows


The House Sparrow

Kathleen has been in touch with  very in depth and interesting details about she has helped house sparrows. 

Here is my personal experience of the of the decline followed by increase of house sparrows in my garden.

I first noticed the alarming absence of house sparrows about 8 years ago when listening to an old audiotape of my children playing in the garden in the 1970s. The most dominant sound, chrystal clear on the tape (you don’t find modestly priced tape recorders as good as that any more) was the constant chanting chirps and cheeps of sparrows. It sounded delightful yet I hardly noticed it at that time because it was something I’d heard all my life – it was part of life!

“Am I so busy I don’t notice it now?” Of course not, I was kidding myself. I went into the garden to check – silence. I was devastated, when did they go? why? what happened?

Sadly I hadn’t noticed until then because I was so delighted with the great variety of birds visiting my garden through years of constant feeding. Soon the media was talking about the decline in the sparrow population and it was all too real.

This was about 8 years ago, and the ivy I had planted against the front wall of my house had reached the top, my next-door neighbours had followed suit and then the next house.

We all put seed out and I have fatballs and peanuts outside my front window hanging from a cotoneaster which grows next to a pyracantha. Our gardens are bordered with hawthorn hedges, and we now have a large noisy community of HOUSE SPARROWS!

The ivy seems to be the solution, because the hedges and the regular feeding were always there. The ivy covering the 3 houses is their home, passers by are heard to comment “oh look at the little birds going in and out the ivy!”

We never have it trimmed at nesting time and are very careful all year round where we cut.

So from personal experience the problem seems to be loss of habitat, like woven fences taking the place of hedges and roofs being sealed up. As regards polution from traffic being a possibility, we live on a busy road with a bus route even though it is a rural village.
I hope my offering is of help to your survey.
Yours faithfully,   Kathleen Phillips


Thanks for that Kathleen.  It brings up a lot of points which I have found interesting and would like to go into in more detail tomorrow.

It’s really nice that other people care for birds and take time and do practical things to help them




A survey done by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds shows we have these species of birds!

Barn Owl
Grey Bunting
Grey Partridge
Reed Bunting
Tree sparrow
Turtle Dove

The survey also says that cattle grazing within the mixed farm environment is highly valuable to a range of birds feeding on the increased invertebrate supply associated with livestock – especially swallow, tree sparrow, lapwing etc.

It is a pity that this is not realised more widely. There will not be any cattle grazing within the farm next year. The dairy herd is being sold this winter. The price we get for the milk we sell is just too low. No cows coming in and out of the field each day in spring and summer. The end.