There was much drama in the garden last Saturday when an early morning visit from a Sparrowhawk resulted in the loss of one of our Long-tailed Tits. Emma managed to witness the whole event unfold with the hunter entering stage right before finishing up with a small ball of feathers pinned against our neighbours bird table. From there it was up into a tree before flying off marking only the second time either of us has ever seen a Sparrowhawk successfully hunt here. I have heard of some gardeners getting a bit distraught at such losses having invested both time and money in feeding our feathered friends though perhaps we should really treat these acts just as they are, another part of the natural cycle of life. The Long-tailed Tits comrades were clearly of a similar mind as they were back on the feeders in less than a minute and once again allowed me to approach within arms length.
Whist on the subject of our garden it’s worth casting your mind back to my new year ‘resolutions’ here where I vowed to continue improving the habitat for both birds and other wildlife. The first stage of this was to put up a few more next boxes before I once again left it too late. First in place was a Blue Tit box which has sat idly in my garage for at least four years now. King of procrastination am I! More adventurous however was the House Sparrow terrace, a rather grand sounding trio of boxes lined up next to each other beneath the eaves. We’ve had at least one pair nesting in the roof here ever since we moved in so the aim was to get a few more of this nationally declining species breeding. Furthermore this wasn’t going to be any half-hearted effort as the design I had planned was to be built by my own fair hands following a couple of plans downloaded from the internet. That was of course until I went to B&Q and found that you can now buy high quality nest boxes with the correct sized House Sparrow opening for only £4. It was going to cost me at least five times that just to buy a sheet of exterior ply. Needless to say I bought three of these ready made offerings and after attaching them together they now await their new residents.
Being positioned where they are it’s not going to be easy to watch any comings and goings so next year I may try and get a camera installed. The Blue Tit box on the other hand is much easier to see and remarkably had a couple of visitors within the first ten minutes of being installed. I can’t be sure if they were just picking off spiders after the boxes long hibernation in the garage or not but I shall keep you updated if anything further develops.