Saturday, 8 August 2015

Holidays – taking gardenwatch on tour

When choosing a UK holiday, we tend to pick countryside locations. Since writing this gardenwatch blog, I’ve found myself looking out many a holiday cottage window at the birds flying around. I began wishing I had packed some bird food with me although, realistically, would they find it if I did? So, a few years ago, the holiday bird feeding experiments and gardenwatching began in earnest.

This year, easily packed in the car boot was the unpacked, impulse buy of bird feeder pole*** that was found in this summer’s potting shed clear-out/reorg. A basic peanut feeder was filled, bagged and tucked to the side of the suitcases.

May 2015, Holiday location: Outside the village of Risplith on the edge of the Yorkshire dales in the North of England. Experiment success: Yes, two Blue tits within 10 mins of putting feeder up!


The two Blue tits above (probable nesting pair in May) were rewarded by helping me choose the location of this first successful feeding experiment. Opening the floor length curtain behind the front door on the first morning revealed Blue tits bouncing through a shrub looking for food. This shrub cover worked well to site a bird feeder nearby and it never moved for the duration of our holiday.

Blue tits, Blue tit juvs, Great Tits and House Sparrows were seen when we were in the cottage but other birds may have visited. Jackdaws were seen jumping along the higher boundary wall like they were considering how they could negotiate it - I wonder if they did.

The peanut feeder pole can be seen to the left of the door, it was pushed in the ground away from roots of plants and outside weed suppressing fabric membrane. I was conscious of being respectful to the cottage owner and would never have taken a mixed seed feeder or fat balls as food spillage to the ground had the potential of germinating and leaving weeds.

Gardenwatching from inside was easy too with the door having windows. The door was also at the bottom of the stairs so everyone walked by it going to rooms on either side. Initially my tripod was positioned here. At times I found myself sitting in the quiet room on the right where I swapped over the chair and footstool so I could sit with video camera while reading there. I was hoping to see a Nuthatch (not seen up my way) but no joy there.



There was a steady flow of traffic on the road outside the front of the house. Over the road, dairy cows casually grazed in complete contrast to the starlings running around the ground and the swallows swooping across the fields. We had glimpses of sunny weather on this week but it was one of strong gales and heavy rain.

Round the back of this holiday property, we overlooked a farmer’s field and rolling countryside. This was where the most bird species could be seen but with extensive weed suppressing membrane on garden borders I wasn't able to consider my holiday bird feeder here. Birds seen included the usual ‘home’ suspects of Blackbirds, Robin, Blue tits, Wren, Goldfinches, Collared Doves, Starling, House Sparrows, and Jackdaw. Flying over the fields were gulls, swallows and bats.

Perhaps, it may seem sad packing bird feeders for a holiday but I love the challenge of attracting birds and other wildlife to a given space. I surely can’t be the only one can I? Please tell me someone else reading this has considered it... no? I’ll just quietly head out to the garden with my coffee and watch my pond then ;-)

Wishing you good weekend with fair weather to enjoy your garden :-) I'm hoping to count butterflies for the current survey that ends tomorrow, the 9th August.


***I completely agree with the comments in the reviews of this product suggesting the plastic adapter connecting the bird feeder to the pole should be available to be bought separately. If even slightly overtightened it can break or the threads get damaged. Having very disappointingly split one many years ago, I was in two minds to try this again but I’m so glad I did as it made a great holiday feeder. Spares of fixings like this would be very welcome for all bird feeder products.


This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in August 2015.

5 comments:

Lisa Greenbow said...

What fun to rent a house for holiday. Every home needs a bird feeder. I have never rented a home for a holiday but if I did I would take a feeder. I have set out peanuts on railings where I have spent the night to see if birds would come get them. It sounds like you had a relaxing, birdy holiday. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Anna said...

I must admit that I've never taken a bird feeder with me on holiday Shirl but we've not often stayed in cottages. More often than not we are in the camper van and only resident for a couple of nights in one spot before moving on to the next. We would probably forget to pack up the feeder somewhere along the way. We do keep an eye open though for birds and other wildlife on our trips. It looks like a most comfortable cottage but what a shame about the weather. Did you see any birds that you do not see in your own garden?

Midmarsh John said...

What a brilliant, and successful, idea Shirley. I would never have thought of that.

Sue Garrett said...

I wondered about the birds turning up after you had left and being disappointed that the feeder had gone.

Shirley said...

Hello everyone, thanks for all your comments :-)

Lisa, renting a house is quite common over here. It would be nice if all holiday homes had a feeder but as Sue says below, what about birds returning. I guess the best solution would be a bird table where scraps like bread could be put out by the families renting the house (especially at end of holiday when emptying cupboards). There was a table at this cottage. Snap… the very first time I tried this experiment it was peanuts on a railing :-) The birds were an extra on this holiday, the very heavy rainfall made for days indoors playing board games as a family which was just great being all together again :-)

Anna, ah… I remember, with campsites usually sheltered by trees (looks like to me) birds there would welcome feeders. It would be good if campsites put up a few bird tables and as mentioned above, leftovers of bread etc would be put to good use there too :-) It was one of the best properties we have been in, Anna not your average cottage in scale, furnishings or fittings either. Every bird but the swallows could be seen here – we get the similar looking house martins.

John, I wish I had thought of this years ago! We have had family holidays in cottages throughout the UK so many times. This was the first time I packed my tripod too, which I have regretted leaving behind many times.

Sue, good point. Initially I never expected success at all so leading the birds to a feeder then removing it wasn’t in my radar. However the birds were already finding food in the shrubs in this garden so I saw the feeder as an extra to a feeding area they were already using. I have often felt guilty leaving the birds at home as I have led them to my garden only to go on holiday and the feeders run empty. I now tend to wind down feeding the birds at home before I go so the birds find other gardens. There are always peanuts out but since the Jackdaws and magpies have taken to regularly eating them they too could run out when we go away! I was delighted to see (a first) that this cottage actually had a bird table in the back garden on the fence edge below the big tree which we discovered on using the covered hot tub! I left our bread scraps on the table on the day we left and by the time I had packed the car the table was empty. The Jackdaws were the first to the table so I’m guessing these clever birds worked out it was leaving/changeover day, were expecting food and were watching me pack the car in anticipation ;-)