08 January 2016

New Year's Resolutions

The beginning of a new year is often a time to make a new start, take stock of where you are and think about where you'd like to be this time next year, in five years time.  Classic resolutions are to give up something, to start something new, to get outside more, to get fit, to lose weight.
Why not combine the last three into one and join a Green Gym, TCV run Green Gyms in many locations, find your nearest one here
Perhaps just the word gym makes you break out in a cold sweat! in which case you may like to consider volunteering either on a regular basis or as a one off by joining one of the many work parties run by conservation groups across the country, find regular volunteering opportunities here and look for a work group to join here.

AW is in the giving up camp, taking part in Dry January.  I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, however, this year I have and it's an unusual one. I'm not feeding the birds this year - now before you throw your hands up in horror here are my reasons.
Last year I threw away more rotten bird seed than than our feathered friends ever ate so I stopped filling the feeders and watched what happened. The results are surprising, our garden is no longer heaving with finches, blackbirds and wood pigeon, they've not disappeared completely just not as many.  Initially that decrease seems a bad thing but when you look at what's changed it paints a very different picture. In the last few weeks we've seen wrens, house and tree sparrows, gold crests, long-tailed tits, nuthatch, willow tits, redwing (yes, really, in the garden), bullfinches, collared dove, warblers (I'm no good on IDing the little brown and green jobs!) starlings, robins the list goes on. I don't think the total number of individuals visiting the garden has significantly changed but the variety and range of species has increased and they're being seen regularly not just a brief dart. Which makes me wonder if the big flocks of finches were actually keeping the other species away, the chaffinches take up residence on the feeder perches and the goldfinch squabbles are noisy clashes which look quite violent to an outsider.  Another consequence is that we don't have grey squirrels visiting the garden any more - no easy feeders to rob - but we do have lots of nesting sites so perhaps there may be an extra hidden benefit, only time will tell.

Last September BTO research showed that supplementary feeding was affecting the migration of blackcaps allowing them to expand their ranges, this research was the first time that garden bird feeding has been shown to affect large-scale bird distributions. Read the research here.

I'm not giving up completely, when (if) the weather turns I'll make sure there's food and water available and as long as it's being eaten and not mouldering we'll keep on - for a while but for now we're not a regular feeding station.