So we put the feeders away until times get harder.
With regular frosts overnight in our frost-pocket of a valley bottom from late November, by early December we feel that times are hard enough.
And with the current freeze, they come into their own....
We have two sets of feeders.
One set is under the cherry tree outside the sitting room windows, where three feeders are suspended from a naturally twisty pole.
Tim has attached the pole to the wall using a carabiner, so that the entire set can be released and swung towards you, making restocking much easier.
The cherry, elder, hawthorn and alder provide plenty of perches for incoming birds to size up the situation, and for outgoing birds to eat their plunder.
A chicken-wire partition segregates the cats from the birds, giving the ground-feeders a safe area for themselves where the cats can't rush them.
The chickens haunt this area too, when they are allowed, picking up dropped morsels.
|Late for lunch|
These four feeders are stocked with:
- peanuts (guaranteed no fungal infection)
- a fat block "aux insectes" (dried mealworms) from the UK via the RSPB Amazon store
- fat balls "aux graines" also from Gamm Vert but probably in the future from the LPO
- mixed grains for "les oiseaux du ciel" from E. Leclerc or Super U
- insect rich suet pellets... new last year... and share the same feeder as the peanuts
|If I just twist it that way a bit, it'll come out|
|I think I'll have that one|
[photo transformed into a watercolour by Tim using Photoshop and a Redfield plugin]
Normally, the seed eaters still find much food in the wild at this time of the year and the grain feeder hardly goes down at all. That changed this weekend when the seed started to vanish rapidly.
Also, normally, big flocks of assorted finches work the field edges further along the road to Le Petit Pressigny. Since October we have only seen half a dozen goldfinches in our meadow, no quarrelsome greenfinches, and no siskins. This is a repeat almost of last year... except we had greenfinches... this year, one pair... and that was last week. The first bramblings (charcoal grey hood, orange breast, white underneath) are yet to be spotted.
|A male Brambling on the sunflower feeder we've just replaced.|
This held a good bucket load...
and we'd blocked up two of the holes to slow the flow of seed...
but was a devil to fill!!
We rely on the greed of the goldfinches to knock down seed for the ground feeders. We give the seed feeder a shake every so often to make sure the dunnock, the sparrows, the blackbirds, the moorhens, the chaffinches and the pheasants can find something to eat on the ground.
|Sometimes the block inside its holder....|
gets to the "tits only" stage!
We introduced the sunflower seeds in January 2015, when the goldfinches finished gleaning the crumbling sunflower heads that remain in those tricky corners of fields where the man with the seed drill will go but the man with the combine harvester won't.The pheasants like sunflower seeds too. We have seen up to nine females and one splendid male who spent his time herding the females and posing about rather than eating.
Last year the cherry tree had a visit from a woodpigeon which behaved rather oddly. It gave the impression it was hiding from something, possibly the hunters making a racket on the hillside opposite. It did not seem concerned to be so close to the house, or that it could see us through the windows. When Tim went out to check that it was OK, it merely stood up. Well feathered and plump, it looked healthy enough, and we could see no signs of injury. It flew in to the lowest branch of the cherry tree, sat there peering across the meadow for half an hour, then flew away.
But the self-appointed king of the cherry tree feeders is the robin.
He bullies everyone else, squaring up to the great tits as they come in for some tucker.
He emulates the tits in hanging from the peanut feeder to mine for cacahuetes.
His favourite is the fat balls, and he stands on the topmost ball to hammer down on it.
Ever watchful, ever busy, he keeps us entertained for hours - but there's so much to do!
Can't sit and watch birds all day! Just another five minutes.....
New for this year is the GRAND feeder...
|This is how grand...|
six ports for the birds to feed from...
it was destined for the meadow set-up to be filled with sunflower seed...
but, has proved far too long... so long in fact....
that the pheasants would have been able to stuff themselves out of the bottom two ports!!
|It has its own hanger!!|
Fixed to the tree!!
So, it is hung, filled with 1.5 kilos of grain, in the cherry tree...
outside the lounge window.
Because of the size, we have also bought a large tray that fits underneath...
to save some of the inevitable spillage onto the grass beneath the whole assembly.
It will be interesting to see which birds eat from the tray.
|Our first Greenfinch of this Winter!!|
|Bully boy Robin... with the pointy tongue....|
The final food type we introduced last year was suet pellets with insect minced into them....
these are mixed in layers with the peanuts... and are proving immensely popular with the Blue and Great Tits.
BUT, despite the entertainment we get from them...
the biggest problem with all these feeders is...
stocking them up...
|"Tim off to the feeders with a wheelbarrow of tubs!"|
BUT...has he got everything....?
|The destination.... the meadow feeders!!|
Now... just another few minutes... watching the Lapwings in the field next door........