This is the weekend of the RSPB’s big Birdwatch, which encourages the general public to spot and count common birds seen in gardens over a one hour period. In order to make this easier, yesterday’s Telegraph Gardening section (the Torygraph is way the best paper for gardening) had a helpful guide to useful equipment. Heated jacket, £150.00; binoculars, £130.00; a couple of bird books at a tenner each plus food to attract the creatures and ‘sparrow flats’ at £25.00, for sparrows who are too stupid to build their own nests. Ha ha ha! Let’s get this straight. Wild birds are just that: wild. You don’t go putting out food for rats and squirrels, do you? Although I know someone who fed a sick-looking fox in her garden thus, in my opinion, prolonging its miserable life. Of course, I was too kind to say so to her. I am more concerned with putting food on our own table than on one for horrible reptiles with feathers.
I have in front of me the recording sheet provided by the RSPB. Most of these birds are regularly to be seen in our garden, so you can bet your boots I won’t see any of them today although I’m quite likely to see a jay or a woodpecker. We used to have starlings in the roof (ghastly racket) but once the roof was fixed they disappeared for good. Sparrows we never see, although they are so common. I can’t help feeling that the whole point of this exercise is to find another excuse for hand wringing over the decline of habitats or possibly global warming. A few years ago there was a great to-do about falling numbers of song thrushes. It was alleged, without much scientific evidence that I could see, that this was due to the use of slug pellets by gardeners. Oh, right, blame gardeners as usual. I had noticed fewer thrushes about myself but suddenly they all came back. I have never seen so many thrushes in the garden as I did last summer. Could it not be that their population fluctuates naturally?
Good luck with your bird watching today. If I see anything interesting I will report it. The pictures are of my old Girl Guide patrol badges: Blue tits and Nightingales. What horrid girls we were. We once had a very nice Dutch Guider attached to our company but instead of being kind and welcoming we used to laugh like drains when she clapped her hands and shouted out, ‘Tits!’ I still feel guilty.