We’re gardening strictly for birds

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THE bird feeder I got for my birthday in January has given hugely added value to the way we feel about the garden, writes Julie Williams.

It’s no longer just our small but pretty space for planting flowers, eating out in the summer and enjoying for the pleasure it gives our senses alone.

Now the hard work you can’t have a nice garden without is driven by the extra awareness that it’s the home to a crowd of feathered friends.

They’ve always been around of course but having a bowl of water and different feeders out for seeds and peanuts and fatballs in the winter has helped us really get to know them.

We’ve stopped feeling envy for friends with feeders who have the knack of attracting exotic and colourful goldfinches (the secret is niger seed apparently but it’s never worked for us), long-tailed tits and bullfinches.

The hosts of sparrows and starlings who squabble round the feeder and perform acrobatics to greedily empty the nut-holder in no time at all provide hours of entertainment – who cares if they don’t have gorgeous plumage to sit around and preen?

We’ve had tragedies too and felt them more keenly – one of our pair of collared doves nesting in a rowan tree fell victim to next-door’s cat and its mate hunched disconsolately alone on the back of the truck for ages.

Only this week’s appearance of three raggedy dull-grey baby doves shuffling on the shed roof about to launch themselves in flight cheered us up on the dove community’s behalf.

A huge baby seagull too young to fly and so big it would have wrecked the feeder stalked around for a few hours on the gravel then disappeared. Fingers crossed, it was one of two grey speckled youngsters squawking high overhead at the weekend.