I'm a terrible birder. I recently went out to buy boxes for the House Martins I saw around us, only to discover they were Swallows. If I'm being honest, I'm generally less obsessed by birds than by the stuff they eat.
By that I don't mean I have a weird fetish for bird food.
The bird population is a really good indicator of whether we're doing the right things in our gardens. By creating and sympathetically managing (attractive and) varied habitats we can really make a difference to the volume and variety of seed and tasty morsels available for them.
And the birds hereabouts need a bit of help. Staying with friends in the South Downs National Park
in Sussex last weekend we noticed how loud and varied the birdsong was compared with the surrounding countryside here.
Blimey - it's a long way down!
Most of our boxes here are full though (including one which might have been taken over by dormice, excitingly). At this time of year there's an excited yabbering coming from them all round the meadow. Parent tits dash about frantically, carrying big juicy caterpillars. There's a family of Swallows-not-House-Martins nesting under the eves next to the kitchen too. You get the picture. We have had an unremarkable roll call of bird species, though, but - interestingly - this is now changing.
Although I was working hard in the office this morning (!), a pair of drab looking small birds caught my attention. Sitting on some garden furniture, they were sallying up to roof level to catch insects, then dropping back to their perches. My nice super switched on birding friend Fiona saysSpotted Flycatchers
. I've heard them in our little forest garden, now I listen to the video on the RSPB site. They're increasingly rare in the UK and Red Listed.
I guess they're here because the habitat is right for them. Good nesting sites and lots of tasty big insects. Happy day.