You’re never far away from a robinBy Adrian Lawson
December 21, 2009
Now that winter really is here we had all better start looking out for the birds.
I would dare to suggest that if you live anywhere in Reading you are not far away from a robin so, while you are tucking into your lunch on Christmas Day and outside there is two feet of snow, what is the robin doing for food? And if it is all frozen up, what is it doing for water?
My garden is full of bird feeders, and many birds besides the robin visit every day to find food, water and shelter. That is actually the main purpose of the garden, it is my own little nature reserve. But even in the tiniest garden in a terraced street, on a balcony high up in a block of flats, or a patch of paving in the town centre it is possible to feed birds. One of my friends lives in a tower block in London, the only greenery is a plane tree on the other side of the road. By regularly putting out food she has managed to support a few birds, including a robin. I may get more birds in 10 minutes than she gets in a day but she might well get more pleasure, and she may have made a bigger difference.
There are birds – the blackcap is one – which used to leave Britain in the winter, but now they stay and often visit gardens for food. It may be climate change that makes the birds stay and the food in the gardens keeps them going, or it may be the bird food that encourages them, and they can do it because of climate change.
Having said that I don’t see blackcaps in my garden all that often, normally only in very cold weather, when they can’t find food elsewhere.
The reed bunting is another bird that has become associated with gardens, which was unheard of 10 years ago. They are now declining rapidly in the countryside but the population in my garden has at times been over 35 birds, which is astonishing.
But I have not seen a single one since June so I am hoping Santa will bring me a flock of them for Christmas, because I have more than enough robins.