Birds and a Buffet

This year Ticknall Garden Club’s Christmas Social followed a most entertaining presentation from David Tideswell on caring for the birds in your garden in Winter. He has studied birds for many years and broadcasts on Radio Stoke and Derby.

David provides sound practical advice from his own experience on providing the right habitat and care to attract birds into the garden as well as being a mine of information on bird-related facts. His aim was to encourage us all to make the most of the private nature reserve we all have in our own garden.

He maintains that continuity in feeding is the key to getting birds into the garden. He was keen to extol the virtues of his own recipe for fat balls. His “goo” is made from equal quantities of lard, flour, crushed peanuts and digestive biscuits. This proves irresistible to birds in harsh weather and as well as hanging it up in suitable containers, he smears it on tree trunks and small lengths of wood pierced with holes. Other attractions are cake, pastry, windfall apples, sultanas and seeds left on plants but nothing salty or anything that will swell inside the bird.

He urged us to provide a supply of fresh water in some form or another; a garden pond is the ideal. Good hygiene is vital both with feeders and bird baths. Greenfinch numbers have been decimated in recent years because of trichomonosis passed on by infected food and water. Wood pigeons can also spread a variety of diseases including canker and avian pox.

Bird species require different levels of habitat. Dense floor coverage of ivy and periwinkle will provide a home for the ubiquitous but shy wren. It is our shortest bird but most numerous, being estimated at over eight million in number. A suitable perch for birds in the form of bushes and trees near to bird feeders will promise safety and hasty retreat from prey for blackbirds, robins, sparrows, tits and finches. A dry stonewall is ideal for providing a source of insects and cosy roosts. Bird boxes also give shelter in bad weather. A high canopy of trees will attract woodland birds such as the woodpecker, nuthatch and starling and give the mistle thrush his lofty perch. If you live out in the country a hedgerow corridor can produce the sight of yellow hammers, linnet, coot and mallard.

David Tideswell was full of surprising information about birds; hedge sparrows are interbreeding with house sparrows; the robin was originally called a ruddock and has the weight of two £1 coins; jays bury as many nuts as squirrels; sparrow hawks now frequent towns because of Macdonalds and hair clippings make ideal nesting material.

The talk was not only informative but delivered with great humour. This put everyone in a happy frame of mind to enjoy the expansive buffet which followed. After bravely struggling through ice and snow, garden club members had been rewarded with a fine start to the Festive Season.


The plant hunting adventures of Bleddyn and Sue Wyn-Jones will feature at the next meeting of Ticknall Garden Club. They are privileged to be one of the few to have a licence to bring back the seeds of rare plants which they propagate in their nursery at Crug Farm Plants in North Wales. They will be bringing some of these plants to the meeting with them.

The meeting will be held in Ticknall Village Hall on Tuesday January 9th at 7.30 p.m. Admission on the door will be £5 for club members and £8 for visitors.

Pamela Adams
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Pamela Adams

In addition to her many other interests, Pam keeps us up to speed on the activities of the Ticknall Garden Club.