My very own Cousteau moment. Without the aqualung. Or the French passport. Or the sea for that matter. On account of my affection for garden birds, this spring yours truly spent considerable time, attempting to impersonate a wildlife paparazzo, photographing delightful birdies in the garden. An exercise aimed to produce a lustrous feature, befitting the-dude-who-used-to-wear-the-hat; James Alexander-Sinclair for intoGardens.

The original premise for the feature was to find a bird feeder that was not only functional but attractive. There are many feeders available on the market, but too often they are rather unattractive devices, where function overtakes design. Granted, bird feeders are designed for birds not humans, but that shouldn’t mean that they can’t be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. A search therefore ensued to find a more dashing bird feeder that could delight, amaze or amuse and of course satisfy substantial ornithological appetites. The selected cut, sourced from as far as the realms of our Danish and German cousins, are there in lights for you to peruse at your leisure on into-gardens.com.

Boobies, descents, charms, tremblings, worms, hermitages, confusions, oh and a mouse…

There really is no greater charm, than seeing and hearing birds fluttering around the garden. Though not until this exercise, which obviously required ardent focus on said fluttery subject, did I ever truly realise the astonishing number and variety of birds that reside, or visit our gardens. Taking the time to observe them, be it through a camera, gave me a superb excuse to really look and truly appreciate their presence in the garden. A lesson we should probably extend to the rest of the garden….

Apart from the usual loft of pigeons, (barrage seems a more appropriate collective noun), nuthatches, goldfinches, greenfinches, blue tits, great tits, starlings, blackbirds, chaffinches, great tits, robin, dunnocks, long-tailed tits, wrens, green, lesser and even greater spotted woodpeckers, charmed us with their presence.

All with such distinct characters, traits and tastes. Courageous nuthatches start the ball rolling, whom without fear would try any bird feeder how ever alien, shiny or tricky. The rest promptly follow suit. Robins are certainly not too keen to go Dutch being so fiercely competitive, chaffinches like copious amount of seed in which to wallow, the long tail tits prefer communal munching with a strong preference for anything wrapped in suet, and if heaven forbid a feeder was running low or worse on empty, the blue tits had no qualms twittering at me to alert the neighbourhood of the poor service at this establishment.

All so charming, and a true privilege to have their company in the garden. A tiny little mouse1, pretending to be a (very hungry) bird, on the other hand is another matter….

Birds on roller skates

Initially planned to take a fortnight, the ‘shoot’ aimed to capture birds ‘in action’, took somewhat longer than planned. Despite the invaluable and ever so clever, wireless shutter remote control and bird feeders filled to the brim with tasty morsels, nature rules. Birds, do and go as they (quite rightly), please, where hours were spent waiting for that perfect ‘bird eating from feeder’ shot.

With new found respect, I bow to the professional wildlife paparazzi. Unlike yours truly, they must have incredible patience and stamina, especially knowing that as soon as you take a break and take your eye off the ball, the fluttering subjects will undoubtedly all flock in, put on the performance of a life time, and most probably just as those silly Pandas in that epic KitKat advert dance around on roller skates. To prevent any such happenings though, no Kit Kats were consumed during this process.

Photographing the birds was thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended. A wireless shutter remote control is easily and cheaply purchased online. And after, of course having read the sterling feature and made your selection of a super snazzy bird feeder, you are good to go. In terms of bird food, as gardeners would appreciate, any frivolous seed germination is to be avoided, so opt for husked seeds, especially if you have nuthatches as whom are beyond keen to spread the love everywhere. Opting for a couple (or more) different types of feeders and foods, certainly proved to attract a greater number and variety of birds, but even having just one visit the garden is magic.

By far the best the most rewarding aspect of the entire process, is that the garden is now brimming with chubby juniors, calling the garden their new home. For the seasoned migratory travellers, one can only hope that the bumper bird feeder spring helped them on their way and that the garden, is remembered worthy of a revisit.

We await your return (im)patiently….

Footnotes

  1. See photographic evidence. The cheeky devil. Sweet, but still cheeky.

Postscript

The bird feeders photographed for this feature are all heading to the new Horatio’s Garden in Glasgow, Scotland. Just in case you are not familiar, Horatio’s Garden is a wonderful charity that builds beautiful gardens for patients at NHS spinal treatment centres. The charity’s first garden in Salisbury was designed by Cleve West, and the Glasgow garden which is currently in the making, has been designed by James Alexander-Sinclair. It is a lovely thought, that the bird feeders featured on intoGardens will be incorporated into the garden, and hopefully help in a very small way, to have a positive effect on the patients. 

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