Feed the Birds by Sarah Burgess

This week I’m combining two of the 19 ways to continue to connect to nature during COVID-19, both of them relating to birds.

Over the last few months, I have felt lucky to have access to a shared garden and neighbours who don’t hog the space, but never mind the humans, I have been really grateful to be sharing the garden with so many birds.  Up close I am not a fan of birds, there is too much flapping for my liking, but I am happy to admire them from afar and I certainly want to see them thrive.

At the start of lockdown I noticed that the bird feeders outside our elderly neighbour’s window were empty and our local grocery shop had conveniently started stocking bird seed. I knew our neighbour wasn’t going out, but being fiercely independent she has been reluctant to accept too much help, but this was something I could help with.  However this week, I decided to get a bit more creative, as a way to fit some crafting in.

Evidently I have been preparing for lockdown for much of my life, as I seem to have a wealth of craft materials assembled that will come in useful “one day” although I never anticipated that the day would be during a global pandemic.  A few weeks ago I dug out a ball of  macrame string, that I just happened to have lying about and started to learn some knots, and this week as an experiment, I made a holder for a coconut shell which I filled with bird seed.  I also used a slightly battered apple to make an apple bird feeder  and there was something deeply soothing sticking the sunflower seeds into the apple.  Similarly with making the macrame hanger, concentrating on each knot seems to do something really good to your brain and makes me want to order all the balls of string and create something huge (that will never be finished – I am realistic about this).

There seem to have been so many more birds about during lockdown or maybe we’re all just noticing them a bit more.   It also seems to be a good way to connect to people. I’ve chatted to the neighbours about which birds they have spotted in the garden.  I’ve seen a lot of nature related activity on social media and I was in a (not wildlife related) webinar where the host talked about the robins she’d seen in her garden and the symbolism of this. As with a lot of things on the internet you can find the meaning you want to, so I’m choosing to believe the suggestions that seeing a robin symbolises new beginnings and is a sign of fortune and good luck, as I have seen so many robins over the last few months.   I’ve not been so keen on the gulls who have a tendancy to tap dance on our bedroom roof at 5.00am – whilst shouting about it.

Since the outdoor exercise restrictions have been relaxed, I’ve been taking an early morning walk which has been soundtracked by much bird song and a glorious lack of traffic noise, but as yet I am still unable to identify any bird this way, try as I might.  Yesterday morning  I was admiring the unusual sight of a heron sitting by the pond  in the park, until a passing dog walker pointed out we were probably about to witness a duckling becoming breakfast.  I was relieved to see this morning that all ducklings were present and correct.

Don’t forget there are loads of resources out there to help you identify birds both visually and by their song.  The RSPB even have a BirdSong Radio app.  Until next time, I can be found on instagram posting pictures of nature or at sarah.burgess@vaslan.org.uk if you’d like to let me know how you have been connecting to nature during lockdown.