As the weather gets colder, now more than ever is the time to start gathering up reserves for your garden visitors. During the harsh Winter months it’s really important to keep your garden birds well fed and your feeders stocked with a variety of seeds, nuts and fats to keep energy levels up.
As I have just moved house, I don’t yet know what types of birds will be visiting my garden so instead have opted to cover all bases. I thought this would be a good opportunity to show you what types of food you can and should feed the different varieties of bird you may find in your garden, as well as some dos and don’ts to keep your garden birds happy and healthy.
Last weekend we made our second visit to Bird World. We had throughly enjoyed it last year so decided another trip was in order.
Bird World is set on 26 acres of land in Farnham, Surrey. Large, well-built aviaries nestle among tall trees and landscaped gardens making the place idyllic even in the colder months. During the Autumn and Winter seasons opening hours are limited and certain areas of the park are closed so it’s worth checking the website before making the trip. The website can be found here.
On the Sunday we visited -my 27th birthday- it had been raining all morning and it was positively cold and drab. This meant the park was very empty – perfect for us as it enabled us to take our time looking at the birds, wandering around and we didn’t have to contend with screaming children.
It took us around three and a half hours to get around and explore everything. The park is well laid out and easy to navigate, with clear sections for different types of birds. Owls and raptors in a series of large aviaries, an outback walk through aviary with Australian birds such as budgies, zebra finches and doves that fly above your head and nestle in branches, colourful and exotic birds from around the world and vibrant macaws in a towering structure at the very heart of the park. There’s also a penguin bay and a flamingo cove to walk through as well as a little Jenny Wren farm with friendly chickens and a peacock meandering around.
We purchased some mealworms and bag of cracked corn/seed at the reception to feed the birds with and I recommend doing this as it’s a fun way to get a little closer to the birds, some of which are surprisingly friendly. And if you’re lucky you’ll catch the flashes of gold, orange and red of the beautiful pheasants hiding among the foliage of the pheasant woodland walk – although these shy birds definitely won’t be tempted out with the promise of food!
Asides from the wide variety of birds you will find at Bird World, the best thing about the park is the large and natural enclosures/aviaries in which they live. If you’re undecided about paying the place a visit, I definitely recommend you check out the photos below!
Just a quick disclaimer: the following photos are not perfect. It’s pretty hard to take clear photos of birds through bars so some are quite fuzzy. I hope this does not detract from the overall post and will give you some idea of how great Bird World is.
Today we woke up and decided upon adventure. Our last few weekends have been lovely but incredibly lazy and we thought it time we got out exploring again. Luckily for me the weather was somewhat overcast (perfect for healing tattooed arms) yet warm with a cool breeze. After some researching we settled on RHS Garden Hyde Hall because it’s a 20 minute drive from us, a relatively cheap day out and because we’d almost visited before – before turning away at the last moment.
I have to say, I may have just found my new favourite place in Essex! I am so glad we paid a visit.
Upon arrival the staff were very helpful, explaining to us where everything was and highlights of the park. We were handed a map and headed off in search of flowers! The garden itself is not huge although it is a good size with plenty to see and explore. If you’re going to pay a visit an ideal amount of time to allocate to your trip would be about 3-4 hours. You can easily explore the gardens in around 2 hours but if you want to take your time (and lots of photos) it’s best to allow for a little more than that.
The gardens are divided up in to sections, with a large pond and converted barn at the very heart. The converted barn cafe is a gorgeous building strung with fairy lights and serving fresh handmade cakes, sandwiches, soups and more. I tried the Victoria sponge with a cup of tea whilst Gareth went for chocolate – we were both surprised and delighted with our choices – if you’re paying a visit to RHS gardens I can’t recommend the cake enough!
The gardens are full to the brim with beautiful flowers, sprawling herbaceous borders, shrubs and fragrant pines. Alongside all this natural beauty you will find a plethora of birds including goldfinches, blue tits, great tits, sparrows, pigeons, song thrushes and many many more. I happily snapped away at as many birds as I could – feeling particularly excited at spotting some goldfinches.
We spent a good few hours in the gardens just marvelling at how beautiful everything was. Both myself and my lovely boyfriend were very impressed and will be visiting again. I took far too many photos to edit, but here’s a snapshot of our day.
On Sunday we were blessed with lovely sunny weather so we decided to make the most of our RSPB memberships and head over to Rainham Marshes reserve. The marshes were absolutely fantastic and whilst I didn’t get the shots I wanted, I did get to see a lot of wildlife and my most favourite- goldfinches! For anyone wanting to visit Rainham Marshes for the purpose of bird-watching I cannot recommend it enough. It is a lovely area also so if you’re not interested in the birds you’d still get a lot of enjoyment out of the walk. When I return I will make sure to take photos of everything and review it properly but for now here are some quick shots of the kind of wildlife you can expect to find there!
Spring has sprung; beautiful daffodils sway in the breeze, bumble bees hum gently around the blooming flowers and glimpses of white cotton tails can be caught as startled rabbits run for cover under the bramble. It’s a lovely season but with the ever-changing weather (sunshine one minute, showers the next!) it can be hard to dress for.
I think that Pretty Little Finch necklaces are a perfect way to embrace the new season and thought it would be fun to throw together some looks. So here they are – my ways to wear Pretty Little Finch this Spring.
Darling birds of May
Spring is the perfect time to showcase your feminine floral dresses. I’ve teamed this beautiful blue tit necklace with a lovely bright printed dress and felt hat – perfect for picnicking in the woods and gathering wild flowers when the sun starts to shine.
Dress: Forever 21, Hat: Primark, Necklace: Pretty Little Finch
With the weather being warm but breezy, now is the perfect time to whip out the vintage and silk shirts that may be too hot to wear as the temperature heats up. A vintage shirt layered over a printed dress is an easy Spring outfit that looks charming with a friendly robin necklace. Perfect for perusing your vintage field guides when you’re out bird-watching.
Shirt: Vintage, Dress: Primark, Necklace: Pretty Little Finch
On those days when the sun doesn’t want to shine, a knitted jumper is still an essential. Ease in to the new season with pastel shades. I’ve layered this light grey jumper over a striped dress and teamed with the beautiful bullfinch necklace – the grey, blue and red combination work well together and would make a lovely outfit for a day beside the seaside or a stroll in the shady woods.
Jumper: Primark, Dress: Primark, Necklace: Pretty Little Finch
Fun prints and patterns are a great way to banish Winter blues and look towards a brighter season. I’ve teamed this slogan tee in a pretty pastel shade with a dogtooth skort. To finish off the ensemble I’ve teamed it with a cheeky nuthatch necklace which I think encapsulates the fun found in nature.
T-Shirt: Forever 21, Skort: New Look, Necklace: Pretty Little Finch
If you’d like to work a Pretty Little Finch necklace this Spring, you can find them here!
So, as I mentioned a few posts back, I have been working hard to create some new designs for my Etsy shop in the hopes of luring more customers in.
I had originally created four designs but, after much thought I decided to listen to what people had been asking for – and I went back to the drawing board to create something new.
After much deliberation I settled on two designs. The robin and the nuthatch. I am really happy with how both of these designs have turned out and think they will get a good reception, what with the Robin being a firm fave with us Brits!
Anyway, here they are – my new pieces.
I’ve also made a few changes to my existing items, and have re-shot the photos, tweaked the descriptions etc etc. So please go and check it out. If you’d like one of my pieces, please take a look HERE
Last week we decided to introduce a few new bits and bobs to the bird feeder menu. And what a difference it has made! We have seen a flurry of activity in our garden and rather happily, we have seen even more long-tailed tits.
Last/This week we have spotted robins, long-tailed tits, coal, blue and great tits, a dunnock, wood pigeons and wrens to name a few. Unfortunately we haven’t seen our parrot friend since the last garden birds update a few weeks ago. I hope she is okay. We also haven’t seen any goldfinches yet, but I am hopeful that we will!
The following photographs have been taken by myself and are of some of the birds who have paid us a visit. As always these have been taken through glass and may be blurry in parts. I hope this doesn’t detract from the overall quality and you enjoy these visitors as much as I do!
When we found out that the BKA (Bird Keepers Association) were having a bird sale on February 14th, we knew our Valentines Day plans were made. Luckily we both enjoy a good bird sale or this could have been awkward!
On the day we left at around 9.30. The sale was to start an hour later but, knowing that these things can be busy (and hard to find) we wanted to get there early.
This sale was held at a much larger venue than the last; The Mill Hall, Bellingham Lane, Rayleigh, Essex – so we were quite excited at the prospect of what we might find. We had decided between us that we really wanted a pair of goldfinches but would settle for a cock goldfinch and hen canary if needs be. (So we could still breed them.) We also decided on a budget.
Getting there was easy enough, and the bird sale itself was sign-posted well. When we got there a few people were milling around reception, also similarly eager to find a bargain – but it wasn’t what you’d call busy so after buying our wristbands, we decided to head to the cafe for hot chocolate and orange juice. Rookie mistake. By the time we’d actually got our drinks, a huge queue had formed through the reception and out of the door! We hurriedly joined it to shiver outside in the cold and chat to other attendees about birds (because, well, that’s what bird people do.)
When we finally entered it was manic. Previous to this sale we had attended two others and both had been really busy but this was something else. Everyone came prepared with boxes and cages and it seemed like everyone had something in mind. It was hard to get down each aisle because of how bustling it was but, on display were some beautiful birds.
One thing I did notice about this event, was a slight lack of British birds. Most seemed to be foreign and there was a great selection of parrot finches, gouldians, etc etc as well as zebra finches, budgies and even some quail. We came across just two goldfinches in the whole place – and before we could buy them, they were snapped up for a bargainous £65 each by someone else! This was a shame for us, however we still had a lot of fun peeking in at all of the other birds and becoming gooey-eyed at the tiny timor zebra finch.
One highlight of the event was a stall set up by a company called Owls R Us who have static bird displays. I, like the rest of the modern world, am obsessed with owls and it was nice to see so many of them perched there. I paid a small donation and even got to hold a gorgeous tawny owl which was very exciting for me! Prior to this I’d held and flown a few different owls/birds of prey but never a tawny. It had such a sweet little face and feathers as soft as a cloud, holding a beautiful bird is always a wonderful experience.
We didn’t stay for long after that. We picked up some british bird seed from the Essex bird centre stall (an essential if you find yourself at a BKA event.) And then headed off. It was a little too busy to just stand around.
Instead we decided to head out to some specialist shops in search of our wanted goldfinches. After a short search (and discovering beautiful European bullfinches) we did eventually come across two that had very natural colours. I know this is best for the bird as it means it hasn’t been fed dye, but to me they weren’t the most beautiful. These birds were also quite skittish which is something we’ve heard before.
After some consideration we decided to go for two redpolls instead! We already have redpolls and they are such lovely birds, so it was nice to get some more and extend the family. I really hope to breed these in the summer. We have named them Buttercup (hen) and Parsley (cock.) They are such friendly and interesting characters and Muffin and Chestnut our other redpolls are obsessed with them.
We will be looking out for the next BKA show – but hopefully we can show some restraint as I don’t know how many more birds we can house! I don’t think I will be looking for goldfinches in the future because I think they may be difficult to look after. Perhaps this is something to consider again when we have an outdoor aviary.
It has been a few weeks since my last post on the birds that visit our garden and since then we’ve had a few more in so I thought I would update.
All of these photos were taken through a glass door, and some are a little blurry but you should be able to make them out well enough!
As always we’ve had our old friend the robin visit (a few robins actually.)
The great tits have been back in force too
And we’ve spotted some blue tits as well (my favourites.) Today I managed to capture a shot of some lovely long tailed tits that paid us a visit.
Last but not least, we spotted a plum headed parakeet on our feeder. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked out of the window and saw a bright green bird feasting on the peanut granules. For a moment I thought we’d bought her back from Rome! She appears to be ringed so I am bit concerned she has escaped from somewhere. I haven’t seen her since but I’m keeping my fingers crossed she’s okay.
We’re still on the lookout for some goldfinches, so hopefully we’ll see some soon. What have you spotted in your garden recently?