Just outside the living room window of the intern accommodation here at Coombes there is a bird feeding station! It’s great to sit at the table with my breakfast and watch the great tits, sparrows, great spotted woodpecker and the occasional pheasant milling about the feeders. However, the past few days there has been a distinct lack of birds hanging about in the morning.

It didn’t take long to work out why. After a wander around the reserve I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of natural goodies that are on offer this time of year for the birds. Most of which are red or black, making them easier for the birds to spot.

Although it’s coming to the end of the blackberry season, here at Coombes there are still plenty of spots where the blackberries are ripe and ready to eat. These juicy berries are not only a delicious meal for lots of birds, but also a tasty little treat for badgers.

There are still some juicy Blackberries around – Becky Blackman

The blackthorn’s sloes are still present all over the reserve, which are a firm favourite of slightly larger birds such as thrushes. 

Sloes - Chris Shields (rspb-images.com)

I also spotted an abundance of Holly berries on my walk around the woodcock trail. These are the berry of choice for birds such as tits, thrushes and woodpeckers. 

Holly berries can be seen all over the reserve – Becky Blackman

Hawthorne has lots of long sharp thorns, providing a safe place for smaller birds to munch to their hearts content without the worry of predators.  Long tailed tits in particular are known to enjoy these berries.

Oak trees are very attractive for jays at the moment too. They spend a lot of time collecting the acorns, which are almost ripe this time of year, and stash them away in a big pile ready for winter. 

Lots of Acorns are up for grabs by squirrels and Jays – Becky Blackman

I’ve also spotted a fair few crab apples scattered about the reserve, most of which are small and have fallen. These provide a tasty treat throughout the autumn and winter for many animals including Robins, starlings and thrushes.  

Even those which have already fallen still make a tasty treat – Becky Blackman

Beautiful Rowan berries - Becky Blackman

There’s so much wildlife to see here at Coombes that even the car park is a great spot for elderberries, which are good for attracting warblers and blackbirds. These berries tend to come out in later summer and September so it’s quite a treat for the birds to be enjoying these berries in mid October. 

There’s plenty of elderberry in the car park – Becky Blackman

 So, with woodland full of berries, our bird feeding station has been pretty quiet recently. However, once the berries have gone, the birds will be back. So keeping the feeders topped up and clean is still as important as ever in preparation for the winter. And soon I will be back to watching the bird feeder dramas unfold whilst I eat my toast in the morning. 

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