As I live close to the seafront, birdwatching from the comfort of my home most often involves admiring the worm-charming talents of herring gulls, but watching the feeders we have set up at Pulborough Brooks offers me a different selection of ‘garden guests’. So, in preparation for January’s Big Garden Birdwatch, I’m going to celebrate the joys of sitting with a cup of tea watching the to-ings and fro-ings around the feeders.

We’ve recently set up a new feeding area at the bottom of our wildlife explorer meadow, just beyond the yurt, and this is proving to be very popular with the birds. They very much like the combination of the seed and suet feeders and the proximity of plenty of bramble bushes, blackthorn scrub and willows to disappear into (or to perch in patiently).

I’ll begin with the most numerous and frequent visitors – blue tits. Rather polite, the blue tits seem to take their turn. It’s first come first served, but no one outstays their welcome and if a queue is forming they have a nibble and move on.

Blue tit by Chris Prince

The coal tit has more of a ‘grab & go’ tactic – they are a little nervous perhaps and retreat with their seed or mouthful of suet to the safety of a nearby bramble patch. Long-tailed tits arrive, often as a gang, and this is a real treat as they hang acrobatically off the coconut halves.

Long-tailed tit by Anne Harwood

Now for the great tit – a bit of a bully – he doesn’t care who else has been patiently waiting!

A charm of goldfinches occasionally descends to raid the sunflower seed feeder. They busily feed from all of the ports monopolising the station for a few minutes before taking off all at once and flying into the distance chattering and gossiping as they go.

Goldfinch by Graham Osborne

The chaffinches are messy eaters – again favouring the sunflower seeds but seemingly spluttering out more that they swallowed.

But perhaps my favourite is the nuthatch. You’ll often hear him first with his loud ‘tuit, tuit, tuit, tuit’ – perhaps he is up in the oak tree. But then he’ll fly swiftly into view and descend head-first down the branch towards the feeder.

Nuthatch by Chris Prince

Others, less adept at clinging on to the feeders, benefit from this messy eating. Dunnocks hop around beneath the feeders picking off any stray seeds and the occasional moorhen pops by and greedily gobbles up anything dropping from the feeders above.

Although I've not seen one on the feeders here yet, I do regularly hear bullfinches calling from this area so do scan the bushes nearby.

Bullfinch by Anne Harwood.

So make yourself a cuppa and acquaint yourself with the characters at your dining table and don’t forget to take part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch on Saturday 25 – Monday 2 January.  You can find out more at https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/and if you sign up now you can benefit from a 20% discount in the RSPB shop! This works online or here at the Pulborough Brooks shop so pop in and stock up ready for the big weekend.

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