Reflections on the Big Garden Birdwatch

I wasn’t expecting flocks of birds to appear just because it was Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, but I sat down with a good view anyway.

I couldn’t understand why the birds had deserted my garden around autumn 2020. Perhaps it was migration; maybe they were singing in the sunshine with a view of Table Mountain, while I watched the January drizzle turning the seeds in the birdfeeders to porridge. Or maybe the decline in garden birds was worse than I thought.

I’d been keen to dry the feeders and replenish with fresh seed and nuts regularly and put out the winter fatty treats recommended, but there were few takers. The squirrels and mice cleaned off the ground feeding tray that was once the domain of blackbirds.

Without birds Bird Watch soon became Garden Watch. My eyes roamed around the work to do ;cutting back and those weeds that push through the cracks in the paving, defying fire and chemical warfare. 

Then I spotted the old mirror still leaning against the back wall. I’d intended to fix it to the wall to reflect a floral view. But the reflection now framed the otherwise hidden area behind the shed; bags of compost, plant pots, potting table. As I watched the plastic sheet protecting the table top flapped in the breeze and continued to do so every few seconds. It was perfectly placed for the birds on the feeders to see.

The flapping plastic made a perfect bird scarer, like gardeners use to protect sown seeds. I couldn’t be sure that it was the root of my problem but it’s hidden away now. Time will tell and maybe I’ll have a better score next year than three feral pigeons. 

Ken Tracey