There's no point dishing out advice if you're not going to follow it yourself. So, given that almost a month ago I said that the time to start preparing for Big Garden Birdwatch is 'now', I duly got myself out there, cleaned the feeders, and fished out a peanut feeder that had been languishing in the garage and filled it with fatty nibbles which are the Great Spotted Woodpeckers' favourite in my garden.
But there is one thing I've been putting off, in that 'Never done it before. I feel kind of daunted. I'll leave it till tomorrow' kind of way. That 'thing' is putting up a feeder in front of my study window on the opposite side of the house from all the other feeders.
The end result has always felt very desirable - I'd love to have a parade of birds to keep me company whenever I'm sat at my desk writing (which is where I'm sat right now, and where I spend rather a lot of my time).
But there's a problem: my study is on the first floor. I do have a tree outside the window, a spreading magnolia, to provide some kind of hanging point. But this felt like an idea that might require some physics - and I was rubbish at physics.
However, in such situations, the trick I believe is to take a deep breath and 'seize the day'. So last weekend I went to the local DIY store and bought a small pulley for a couple of quid and a length of natural sisal rope (to avoid plastic rope).
On getting home, I got the ladder out, climbed up to a suitable branch, and suspended the pulley on a short loop of rope. I'd chosen a suitable location in the tree that will be clearly visible from the window, and where a feeder will hang clear of any branches below, for it is important that the local Grey Squirrels can't reach across.
I then threaded a long length of rope through the pulley so that both ends dangled onto the floor, and all the ladder work was complete.
Back down on terra firma, I sledgehammered an old wooden post into the ground near the base of the tree, and screwed a hook in the top of it.
I could now tie a squirrel-proof feeder to one end of the rope, haul it up, and see where I needed to tie a loop in the other end of the rope to slip over my ground hook. (I'm using a feeder whose ports close under the weight of a squirrel, hence the feeder needing to hang clear of any branches around it, for then the squirrel could lean across without putting its full weight onto the mechanism).
And you know what? In all, it only took about 45 mins to get to the DIY store and back, and 30 minutes to rig the contraption up.
It all feels a bit Heath Robinson. And my knots may be slightly suspect. But to have at last broken the spell of procrastination also feels good. Why did it ever take me so long?!
It then took just over an hour for the first Blue Tit to find it.
Now you might not need a feeder on a pulley, but have you got something that YOU'VE been longing to do for your garden birds for a while but just haven't got around to doing? Have you dreamed of offering a new type of bird food or feeder, or moving your feeding station into a better position where you can see it more clearly?
If so, pop that food or feeder to the top of the 'last minute' emergency Christmas list, or rally yourself for a quick session in the garden to get the job done. I hope, like me, you'll find that the 'doing' is actually far easier and quicker than all the thinking and dreaming that preceded it.
Great idea - we've had a similar set-up outside our first floor kitchen window for years. But Squirrel-proof using sisal? I don't think so. The feeder may be squirrel-proof, but they'll chew through the sisal in seconds and have the their fill from the feeder now on the ground. We know from experience; since when we've used brass picture wire. Problem solved.
Thanks, Subter-fuge. I get what you're saying about sisal, but because the feeder I'm using is on a long metal hook, the sisal is a long way away from the feeder, and so far the squirrels haven't made the mental leap that if they chew the sisal, the feeder will fall. We'll see - so far it has lasted 5 weeks. But I'm not ruling out having to run for the picture wire in due course!
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