There’s never a dull moment in our ‘glen’ - there’s always lots to tell! Plenty of battles being fought - over chicken food, chicken territories and gold finches.

The battle over the gold finches
June 2019

So, let’s start at the beginning...

Well, as I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, we have a resident male pheasant called Cedric who has been wandering around our place for several months. When he discovered the chicken food, our chickens (along with the neighbours’ one), quickly made their feelings known: his presence would not be tolerated and he was chased out of the chicken run. But, because we live far from the main road, our chickens can basically go anywhere they please, and when they are off wandering about, Cedric creeps in and eats the chicken food. Sneaky! But, as we all know, pheasants are not the smartest of animals, and he never knows how to get out of the chicken run again (unless he’s being chased by chickens!). Several times I had to tip-toe up to him and coax him out, but they really are stupid birds! Nice to look at, though!

The other thing that has happened recently is that our neighbours now have new, normal sized, chickens and bantams, which are tiny and very cute. Unfortunately our chickens now think that our neighbours’ garden is part of their territory and don’t want the new chickens trespassing on it! I felt so sorry for the wee bantam when our Caramello started to bully it, especially since it was in her own garden! Our chickens respond really well to me, so I immediately called out to them and the wee bantam was spared.

And then there is the battle over the gold finches...

Mrs J, our neighbour, likes to feed ‘her’ gold finches. However, I like to feed the gold finches, too. So, Mrs J wasn’t too happy when all the gold finches decided to dine in our garden and didn’t bother returning to hers. But then again Mrs J has been hogging ‘our’ red squirrel, so fair’s fair!

Also, we have spotted another bird species not previously seen in our garden; the bull finch. It was sitting on the fence eyeballing the gold finches tucking into the bird food and at first I didn’t recognise it. My husband did though, confirming it was a bull finch. I’ve started writing down the different varieties of birds I’ve spotted in our garden and we now stand at 33 different species! I am really chuffed that we have attracted so many different species of birds to our garden, especially when you think that when we moved here 9 years ago there was nothing but grass! Since then, we’ve planted lots of shrubs, trees and a wildlife hedge, and it has certainly paid off!

So, here are some tips to support wildlife in your garden:

If you have a small garden, planting some cornflowers and sunflowers will attract bees, bumblebees and butterflies and of course you can always put out some bird food, to attract, well you know... birds.

For a medium sized garden, why not plant some shrubs like berberis? They provide flowers, berries and shelter for all sorts of insects and birds. Or if you can, plant a wildlife hedge consisting of hawthorn, rosehips and sloes/blackthorn. A hedge gives shelter and slows down high winds too.

If you have a larger garden, why not try all of the above? Why not also plant trees like oak, ash or hazel? You might attract squirrels too! But make sure you plant large trees away from the house, because the roots will spread and you don’t want them creeping under the foundation of your house!

But the best thing you can do for whatever size of garden you have is to ditch the chemicals! We need to live hand in hand with nature not work against it.

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