“ If you’re small and on a search I’ve got a feeder for you to perch on” – Mark Oliver Everett, aka Eels.
We lived in Inverness for 16 years before we moved to Saddle Mountain Hostel in Invergarry. Our house was near a wood, and we were lucky enough to have trees in our garden. We tried to make the garden as wildlife friendly as we could, and as a result we had a large variety of birdlife visiting our bird feeders which festooned an old plum tree outside our kitchen window. The ground feeding birds were also in abundant evidence through the rest of the garden.
We couldn’t believe how lucky we were. Ahead of our move, we hoped that the hostel garden would be a bird haven. But, if we’re honest, we had our doubts about whether we would be as lucky again. We thought we knew that these days there is often more variety of bird life in urban settings. Surely a move to a wooded area with farmland nearby would drastically reduce the number of bird species we would see? Actually, it turns out that it wouldn’t. We now seem to have more birds than ever.
Our feeder area is still outside the kitchen window, but it’s the hostel kitchen this time. We can look down on it from our bedroom window though. There are an amazing number of different birds to see. Most of them we were already familiar with, but there have been new ones for us, such as jays and (only during the last few weeks) long tailed tits. We also have a resident buzzard in the field next door.
Which species visit when is obviously seasonal. Just now we have a lot of vivid red robins. Once we have lived here for a full twelve months we will have a better idea of the pattern of visits. That will help us to measure the passing of the seasons.
As we reported in one of our July blogs, watching the birds feed seems to be a very popular pastime for our guests during the summer months. They can look as they wash their dishes at the kitchen sink. Although they are common for us, the siskins in particular seem to be a great hit – they are obviously less common than we thought. We are making up a photographic identification chart for the kitchen wall so we won’t list all the varieties you can see in this blog. Last year’s version one of that chart is already incomplete because of the additional species we have seen.
You’ll just have to come and see them for yourselves. It can be very therapeutic to watch what George Bush senior called “those little feathery, furry guys”.