Simple pleasure of watching birds

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THAT snowy weekend just over a week ago gave our local bird population the chance to remind themselves of who their friends are in Hartlepool.

I’m going to sound like a preserved Sixties hippy now, but there really is something about communing with nature on a daily basis.

I’ve told you before that I have a great affection for two families of blackbirds which have lived in our garden for many years.

Come to think of it, the Mr and Mrs Blackbirds who will be building nests again soon must be the descendants of my original friends.

It was interesting to see the people at Summerhill asking for help with food for the birds, and I’m sure that my own wildlife population have been chipping in.

We don’t live that far from there and the birds have been eating so much lately that I wondered if they were setting up a supply line for their friends up the road.

I’ve always found that the trick for your own garden is to have a kind of bird restaurant in place just about the whole year round so that our feathered friends know where to look when the harsh weather arrives.

As you might have seen in your Mail, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has been asking the public to help with its Birdwatch programme to see just what’s going on in our gardens and parks.

We’ve kept a close eye over the last few months and it’s amazing what a variety you get, especially bearing in mind that we live less than a mile from the town centre.

We don’t have a professional hide like the experts, but our big kitchen window looks out on our attempt at a motorway service station for the birds.

Hanging from the branches of an old lilac tree are bird feeders and simple fat balls which the visitors seem to love.

There’s a good home-made version of those where you simply melt some lard or similar and dunk dried fruit and nuts into it.

It’s particularly funny when human visitors pop in while the manufacturing process is going on and wonder if plans are going ahead for the most porky dinner party in history.

So far my list of bird diners covers sparrows, robins, blackbirds, blue tits, pigeons, magpies and sea gulls.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen kestrels and owls too but they won’t keep still for a photo.

It’s good to see how they depend on each other too.

The pigeons and gulls are too big to perch on the bird feeders, so they sit underneath and wait for the little guys to knock goodies down for them.

Talking of mutual benefit, I’m sure that we get as much from the flying visitors as we give to them.

I find it one of the best therapies in the world to sit with a coffee and watch what they are up to, and, some days, I’m sure they are watching what we are up to as well.

Looking at the sales of bird food in local supermarkets, there must be many people around Hartlepool sharing the same simple pleasure.