Saturday 21 January 2023

The Saturday List #393 - The birds I've seen in my back garden

This morning, as  I came out of the house, I saw our garden Robin. We've had a Robin living in the hedge in our front garden for as many years as I can recall. It clearly isn't the same one, but I always feel happy at his sight. I've lived in the same house in Millway for most of my life, apart from 1983-87 when I moved out of the family home. I bought it from my mother in 1987 when my Father died. As a child, I used to sit with Mrs O'Keefe, who used to do cleaning for my mum and look at the birds. Sho would put a few scraps of bread and bacon rind on the birdbath and lawn and we'd see them hungrily arrive for breakfast. My house backs onto the M1 motorway and Thameslink railway and there is a bit of an unofficial wildlife reserve in the area between the road and the houses on Millway. Over the years, the type of birds we see had changed dramatically. The first section is the birds I commonly saw in the 1960's with Mrs O'Keefe and the second are the ones see now.

1. The Robin.  I guess this is the logical place to start, as this is what inspired the blog. Perhaps my favourite garden bird of all. We had one that would continually attack the windows. A friend explained that this was territorial behaviour, he was confused by the reflection. 

2. The Sparrow. There used to be dozens of these little chaps in the garden, never see them now. We'd see both Hedge Sparrows and House Sparrows. Although they look similar, they are unrelated. There was an article about this in the Barnet Times about this about 20 years ago.

3. Blackbirds. These were another regular visitor, that I haven't seen for a very long time.

4. Starlings. These used to turn up en mass. Mrs O'Keefe would hate them, she considered them to be thugs. Again, I've not seen them for years.

5. Song Thrushes. These were occasional visitors and we'd get most excited about them.

6. Blue Tits. We'd see these mostly in winter, they were famous for pecking the tops of milk bottles and nicking the cream

7. Swallows. My next door neighbours had a couple of nests in their eves for a few years. I have always enjoyed watching them on late summer evenings hunting for insects. Again not seen them in the garden for a long time.

8. Crows. I've always had a fascination for crows. One used to visit the garden and was pretty tame. He'd take pieces of bacon rind from your hand. My Mum used to go nuts at this, as she thought the crows were agents of the devil. We still see crows.

These were the birds we'd see regularly around the birdbath and on the lawn. All apart from crows and Robins, I rarely if ever see thse now. So what has replaced them.

9. Magpies. In around 1973, the Magpies moved in and most of the songbirds moved out. They rather like the hawthorn trees that border the M1. They are attractive birds, but have completely changed the profile of what we see.

10. Pigeons. We probably saw pigeons in the garden, but I don't really recall seeing them, you'd go to Trafalgar Square if you wanted to see them. I was told that the reason we see so many more is the advent of fast food outlets. There is now a ready food source for them, so they have a far more friendly environment.

11. Seagulls. Again, I don't recall seeing many seagulls in Mill Hill in the 1960's, I can remember a lake forming in Mill Hill Park and seeing a bunch of seagulls around it, probably around 1975, from a passing 221 bus. I was quite surprised. I wouldn't be today.

12. Herons. In 1990, I put a pond in the garden and since then, we've regularly seen Herons. They are amazing birds (the dogs disagree), but I've stopped stocking the pond with goldfish due to their activities. 
Have a lovely weekend. 

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