With the harsh weather well and truly here, we must turn our thoughts to the vulnerable at this time of the year.
Firstly look after yourself, secondly look after your neighbour and last but not least, please spare a thought for our wildlife!
Our forest birds take a right battering, especially when the ground is frozen with ice and snow. Finding enough food and water to survive is tough for them and this is where we can help.
If you are unable to take the food into the forest, park or countryside, put some out in your garden; the birds will find it as they associate gardens as a good source for food as many of us already have feeders for them.
Break the ice on any water source you find and also take some fresh water out for them as it is so easy to forget that they need to drink as well as eat!
Wild bird peanuts and sunflower hearts are high in nutriance and also cheese is a good source of fat and calcium, which is essential for the birds survival.
To see a tiny bird struggling to find food is gutting, but when you see them taking advantage of the food you have taken out, the feeling is awesome and you go home knowing you have helped them survive.
I usually mix the seed and nuts together with grated cheese. You then have a lump of food, which can be pushed into crevices or just placed on a surface without falling to the ground and lost in the snow. Although bread does not have a good source of protein or fat, one or two slices will give your mix some consistency and help it to bond together.
Look for somewhere high up like a fallen tree or fence post and place the food on top of it, this will ensure the food will not be eaten by deer, wild boar, sheep and even dogs passing by.
Break up the bread into a bowl or kitchen sink with a little water.
Add the sunflower hearts.
Then the peanuts.
Grate the cheese over the top.
Then mix well.
However, this activity can cause severe bruising and swelling to your right eye, but there is a remedy. Cleaning the sink afterwards seems to stop this from happening!
You are now ready to take your food out to the birds. I usually take the food into the forest as there are not many cats out there, which could take advantage of the birds feasting on the food, but as mentioned earlier your garden is a good place if you are unable to get out.
Selecting your spot. If you know of an area where the birds are fed regularly, then this is ideal as the birds will not be far away and word will soon get out that fresh food has arrived!
If you don't know where to put the food, look for an area close to a car park as you can guarantee that this will almost certainly be a place where the birds hang out, hoping for tit bits from motorists.
Place your food on something raised from the ground, like a fallen tree, or fence post and then sit back and watch as the birds find it.
Here are some pics from over the years of the birds I have helped. I do this every year as many times as possible and it makes me feel good, knowing I have done something positive to help them.
A blue tit having spotted the food, sits on a branch nearby. He has fluffed up to help insulate himself from the freezing conditions.
A great tit also lands nearby.
A dunnock is first to land on the fallen tree.
Then a mistle thrush drops in.
Followed by a pied wagtail.
And then a grey wagtail.
Even a pigeon turns up!
It was great to see a tree creeper appear!
It wasn't long before the blackbirds arrived.
Then a long tailed tit!
And it wasn't long before the chaffinch arrived.
Then a robin, the perfect Christmas Card image!
And finally, the scene where it all happened.
So why not have a go yourself and see how many different birds you can help this winter!