Thought for Food

Recently, I was "oot'n'aboot" with a friend who knows a thing or two about nature - well in my mind he pretty much knows everything really, and I always enjoy the wanderings of our conversations.  This time we were in a forest, placing camera traps for checking on various species, and as we headed back to his long-suffering 4x4 (which usually goes places that even the manufacturer would be impressed with) he casually remarked on how quiet the forest was.

At first, I thought he meant with people, but it was birds.  As I'm quite a youngster in birding years, in the time that I've seriously watched and enjoyed our feathered friends I've only really known woodlands and such places to have pockets of bird activity.  Even at the height of the Spring when males call for females (my favourite is the Wood Warbler in terms of power and spectacle), or first broods of Crossbills are already on the wing and 'chipping' their way through the forest canopy, I've only really noticed 'patchy' bird activity.

My friend has a theory, and he's not often wrong - bird food.  Now, we're all aware that food source is crucial to everything that lives on our little rock in space.  When it comes to woodland birds, many venture beyond its boundaries (especially Tit families) and it's those that many of us see coming to our bird feeders.  I enjoy it, you yourself reading this probably enjoy it, and there's a large industry of suppliers that now put bird food in supermarkets, garden centres, online and even to your door (I use the latter - it's high quality and actually works out far cheaper in bulk, plus it's a local supplier to the Highlands).

So, with the ever-growing supply of seed, nuts and fat balls (if you buy the ones in net bags, please remove the bags as birds can be severely injured by them) on offer, it's no wonder that the wee things have moved into back gardens and may have even changed their roosting locations to suit.  As a result, this has created a refugee (yes, I'll use that term) problem of its own, because the more birds that turn up, the more food we'll buy and another wave of folk start putting up their feeders, etc., etc..  But what of the birds left behind in the forest?  'Safety in numbers' is a phrase often used, and it particularly applies here - without those abundant Tit species remaining in situ, smaller and rarer ones (think Willow Tit and Marsh Tit) have become exposed having not made the move into suburbia, thus becoming more vulnerable to predators.

It's a difficult one, isn't it?  I'm happy with our particular case in that we live in a cottage surrounded by woodland, therefore the squadrons of finches, tits and others that we get haven't been taken away from their original habitat.  But I have many friends who live in villages and towns and of course their own feeders have become oases to birds, and nothing will change if they removed them tomorrow - the birds will simply go up the road to a neighbour.  The damage is already done, no one person is to blame, but let's just get on with it and do it properly though, eh?

A male Crossbill - due to their feeding nature not coming to a bird feeder any time, ever, hopefully!

The 'Premier Gifting Event' is almost upon us!

The above term is apparently used by the retail industry to describe what many regard as Christmas.  I can't be doing with the stream of 'new sofa' and 'new television' adverts that seemingly started in July (or did they ever end?), but myself and Mrs A9Birds adopt a Paganistic outlook and will celebrate Yule - that time of year when the darkest of winter days marks the start of the Earth's axis tilting back towards Spring (that's very important where we live!).

Don't forget (and now here comes a shameless advert) that A9Birds trips, photography sessions (including our very popular ones for birds-in-flight tuition and mastering your camera settings for wildlife; just £25 for 1-2 hours) can all be purchased as gifts for friends, family and (most importantly!) yourself.  

Also, our range of canvas and mounted photo prints have been very successful since going on sale last Summer; on our canvas prints we offer delivery within two working days via courier so perfect for last minute shopping.  Have a look at our Facebook and website pages (links below) and get in touch, and always ask for particular species you like as we commission new prints with ease.

Red Squirrel, Osprey and Swallow - just three of the images from our popular print range

As this is the last blog of 2015, to all of our customers thank you for your support.  All it leaves me to say is that whatever you celebrate, have a happy and peaceful time and wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2016.

Happy birding


A9Birds is a birdwatching and wildlife photography company based in Moray, covering the local area including Strathspey, the Moray Firth and Inverness-shire.  Please see our website for details of what we can offer you, and why not keep up to date with our sightings and photos on our Facebook page.  All photos on this page are copyright Mike Crutch/A9Birds.


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