Garden Bird Watching with a Norfolk Photographer-Gemerations Photography

Updated: Feb 22

I’m not sure about you, but due to the increasing amount of time spent in lockdown I have developed an even greater appreciation of the nature and wildlife around me. Gemerations Photography is still currently closed, so I love nothing more than getting outdoors with the camera to capture wildlife and scenery. Don't get me wrong I cannot wait to get back to my studio photography to welcome families, baby and children back for photoshoots, but surrounding myself with nature is giving me a pleasant distraction until then.


When we are not in lockdown I love to also visit different RSPB Nature Reserves with my camera, I am lucky to have two on the doorstep of the Gemerations Photography Studio, these are Strumpshaw Fen and Buckenham Marshes.


I have always loved bird watching and wildlife photography, but throughout all these lockdowns, I have had more time to watch all the beautiful bird specifies that visit my garden. I live in the beautiful Norfolk countryside and have many different birds visit my garden on a daily basis.

A Dunnock waiting patiently for food

The Birds that visit my garden regularly are:

  • Robin

  • Sparrow

  • Blackbird

  • Thursh

  • Starling

  • Blue Tit

  • Great Tit

  • Coal Tit

  • Long Tailed Tit

  • Wren

  • Goldfinch

  • Greenfinch

  • Dunnock

  • Pheasant

  • Magpie

  • Partridge

  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

  • Pigeon

  • Collared Dove

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

A fun home learning activity to get your children to do in the next few days is the annual RSPB Bird Garden Bird Watch (Friday 29th of January-Sunday 31st of January), there is still time to register to take part this year and download the pack, which can be done online:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/packrequest/


I will be taking part in the survey, it only takes 1 hour of your time and it is a wonderful way to help the RPSB track and monitor different bird species and identity what is on the rise and what is in decline. It also gives you the chance to switch off from everything else and get really close to nature. Even if you do not see much or limited birds, this still provides valuable data to the RSPB so your participation in the survey is not wasted.


Its a great way to get your children interested in nature and wildlife if there not already, if they are it can further stimulate their interest and curiosity. You can extend the bird watch activity by getting your child to draw their favourite bird, or make a bird out of craft materials (feathers, tissue paper, googly eyes, pipe cleaners and pom poms) or you could even make an edible treat for the birds.


-Craft Activities involving Birds can be found here

-Different Bird Feeders to make can be found here

My favourite garden friend is the Robin

How to Attract Birds to Your Garden

Just like us birds need food and water to survive, so there's lots you can do to make your garden a bird friendly habitat to attract them and keep them visiting. The size of your garden does not matter, if its bird friendly they will still come.


You do not even need expensive bird feeders to feed the birds. To make a feeding tray I got a hanging basket from Poundland, which I filled with loose seeds and peanuts. The Birds loved leaning down into the basket to scoop out a nut, and the smaller birds disappeared inside completely to eat. Once I put some suet pellets and seed on top of a plastic tub and again the birds were happy to eat off here, even though I was sitting close by with my camera. Another great place to put bird seed is in a hallowed out tree stump or log.

Feeding the Birds

Different birds prefer different foods, their like us they have their favourites and least favourites. The wider variety of food you put out, the more likely you will attract more different birds.


In my garden I currently offer the following:

-Fat Balls (these are popular with the Starlings and Blackbirds)

-Peanuts (these are popular with the Woodpecker, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coat Tit, Pigeon and even the Squirrel)

-Sunflower Hearts (popular with the Greenfinch and Goldfinch)

-Meal Worms (popular with the Robin, Blackbirds, Starling and Pigeons)


Other food you might want to consider offering includes:

-Mixed Seed-this is popular with Sparrows

-Suet Pellets-this is popular with Blackbirds and Starlings

-Niger Seeds-this is popular with the Finches

-Bird table scraps e.g. apple, small amounts of bread, pastry, biscuit crumbs.


In regards to the location of your bird feeding areas, you want to make it is as safe from predators as possible, so avoid putting food low down or directly on the ground. Hanging bird feeders in trees or hedges, or close to these areas will provide greater safety for the birds using these.


Bird Feeder Hygiene

Hygiene is super important in regards to the bird feeders, feeding stations and bird baths, this is to stop the spread of diseases and contamination. When cleaning, ensure you wear disposable gloves to protect yourself from any exposure to diseases.


If you are going to use bird feeders, purchase ones which are easy to clean. I use bottle brushes to clean the hard to reach areas on my bird feeders. I leave them to soak over night in a washing up bowl with hot water and disinfectant, before throughly washing this off with hot water the next day.


If you have a bird table, feeding station and birdbaths, these also need regularly cleaning, ideally weekly if possible. Again use hot soapy water, along with disinfectant, then rinse and make sure they are fully dry before filling them up again.


Sometimes when emptying my feeders, some of the feed has gone mouldy or has got damp, in these situations I always dispose of this food in my rubbish bin.


Drinking Water

Water is just as important for birds as it is for us. In wintery or frosty conditions it is particularly hard for birds to access fresh drinking water, due to natural sources being frozen. So if you can put out water for them at these times, this will help them survive. Again in hot weather, water is important as well, as natural sources can be harder to find.


Birds need water for drinking but also for bath time as well. In my garden I have two birdbaths, which are super popular for the bath time, and drinking. The water you provide, needs to be changed regularly and whatever you offer it in needs to cleaned regularly as well.


If you do not have a bird bath there are other things you can use to offer water. You could use a deep large circular lid or a deep tray and make sure it is not too low to the ground, you could stack it up on some bricks or depending on the size see if you can fix it into a tree stump.


You can see more ideas on making a bird bath here.


Other sources of information on encouraging birds and wildlife to your garden

RSPB

The Wildlife Trust

Gardners' World


I would love to hear what your favourite bird is, feel free to tell me below.


I hope this blog has given you some ideas on how to attract and look after birds that visit your garden.


If your looking for beautiful outdoor locations to visit in Norfolk to see even more wildlife head over to some of my other Blogs

Holkham Hall

How Hill

Holt Country Park


Written by G.Hampton 28/01/2021

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