Beaky’s not as peaky as you would have thought


Our garden peanut feeders are still as busy as ever with the peanuts needing replenished every second day, but virtually the only species involved is the house sparrow.

With three and four at a time, and youngsters lined up all along the fence, wings quivering as they beg for food, it is little wonder that little else is bothering to try and get some peanuts.

I keep telling myself that because the surveys all say that they are in decline; we must keep feeding them to do our bit to conserve the species.

Elsewhere in the garden, the resident dunnocks are still creeping around clearing up the peanut fragments created by the sparrow invasion, but they seem too embarrassed to show themselves, as they are in mid moult and look somewhat moth-eaten.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the feeder I made for peanut butter, consisting of a jar lid screwed to a back board, covered by a little roof and with a small perch to help the diners.

It has proved so popular that I’ve had to rethink the situation, as it has become so expensive.

At £3 a jar for the special bird peanut butter mixture, it was becoming prohibitive. Thankfully, I have discovered that the contents of suet “candles” sold in local discount supermarkets at 99p, are the same consistency, are equally as popular with the birds, last much longer in the feeder and are a third of the price – result!

One bird, whose tenacity has been relentless since the winter, is the blackbird. Our local broods and their parents follow us around the garden and would come into the house, begging for food. Getting this close to wildlife, you begin to recognise different individuals, not just by appearance, but by their personality.

One individual which is easily recognised, is one we have christened “beaky”.

For some reason, either as a result of injury or genetics, its beak is permanently open. Its upper and lower mandibles never meet, which makes feeding a bit of a problem. However, it has survived since the winter, so it must be coping.

At the moment, the honeysuckle and jasmine are in full flower in the garden, giving off a glorious scent which attracts loads of bumble bees and moths in the evening. I am always on the lookout for humming bird hawkmoths on the honeysuckle, as I have heard of a couple of sightings in the Borders this summer.

If anyone sees one (you can’t mistake it, as it is exactly like a humming bird hovering in front of flowers, feeding from them with an amazingly long tongue) please get in touch and we will try and determine their distribution. E-mails should be sent to