Thursday, December 21, 2006

Saving for a rainy day

The most popular food I’ve been putting out in the garden is sunflower seed. None of your pretentious ‘sunflower hearts’, just plain old, shell-on black sunflower seeds.

As a result, we’ve been inundated by tits. I’ve counted up to eight Blue Tits and five Great Tits at once, which suggests that up to 80 Blue and 50 Great Tits might be visiting during the day!

Those are pretty staggering numbers, but there’s no real way to check it out, unless we can tempt a local ringer up here to try and catch some of them. And I fear that it’ll take more than a promise of ‘lots of Blue Tits’ to do that – we need some Bramblings or something tasty to make it worthwhile…

The Blues and Greats aren’t quite as interesting to watch as the Coal Tits, however. At least two have been visiting so far (probably more). They spend all their time whizzing to and from the sunflower seed feeder, making lightning-fast raids to grab a seed and then flying off.

Unlike the Blue and Great Tits, the Coal Tits spend quite a large percentage of their time looking for places to hide their seeds. Watching them for a while reveals where they stash their booty: between wooden fence panels, in buddleia seed heads, inside flowers, among the twigs of small shrubs, in tree bark and in the ground.

Will they remember where any of them are, when the weather gets tough? I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing sunflowers sprouting in strange places in spring, but that’s all part of the fun.