Tichwell Tick-list, February 10, 2015

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Robins and all birds need a helping hand at this time of year.

Despite a mild start to the winter, it now seems as though wild birds will face a test in finding enough of the right kind of foods to give them energy and warmth, meaning the food and water we supply could ensure their survival into spring.

Paul Roney, visitor operations manager at RSPB Titchwell Marsh, said: “During cold snaps, such as this one, birds become more vulnerable and are more likely to come into our gardens to seek refuge. When temperatures drop below freezing, birds struggle to find the natural food they need to stay alive so we can really help them out.

“To encourage the survival of our birds, people should provide food like meal worms, fat-balls, sunflower hearts, crushed peanuts, dried fruit, seeds and grain to compensate for birds’ natural food which is covered in snow and ice and impossible to get to.

“Kitchen leftovers like grated cheese, porridge oats, soft fruit, unsalted bacon, cooked rice, pasta and the insides of cooked potatoes are also a good source of energy for garden birds, and unfrozen water for both drinking and bathing is vital.

Paul continued: “With these harsh and wintry conditions, the wild birds in our gardens will need a little TLC. 

“The insects, berries and seeds garden birds usually feast on will become off-limits thanks to frost and snow, so taking the time to provide some nutritious food and water for them is important for their survival.

“It’s not all doom and gloom, though.

“The chilly conditions will mean that birds will visit our gardens in greater numbers.  

“There’ll be more visits from garden regulars like starlings, tits, finches and thrushes, plus appearances from less-common garden birds such as countryside-dwelling fieldfare and redwing.

“If the cold weather prolongs, some lucky people may even catch a glimpse of the unusual-looking woodcock, with its long bill.”

“We are asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces – whether by planting pollen-rich plants to attract bees and butterflies, putting up a nestbox for a house sparrow, or creating a pond that will support a number of different species.

A visit to RSPB Titchwell Marsh at this time of year will also show you the benefits of feeding wild birds and the rewards from watching them up close and personal.

Walk further on to the reserve and look across the fresh and salt water marsh areas where you are likely to see redshank, knot and godwit.

Look up and you can see greylag and Brent flying overhead. Stroll along the beach and you have a good chance of seeing snow buntings and velvet scoters and maybe a shorelark.

For more information on the joys of visiting RSPB Titchwell Marsh go to www.rspb.org.uk/titchwell