Spring in the air as birds build their nests - Veterinary Practice
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Spring in the air as birds build their nests

VETERINARY PRACTICE’s conservation correspondent reports on the activities of a pair of tree sparrows and urges colleagues not to neglect the work that can be done on our own doorstep

A FEW months ago I wrote about
my delight at seeing tree sparrows
in the hedge on our drive. Tree
sparrows have declined in number
significantly in recent times so
having them close at hand is
something to be cherished and

I am even more
delighted to be able to
report that we now have a
pair of them building a
nest in one of our “tit”
boxes. And not just any
old “tit” box either. They
have chosen the one with
the remote camera linked to our TV so
we are able to switch on and watch
them at close quarters whenever we
want, like our very own Springwatch.

Hopefully they will breed
successfully, not like the great tits last
year who for some reason abandoned
the box after building the nest but
before laying any eggs. 2012 was a bad
breeding year for many species.

I have noticed that the blackbirds
are also to be seen in the garden in
pairs of late and no doubt a pair will
be building their nest in the traditional
site in a bush up against our
neighbour’s byre.

They are some of the earliest
species to lay and incubate their eggs
and are a welcome harbinger of spring.
We have been putting out old apples
for them on the lawn and they have
relished these as they are great fruit

The next sign of spring will be the
appearance of frog spawn in the pond
and only last week we had two herons
visit for the first time in many months.
Have they been spending the winter
away at the coast like the curlews that
will in a few weeks be filling the air
with their wailing calls?

Clearly there is still some winter
left to come but the longer days and
lighter mornings mean that we have
passed the worst and the appearance
of dead badgers on the road I drive
along to work is one of those less
savoury reminders that all around
nature is stirring and the sap is rising.
After such a wet and windy winter,
spring cannot arrive too soon for me.

Filling gaps

Which reminds me that I had better
get on with planting up the gaps in the
new beech hedge, left by saplings
which failed to thrive. Although the
replacement trees I have are cell grown
rather than bare rooted (and therefore
the timing of planting is less critical),
they still do better if planted out
during the dormant season.

I probably have until the end of
March to get the job done but I really want to have them in by the time you
are reading this. That way they will get
away well when they start to come into
leaf which in this part of the world is
not until some time in May.

I have put a few honeysuckle
plants in amongst them so that in a
few years time it should not just look
good and give protection to the
vegetable garden but will also smell
superb in the early morning and
evening as well as providing ample
nectar for bees, moths, and other

There is no doubt that whilst we
can worry about the big conservation
issues of the day, and David
Attenborough’s series Africa clearly
illustrated just how very much there is
to do, we should not neglect that
which is on our doorstep.

Whilst tit boxes, ponds, and beech
hedges will not save the lion and the
elephant, they can do much to help the
wildlife on our doorstep which in its
own way is just as important as the
more iconic animals seen on our TV

Most importantly, the power to do
something about assisting it is very
much within our own hands.

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